The best gaming routers of 2019
Gaming routers might be overkill for a lot of us, but if you're looking for low-latency performance and advanced features, here's what we recommend.
After months of tests, the Asus RT-AC86U is the gaming router I'd recommend first. Currently selling for about $150, it offers terrific performance and features for the price. In fact, it was the top overall finisher in our latency tests, and it hit the fastest speeds on the 5GHz band of any router outside of the super speedy Wi-Fi 6 models we tested. It boasts an excellent app and web control interface, including a helpful quality of service engine and lots of other ways to optimize your connection, and the design is gamer-friendly without being too over-the-top. If you want a gaming-minded router upgrade but you're worried about buying more than you need, look no further -- this router hits the sweet spot.
Fastest top speeds
OK, so it isn't technically a gaming router, per se -- but the Wi-Fi 6-equipped TP-Link AX6000 is the fastest router we've ever tested, period. It nailed our latency tests, too, performing just as well as gaming-minded TP-Link routers like the Archer C5400X. You'll also find plenty of useful networking features to play with in TP-Link's Tether app. It's still early for Wi-Fi 6, but if you're looking to future-proof your home network for a new generation of devices (gaming or otherwise), this is the router I'd point you toward. Best of all -- you can currently get it for a surprisingly reasonable $269. That's still expensive, yes, but it's a lot easier to stomach than Wi-Fi 6 gaming routers that cost $400 or more.
If you're looking for a router with gaming-minded features and design, but you're also interested in multipoint mesh networking, then take a look at the Amplifi HD Gamer's Edition from Ubiquiti. It wasn't a standout in our lab-based top-speed tests, but with plug-in range extenders that are about as easy to use as it gets, it excels at spreading a stable, speedy signal from room to room. On top of that, the unique, attractive design doesn't take up an obnoxious amount of space -- and with a touchscreen on the front and LED lights around the base, you'll actually want to sit out in the open, where it performs better. You'll also appreciate the app's easy-to-use features, including a dedicated low-latency mode that can help you tweak your connection and avoid lag.At $379, it definitely isn't cheap, but that's still more or less in line with other high-end mesh networks (for comparison, the new Nest Wifi mesh system costs $349 for a three-piece setup).
Best for die-hard gamers
It doesn't offer the same top speeds that you'll get with Asus' Wi-Fi 6-equipped GT-AX11000, but that didn't stop the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC2900 from outperforming it in my home throughout several rounds of tests. In fact, the GT-AC2900 was one of the top finishers in terms of average download speeds, latency and range. It offers the same excellent suite of gaming features as other gaming routers from Asus, including a customizable Quality of Service engine and game-and-platform-specific open NAT port-forwarding rules. At $238, you won't pay too painful of a premium for it, and it even includes RGB lighting effects if that's your thing.