In the world of computer gaming, purchasing the best peripherals and equipment to improve your games can be a complicated task, especially if you’re new to this world and don’t quite know what to look for yet. Among all the gaming gear and paraphernalia that a user can buy, the wireless router is one of the most elusive pieces of equipment. We say elusive not because they’re hard to find - wireless routers can be found in virtually every retail or online computer store - but because most customers don’t actually know what to look for in these products.
Some would argue that, as long as the router is able to provide a stable and fast wireless network in your home, you’re pretty much set, right? Well, in most cases, yes. But, as it turns out, there’s actually quite a lot more to choosing the best wireless router, especially if you’re looking to use it for competitive or professional gaming, where latency can oftentimes be the determining factor between a victory or a crushing defeat. Furthermore, a top-of-the-line gaming router can also offer features that can significantly improve your quality of life when playing your favorite online games, such as traffic optimization, dual-band WiFi, fast network speed for high-resolution streaming, and so on.
It’s more than likely that, as you’re reading this, you’re already connected to a wireless network at home. If so, then why would you be interested in purchasing a new wireless router? Well, the fact is, most users rarely upgrade their router, so their wireless devices are seldom on par with today’s internet speeds, such as those provided by fiber optics. Consequently, the wireless router can effectively turn into a bottleneck that limits the entire network’s speed. If anything, modern routers are also designed to look awesome on your desk, so besides upgrading the quality of your network, you will also obtain a great decorative piece for your desk or workplace.
It may seem odd to kick off this list with a product from Apple, a known manufacturer of cellphones, tablets, and desktop computers. However, the AirPort Extreme Base Station has proved to us with every iteration that it’s a solid product which creates a wireless network with incredible speed and stability.
The product itself is very appealing to look at, which is standard in any Apple product. But beneath its elegant exterior lies a beast of telecommunications. It has 6 antennae located on the upper half,which can create a stable network in a wider area than other routers. Furthermore, it makes use of the 802.11AC standards to transmits information at up to 1.3Gbps across its two bands. The ability to operate simultaneously in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands also allows the user to effectively spread their bandwidth across two networks, without having to deal with the hassle of slow internet because one user is hogging all the bandwidth with a download or upload.
And added bonus of the AirPort Extreme is that, since it has a vertical design, it can save valuable desk space, while doubling as a cool ornament for your workstation.
ASUS makes its first appearance in this list with the RT-ACH13 wireless router, which allows the user to create networks with up to 1300Mbps of bandwidth across their two bands. The router is equipped with 4 antennae which, similar to our previous entry, are used to create stable wireless networks across a wide area. The main appeal of this router, besides its generous network speed and attractive design, is its price. That’s right, for a pretty inexpensive router, you’re getting a router that you most likely won’t have to replace anytime soon.
Besides the customary ethernet ports, this router is also equipped with a USB 3.0 port which allows you to stream HD video, music,and pictures from your router to any connected device via WiFi.Furthermore, the networks created with this router can be easily customized and managed with your smartphone by downloading the ASUS router app.
The Nighthawk by Netgear is definitely one heavy hitter in our lineup of gaming routers. It comes with a pretty heavy price tag,but for that amount of money you’ll be receiving one of the very best products you will ever need, at least as far as gaming is concerned. This wireless router comes equipped with 3 hefty antennae that, thanks to the Beamforming+ technology, can create a wider network than other routers. Additionally, the Nighthawkhas an on board 1GHz processor that can easily process information and create networks of up to 1900Mbps of bandwidth across both its bands.
This router was clearly conceived with gamers in mind, as it has several features that allow lag-free gaming, and proper optimization of bandwidth for either watching movies, streaming music, or simply browsing the web. Furthermore, it uses Kwilt,which is a software that allows you to easily view and share information contained on the devices connected to your router via USB on your favorite social networks. Similar to the RT-ACRH13,the Nighthawk also allows setting up, accessing and customizing the parameters of your wireless networks via the NETGEAR Up and OpenVPN Connect applications.
Just like the Nighthawk above, the AC-1900 by D-Link allows a maximum speed of 1900Mbps across its two bands: 600Mbps on the2.4Ghz side, and the other 1300Mbps on the 5Ghz band. It also has Beamforming technology that complements its robust tri-antennae system, which allows this router to create strong networks across wide areas, such as offices and big households, without the need of an extender.
With this router you will effectively receive the fastest possible connection speed, thanks to its Smart Connect Technology, which automatically assigns the fastest WiFi speed for every device. For instance, if someone is gaming, the router will automatically assign the user an amount of bandwidth so, even though someone else might be downloading a big document, the gamer will never feel lag. Similarly, the person downloading their files will also get assigned a certain bandwidth, so that they may continue operating at the fastest speed without inconveniencing other users.
