Best online gaming wireless router 06.06.2019 06.06.2019 Jonathan Fan

Best online gaming wireless router

Review John R. Delaney The Best Gaming Routers for 2019 Have a household of digital devices—and an online gamer or three? You need a router that's ready-made to give gaming traffic the right of way. Here's how to buy the right gaming router, along with our top-rated favorites. They typically kit out their gaming rigs with the fastest processors, lots of memory, speedy solid-state drives, and high-end graphics cards. However, even the fastest gaming system can't overcome a crowded, congested network and an overtaxed wireless router. And these days, some households are seeing network overcrowding that calls to mind a Tokyo subway car in rush hour. It's not an exaggeration that some households will have dozens of devices. Any online gamers in the house must compete for that router's bandwidth, along with everyone else. And that can lead to unpredictable, sometimes subpar, gaming performance. Now, on a basic level, many routers offer Quality of Service QoS settings that let you give priority to devices or applications that require lots of bandwidth.

But not many of them offer the gamer-centric settings and optimizations that you get with a dedicated gaming router. If network lag is messing with your game, read on to find out how a gaming router can give you back your competitive edge—and how to choose the one that best suits your household, your play style, and your budget. You Gotta Have Priorities Perhaps the biggest difference between a gaming router and a typical consumer router is how it handles QoS, or bandwidth prioritization duties. Almost all routers offer some sort of QoS, from the generic Wi-Fi Multimedia WMM extensions that automatically prioritize network packets carrying voice and video data, to drag-and-drop prioritization that lets you give certain client devices priority over other ones on the network. Gaming routers go a step further, by offering prioritization for specific gaming systems and applications, and allowing you to decide how much bandwidth each client is entitled to. That can be especially important if you have multiple online gamers in the same household, who are all competing for the feed from the same pipe.

For example, Linksys gaming routers have firmware that automatically gives network priority to devices that are equipped with Rivet Networks' Killer Prioritization Engine KPE. When the router detects a device equipped with Killer networking hardware, it gives that device the lion's share of bandwidth to ensure smooth, lag-free online gameplay. The company also has a gaming router that automatically gives network priority to Microsoft Xbox consoles. Many gaming routers also use a modified management console with a gamer-friendly user interface that makes it easy to assign bandwidth priorities on the fly. Netgear recently began outfitting its gaming routers with DUMAOS, an interactive, gamer-friendly operating system developed by Netduma. It has a sleek-looking dashboard that lets you see what is going on with your network at a glance, with graphs showing real-time CPU and bandwidth usage, currently installed apps, guest networking status, Wi-Fi status, and internet status.

It also has a Geo-Filter feature that can help reduce lag by limiting the distance to the host servers you play on. By setting your home location on the map and specifying a distance range, you can prevent players and servers that are outside of your range from hosting your game. You can also use customized software to enhance online gaming performance. Using firmware from sources such as OpenWRT, DD-WRT, and Tomato, you can unleash the full potential of your router to enhance overall signal strength, monitor real-time usage, and prioritize bandwidth usage. To do this, though, the router must support open-source firmware upgrades. Make sure you have a good idea of how routers and firmware work together before you decide to go this route. Dual-Band or Tri-Band? Any gaming router worth its salt will offer at least two radio bands.

The 2. You'll get much better range on the 2. If your gaming system is in close proximity to your router, the 5GHz band will provide the best throughput performance. If you have numerous devices connecting to your network, a tri-band router is your best bet. Tri-band routers add a second 5GHz band that you can dedicate to certain devices or applications. For example, you can reserve an entire 5GHz band just for gaming so long as your PC-gaming rig or your console supports 5GHz Wi-Fi and use the other 5GHz band for high-bandwidth applications such as video streaming, massive file transfers, or torrent downloads. This leaves the more crowded 2. Buying for Tomorrow: MU-MIMO, Beamforming, and Wider Channels Of course, if you are a dedicated online gamer or you have one in your household , you know that network demands for the latest games seldom move in the direction of "less demanding.

As tempting as it may be to save money and opt for an 802. For example, you can dedicate one of the 5GHz bands to handle tasks like video streaming and torrent downloading and reserve the other 5GHz band for online gaming, leaving the 2. Wireless Protocols Wireless Ethernet networks use 802. The most widely used Wi-Fi protocol, 802. It utilizes Multiple Input Multiple Output MIMO technology, which uses several antennas to send and receive up to eight spatial streams, resulting in enhanced performance. It also supports beamforming , a technology that sends Wi-Fi signals directly to a client rather than broadcasting in all directions, and automatic band-steering, which lets the router select the most efficient radio band based on network traffic, band availability, and range. The 802. That means up to four clients can have their own data streams instead of waiting in turn to receive data from the router. MU-MIMO routers are widely available but client devices have been slow to catch on and are still relatively uncommon.

