Before buying anything, I recommend reading my beginner's guide to game lag to see if there is nothing else you can do to help reduce your ping. In many cases, something as easy as moving your wireless router to a different place could make a difference in the world. But if you have tried all that and are ready for an update, then you are in the right place.
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You have many options that promise to improve your gaming experience, but which one should you buy? And it is worth splurging big on one that supports The new and fast Wi-Fi 6 standard? That's what I wanted to know, so I started trying things. Here is everything I've found so far, starting with the models that I think should focus first.
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After months of testing, the Asus RT-AC86U It is the best router for games that I would recommend first. Currently selling for around $ 150, this dual band wireless router with a 1.8GHz dual core processor offers excellent performance and features for the price. In fact, it was the best overall finisher in our latency tests, and thanks in part to its dual-core CPU, it reached the fastest speeds in the 5 GHz band of any wireless router outside the super-fast Wi-Fi models 6 we tried.
It also has an excellent application and web control interface, which includes a useful quality of service engine and many other ways to optimize your connection, and the design is player friendly without being too exaggerated. If you want a wireless router update for games, but you are worried about buying more than you need, look no further: this router is perfect.
One last note: Asus has a new version of this router that will arrive later in 2020 that will support Wi-Fi 6. We still do not know much about it, but we will be attentive this summer and try it at the first opportunity we have.
Well, technically it is not a router for games, but Wi-Fi 6 equipped TP-Link AX6000 It's the fastest router we've tried, period. He also achieved our latency tests, working just as well as the TP-Link routers with gameplay like the Archer C5400X. You will also find many useful network features to play in the TP-Link Tether application.
It is still early for Wi-Fi 6, but if you are looking to prepare your future-proof home network for a new generation of connected devices (for the gaming experience or not), this is the router I am addressing. At $ 300, it's definitely not cheap, but it's much easier to support than Wi-Fi 6 game routers that cost $ 400 or more.
If you are looking for a router with key features and design for games, but you are also interested in multipoint mesh networks, take a look at Amplifi HD Gamer & # 39; s Edition from Ubiquiti. It did not stand out in our laboratory-based high-speed tests, but with plug-in range extenders that are as easy to use as possible, it excels in spreading a stable and fast Wi-Fi signal from one room to another. .
On top of that, the unique and attractive design does not take up an unpleasant amount of space, and with a touch screen in the front and LED lights around the base, you really want it to stay outdoors, where it is best done. You'll also appreciate the easy-to-use features of the application, including a dedicated low-latency mode that can help you adjust your connection and avoid delays on multiple devices.
Priced at $ 380, it's an expensive option, but that's more or less in line with other high-end mesh networks that include two range extenders (in comparison, the Nest Wifi mesh system costs $ 349 for a setup of three pieces).
Regularly selling for less than $ 100, the D-Link DIR-867 It was the most economical router I tested for this summary, and it worked surprisingly well, with the fastest average speeds in the 2.4GHz band both in our maximum laboratory speed tests and in our real-world speed tests. He also stood firm in the faster 5 GHz band, beating several wireless routers that cost significantly more.
The uncompromising probably want more features focused on their gaming experience and performance, but the DIR-867 at least includes a quality of service engine that allows you to prioritize game traffic over other types of network traffic. That's enough for most, especially if you don't want to break the bank into something more elegant.
It does not offer the same maximum speeds you will get with the GT-AX11000 equipped with Asus Wi-Fi 6, but that did not stop the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC2900 The dual band router surpassed it in my home during several rounds of tests. In fact, the GT-AC2900 was one of the best finalists in terms of average download speeds, latency and range. It offers the same excellent set of gaming features as other Asus game routers, including a customizable quality of service engine and rules for forwarding specific NAT ports for games and platforms.
At $ 200, you won't pay a premium too painful for it, and it even includes RGB lighting effects, if that's what you like.
In addition to seeing how today's game routers compare to each other, I wanted to get an idea of how they compare to the type of standard routers from which you might be tempted to upgrade. Since some of these gaming routers use next-generation Wi-Fi 6 technology, I also made sure to try some other Wi-Fi 6 routers.
In total, that left us with 14 routers. Here is the complete list, from lowest to highest cost (prices as of January 17, 2020):
We are still testing some more models, including some additional Wi-Fi 6 routers such as the TP-Link AX11000 and the Asus RT-AX92U mesh system. We also expect a series of new game routers to reach the market later in 2020. When we have data on those models, I will update this post.
Testing routers is a complicated business. Wi-Fi connections are delicate, with many variables and key features that will affect your speeds. We do our best to take these variables into account in our tests, but some factors are beyond our control, and also beyond the control of your router.
For example, the specific connection of your home Internet service provider is like a speed limit for your router. If you are paying speeds of up to, say, 50 megabits per second, then your router will not transmit data from the cloud faster than that. The average ISP download speed in the US UU. It is around 100Mbps, while those who live in areas with access to fiber connections can enjoy speeds of 200, 500 or, if they are lucky, even 1,000Mbps.
