The Top Gaming Wireless Routers – October 2017 Update

Here we go with another “best routers” list. But this one is different for two reasons.

The first one is that these are routers for gamers. Optimised devices to get the best possible ping, speed and reliability for gamers. These devices are not exactly affordable and if you are looking for budget devices I would suggest looking elsewhere. We have an article in the works just for that – budget rooters – coming soon.

The second reason is that is this is not your typical Asus, Linksys, D-Link dominated list of devices from 2014 repurposed in another post just to create some content without a second thought. I have just spent the last two days in research of what to include and I noticed something interesting. Yes, there are some ASUS, Linksys and D-Link devices included but there is a reason for that inclusion. Most of the searches that Google returned are severely outdated and even include routers. I even found some lists that included wireless N devices from 5 years ago.

Hello, it’s 2017!!!

We’re getting old, we can’t waste time waiting for buffering on YouTube and NetFlix. Especially the latter. You should see my wife’s bloodshot eyes when the internet goes out while watching “Orange Is The New Black”. She’s scary. The kids are even worse though.

Our Choice For The Best Gaming Router Is: 

We tested ten different wireless routers and we really think  that the Asus's ROG ( Republic Of Gamers ) is still the choice for the serious gamer. Yes, it costs a considerable amount of money and it might lack AD capabilities, but its gaming performance is the bets we have ever experienced with router in this class. 
It is a significant upgrade over the already hugely popular ASUS RT-AC5300 monster router and the higher price is well worth it. 
For a slight bump in price you get twice the memory, twice the processor cores, twice the storage and twice the number of gigabit ethernet port available for wired connections. 
You almost get twice the router over the RT-AC5300 for less than 10% increase in price. Well worth it!!!

Our Choice For The Best Gaming Wireless Router - Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300

ASUS ROG Rapture

GT-AC5300

So What Goes In Our Selection Process?

You might notice that my “best gaming router” list is a bit unorthodox. There are a couple of devices that are not your common gaming routers. I’ve included a few wired routers that are very affordable and offer unsurpassed price/performance ratio.

But why a wired router? It’s 2017, remember?

Because lag. Lag kills. Literally.

Do you know how many times I’ve lost games in Battlefield because of lag. Especially in the early days when the “netcode” was not optimised and hits were recorded with delay. You shoot, you see the headshot splashing virtual blood all over the place and all of a sudden you die because the enemy has a faster internet connection and his hit recorded before yours. Talke about rage quits on another level.

As advances as new wireless routers are, they still can not compete with a wired connection.

Here, I said it. OK, AD routers are faster than most 1Gb connections at close range. That close range can be 3-4 feet and then we drop significantly. Put a wall between them and we’re done – no signal whatsoever.

I’ve included two commercial grade routers in this review. They are easily transformed into wireless with a purchase of a somewhat inexpensive WiFi access point. In a matter of fact, a setup of a dedicated wired router + access point might render cheaper than buying an expensive tri-band router. Yes, it might not be tri-band and it might lack a few consumer options but the performance will easily blow much more expensive devices out of the water.

The Best Gaming Routers

Some of them are good, some of them are excellent. There is no such thing as the best gaming router. There is the best router that fits your needs perfectly. The top gaming routers are expensive and most people might not see the value in it in order to spend the money. That’s completely understandable and I can’t blame them for it.

Some people can not run wires and are looking for a top wireless router for gaming. Yes, ping will suffer from wireless but with a good setup that can be minimised to an acceptable level, especially if you have a fibre connection. You have to keep in mind that most, if not all, wireless routers cannot deliver the speed that the manufacturer promises. Ony wired routers can keep up with a fast gigabit connection, especially at distances longer than a few meters. That is that sad truth.

Yes, AD standard supposedly will change that. Eventually, one day. But try moving away from the router in AD mode to see how soon and how fast the connection will drop from a few Gbps to a few Mbps. It’s really quick. Now imagine what will happen when you put a wall between you and the router? Yes, AC and even N will perform better. 

1. ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 – The Best Gaming Router

Ok, I have to agree that it is a beast of a gaming router. The Rapture is the gaming version of the already fantastic RT-AC5300 wireless router. It is no coincidence that the GT-AC5300 is first in our charts – I really think it is the best device for gamers for a number of reasons.

Asus RT-AC5300 Wireless Performance

First of all, it is the fastest AC wireless router we have ever tested. Speed and range are just phenomenal and Asus really outdid themselves with the ROG Rapture. While the 2.4G performance is nothing to write home about, the 5Ghz is the best one we ever experienced. In our tests, it even outdid the router that it is based on – the RT version. It might be a fluke in our testing process, but it was still a tad faster. Let’s take a look at the results:

These results were achieved with a TP-Link Archer T9E PCI-Express adapter. We tried couple of laptops with built-in AC adapters but the speeds were inconsistent. Your results might vary and it is always best to pair a high-end router with a high-end adaptor for max performance.