Most options and parameters of the networks created by the AC1900 can be managed and edited via smartphone for your convenience.
Topping off our 5 best picks for gaming routers is the AC1900 by TP-Link. Despite having a similar name to our previous entry, this router is actually its own product. For starters, it sports a much lower price tag while offering similar performance. It allows up to 1900Mbps of bandwidth, distributed between its two bands at 600Mbps for the 2.4GHz frequency, and 1300Mbps for the 5GHz band. The powerful 5GHz band is designed for high-performance gaming, while the slower 2.4GHz frequency is meant for everyday use.
Its 3 antennae are also complemented with Beamforming technology to create a stronger connection with all the devices.Similar to the Nighthawk, this router also has a 1GHz processor in place to provide an adequate service to all the users without interruption. Furthermore, this router has 2 USB ports: the 2.0 USB is meant for sharing printers and other devices via the wireless network, while the faster 3.0 USB port is meant for streaming and sharing media across the connected devices.
The TP-Link Tether app ensures that you will always have control of your wireless network at hand via your smartphone.
1900Mbps bandwidth across two bands. Compatible with 802.11AC devices. Onboard 1GHz CPU to provide adequate service to multiple users simultaneously. Compatible with the ASUS Router app for management of your network on the go.
Top quality service for the most demanding users. With a hefty price tag to match, the RT-AC3200 provides solid performance in three bands simultaneously, with a maximum bandwidth of 3200Mbps (600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, and 2600Mbps across the two 5GHz bands). The Tri-Band Smart Connect technology ensures that your devices always receive the appropriate amount of bandwidth for the task at hand.
Top speed of 1.75Gbps across both bands with 802.11AC support.Dual USB ports allow both sharing devices across the network as well as streaming media at blazing-fast speeds via a flash drive in the USB 3.0 port. The Guest Network Access feature allows you to easily share your internet with guests without compromising the integrity or security of your main network.
Router for gamers on a budget. Solid performance with a maximum bandwidth of 600Mbps across both bands. No antennae, but enough range to cover small to medium households. Ready SHARE integration allows easy remote access to any media connected via USB, as well as sharing printers across the whole network.
One of Linksys’ most powerful routers, with 1900Mbps of bandwidth across both frequencies. Open source firmware means that any user can install their very own custom firmware to boost the router’s performance beyond its normal limits. Onboard 1.6GHz CPU to handle any and all connections without lagging or interrupting the service.
We mentioned above that purchasing a wireless router is a bit more complicated than, say, choosing a good gaming mouse, or gaming keyboard. This is because, in contrast with the aforementioned peripherals, most users don’t actually know what to look for in a wireless router. To add insult to injury, most wireless routers also come packaged with odd terms, such as“802.11g” standards, and other jargon which can really come off as confusing for non-professionals.
So to help you better understand what to look for in a gaming router, we have created a list of the most important terms you need to know in order to make the best decision for your wireless network needs:
Mentioned above, “802.11g” is actually a real term. The letter at the end of the string of numbers is used to refer to the wireless standard used by the router in question. The very first generation of wireless routers was “b”, followed by “g”, and finally “n”generation (they happen to align alphabetically, for now). The most common type of routers for domestic use are currently the “g” and“n” standards, while the “b” still exists, but is mostly obsolete.There is also a new generation of routers that is currently in experimental phase but is available for domestic use already. The“AC” standard belongs to the newest and most expensive type of routers.
Besides the generation of the router, the letters at the end are used to refer to the speed of the device, “b” being the oldest and slowest models, and the experimental “AC” able to reach incredible speeds and levels of bandwidth.
So remember, in terms of generations, it goes like this:
b → g → n → AC
Each router has a set maximum speed, which is limited by the hardware used to create the device. The wireless router’s speed can be inferred by taking a look at its standard. The “b” routers are the oldest and slowest types of wireless, which can offer speeds of up to 11 megabytes per second. They are adequate for slower connections and for users who mostly use the computer to browse the internet without downloading too much data.
The “b” routers are followed by the “g” standard, which offers a maximum speed of around 54 megabytes per second; that makes them awesome for browsing, gaming, and general purpose use.Considering that, as of 2016, the average US broadband consumer has a download speed of almost 55 megabytes per second, this is arguably the router standard more suited to the general need.However, those looking for a faster router that will allow them to effectively stretch their wireless broadband over multiple users without experiencing hiccups might want to invest in an “n” or“AC” generation router.
