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The best modems & routers for gaming

AJ Dellinger

Jun 22, 2021 — 6 min read

Don't lose your character's next level because you're using the wrong modem and router.

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You can master every element of your favorite game, know all of the ins and outs that you need to defeat your opponents and set up the perfect gaming rig to get the ideal experience. But none of it matters if your internet connection is slow. There is no bigger disadvantage in gaming than lag, which is why it is important to get a router and modem that are specifically for gaming. Don’t leave it up to your internet service provider to give you a generic router and modem that might not be capable of giving you the connection you need, instead, grab one of these best gaming routers and watch your gaming experience level up.

How we chose the best modem/router for gaming

To pick the best gaming routers and modems on the market, we looked at a number of factors that the typical gamer should consider. We scoured dozens of products on the market, keeping in mind the need for top-level performance, including high speeds, as well as low latency and ping.

We considered traffic management and prioritization, which helps performance and can prevent lag when multiple devices are connected to the internet. We also took into account price and overall value, recognizing that the most expensive is not always the best. Here are some of the qualities that we considered when making our selection for the best gaming routers and modems available:

  • Supported speeds
  • Price and value
  • Features 
  • Specific customer reviews
  • What device it is best for

Best router for gamers: TP-Link Archer C5400 v2

If you’re looking for the best router for gaming, look no further than the TP-Link Archer C5400 v2. An update to an already powerful wireless router, this device from TP-Link is capable of ridiculous top speeds of more than 2 Gbps. On top of that blazing fast speed, its tri-band connection allows you to do multiple high data activities at once. Play your game without lag and watch a 4K video at the same time without interruption.

A 1.4GHz dual-core CPU and three co-processors help to manage and prioritize traffic so you’ll never experience hang-ups even when multiple people are connected to the internet at the same time. If you’re worried about security, this router allows you to set up your own personal VPN to stay safe and connected. With a two-year warranty, you’ll get constant support for any problem that you may encounter.

What we like

  • Blazing fast speeds

  • Tri-band connection

  • Traffic prioritization

  • Supports multiple connections

Things to consider

  • No WiFi 6 support

Best bang for your buck: Asus RT-AX86U

If you’re after a fast connection, but don’t want to break the bank to get it, the Asus RT-AX86U is the device for you. This gaming router provides top speeds of up to 2700 Mbps. On top of that, it also supports the latest connection standard, WiFi 6. This will help the router handle multiple connections at once, meaning that having other people in your home who are connected to the internet won’t slow you down.

While some gamers prefer their game systems to be hardwired for a more consistent connection, this router provides about as steady a connection as you could ask for out of a wireless network. With Asus AiMesh support, you can create a flexible and seamless connection across your entire house by adding other AiMesh compatible routers.

What we like

  • Gigabit speeds

  • WiFi 6 support

  • Mesh network

Things to consider

  • Could use improved network prioritization tools

Best for speed: Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500

If there is one thing that will make a gamer want to pull out their hair, it’s lag. The Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 does everything to make sure those little blips and slowdowns never get in the way again. With DumasOS 3.0, an operating system built for this gaming router, this device is capable of reducing ping rates by 93 percent, producing a nearly lag-free online gaming experience.

On top of that, this router supports WiFi 6, the latest wireless standard. With dual-band connections, you’ll be able to get top speeds even with other devices connected to this router. And if you’re worried about security, this router had guest access Wi-Fi, the ability to create a personal VPN and built-in antivirus and anti-malware protection. 

What we like

  • Amazing lag reduction

  •  Blazing fast top speeds

  • Support for WiFi 6

Things to consider

  • Dual-band instead of tri-band

Best modem for gaming: Motorola MB8600

Motorola MB8600

Gamers know that a steady connection is an absolute must when it comes to online gaming, which is why many choose to stay hardwired instead of going wireless. If you decide to go that route, you’ll have a hard time finding a better modem for gaming than the Motorola MB8600. There’s not a lot of flash to be found here, just a steady connection with fast speeds that few can match.

This modem has built-in compatibility for DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 3.0, meaning it works with basically any internet provider. You’ll also get incredibly fast top speeds, with multi-gigabit support. That means you can connect multiple devices via Ethernet and still get top speeds without any slowdown. If you do decide to go wireless, this modem supports most protocols, but you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the wired connection it provides.

What we like

  •  Amazingly fast speeds

  • Support for multiple gigabit connections

  • DOCSIS 3.1 and 3.0 compatible

Things to consider

  • No 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port

Best router for gaming: Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300

Gamers love power, and there is no shortage of it with the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300. This router is basically unmatched when it comes to its capabilities. With its tri-band connection, you’ll get top speeds even with multiple devices connected at the same time. 
On top of great speeds, Asus has gone all out to provide additional features that will help gamers get the most out of their experience. You can create your own VPN and enjoy the built-in protection of Game IPS, an antivirus tool that will prevent interruptions to your gaming sessions. Plus, you can get an optimized connection with the ROG Game Dashboard, which gives you full control over your network.

What we like

  • Tri-band connections

  • Great top speeds

  • Full control for traffic optimization

Things to consider

  • No WiFi 6 support

Should you rent or purchase your gaming equipment?

Gaming equipment rental

  • Customer support

  • Guaranteed software updates

  • Easy-to-return equipment

  • Guaranteed speed and plan compatibility

  • Repair service included

  • Monthly rental payments

  • Payments are thrown away on usage

Gaming equipment purchase

  • One-time charge

  • Long-term investment in equipment

  • Lower monthly internet bill

  • Choose the equipment you want

  • Repair and equipment upgrades are your responsibility

  • Limited customer support after warranty expires or device ages

What to look for in a modem and router for gaming

  1. Top speeds: When it comes to gaming, top speeds are important. You’re going to want your modem and router to be able to handle large amounts of data, so look for top speeds and support for 802.11ac.
  2. Traffic prioritization: Gamers need to make sure that their gaming experience is not going to be interrupted by others in the household using the internet at the same time. Look for routers and modems that have traffic prioritization features that make sure that a high-intensity activity like gaming is treated with priority over someone who is simply browsing the web.
  3. Wi-Fi vs. Ethernet: Wireless internet is convenient and allows you to connect without being locked into a location, but wireless connections are almost always less steady than hard wiring via an Ethernet port. Consider if your home is a good situation for a wireless connection with a router or if you would rather be hard wired to your modem.
  4. Equipment: While the type of console or PC that you use shouldn’t matter when you are considering what router or modem to buy, the amount of platforms that you use to game does matter. If you game on multiple platforms, you’ll want a router or modem with multiple channels or ports to stay connected across all your devices. 

Need a faster internet plan?

While having a powerful modem and router can be the difference between a steady connection and spotty one and can help maximize your internet connection, it can’t speed up your internet. If you find yourself in need of a faster internet connection, you will have to upgrade or switch your internet plan or provider. 

The bottom line

Getting a modem and router that is good for gaming will provide you with a more optimized internet connection capable of reaching top speeds and prioritizing your gaming experience so you don’t get bogged down with lag or latency. Owning your equipment provides you with more flexibility and better overall devices than you would get renting from your internet service provider. Remember that your router and modem will only be as good as your internet connection, so make sure you get the plan that you need to get top speeds.

AJ Dellinger

Written by:

AJ Dellinger


AJ Dellinger is a writer and editor based in Madison, WI. He has spent the last 10 years writing about the internet, gadgets, technology and a variety of other topics. His work has appeared in Wired, Gizmodo, CN… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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