Asus ROG GT-AC5300 Review PriceAs you can see the Asus gaming router is in a category of its own. It managed to get very close to 750Mbps at close range and over 500 when 20Ft away from the client. That is really really good for an AC router. It means that you can freely stream 4K content with high-def audio and play and stream 4K games without any noticeable stutter. Yes, the price is very high even by our standards but you get what you pay for – the ROG version of the RT-AC5300 is a living proof of that.

ASUS ROG Router Flaws

There are a few downsides of this device. The main one is the dreadful interface and the color scheme of the GUI (Graphical User Interface). While we do understand that the ROG is aimed at gamers and gamers alone, there are quite a few bugs and wrong lingo in the GUI. QoS, as familiar with other router interfaces, here it is called “Game Boost”. There are quite a few other mishaps and misspells. The red theme is horrible and people who have some ideas of routers might get really confused with the lingo. While it is predominantly gaming oriented, a lot of features are renamed and they can be really hard to find compared to other ASUS devices – like the RT-AC88U, for example.

Another flaw can be the app Asus designed to use with this router – it is buggy at best and it works when it wants to. It is just not that good. That shouldn’t be a big deal for most people but if you want to use the app to change settings and optimize the routers it might frustrate you beyond belief.

The Main Differences Between The RT-AC5300 And The ROG GT-AC5300

You might ask yourself the question:

Why should I buy the ROG GT-AC5300 over the Asus RT-AC5300?

While the original AC5300 is a great product, the GT version is just better. For a few more bucks (around 40-50 at the moment) you get twice the RAM, twice the processor, link aggregation, 4 more LAN ports and lots of built-in gaming features. It is faster and more reliable router with better hardware. The GUI is tweaked as well, but not for the better. We like the original software better.

Let's take a look at the features and the specs of this beast: 

  • Features
  • Specs
  • Installation

Installation is a breeze on the GT-AC5300. Much like other ASUS routers it is almost plug and play. You can just connect it to your internet modem and go. The pre-installed gaming featured are accessible through the GUI or the APP provided. 

We can't wholeheartedly recommend the app since it is buggy at best. It is much better to use the admin interface accessible over the local network. 

PROS
CONS
  • Solid Hardware
  • Faster CPU and more RAM than the RT-AC5300
  • Dedicated Gaming Features
  • Lots of LAN and USB connections 
  • Very High Price
  • Same Built-In Games Available In RT-AC5300 
  • GUI Could Be MUCH Better
  • Asus APP Is Not Working Most Of The Time

The Talon AD7200 is a fantastic router for a single room in AD mode. The connected devices within that room will enjoy a wireless connection that is very close in terms of speed to wired one. Once you get out of that room you'll have to switch to AC and there is no way around it. It performs marvelously in AC and N modes and it is very close to the best AC router we tested - the GT-AC5300 by ASUS. 

  • Features
  • Specs
  • Installation

Installation is a breeze on the GT-AC5300. Much like other ASUS routers it is almost plug and play. You can just connect it to your internet modem and go. The pre-installed gaming featured are accessible through the GUI or the APP provided. 

We can't wholeheartedly recommend the app since it is buggy at best. It is much better to use the admin interface accessible over the local network. 

PROS
CONS
  • Very Fast Hardware
  • The First AD Wireless Router
  • Excellent AC Performance
  • Close To Ethernet Performance
  • High Price
  • 60GHz Unusable At Long Distance
  • Can't Penetrate Walls At 60GHz

3. Linksys Max Stream EA9500 – The Best Router For Streaming

While the Asus has the best gaming router, I think you’ll agree that the Linksys EA9500 is the best AC router money can buy.

It is a strong contender with plenty of advanced options available. Just like the Asus ROG, it has a lot of ethernet connections, two USB ports (although one of them is USB 2.0) and a very strong wireless signal.

The main reason why the Max Stream isn't on top of the ASUS ROG is that it isn't really a gaming-focused router. It has some features and it supports some games but it's not really in the class of the ASUS gaming wise. It is also a tad slower than the competition. Not by a lot by any means, just enough to move it down the ladder. Nothing you will notice in real-life situations though. 

The Linksys performance is on par with the big boys in terms of speed and signal strength. It is very strong at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. It is a very competent router that is able to cover even very large homes. Let’s take a look at the results that we were able to achieve when testing the network speed:

Linksys Max Stream EA9500 AC5400 Wireless Router Review Price

As we can see above, the Linksys Max Stream has solid 5GHz performance, at least on par with the ROG router. What’s amazing is that it totally trumps the ASUS in terms of 2.4GHz speed and coverage. That might not be important for people with lots of 5G devices, but households with lots of 2.4G devices might benefit hugely from the EA9500 performance.

Even better, the 2.4G signal travels much better than the 5G through walls and floors and you might get much better performance at long distance using the 2.4G band, especially in large offices and two or three-story houses.

What’s amazing about the Linksys is that we managed to get a very strong signal even at 100 feet and above. We managed to average about 450Mbps download speeds at 100 feet. Not even within a line of sight – we had 2 solid walls between the router and the testing laptop.

That’s an amazing result for a consumer grade router. That means that you can stream 4K content without interruption even two floors down. Excellent news for people with a really large house or even farms.