You'll see 802. This designates the theoretical maximum speed of the router. For example, a router that can achieve a maximum link rate of 450Mbps on the 2. A tri-band AC3200 router gives you 600Mbps over the 2. It's important to note that routers rarely, if ever, reach these "maximum speeds" in real-world applications, but if you're looking for performance, consider one of the high-speed routers but be prepared to pay a premium. The latest Wi-Fi protocol, 802. OFDMA improves overall throughput by breaking Wi-Fi channels into sub-channels, allowing up to 30 users to share a channel at the same time. Target Wake Time TWT is designed to reduce power consumption by allowing devices to determine when and how often they will wake up to begin sending and receiving data. TWT tech is expected to extend the battery life of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets as well as battery-powered smart home devices such as security cameras and video doorbells.

Additionally, 802. Although there are a handful of 802. As with the 802. For more on the benefits of the 802. What Is Wi-Fi 6? New Wi-Fi Names Explained. Features Wireless routers come with a variety of features, and as is the case with just about everything, the more features you get, the more you can expect to pay. If you require faster throughput for large file transfers, look for a router that supports link aggregation. Simply put, link aggregation uses two gigabit Ethernet LAN ports to provide increased throughput up to 2Gbps. It also provides a fail-safe if one LAN connection goes down and can be utilized to load balance your network traffic. Having at least one USB port makes it easy to plug in a printer or a USB drive and share it across the network, but with two ports you can do both. Additionally, try to choose a router that offers removable antennas. Some router manufacturers offer replacement high-gain antennas that will help boost performance, and there are a number of third-party antennas available.

Just make sure your router supports whatever antennas you buy or you'll probably wind up with decreased performance. Parental controls allow you to limit network access for certain users to specific times and days and is ideal for parents who want to keep tabs on their child's online gaming and social networking activities. Some routers offer basic parental controls such as access scheduling and website blocking options, while others provide more robust controls that give you the ability to pause the internet and select age-appropriate presets that will automatically block access to social media platforms and sites that contain things like adult content, gambling, shopping, blogs, games, and more. A guest network lets you offer Wi-Fi connectivity to guests without leaving your entire network vulnerable. In a nutshell, you're creating a separate network for guests with a Service Set Identifier SSID and password that are different from your main network credentials.

This lets your guests connect to the Internet, but doesn't give them access to your files, printers, and other connected devices. With QoS settings, you can decide which applications and clients get network priority. For example, if one device is streaming Netflix video, and another device is downloading files or running a print job, you can give priority to the streaming device to avoid choppy, out-of-sync video. Almost all routers offer several forms of security.

Any gaming router worth its salt will offer at least two radio bands. The 2. You'll get much better range on the 2. If your gaming system is in close proximity to your router, the 5GHz band will provide the best throughput performance. If you have numerous devices connecting to your network, a tri-band router is your best bet. Tri-band routers add a second 5GHz band that you can dedicate to certain devices or applications. For example, you can reserve an entire 5GHz band just for gaming so long as your PC-gaming rig or your console supports 5GHz Wi-Fi and use the other 5GHz band for high-bandwidth applications such as video streaming, massive file transfers, or torrent downloads. This leaves the more crowded 2. Buying for Tomorrow: MU-MIMO, Beamforming, and Wider Channels Of course, if you are a dedicated online gamer or you have one in your household , you know that network demands for the latest games seldom move in the direction of "less demanding.

As tempting as it may be to save money and opt for an 802. It allows for simultaneous data streaming to multiple clients, as opposed to sequential streaming. This is a very handy feature; the main caveat is that each client device has to support MU-MIMO to take advantage of the improved throughput. As new gear gets added to your network in coming years, however, it's more and more likely to support MU-MIMO, so you'll be glad you opted for it in your router. Another key emerging tech to look for, beamforming, also helps to improve throughput. As the name suggests, it involves shaping the signal itself, in the interest of efficiency and increasing range. It transmits a Wi-Fi signal in a more focused manner straight at a client, rather than broadcasting in all directions.