Speaking of which, the “n” routers have a maximum speed of 300 megabytes per second. If the “g” generation of routers are good enough for most users, the “n” devices are more than good enough to provide fast and stable internet for multiple users simultaneously. The “AC” routers are fairly new, though they can reportedly reach speeds of almost 2000 megabytes per second.They are obviously the most expensive routers in the market but,more often than not, are well worth the investment, especially if the user requires stable internet at all times.
Keep in mind that your internet speed will always be limited by your ISP. If you don’t have a fast internet connection,to begin with,then you will not be able to make full use of the “n” or “AC”routers. Regardless, it is always recommended to purchase a good router, even if it exceeds your internet connection speed by a large margin, as it will allow multiple connections without the speed being bottle necked by the router.
Most wireless devices operate and connect in 2 frequencies - which are mainly referred to as bands - 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Almost every“b” and “g” router use the 2.4GHz band to provide wireless internet, but most “n”, some “g”, and essentially every “AC”router are also able to create wireless networks on both bands simultaneously. The main difference between these two frequencies is that, in network-heavy areas where there are multiple devices trying to transmit information, the most common band (2.4GHz), is often cluttered, which can lead to disconnections or interruption of wireless services. The ability to transmit wireless internet on the 5GHz band ensures that the only devices operating on this frequency are your router and the devices that connect to it, ensuring a stable and cleaner connection to the internet.
Keep in mind that not only your computer, cell phone, router, and related devices operate on the 2.4GHz. Other appliances such as cordless phones and microwave ovens operate in this very same frequency, which can add to the clutter in this very same band. In this sense, having a router that can transmit on both frequencies is a must for gamers that are having problems with their network because of too much traffic on the 2.4GHz band.
This term is generally used to refer to the encryption protocols used by your router to protect the information going to and fromthe internet, as well as safeguarding your network from would-be hackers trying to leech off of your internet connection. These encryptions settings usually revolve around the WEP, and the more advanced WPA and WPA2 protocols.
Encryption settings aside, most routers also offer the ability to limit what your users can access, as well as control the band width for each device connected to the router. These settings are often known as user access controls and are featured in virtually every modern wireless router. This aspect is very important, considering that it can give you increased control over your bandwidth, as well as allowing you to distribute it however you see fit. For instance,you can assign a free “guest network”, with a minimal amount of bandwidth for the people who visit, and another “home network”with the remaining bandwidth for yourself, so you can browse the net at your leisure.
The main point of wireless routers is to be able to connect to the internet from anywhere within your abode, and without the need of pesky cables. However, there are some cases where certain devices can benefit more from physical connections via ethernet cables. For instance, if you have a Playstation 4, you might find it better to connect it via ethernet as it can provide more stability when downloading those big 50gb+ games. For this purpose, most wireless routers are often equipped with a number of ethernet ports, so you can easily connect these devices with an ethernet cable and enjoy the benefits of having a physical connection to the router.
Additionally, most modern routers often have a couple of USB ports which can be used to stream content from a physical media drive to another device via WiFi. For instance, you could connect a flash drive to the USB 3.0 port on your router and stream your favorite 4K movies to your TV via WiFi. Similarly, you can also connect a printer to your router via USB and share it with every single user connected to the network.
The possibilities are endless!
Despite looking similar to each other, most routers are actually worlds apart. Sure, they all perform the basic function of creating a wireless network for the home or workplace, but some products,especially the best wireless routers for gaming, offer specific amenities that are aimed to optimize the network to improve gaming traffic. Regardless, these are some of the most common types of routers available for purchase today:
Not every router is meant to be used as a bridge between the PC and the internet; some of them are created to connect and share information between computers. Broadband Routers can do both.They have several ethernet ports which can be used to link several computers and allow the transfer of information between them.Furthermore, this type of router can also be used to grant internet access to linked computers, using a physical (ethernet) connection.These were the most common types of routers when the internet was starting to become a widespread phenomenon, but they have fallen out of use due to the arrival of the wireless router.
In design these routers look similar to broadband routers. Barring some exceptions, wireless routers look identical to their broadband counterparts, a fact which is further supported by the presence of several ethernet ports on their frames, which allows the transfer ofinformation between the connected computers and devices. The main difference that these routers offer over broadband devices is that the former is used to create wireless networks within a specific range. This means that users may connect either via a wired ethernet connection or wirelessly via WiFi. Wireless routers significantly improved the way people connect to the internet, no longer having to remain beside the router in order to use ethernet cables. Instead, users could enjoy browsing the internet from the comfort of their couch, kitchen, or other places, as long as they were within range of their wireless router.