There are a few flaws, if you can call them that based on the performance recorded above.

The router is huge. It is 11 inches long, 9.5 inches wide and 2.2 inches tall. That’s massive compared to the average consumer grade router. It weighs more than twice the weight of an average router too. It hits the scale at over 3 pounds. If you consider that router please make sure you have an adequate space for installation – it is not small by any means.

The interface is nothing to write home about either. It has some convenient features like drag and drop app prioritization but it is no different than any other Linksys router on the market. You can access the router setting locally and over the internet. The downside with remote setup is that the router needs to be connected to Linksys server at all times in order to use the function. Some people have privacy concerns about that and I can see their point too.

  • Features
  • Specs
  • Installation

EA9500 Max Stream installation is no different than any other Linksys router. It is straightforward and easy - just take the router out of the box, connect it to your modem and login to the admin area to adjust the settings and the wireless SSID and passwords. 

The EA9500 comes packed with a quick start guide, ethernet cable, power adapter and a CD-ROM with the manual and other documentation. Linksys also provide a very useful Android and iOS app that you can use to set up the router and change settings from your phone.

PROS
CONS
  • Amazing Range And Speed
  • Very Strong 2.4GHz Performance
  • Very Long Range At 5GHz Mode
  • 8 Ethernet Ports
  • Very Bulky And Heavy
  • No Link Aggregation
  • Somewhat Expensive

4. Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 – The Best AD Router

As expected, the Netgear device managed to out-do TP-Link in the AD department. As usual, whenever someone introduces a new product with a new standard first on the market they are considered the pioneers. But whoever is second manages to offer a better device.

Yes, the Netgear X10 is a better device than the TP-Link Talon AD7200.

Netgear Nighthawk R9000 AD7200 Wireless RouterNo, there isn’t anything wrong with the Talon, quite the opposite. It is a fantastic AD router for the money. It’s just that the X10 feels a better build and developed product for a higher price, of course.

Just like the Talon, the Nighthawk over promises and under delivers. This is not due to some faults with the device or anything like that – it is just that AD is still a very new tech. It claims massive speeds and signal strength but in reality, it is still a single-room technology. It can not penetrate walls, let alone floors. In order to use the Nighthawk X10 in AD mode, you’ll have to be sitting right next to it. Few steps away and the connection drops to AC levels and below. Few more steps and your signal is gone. Literally. Put a wall between you and the router and you can’t connect to it – there is no AD signal.

So let’s take a look at the wireless performance of the Netgear Nighthawk X10

As you can see from the chart above, the AD performance of the X10 is extraordinary in AD mode right next to the router. 10 feet away falls below most AC standard routers. 20 feet away is slower than a wireless G router. 30 feet away in a clear line of sight with no walls - signal is gone. Please keep that in mind if you're thinking that you'll manage to get fast AD signal throughout the house. 

There are a few things that set apart the Nighthawk from the competition of the Talon AD7200. 

The first one is the 10Gbps optical ethernet connection that the Nighthawk has. The second is the link aggregation service the X10 has and the Talon hasn't. The third one is the two extra ethernet ports over the Talon.

Yes, I have to agree that these are not a huge dealbrakers for the Talon, but if you're in the market for a router that can handle large networks and can connect to optical networks then the Nighthawk is worthy of your consideration. 

Other interesting features of tNighthawk are the built-in Plex server and the Amazon Cloud backup features. You can connect a hard drive or a NAS device to the X10 and easily spin up a Plesk streaming server. If you have an Amazon cloud account you can backup data to it straight from the router - a very convenient feature. 

  • Features
  • Specs
  • Installation

The Netgear Nighthawk X10 installation is no different than any other Linksys router. It is straightforward and easy - just take the router out of the box, connect it to your modem and login to the admin area to adjust the settings and the wireless SSID and passwords. 

The X10 comes packed with a quick start guide, ethernet cable, power adapter and a quick start guide. Netgear also provide a very useful Android and iOS app that you can use to set up the router and change settings from your phone.

PROS
CONS
  • Capable AD Router
  • Strong Wireless AC and N Performance
  • 10Gbps Optical Connection
  • 6 Gigabit LAN Ports
  • No Gaming Settings
  • Much More Expensive Than The Talon AD7200
  • Not Particularly Strong Signal

While testing the signal strength and speeds we managed to achieve the fastest MU-MIMO connection compared to any other devices on this list. We tested the simultaneous speed of three wireless AC equipped laptops and the speed was noticeably faster than the Asus ROG and the Linksys EA9500. We got a little over 278Mbps on each of the three laptops. That's 60Mbps faster than any other routers on this list. As usual, your mileage might vary, but keep in mind that the D-Link is a very competent MU-MIMO router that will be ideal for households with a large number of devices. 

  • Features
  • Specs
  • Installation

The Netgear Nighthawk X10 installation is no different than any other Linksys router. It is straightforward and easy - just take the router out of the box, connect it to your modem and login to the admin area to adjust the settings and the wireless SSID and passwords. 