That raises an obvious question: how do you test the maximum speed of a router like that TP-Link AX6000, which promises Wi-Fi 6 data transfer speeds as high as 5,652Mbps?
The Wi-Fi 6 routers such as the TP-Link Archer AX6000, the Asus ROG Rapture AX11000 and the Netgear Nighthawk AX6000 model seen here were able to reach maximum speeds greater than 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps).
Our approach ignores the ISP completely. Instead of using a modem to extract data from the cloud, we extract data from a local server using a cable connection. Our local server of choice is a MacBook Pro. We connect it to the router using a CAT 7 Ethernet cable to keep the interference as low as possible, and use an adapter to connect it to the Thunderbolt 3 port of the MacBook, as it supports transfer speeds of data that is very fast for our purposes.
From there, we take a second laptop and connect to the router's wireless network, then record the speeds as we download the data that the router is getting from the MacBook through that cable connection. We perform this test several times in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands of each router, and also at various distances. In the end, we get an excellent view of how quickly each router can transmit data to a client device such as your phone, laptop or game console of your choice.
And yes, you'll see much faster speeds if you connect that game console directly to the router through the Ethernet cable. We also tested those wired speeds and saw no notable difference between any of the routers we measured. Each one arrived within a megabit or two of 940Mbps, which is what you would expect from a Gigabit Ethernet connection.
As for wireless speeds, the above graphic shows the maximum speeds for each router in both the 2.4GHz band (blue) and the fastest 5GHz band (red) at distances of 5, 37.5 and 75 feet.
This is what catches my attention to these results. First, it is easy to detect the three Wi-Fi 6 routers we tested at the top: each one recorded maximum speeds in the 5 GHz band that were much, much faster than any other router we tested. And understand that we are running these speed tests on a laptop that supports Wi-Fi 6; if we didn't, those bars would probably be much shorter.
The fastest among them, the TP-Link Archer AX6000, we measured an average speed of 1,523Mbps in the 5GHz band at a distance of 5 feet. When we increased the distance to 75 feet, the average speed dropped to 868 Mbps, which is still a faster speed than any of the Wi-Fi 5 routers we tested that they could reach, even up close.
But keep in mind that those Wi-Fi 6 routers did not impress the competition in the 2.4GHz band (again, blue). In fact, the router with the fastest average speeds at all distances in the 2.4GHz band was actually the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500, which does not support Wi-Fi 6 at all. Right behind, the D-Link DIR-867, which also has the distinction of being the cheapest router we tested for this summary. That, together with the fact that it includes a Quality of Service engine that can prioritize game traffic, is what made it an easy value option in this field.
That Netgear model was also the fastest Wi-Fi 5 router in the 5 GHz band, which tells us that it is a fairly capable piece of hardware. Meanwhile, our best overall choice, the Asus RT-AC86U, was just behind it with the second fastest Wi-Fi 5 speed in the 5 GHz band, although its speed dropped a bit in the mid-range. The DIR-867 mentioned above and the Zyxel Armor Z2 also obtained good results in this speed test.
Measuring maximum speeds in a controlled test environment gives us a clear idea of what these routers are technically capable, but you won't see such fast speeds in your home. Remember, your router can only extract data from the cloud as fast as the speed of your ISP allows, and the signal strength will vary from home to home depending on the design and the amount of road obstructions.
To account for this, we run a second batch of tests. This time, I tested each router in my own home, a small shotgun-style house of approximately 1,200 square feet where I have AT&T fiber Internet speeds of up to 300Mbps. I did my speed tests on a Dell XPS 13 laptop that is some years old and is not compatible with Wi-Fi 6. The goal was to get a good overview of the types of speeds that most people would experience if they brought one of You are routers to your home.
The Amplifi application allows you to choose between latency and performance modes according to your needs, and includes useful functions such as signal strength indicators for plug-in extenders.
To collect my data, I did a lot of speed tests from five different locations in my home, ranging from the living room where the router lives to a bathroom at the opposite end of the house. Throughout all my tests, I always kept a live TV video from PlayStation Vue (RIP) to simulate normal home network traffic in a controlled manner (and also so that my roommate patient could at least watch TV while staying politely away from Wi-Fi during my tests).
After running multiple speed tests from each of those locations, I averaged everything together. ISP speeds may fluctuate throughout the day, so to help explain this as best I can, I would rerun this entire process with each router later. Then, I would average that data with the first batch of tests.
Fourteen routers, five locations in my house, three tests per location, two rounds of tests (at least). When you add the additional tests I ran to verify a result or measure the impact of specific characteristics, it amounts to approximately 1,000 speed tests. And counting.
Those averages were revealing. The best finisher in the 5 GHz band turned out to be the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500, which averaged over 250Mbps in all my speed tests, including those in the back of my house where the signal strength is typically poor. The Amplifi HD Gamer & # 39; s Edition, which uses plug-in mesh extenders to help transmit the signal in the house, was second place; It was one of the worst results when we measured maximum speeds, but unless you have an incredibly fast internet connection of 500 Mbps or faster, you won't notice it at all.
