When it comes to gaming online, speed and signal strength is everything and although you may think that the only impact that it has on your gaming is the strength of the connection to say the Call of Duty servers or Fifa servers, the quality of your signal from your router certainly determines much more than that, meaning that finding the best gaming router available is vital.
Have you ever tried to play a first person shooting game on a router that you know is struggling to be able to stand the pace? If so, you will have experienced those moments where you are deep in the battlefield and out of nowhere a rival player has been able to see you coming, before they were even a shadow on your screen, well the chances are that their connection is better than yours.
While we know that avid gamers will be looking at the list that we have created of the best gaming routers in 2017 and will be saying that any power gamer would be playing from a cabled connection, but for many that simply isn’t possible and we are here to help them get the best possible gaming experience available to them.
We should point out at this point the gaming routers that we have featured in our list are part of ten routers that we tested during our research, however we are only going to mention the ones that we felt performed to a standard that makes them even worthwhile thinking about.
Netgear Nighthawk X4S (R7800)
The Netgear Nighthawk X4S came out as our ultimate winner in our bid to find the best gaming router of 2017 and with Netgear being one of the most recognised brands on the market, it will come as no surprise that they are proving to be leading the industry here once again.
Using the router we opted for the 5GHz connection as we were looking for a router that could perform and it certainly did that, making use of its ability to be able to prioritise gaming packets to ensure that we were always running at the best level of quality possible.
With the setting up of the router we were pleased to find that Netgear had moved into the modern era and created a mobile app for us to be able to make changes that we wanted however the user interface was not quite as modern as we would have liked, making it a little more work to be able to navigate and locate the areas that we were looking for, but they were definitely there once we found them.
In the interest of testing the Nighthawk X4S for all levels of users we also decided to see what their legacy 80211.n performance was like, however found that the speeds that we were getting from it were nowhere near the levels that we were getting from the 5GHz connectivity, but that is definitely what we expected.
Overall the Netgear Nighthawk X4S shine brightly within the ten router strong competition and that is why we labelled this one as editors choice and the winner based on the tests that we did.
Linksys WRTAC3200ACM Router
Another brand that has a solid history within the routers market, Linksys have secured second spot in our list, however we have to admit that the margin between this and the Nighthawk X4S was very tight.
As a dual-band router it is a perfect choice for those that are looking to make use of an open source firmware and although that doesn’t really make for a unique feature, it does differentiate the Linksys from the winner as you have a little more control over how you would like to use it if you are slightly more advanced than the average Joe.
With the prospect of the speeds that you can expect being mentioned in the name, hence the 3200ACM, we were excited to put this one to the test, however the speeds that we did manage to receive without special hardware were lower than that and realising that the hardware suggested that would allow such speeds was not even available yet, it had to work against the router in our eyes in relation to this listing.
Again there was the option to use the 5GHz connectivity and that performed well, offering slightly lower speeds than we were able to get from the Nighthawk X4S but with a much nicer user interface and the fact that the software for making alterations to your settings was much nicer to use, it proudly sites in our runner up positon.
ASUS RT-AC88U AC3100 Router
The ASUS RT-AC88U gaming router is considered to be the top of the range within the ASUS brand when it comes to gaming routers and with the integration of NitroQAM technology they are able to offer up to 25% more bandwidth than any other AC1900 router on the market, as long as you have a compatible adaptor.
5GHz connectivity once again was our testing point here as that is always going to deliver the better connection while gaming but although it proudly claims to be able to deliver the sort of speeds you need, the reality was that it seemed to fall a little flat and only allowed for speeds that rated within the middle of our 10 router pack.
With the router only offering slightly above average speeds via their 5GHz connection, we didn’t pin our hopes on what the 2.4GHz connection would give us, however we were surprised to find that it was the top performer this time around, beating the Netgear that we eventually crowned as the winner.
Now one of the interesting features that the ASUS did have to offer was the ability to be able to prioritise certain devices while multiple connections were happening, meaning that if you are in a household where there are a number of WIFI users on different devices, you could ensure that your gaming machine was always getting the best connection available which is a very welcome feature, but might cause a few sibling fall outs!
Making changes to your router settings is easy though due to the software that is used by the ASUS RT-AC88U which offered a slick and easy to use experience for those that believe they are advanced enough to be making slightly more indepth changes.
D-Link DIR-890L/R Gaming Router
Take what you believe a gaming router should look like and throw it out of the window because that is what D-Link did with the DIR-890L/R, recreating a design that wouldn’t look out of place on the TV programme Robot Wars.
Making its mark as one of the first ever tri-band AC routers it broadcasts two 5GHz networks as well as a 2.4GHz network at the same time, it makes it one of the best routers that you will find when you have a large number of devices looking to connect to the router, as in upwards of 15+.
Although it boasts the ability to be able to offer that level of connectivity for multiple devices, it isn’t a more traditional ‘Wave 2’ device and thus lacks some of the more key features such as MU-MIMO but it does still offer above average performance.
A well designed software makes making alterations to the router settings easy for those with a little bit of knowledge and the option to prioritise devices over others means that you should be able to get a strong signal while multiple other devices are connected too.
What Makes A Gaming Router The Best in 2017?
There are a number of reasons that can result in people referring to a router as being good for gaming but for us there were just a few criteria that each of the routers that we tested had to be able to achieve, otherwise it simply wasn’t going to make the list.
While others will be looking more indepth about how the insides of your router work and boring you with all of the jargon that comes with them, we know what gamers are looking for and that is exactly what benchmarks we set.
A split second can feel like a lifetime when you are gaming online, especially if you are playing against other players and that means that any router that is suitable to be named as the best gaming router of 2017 simply had to eliminate those moments.
While we did test the way in which the settings within the router worked, navigated around the user software and tried to stress test the performance of each of these routers, what all that boils down to is this simple list of categories that need to be reported:
- Usability & Connectivity
So with all of the jargon out of the way, you now have the chance to be able to see the top performing wireless gaming routers that 2017 has to offer.
Should I Connect To My Router’s 5GHz or 2.4GHz Network When Gaming?
While online gaming is best done with a wired connection, we know that isn’t always possible due to the location of the router, so that is why we have covered a range of wireless gaming routers for you, but you could be asking whether you should be using the 5GHz or 2.4GHz network that your router gives you.
The ideal choice here would be to use the 5GHz network connection, as this provides you with the best connectivity while using your internet and most gaming consoles support its use, however with lower end PC models you will find that the 5GHz network is not displayed within your available networks and there is a reason for that.
Although most modern gaming computers from mid-range through to the higher price bracket will support 5GHz connectivity, the lower priced models will not have the hardware to be able to support the connection.
While upgrades are available, our testing has shown that you can still achieve a suitable connection for gaming while using the 2.4GHz network provided, although there will be slight differences in terms of the speed and performance that you would receive.
For those that are less frequent gamers, you are unlikely to notice the differences due to them being hard to recognise, however those of you that are more avid gamers could notice a reduction in the speed, frame rate and smoothness of the game play that you enjoy.
While 2.4GHz is suitable for gaming online, we would always advise that those that are unable to plug their gaming machine into a wired connection always look to use the 5GHz network where at all possible.