The X10 comes packed with a quick start guide, ethernet cable, power adapter and a quick start guide. Netgear also provide a very useful Android and iOS app that you can use to set up the router and change settings from your phone.

PROS
CONS
  • The Best MU-MIMO Performance In Class
  • Strong Wireless AC and N Performance
  • Futuristic Design
  • No Special Gaming Settings
  • Much More Expensive Than The Talon AD7200
  • Not Particularly Strong Signal

6. Synology RT2600AC – The Best Dual Band Gaming Router

The Best Dual Band For Gaming And Streaming - Sinology RT2600AC

You might’ve heard about Synology – it makes hands-down the best NAS (Network Access Storage) devices in the world. So no wonder they made such a good dual-band router. It has an excellent price-performance ratio and, again, the best operating system we’ve experienced in a router. We even think that it is an even better product than champions like the Asus RT-AC66U and Netgear R7000.

See, most routers have a very complicated and confusing graphical interface. There are lots of options and networking lingo that most people have no idea about it. This one is different – the GUI is designed like an operating system itself and you can add functionality just by installing different apps. You can open multiple apps at the same time, you have a control panel where all the settings are and so much more.

For example, if you need a VPN (Virtual Private Network) server functionality, all you need to do is download the VPN package and install it – just like you’d install an app on your Android or iOS device. Need a solid firewall and security? Simple – install the “Intrusion Prevention” app and you’re good to go. There are eight different packages that you can use to extend the router’s functionality and Synology promises that there are more to come.

There is also a free Android and iOS app that you can manage the router with – it is called DS Router app and it lets you change router and server setting on the go using your phone or tablet.

Ok, we all know that the GUI it is not what persuaded us to consider the RT2600AC for this best routers list – it is the stellar performance that makes the Synology product so desirable. Let’s take a look at the wireless speeds that this router achieved in our tests:

As you can see from the chart above, the RT2600AC is on par with the best in terms of wireless speed and performance. Yes, it doesn't have three separate bands like the Asus ROG GT5300AC but it also doesn't have the price tag of the Asus. As you can see, the performance is very similar in terms of raw wireless speed. The only difference is that you can connect few devices less simultaneously. The shouldn't matter for most households as the router can comfortably handle more than 10 connections at the same time without a hitch. 

You might ask yourself “What are the flaws of the Synology RT2600AC?”
To be honest, there aren’t many. Synology might not be a brand known for making the best wireless gaming, but this device offers phenomenal performance at a very reasonable price.

The only really limiting factors, if you can call them that, are the absence of link aggregation for faster than gigabit connections and the limited number of ethernet ports. It is not a dealbreaker for most people so not a huge issue. People with large number of wired devices, such as NAS devices, for example, might feel limited by the only four gigabit ports available.

The wireless performance more than makes up for it. The speed is exceptional as seen in the graph above. The signal strength is very good too. When sitting over a hundred feet away from the router we managed to consistently maintain over 90 Mbps connection. That’s on par with signal strength champions like the Linksys EA9500, for example.

USB performance is excellent too – the read/write speeds of a connected SSD drive to the available USB 3.0 were respectively 93MB/s read and 84MB/s write. That’s very good USB performance – you can easily stream movies and TV shows off a connected hard drive to the USB port without experiencing any buffering or glitches.

  • Features
  • Specs
  • Installation

Synology RT2600AC Wireless Router Features

  • 1.7GHz Dual Core Processor
  • 4GB Storage (Best In Class) - need for app installs and extra packages
  • VPN Server
  • NAS Functionality - similar to dedicated Synology NAS with connected HDD
  • Quad Stream And Working MU-MIMO
  • Beamforming for more reliable signal delivery
  • Hardware Acceleration Engine
  • Dual Band - Speeds Of Up To 800Mbps on 2.4GHz and 1733Mbps on 5GHz
  • Outstanding Parental Controls And Security Features
PROS
CONS
  • Affordable Price
  • The Best GUI Ever
  • Strong Signal
  • Fast WiFi - On Par With The Best
  • Useful Add-Ons
  • Not Particularly Gaming
  • No Link Aggregation
  • Only Four LAN Ports

7. Zyxel ARMOR Z2 – The Best Gaming Router Under $200

Here we go with what we think is the best router under 200 dollars (GBP/EUR). It might seem a bit of an unconventional choice – it is, probably. Actually, the next three routers on this list are a bit unconventional too so let’s take a look the Zyxel device.
We haven’t thought much of Zyxel before – I had an idea that they are a networking equipment manufacturer but never thought of them as a solid router maker. We were really surprised when we plugged and turned on the Armor Z2 and started testing its performance. The Armor Z1 was a solid machine, but way overpriced and it didn’t offer the performance the match the price tag. The Z2 is a whole different ball game.

We had the router for a week working non-stop with large downloads and uploads, connected hard-drive for streaming and backups, lots of online gaming and streaming. It didn’t flinch!!! Anything we threw at it took with pride and dignity and just kept on working. Amazing for this price.

