Top 10 Benefits of a Gaming Router
It’s no secret that games are only getting bigger, both in scope and in size. Hugely popular games like Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War may even exceed 100GB on your PC, depending on your settings. And then there’s the fact that many of those same games center on massive multiplayer experiences. With all that in mind, the benefits of a gaming router have never been more significant.
In this guide, we’ll explain the most important benefits of a gaming router:
- Superior connection speeds and responsiveness
- Prioritize internet traffic with quality of service (QoS) features
- Better graphic and audio fidelity
- Minimized data loss
- Support for more simultaneous users
- Improved WiFi range for users
- Superior components and hardware performance
- Better ambient security features
- Options with easy parental controls
- Best overall performance for gamers
And if you’re shopping for the top gaming routers available, you’ll be glad to know we’re featuring several standout products here, too. But first, let’s explore how a gaming router works.
What does a gaming router do?
Gaming routers are more sophisticated versions of traditional routers. They’re designed to improve performance and streamline user management. Unlike a typical router, these devices provide the means to configure your local internet traffic to make it more efficient.
While gaming routers are great for individuals, you’ll see even more benefits if you’re part of a high-traffic or multi-user household. Some options may only offer a marginal improvement, but there's a diverse market of devices with varying prices and features. Several of the popular gaming routers we’ll highlight are priced below $100.
1. Superior connection speeds and responsiveness
Gaming routers handle more data, more quickly. That means they can offer the best visual and audio accuracy, especially with shared connections. They’re built to handle a larger volume of traffic, so a gaming router will minimize disruptions when your roommates or family are all streaming at once.
Want to learn more about connection speeds and how they impact your gaming experience? Check out our article Lag! Top 5 Reasons your Ping is so High for a deeper explanation of the reasons why your game may be lagging. Remember to consider using hard-wired Ethernet port connections when speed is an issue, because you’re guaranteed to get better speeds compared to wireless.
Our pick: Top shelf picks like the NETGEAR Orbi Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System may be on the pricier side, but these wireless routers have serious perks like boosted range and better software features.
2. Prioritize internet traffic with “quality of service” features
Quality of service (QoS) features help users manage their connection and gauge how effective their hardware is at reducing disruptions. These features allow users to avoid errors when performing high-priority tasks that may require a distinct amount of bandwidth for stability. Handled correctly, it can help identify choke points in your household’s internet traffic – like when multiple demanding tasks push you over your bandwidth limit.
The heart of most QoS features is traffic prioritization. This allows you to supervise how your router manages traffic by prioritizing certain activities and devices. You can modify traffic priority based on a variety of different inputs, including network selection and IP address. Or, you can prioritize based on an activity or service choice, such as gaming or a streaming service, through the different available “bands” (5 GHz and 2.4 GHz).
For example, if you know you’re using a work laptop to only send emails, write documents, and chat via Slack, you could connect that (and other, similar devices) to your 2.4 GHz band. Then, for those devices that require more wireless speed, like Netflix, video games, or Zoom, connect them to your 5 GHz band. Note that some devices come with “smart band” technology that automatically chooses the best band for their use.
This functionality allows your router to balance the needs of multiple users. That leads to fewer interruptions and errors, especially during heavy online gaming and movie streaming times or when you need to make an important video call. Unfortunately, not all QoS features are created equal. Make sure to check the specs and reviews if you want to fully understand a particular model.
3. Better graphic and audio fidelity
The key benefit from the above features is superior fidelity. Cleaning up your streaming connection means less audio or visual distortion of all kinds. You’ll see fewer missed lines of dialogue and less lost content when traffic piles up. You won’t have to deal with game stutter or reduced freeze frames, and there’s a lower risk of audio/visual artifacts.
QoS features and a more holistic approach to traffic management mean that gaming routers provide the best possible guarantee of performance accuracy. Gaming is an expensive hobby, so it’s important to know we’re seeing and hearing a game at the highest possible quality.
Our pick: If you need a router that’s powerful and well-tuned for the latest games, the TP-Link AC5400 Tri-Band WiFi Gaming router offers superior hardware and top connection speeds.
4. Minimized data loss
Because gaming routers can quickly sort through internet traffic, they can help make sure traffic flows smoothly along the fastest available pathways. This allows them to substantially reduce the data loss often responsible for problems tied to latency. Traffic from slower and less sophisticated routers is more jumbled and energy-intensive, which exposes your data to a greater risk of loss or degradation.