Nowadays, wireless routers not only allow their users to connect to the internet via WiFi but also offer several amenities that will allowthem to optimize and use their network to its fullest extent.
There are other, less popular types of routers, which are mainly aimed towards the workplace, or for use in places that have particular requirements regarding their internet connection. Edge Routers are those that are set at the edge of the ISP’s network and are operated via border gateway protocol to provide internet access to a big organization. Similarly, Subscriber Edge Routers perform the same function as the previous entry, but they belong to the user, rather than the ISP. Last, but not least, Core Routers are those that are used as the backbone of a LAN Network of a given organization. They are used as the focal point of a network,often interconnected with other distribution routers to provide wireless internet access to a very wide area, such as a campus.These are optimized to provide very high amounts of bandwidth, so that all the connected users may enjoy the full extent of the internet service, regardless of current demand.
Wireless routers, much like every other type of devices, are produced by a wide variety of manufacturers. The brand of your product will, most often than not, speak volumes about its quality.However, in most cases, buying into a brand will most likely mean that you will have to pay a little extra. Regardless, when it comes to networking, we definitely recommend purchasing products from trusted brands, rather than investing in lower-quality products that may significantly disrupt your wireless connection, or outright break down after a couple months of use.
If you’re in the market for a good wireless router, be sure to keepan eye out for these brands, as they produce some of the bestproducts in this category:
Originally founded in 1988 by a team of Taiwanese immigrants, Linksys, before its acquisition by Cisco in 2003, was regarded as an authority in the field of wireless networks and computer connectivity. In their beginnings, they specialized in products that would allow a printer to be shared by multiple computers. Further down the line, they expanded their catalog to include hubs,broadband and wireless routers, VOIP equipment, web storage systems, and so on.
In 2003, Linksys was acquired by Cisco and, in 2013, it was sold to Belkin. Despite all these changes, the quality of Linksys products remained untouched, however, the company has stopped releasing firmware updates for their products, and the customer support and warranty claims for their products are currently managed by Belkin.
Linksys routers are widely known for their open-source firmware which allows a wide variety of customization options for tech-savvy users. With the proper know-how, you can make even the cheapest Linksys routers perform similarly to high-end products.
This company is one of the big fish in the industry of wireless networks. The organization was founded in 1996 by brothers Zhao Jianjun and Zhao Jiaxing with a proprietary network card they had developed. The name TP-Link comes from the abbreviation of the word “twisted pair”, which is a type of electromagnetic cable.
In the first trimester of 2013, TP-Link was the global leader in the sales and distribution of products for wireless networks, with service in over 100 countries, and tens of millions customers.Nowadays, this company still produces top-quality products for wireless communication, ADSL, hubs, and routers, among others.
Cisco Systems is a global telecommunications organization based in California. They are mainly dedicated to the manufacturing, sale,maintenance and consulting of telecommunications systems. This company was founded in 1984 by Leonard Bosack and Sandra Lerner, a couple of former computing personnel at Stanford University. The company got its name from their city of origin, San Francisco. Similarly, their logo is a stylized version of the Golden Gate Bridge, designed to resemble radio waves. Cisco was the very first company to produce the first commercially successful router by adapting the multiprotocol routing software originally developed by William Yeager, another employee of the University.
Today Cisco Systems is a giant in the industry and an important member of the NASDAQ technological market. Furthermore, due tothe unfaltering quality of their products and solid standards of service, they are also part of the Dow Jones industry index.
Needless to say, Cisco produces some of the best routers and telecommunication devices in the market. And while their products are mostly geared towards the workplace, they also have a vast selection of wireless routers for home or domestic use.
ASUSTek Computer Inc. is not actually known for producing wireless routers. They are a Taiwanese company based in Taipei that is focused on producing some of the world’s best computer components, including motherboards, graphic processing units,cooling units and optical devices, among others. This company also has a significant stake in both the field of robotics and electronics.As of 2015, they were the fourth greatest provider of computer products in the world, appearing in several important rankings such as Business Week, Infotech 100, Asia’s Top 10 IT Companies, and so on.
As a telecommunications company, ASUS develops high-end routers and devices specifically for the gaming crowd. Their products are mostly focused on expensive yet impressive routers that are aimed at giving an extra edge to the player so that high latency is never an issue during gaming sessions.
As you may have noticed by all these terms and options, the process of buying a good router for your household can be a daunting task for many. We hope that with this guide you are able to start planning what to look for in your future purchase. With the information contained in this list, you will be able to make the very best decision that will allow you to outmatch the competition and achieve victory in all your online endeavors.
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