It looks great too. A bit unassuming, but sleek and conventional design. The yellow elements make it look gaming oriented and they, in combination with the tipped forward look, resemble the front of a fast and expensive sports car. It is a rather large router – 9.8 x 6.6 x 2 inches. It is on par with the ASUS ROG and the TP-Link talon in terms of size but the performance is nowhere near them. 

Let’s take a look at the performance figures:  

 

As you can see from the figure above the Zyxel Z2 is offering more than adequate performance at a affordable price. Only a few routers below 200 bucks can offer 5GHz speed of over 650Mbps and the ARMOR is proudly sitting amongst them. The download speeds at this range are impressive, allowing you to easily download and stream content throughout you home without buffering and hiccups.
The USB performance is not on par with the wireless one. When testing the router’s transfer speeds between a connected external SSD drive and a wired computer, the top download speed we managed to record when transferring a 4GB file was only 47MB/s. That in general is not enough to stream high-definition content from a connected to the USB port hard drive. 4K is out of the question too.

The Zyxel ARMOR Z2, as you can see from the features and specs below, is a very similar device to the Synology RT2600AC feature above it. It has basically the same hardware and a very similar design. The Synology feels like a more quality device though - it feels more upscale and the build is just better. The software is on another level too - the SRM is a pure pleasure to work with. It is stable, reliable and offers great performance and customization options missing in the Zyxel device. On the other hand,  this is reflected in the Zyxel price - it can be found online way below $200 when the Synology is rarely below that. 

  • Features
  • Specs
  • Installation

Synology RT2600AC Wireless Router Features

  • 1.7GHz Dual Core Processor
  • Built For Gaming and Streaming
  • Wireless Speeds Of Up To 2600Mbps
  • Race Car Inspired Design
  • Gigabit LAN and WAN ports
  • Enhanced MU-MIMO Support
  • Beam forming for better coverage and signal strength
  • StreamBoos - Advanced Quality Of Service Functionality
PROS
CONS
  • Good Price
  • Powerful Hardware
  • Reliable Coverage And Signal
  • Slow USB Performance
  • Uninspiring GUI

8. Ubiquity EdgeRouter X – The Best Wired Router

Ubiquity EdgeRouter X Ethernet Router Combined With An Access Point is the best wireless router system

Here it is the first unconventional choice in this list. Don’t worry, there are more to come.

So you might wonder why are we including a wired networking router in a gaming list?

As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, network lag is the biggest evil in online gaming. When 5ms ping can make or break someone’s online record and win rate it is crucial to have a fast and reliable network connection.

Yes, ANY of the routers mentioned above can handle lots of ethernet traffic – there are at least four ports on every one of the devices listed above. But have you wondered what these big corporations use to manage their vast networks with hundreds of users connected to their network? They use devices like the Ubiquity here and Microtic coming up next.

The EdgeRouter X is a relatively simple device with LOTS of advanced networking options. In a matter of fact, if you want to setup the device to the best of its potential you’ll have to climb a pretty steep learning curve. Yes, you can set it up via the GUI, but the really deep and powerful options come when you tinker with the console interface through an SSH connection.

The Ubiquity is an enterprise device brought to a home environment at a VERY affordable price. It is a very small box resembling an ordinary hub/switch type tech with an unassuming appearance. It is powered by the Ubiquity’s own EdgeOS.

While the router is ethernet only by design, it can be very easily transformed into a powerful wireless system. Ubiquity is a well-known manufacturer of outdoors wireless systems known for their quality and reliability. In this aspect, they make one of the best and more popular WAPs on the market. In case you are wondering what exactly is “WAP” – it is the abbreviation of Wireless Access Point. WAP is a device that is used to connect a wireless network to a router. It connects to the router via ethernet cable and provides wireless network to clients.

There are quite a few WAPs that you can choose to connect to the router. You can use Ubiquity’s own access points which are of proven quality or you can choose APs from any other manufacturer if you’d like that – TP-Link has a few good ones, Microtic does too, as well as every other respectable networking manufacturer.

The best wireless access points are probably the Ubiquity’s own UniFi range. There are a few editions and they are as follows:

  • UniFi AC Lite – Dual Band AC – 300Mbps @ 2.4 GHz and 867 Mbps @ 5GHz
  • UniFi AC LR – Dual Band AC with stronger signal and faster Wireless N – 450Mbps @ 2.4 GHz and 867 Mbps @ 5GHz
  • UniFi AC Pro – Dual Band AC – 450Mbps @ 2.4GHz and 1300Mbps @ 5GHz

As you can see from the links above, there are plenty of options when it comes to making your network wireless with the EdgeRouter. The router itself is really cheap - less than 50 bucks on amazon. The most expensive access point - the UniFi AC PRO - is a bit over a hundred. You can have an enterprise grade wireless system for less than 200 dollars. That's cheaper than any of the gaming routers we tested above. Yes, it might not have all the bells and whistles of the ASUS Rapture monster or the insane wireless speed of the Nighthawk X10 in AD mode. What it has is business range quality and reliability. Yes, there is a learning curve and you have to know your networking but overall you'll get a reliable and trouble free system for a very affordable price. 