Meanwhile, it was the D-Link DIR-867 at the sale price that, once again, led the way in the 2.4GHz band. With an average speed of 85.9Mbps throughout my place, it was the best finisher, but I would notice that the speeds dropped considerably in the range. In that back bath that I mentioned, he averaged a download speed of 32.3Mbps, which is approximately 62% slower than the general average, and a drop greater than what I saw on almost any other router I tried. That tells me that the DIR-867 would work better in small houses like mine, anything bigger, and you'll want something with better reach.
The Asus RT-AC86U features an elegant design and many useful gaming features, including a quality of service engine. However, you must log in to the web interface to modify that QoS engine.
On that front, our first choice, the Asus RT-AC86U experienced the smallest decrease from the general average of 5 GHz to the average of that rear bath. Overall, it registered an average speed throughout the house of 187.3Mbps, which only fell to an average of 144.1Mbps at the far end of the house, with about four quarters of walls and furniture separating my laptop from the router ( by comparison, the top-finished Nighthawk XR500 experienced an average speed drop of 310 Mbps near the 72Mbps router in that back room). The RT-AC86U was also equally strong in the 2.4GHz band.
Despite the complete lack of Wi-Fi 6 client devices in my home, the TP-Link Archer AX6000 equipped with Wi-Fi 6 was another highlight of my tests, with strong average speeds in the 5 GHz bands and 2.4 GHz, and an excellent range from room to room. He saw the smallest decline in speeds in that rear bath in the 2.4GHz band, and was also one of the first five to reach that metric in the 5GHz band.
However, I cannot say the same for the Netgear Nighthawk AX12 or the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000. Despite the maximum high speeds in our first round of laboratory tests, none of those Wi-Fi 6 routers had good results in my home. In fact, they were the bottom two finalists in terms of average overall download speeds in the 5 GHz band. Both currently cost around $ 400, for my money, the TP-Link Archer AX6000, which you can currently get for $ 269, It is a much better upgrade option for anyone who is ready to connect with Wi-Fi 6. And if you only want With the functions centered on the games of the Asus ROG line, you have other options that cost less, such as the GT-AC2900.
One last point: my excess speed tests at home also allowed me to take a look at the latency. As stated earlier, the router can only do much to reduce the delay, especially if it is connecting to a busy server that is thousands of kilometers away. Still, a good router for games should help minimize those occasional latency spikes that can be a real killer when they hit your net at a critical time during an online match.
Asus ROG Rapture routers such as the GT-AC2900 allow you to easily set the Open NAT port forwarding settings for the specific game you are playing. That makes it easier to have fun with your friends.
With that in mind, I made sure to run each of my dozens and dozens of speed tests for each router on the same server located a few hundred miles away, and I registered the ping on that server every time. In most cases, that ping would reach approximately 15 ms, but I also saw many peaks that were much higher than that.
The worst offender was the Linksys EA8300, which returned average latencies of 37.5ms in the 2.4GHz band and 35.4ms in the 5GHz band, the last one on both fronts. The TP-Link Archer A9 AC1900 also had problems in the 2.4GHz band, with an average latency of 34.8, although it managed to do a little better in the 5GHz band, with an average ping below 20ms.
The best of the group? That would be our first choice, the Asus RT-AC86U, which threw an average of 13.1ms in the 2.4GHz band and 12.9ms in the 5GHz band. That was good enough for first place in both cases. The only other routers that finished in the top five in both bands were the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC2900, and also our budget selection, the D-Link DIR-867.
One last point about latency. Most of these game routers and similar ones will do things like route your game traffic to the nearest possible server, or prevent it from joining public rooms with especially slow competitors. Features like these can help prevent common latency difficulties, but they won't do much by themselves to improve their latency in all areas.
The Asus RT-AX92U is a two-piece mesh system that uses Wi-Fi 6 for faster connection between nodes. That could mean better and faster Wi-Fi coverage throughout your home.
The TP-Link AX11000 features the same design as the previous generation C5400X, but promises much faster maximum speeds.
As I mentioned earlier, we are still testing some models, including the TP-Link AX11000 and the Asus RT-AX92U. The last of the two is a two-piece Wi-Fi 6 mesh system that uses these next-generation features for faster data transfer between the two new nodes. That could mean better speeds throughout your home, even if you're not using Wi-Fi 6 devices yet.
As for the AX11000, it has the same spider design as the TP-Link C5400X, but promises much faster maximum speeds. The C5400X obtained good results in our latency tests, so an improved model that adds the bells, whistles and maximum speeds that come with Wi-Fi 6 should be quite interesting.
We will continue to test everything, along with economically priced routers, mesh routers and other notable next-generation routers. Expect periodic updates of this publication every time we test new hardware that may be a good option for players, and let us know in the comments if there is any specific model or feature that you want us to analyze more closely.
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