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Companies love putting gaming in their product names. While this is a meaningful descriptor for some components for others it is nothing more than a marketing ploy to get more money from you.
Because gamers always want to have the best hardware to get the best possible performance. As a result, top tech companies like Netgear, Linksys, Asus, and TP-Link have all released their own specially designed routers for gaming which should provide better performance than your standard router.
Honestly, how much performance do you actually need for online gaming? There are two main features to focus on: the strength of the signal, and features.
Gaming routers are often very similar to standard high-end routers. The main difference between these two types is that gaming routes are designed to optimize and prioritize data to improve speed and to reduce lag. And they have a higher price tag.
So, do you really need an expensive “gaming” router for better online performance?
Gaming Router vs Standard Router
In fact, the raw speed (bandwidth) of your connection is not the most important factor for online gaming. That´s why even the basic router can offer support for a smooth gaming experience.
The ability to get low latency (ping) is critical for high-speed online games. Ping is a measurement of how fast of a connection to the game server the player has. The lower this number is, the faster communications are between you and the server.
For example, a player with a low 50 ms ping is going to have a better gaming experience than a player with a 250 ms ping.
It doesn’t matter if you are playing MOBAs or ConterStrike, having an internet connection with a low ping is always better, and a high-end router can improve latency, soft of.
A faster router can definitely improve the connection from ISP´s modem connection to your computer or console, but it cant improve the speed between your ISP´s server to the game server. However, if you have a poor ISP’s connection, you will have laggy, high ping online gaming.
What Does a Gaming Router Do?
The key difference between a regular router and a gaming router is Quality of Service (QoS) features. Quality of Service is an excellent and underutilized tool that allows your router to set priorities for certain devices or types of traffic. For example, your video streaming or online gaming will not freeze and stutter because somebody is downloading files, watching Netflix, or is web browsing in your home at the same time. For a regular router without the QoS feature, all of this has equal priority.
Another important feature of a gaming router is MU-MIMO, or “Multiple-In, Multiple-Out.” This new technology has a noticeable impact on everyday Wi-Fi. It makes networks much more efficient.
Old routers use “SU-MIMO”, or “Single User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output”. With these routers, only one device can receive data at any given time.
If somebody is watching Netflix on one laptop and another device is used to stream YouTube videos, only one device will be prioritized.
MU-MIMO technology put it simply, allows for simultaneous data streaming rather than sequential.
Is a Gaming Router Worth the Money?
Should you buy a gaming router? Well, it depends.
Features like MU-MIMO and QoS already exist on dozens of available non-gaming routers, and often you can buy the same router with these features and similar performance for much cheaper. The difference can be even in hundreds of dollars. Even a router in a $100 price range will probably do just as well.
If you’re looking for a router that will give you great performance in online gaming and doesn’t cost $400, for you, we are including some awesome and non-expensive options.
The TP-Link Archer C2300is a fantastic router with focus on both speed and security. A great addition to your home network. And the high-end features are a reason why you should get this router. The HomeCare, QoS to prioritize your devices and MU-MIMO for better connection sharing and a basic antivirus to keep everything in your home Wi-Fi network safe.
The Linksys AC2200 Max-Stream is a great tri-band router loaded with tools to tweak and customize your router for optimal performance. The router even features MU-MIMO technology, so your whole family can stream, game, and perform other high-bandwidth tasks at the same time and same speed.
TheTP-Link Archer C9 is an excellent router powerful enough to handle 4k streaming or online gaming without lag. It is equipped with Beamforming technology which helps its dual-band antennas locate Wi-Fi devices and focus the wireless signal towards them.
Nechstar has affiliate partnerships (including Amazon). These do not influence editorial content, though Nechstar may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy. Please note, if we mention a price, discount or a special deal, this was valid at the time of posting the article. Since then, prices have probably changed.