Let's take a look at the performance figures the Ubiquity's own access points:

As you can see from the chart above the Ubiquity system performs on par with devices worth well over twice the price o the EdgeRouterX + UniFi Access Point. The advantage of this combination is that you can tweak and optimize it anyway that you like. You can have multiple wireless SSIDs, separate networks, wireless bridges and many more options. The real downside is that you'll have to spend some time testing and tweaking the system before achieving good results. There is a learning curve to that and it can be a steep one for the non-initiated. 

  • Features
  • Specs
  • Installation
  • Processor - Quad Core Broadcom 1.8GHz
  • RAM - 1Gb 
  • ROM - 256Mb
  • WiFi Tech - MIMO technology2.4 GHz 4 x 45 GHz-1 4 x 45 GHz-2 4 x 4
  • Weight - 4.14 lb.
  • Management - UPnP, IGMP v1/v2/v3, DNS Proxy, DHCP, NTP Client, DDNS, Port Trigger, Port Forwarding, DMZ, System Event Log
  • Encryption - 64-bit WEP, 128-bit WEP, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPA-Enterprise , WPA2-Enterprise , Radius with 802.1x, WPS support
  • USB Ports: 2 x USB 3.0
  • LAN Ports - 8 Gigabit Ports
  • Game Profile For Popular Games like WoW, CS:GO, Overwatch, DOTA and more

Ubiquity EdgeRouter X Specs:

  • CPU - 800MHz Dual Core Chip
  • RAM - 256MB
  • ROM - 256MB Storage
  • Data/PoE Input Port - 1 x 10/100/1000
  • Data Ports - 3 x 10/100/1000
  • Data/PoE Passthrough Port - 1 x 10/100/1000

Ubiquity UniFi AC PRO Specs: 

  • USB - 1 x USB 2.0 Port
  • Antennas - 3 x Dual Band Antennas (3dB each)
  • BSSID - Up To Four Per Radio
  • WiFi Security - WEP, WPA-PSK, WPA-Enterprise (WPA/WPA2, TKIP/AES)
  • QoS - Per User Rate Limiting, Guest Traffic Isolation
  • Max Wireless Speed - 450Mbps @ 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps @ 5GHz
  • Max Clients - 200+ Simultaneous Users 
PROS
CONS
  • Enterprise Level Performance
  • Reliable And Proven Hardware
  • Excellent Price
  • Many Advanced Networking Options
  • Very High Level Of Customization
  • No USB
  • Steep Learning Curve

9. MikroTik RouterBoard hAP AC – Enterprise AC Router On A Budget

MikroTik RouterBoard hAP AC Dual Band Wireless Router

While the Ubiquity system mentioned above is exactly that – a system of a separate router and a separate access point, MikroTik has something more conventional to offer – an enterprise level AC router at an affordable price. We covered most of the advantages and disadvantages of these devices in the previous paragraph so I’m not going to go into much detail here.

The RouterBoard hAP AC is not much to look at – it is a very simple looking device. It resembles an ordinary switch or hub type of tech. You’d never guess that it is a wireless router, let alone an actually good router for gaming and streaming. There are no bulky antennas sticking out of, there is no resemblance of an exoskeleton bug like the D-Link DIR-895 or a sporty race car like the Zyxel, for example, no bright lights or slick forms. It is a rectangular box that just works.

Just keep in mind that the MikroTik, just like the Ubiquity router mentioned above, is a bit of an advanced router that needs a little bit of networking knowledge and tinkering with the console to get the best performance and speeds out of it. Yes, it comes pre-configured for use out of the box, but to get the best of it you’ll have to be able to use SSH to log in to the console and change settings on the go – a bit scary prospect if you’re not comfortable with it. You can do serious damage to the system and might brick the device if you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing. I’m trying to scare you – just keep that in mind when considering the MikroTik for home use.

Unlike the Ubiquity, the MikroTik has the access point built-in so it is complete dual-band router. It has two separate wireless networks – one on 2.4GHz and another on 5GHz. The max speed of the 2.4GHz wireless N band is 450Mbps and the 5GHz band tops up at 1300Mbps, effectively making it AC1750 device.

The MikroTik router has its own proprietary operating system called RouterOS. It is the heart and soul of every MicroTik and it can be even installed on regular PC as well. You can turn your old computer that is sitting in the garage into a powerful, highly customizable wireless router with a simple download and install of the RouterOS.

So let’s take a look at the performance figures of the RouterBoard hAP AC:

As you can see in the chart above the MikroTik is a competent performer in the class of much more expensive devices. Should you buy the RouterBoard? That is, of course, entirely up to you, but you have to keep in mind that it is not as easy to configure and customize like the consumer-grade router mentioned first in this article. The Synology RT2600AC is by far the most pleasant router to set up and configure, for example. The hAP AC is not. By a long mile. If you are ready to dig into networking literature and read up on setting it up and configuring it will pay back tenfold in terms of reliability and performance. 