What should you look for while shopping? Even affordable options can provide great data protection and lag-free use, but if you aren’t sure, check the user reviews and research feedback from gamers with similar play habits and tech.
Our pick: The ASUS AC1300 WiFi router is a popular and secure option with most of the same QoS and management features as more expensive devices.
5. Extra support for more simultaneous users
Multi-user support is another big advantage of gaming routers. Whether you spend most of your time gaming, streaming, or working online, the advantages of a device designed for multiple users are unmistakable.
First and foremost, you’ll enjoy superior baseline performance for all users on your network. That also means support for more and different devices. You can connect and enjoy phones, smart tech, and accessories without worrying about compatibility or severely reduced speed.
Our pick: The TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi router is an affordable model with support for more than 50 networked devices. It also features many of the QoS and manageability features highlighted in this guide. It may be less powerful than its cousin, the TP-Link AC5400, but it’s also more affordable.
6. Improved WiFi range for users
Superior hardware translates to improved WiFi range, and there are a lot of gaming routers that improve accessibility throughout the home.
Unfortunately, some devices don’t offer a specific range estimate. Most options are adequate for homes up to 1,000 square feet, but you may need more tech to cover bigger or unconventional layouts. Some of the options we’ve linked to in this guide will cover your needs, though.
Our pick: The ASUS ROG Rapture WiFi 6 Gaming router is specifically for “very large homes,” and there are other, similar ASUS devices available that can help you find the exact features you’re looking for in a gaming router. Also, the NETGEAR Orbi Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System covers an estimated 5,000 square feet.
7. Superior components and hardware performance
Most gaming routers feature superior construction and design quality compared to their traditional counterparts. With better processors and built-in memory, you’ll see much better performance and more responsive operation. Tri-band is a particularly great feature that allows simultaneous transmission across three channels
When it comes to design, however, you may be wondering why your gaming router has so many extra antennae. What do they do? The extra antennae on a gaming router help to increase the effective range and efficiency of the device. Each antenna receives a slightly different signal because of its location, and the array configuration has other benefits. For example, it allows your router to manage multiple devices more efficiently or improve signal to a particular device.
Our pick: You’ll find simultaneous transmission across three channels in the TP-Link AC5400 and the NETGEAR Orbi.
8. Better ambient security features
Most routers have some form of built-in security, but gaming routers take the cake for absolute security and peace of mind. From greater connection protocols to integrated anti-virus software, all of the devices we’ve mentioned feature stronger protection against malware and intrusion compared to a standard router. Most provide multi-year coverage that you can modify or renew, too, and some even come with complete protection for the life of the device.
Our pick: The ASUS AX5700 WiFi 6 gaming router boasts “commercial-grade home network security” with complimentary lifetime support from ASUS AiProtection. This feature keeps incoming and outgoing traffic secure against attacks, blocks access to potentially dangerous websites, and helps protect against malware transmission from any infected hardware your device may encounter.
9. Options with easy parental controls
Depending on the router, you may find that parental controls are a headache to manage, especially in a large household with numerous devices. It’s easy to waste time or lose track of things when you have to juggle different content and settings from one service or device to the next. Fortunately for parents, many gaming routers feature some form of built-in parental controls as part of their software suite.
How each device deploys parental controls will vary, but you have lots of optional presets to help you oversee internet access. You can blacklist, whitelist, and even pause an internet connection using parental control software.
Our pick: The GRYPHON GUARDIAN Advanced Parental Control System & Mesh WiFi Enhanced Security Router is a popular security-focused option with an easy-to-use smartphone app for management.
10. Best overall performance for gamers
Gaming routers have so many advantages, certainly more than enough to garner interest from non-gamers. Even if you don’t play online, more and more of our work is shifting to the internet. That places a big burden on routers, making it crucial to adapt to that increased use.
Considering the costs of new gaming titles, streaming services, and associated hardware, the right gaming router is an easy way to guarantee performance.
Our pick: Affordable options like the popular ASUS N300 WiFi Router, priced under $30, demonstrate how accessible the technology has become.
Does a gaming router make a difference? Even if you aren’t a gamer, the answer for most users is a resounding yes. QoS features improve user experience across the board, offering a more intuitive and hands-on way to manage WiFi signal, traffic, and your household bandwidth. Now that you know more about the benefits of a gaming router, check out some of the links in each section to find the best one for you.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.