To gain the benefit, both devices need to support beamforming tech, so that each can communicate its relative position to the other, and thus focus the signal in the proper direction. Beamforming has been firmed up within 802. That said, not all 802. Also, know that some router makers refer to the beamforming feature in their products with their own proprietary names. Many of the latest routers also offer a wider channel bandwidth of up to 160Hz, compared with the typical 40Hz and 80Hz channel widths that you get with older routers. But it makes wholehearted sense to opt for 160Hz in a new gaming router now, seeing as, like with MU-MIMO, support for it will become increasingly common in new devices you add to your network down the road. Feed That Speed: Deciphering 802. But you will find shades of differentiation among 802.

The biggest clues are often right in the names of the routers themselves. You just need the decoder ring. An 802. It is often part of the actual router's name. For example, a dual-band AC1750 router can hit theoretical maximum speeds of 450Mbps on the 2. As an aside, it won't hit 1,750Mbps all at one time. That's just the sum of both bands' potential. Likewise, take a tri-band AC3200 router. It can hit 600Mbps on the 2. The AC number is simply a sum of its potential. Again, these speeds are theoretical because they are rarely achieved in real-world applications. Granted, you will get better overall performance from an AC3200 router than you will from an AC1750 one, but you'll also pay a lot more. More to Know: Ports, Security, Access Controls Most gaming routers use the same hardware inside that traditional Wi-Fi routers do, but you'll often be able to tell the gaming models apart from the rest on sight.

They usually sport a somewhat different exterior-chassis design than their general-purpose counterparts. The 802. That means up to four clients can have their own data streams instead of waiting in turn to receive data from the router. MU-MIMO routers are widely available but client devices have been slow to catch on and are still relatively uncommon. You'll see 802. This designates the theoretical maximum speed of the router. For example, a router that can achieve a maximum link rate of 450Mbps on the 2. A tri-band AC3200 router gives you 600Mbps over the 2. It's important to note that routers rarely, if ever, reach these "maximum speeds" in real-world applications, but if you're looking for performance, consider one of the high-speed routers but be prepared to pay a premium.

The latest Wi-Fi protocol, 802. OFDMA improves overall throughput by breaking Wi-Fi channels into sub-channels, allowing up to 30 users to share a channel at the same time. Target Wake Time TWT is designed to reduce power consumption by allowing devices to determine when and how often they will wake up to begin sending and receiving data. TWT tech is expected to extend the battery life of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets as well as battery-powered smart home devices such as security cameras and video doorbells. Additionally, 802. Although there are a handful of 802. As with the 802. For more on the benefits of the 802. What Is Wi-Fi 6? New Wi-Fi Names Explained. Features Wireless routers come with a variety of features, and as is the case with just about everything, the more features you get, the more you can expect to pay. If you require faster throughput for large file transfers, look for a router that supports link aggregation.

Simply put, link aggregation uses two gigabit Ethernet LAN ports to provide increased throughput up to 2Gbps. It also provides a fail-safe if one LAN connection goes down and can be utilized to load balance your network traffic. Having at least one USB port makes it easy to plug in a printer or a USB drive and share it across the network, but with two ports you can do both. Additionally, try to choose a router that offers removable antennas. Some router manufacturers offer replacement high-gain antennas that will help boost performance, and there are a number of third-party antennas available. Just make sure your router supports whatever antennas you buy or you'll probably wind up with decreased performance. Parental controls allow you to limit network access for certain users to specific times and days and is ideal for parents who want to keep tabs on their child's online gaming and social networking activities.

Some routers offer basic parental controls such as access scheduling and website blocking options, while others provide more robust controls that give you the ability to pause the internet and select age-appropriate presets that will automatically block access to social media platforms and sites that contain things like adult content, gambling, shopping, blogs, games, and more. A guest network lets you offer Wi-Fi connectivity to guests without leaving your entire network vulnerable. In a nutshell, you're creating a separate network for guests with a Service Set Identifier SSID and password that are different from your main network credentials. This lets your guests connect to the Internet, but doesn't give them access to your files, printers, and other connected devices. With QoS settings, you can decide which applications and clients get network priority.

For example, if one device is streaming Netflix video, and another device is downloading files or running a print job, you can give priority to the streaming device to avoid choppy, out-of-sync video. Almost all routers offer several forms of security. IPv4 is a 32-bit addressing scheme that before long will run out of addresses due to the number of devices connecting to the internet. IPv6 is a 128-bit scheme that will offer an almost infinite number of IP addresses. Most current routers have built-in support for IPv6 addressing, but it's a good idea to verify this if you want to be ready for the transition when IPv4 finally hits the wall. Price Like anything else, router pricing is based on performance and features. An entry-level AC1750 802.

The Best Router For Online Gaming

The Best Wireless Routers for 2019

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Author: Jonathan Fan

Communications Planning Director at PHD, San Francisco, California.