PROS
CONS
  • Very Affordable
  • Reliable And Proven Hardware
  • Many Advanced Networking Options
  • Very High Level Of Customization
  • Steep Learning Curve

10. Xiaomi Mi WiFi Router Pro AC2600 – The Best Chinese Budget Router

Xiaomi Mi Router Pro Dual Band AC2600If you haven’t heard the brand Xiaomi (pronounced “show-me”) by now, you’re missing on a number of very cool products made by the Chinese company. They are often referred to as the “Chinese Apple” as their products resemble Apple’s design philosophy of minimalism and quality materials. They also make products that offer superb performance at a very affordable price. Now it is the time to introduce you to the Xiaomi’s own router – the Mi WiFi Router Pro. It is easily the best wireless router under 100 dollars.

There are two versions of this router – one of them is a standalone router and the other one is a fusion of router and a network accessed storage (NAS) all-in-one. The standalone router is just the router itself with no extra storage attached while the “HD” version can be acquired with a 3.5″ hard drive option boasting a capacity from 1TB to 8TB.

The Xiaomi router is powered by a modified version of the highly-popular OpenWRT operating system. It is one of the most powerful and widely-supported custom router software. Compared to most standard systems provided by manufacturers like Linksys, Netgear, and the rest, OpenWRT is a open source OS that offers better wireless performance, higher security and customization options. It can be expanded with a variety of add-ons that you can install on your own too.

It doesn’t look too gaming oriented but rather classy and elegant – rounded aluminium cover wraps around the plastic base. On the back of the router, there are four gigabit ethernet ports, a WAN port and a single USB 3.0 connection. You can use the USB port to connect an external hard drive or any other storage device if needed. Probably not so much on the HD version, but it is a nice addition for the PRO.

It is an AC2600 device featuring two separate bands – one on 2.4GHz with a max speed of 800Mbps and another on 5GHz with a max speed of 1733Mbps. Just like before, the max speeds don’t mean average sustained speeds so let’s take a look at the performance of the Xiaomi Mi Router Pro:

As you can see from the chart above, the Xiaomi device is not far-off the big boys in this group. Wireless sustained speed of almost 600Mbps is no joke. The N speed and coverage are not bad either. In a matter of fact we managed to sustain speeds of over 120Mbps while sitting 100 feet from the router with two walls in between. The Mi can easily cover a two story house or a large apartment. For the price that it can be found online it makes it easily the best wireless router under $100. 

OK, I have to admit that there are some considerable flaws with the router. The main is one that it is usually sold exclusively in China. You can't find it on major outlets like Amazon, for example. While the quality of Xiaomi products is usually excellent, there is always the chance of an occasional defect or malfunction and then you'll have to ship it back to Chine on your accord to take advantage of the warranty. 

The second flaw is that the router's interface is in Chinese. If you can read and speak it - kudos to you!!! But if you don't you'll have a hard time setting up the router. Thankfully, there is a Xiaomi app that can be used for setting up. It can be downloaded from the App Store and you can use it to connect to your router and set it up. 

  • Features
  • Specs
  • Installation

The installation of the Mi router can be a bit tricky if you are now well-versed in Chinese. I am not so I used the very convenient Wi-Fi 3.0 app to setup and connect the router to Internet. It is a very simple and straightforward process but you will have hard time doing it over the router admin panel . 

PROS
CONS
  • Price
  • Solid Performance
  • Open Source Software
  • Fast USB Transfer Speeds
  • Chinese Admin Panel
  • Eventual Customs And Import Duties 
  • Hard To Deal With Returns

Wireless Router Technology Explained

Let’s answer a few questions first about how routers work and what’s the technology that makes a wireless rooter tick. 

What are  WiFi and wireless routers?

WiFi is the common short name for wireless networking. Just like wired networks, wireless ones are used for transferring information between connected devices and the internet. WiFi uses radio waves while standard networking uses cables.
The WiFi router is the connecting point to any wireless network and it is used to transmit information between connected devices and the Internet. Most routers provide internal IP addresses via DHCP to all connected devices so they can be visible to each other. As WiFi is a two-way traffic network the router will also transfer and encode the information received and sent to radio waves which can be received by the connected clients.

What are the different WiFi Standards?

At the moment there are seven different WiFi standards that you should be aware of. Some of them are very outdated and no one uses them today but nevertheless, most routers support those standards:

  • 802.11 – Speeds Up To 2Mbit
  • 802.11b – Speeds Of Up To 11Mbit On 2.4Ghz
  • 802.11a – Speeds Of Up To 54Mbit On 5Ghz
  • 802.11g (Wireless-G) – Speeds Of Up To 54Mbit On 2.4Ghz
  • 802.11n (Wireless N) – Speeds Of Up To 300Mbit On Both 2.4Ghz And 5Ghz
  • 802.11ac (AC) – Speeds Of Up To 450Mbps on 2.4 and 1300Mbps On 5Ghz
  • 802.11ad (AD) – Speeds Of Up To 7Gbps on 60Ghz

Most modern routers supporting the AC standard are backwards compatible with the older b, g, and n standards. They come with different configurations of networks and bands and boasting a top speed of up to 5300Mbps combined. There are quite a few routers featuring the new AD standard that offer immense speed and performance but only at a very limited range, usually confined in the limits of a single room. It is a new tech and there are still no widely available AD wireless adapters. It is definitely the future of wireless and it offers lots of promise once the range and coverage gets improved. 

What Is A Dual Band Router?

A single-band router can usually operate only on 2.4Ghz, which increases the risk of interference from electronic devices such as mobile phones, microwaves, and televisions. Thus, the router is slowed down and its beam range is limited.
On the other side, a dual-band router is a device that exceeds the performance of the more simple, single-band routers. The dual-band routers usually have two separate networks: one on 2.4GHz and another on 5 GHz. The two bands are distinct from one another in terms of coverage and bandwidth. The 2.4GHz band may provide a longer coverage but it is inferior to the 5GHz band when it comes to the speed and transmission rates. The 5GHz band possesses more channels, it transmits data at a faster speed but its range is limited, due to the fact that higher frequencies cannot go through walls as easy as the lower ones. So, the single-band router won’t come close to the speed at which a dual-band router will upload or download files.
The cool thing about having a dual-band router is that it can work as two separate devices. The advantage of the two frequencies is that the 2.4GHz band is suitable for older generation devices, whereas the 5GHz band delivers higher speed for the newer ones. As a result, you don’t need to throw away the old reliable gadgets and spend a fortune on new ones.

What Is A Three Band Router And Do I need One?

Yes, you probably guessed it. Just like the difference between two-band and single bands router, the three-band routers have three separate network bands. They don’t have a third separate frequency similar to the single and dual-band routers, they count on two separate 5Ghz networks instead to provide optimal performance.  The reason for that is the growing number of devices that need to be connected to a single WiFi router and the growing levels of interference and bandwidth saturation. We all have phones, tablets, gaming consoles, TV streaming boxes, laptops and more… If they all get connected to a single 2.4Ghz band you can imagine the dragging performance and interference that will create.
That’s why we have tri-band routers today – to cope with today’s high-tech homes requirements and provide the necessary bandwidth. Two separate 5Ghz bands allow us to play demanding games while other people stream 4K content without any glitches and buffering. Imagine the pain when playing an important mission in Battlefield, for example, and the ping drops to 500ms or more? Or while streaming the next Game Of Thrones episode and it stops every few seconds to catch up and buffer to only do it again thirty seconds later because the router cannot cope with the load? Horrible, isn’t it?
Three band routers solve a lot of problems, but they don’t come cheap. High performance has its price and they are usually very, very expensive. Are they a marketing gimmick? They could be, a lot of them are indeed, but if you have a large household with lots of heavy internet users a high-end, tri-band router can solve a lot of problems with concurrent downloads, beamforming, MU-MIMO technology and more.

The Best Gaming Router Verdict - What To Buy

We really hope that you got a better idea about what is the best gaming router to buy after reading this article. The decision is ultimately yours to make, of course. It depends on your budget and your networking configuration skills as well. If you are well versed in configuring routers and have some experience with networking products I’d say go for either the Ubiquity system or the MikroTik hAP router. It is by far the most stable and reliable system if you take the time to set it up correctly. You can tweak the radio power, create more than a few separate networks, limit the speed on some them and forbid others.

If you don’t want to spend too much time reading up on networking lingo and waste it setting up – get the ASUS monster. It is by far the most advanced and gaming oriented wireless router. It offers tremendous performance for a pretty steep price. If you have the budget for it you will definitely not regret it.

Our Choice For The Best Gaming Router Is: 

We tested ten different wireless routers and we really think  that the Asus's ROG ( Republic Of Gamers ) is still the choice for the serious gamer. Yes, it costs a considerable amount of money and it might lack AD capabilities, but its gaming performance is the bets we have ever experienced with router in this class. 
It is a significant upgrade over the already hugely popular ASUS RT-AC5300 monster router and the higher price is well worth it. 
For a slight bump in price you get twice the memory, twice the processor cores, twice the storage and twice the number of gigabit ethernet port available for wired connections. 
You almost get twice the router over the RT-AC5300 for less than 10% increase in price. Well worth it!!!

Our Choice For The Best Gaming Wireless Router - Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300

ASUS ROG Rapture

GT-AC5300

If you don’t have unlimited funds like the rest of us there are a few choices as well.

The first one is my favorite – I’d personally go for the Synology device. It is a well-rounded product that offers great performance, reliable signal, great coverage and best-in-class admin panel. It has an excellent security and sharing features and the operating system is rock solid too. 

The second one is for the more adventurous of you. I’d go for the Xiaomi, but you have to consider the negatives if you decide to do so – there is virtually no support and returns can a nightmare in the unfortunate event of a malfunction or a defect. 

If you think that we missed a good router and you’d like to share your experience with any of the products above, please drop us a line and we’ll take a look at it. 

Aaron Brown

Aaron is a networking engineer who started Zilla Best with the sole purpose to provide unbiased buyers guides and tech reviews.

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