Most users don’t go into a new console purchasing thinking about their home networking setup. But picking up the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 without a decent router could be a disaster. Gaming consoles are an interesting beast. They’re not like smartphones. They aren’t a purchase someone can make in a vacuum and still get a decent experience. No, gaming consoles require users to learn about their software differences and missing features before they make their purchase. They also require learning about the accessories and extras that power them.
So what exactly are the best routers for gaming and how do you choose the best router to complement your console purchase?
What to Look For
As it turns out, the criteria for a decent gaming router has gotten dramatically less involved over time. That’s particularly true for those who are planning to connect their entertainment console through a wired connection. Look for a gigabit Ethernet port if you’re planning to plug your console directly in. Both the Xbox One and PS4 consoles sport gigabit Ethernet connections for communicating with routers even faster. Budget-minded users don’t necessarily need the extra bandwidth that gigabit Ethernet provides, but it’s best to be future proof if you’re planning on keeping the router for a long time. Getting by with a router that uses 802.11n wireless technology is easy if you have only one device that you’re always streaming high-definition content too. However, streaming high-definition video to more than one device while gaming could get you into a bit of trouble, according to people using 802.11ac routers. They just aren’t able to handle as much.
Another thing to pay attention to is whether the router you’re purchasing is dual-band or not. Dual-band routers are designed to communicate over two different frequencies at the same time, the idea being that routers with two different signal capacities could communicate reliably with older devices that might not be compatible with the latest wireless technology and allow traffic to travel a bit faster.
You should also keep an eye out for how much distance there is between where you’re placing the router and where your console will be. If the two will sit next to each other in one room than maybe getting a router with as much signal distance as possible isn’t for you. If the two will be at opposite ends of your house maybe paying a bit extra for a router that gets more distance is a good idea.
Lastly, keep an eye out for extras that might come in handy. Maybe you don’t want your children to access certain kinds of websites through the Xbox One’s version of Internet Explorer, or other web browsers at home. There are routers that allow you to do block those sites universally. Some routers even come with built-in USB ports that can share content across your network.
The Routers We Like
Linksys E2500 Advanced Simultaneous Dual-Band Wireless-N Router
The router I use at home and recommend whole heartedly to others is the Linksys E2500. It’s a dual-band wireless N router that supports basic connectivity options, a firewall, four USB ports and a boosted antenna to give users a bit more coverage than some entry-level routers. At $79.99 it’s not the cheapest router you can find, but it’s reliable and checks all the boxes.
Linksys EA2700 App-Enabled N600 Dual-Bad Wireless N Router With Gigabit
The slightly updated version of the Links E2500, the Linksys EA2700, offers a few features that those who buy the base model don’t get. For starters, users can actually have the router prioritize traffic so that multiplayer matches play flawlessly, even while others are also trying to hog as much internet bandwidth as possible. It also includes a Gigabit Ethernet connection so that users who plug-in directly to the router are guaranteed even faster file transfers and more. The Linksys EA2700 also allows users to connect to their network when they aren’t home. Staples has this model on sale for $79.99 too, so for a limited time it’s decent bargain over the E2500.
Netgear Range Max WNDR3700 Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router
A favorite of gamers everywhere, the WNDR3700 Router by Netgear has Gigabit Ethernet ports for users to hardwire their console to. It’s also dual-band, so there’s more capacity with this router too. It includes some pretty nifty extras, also. This is one of the routers that has parental controls built-in. If you see your child using their console (or even iPhone or iPad) in a way you don’t like, you can put a stop to it. It also includes a dedicated USB port so that users can share files across their network for playback on the console itself or other devices. The best extra this router has is the capability to create dedicated networks for different devices to connect to. For example, you could guarantee that online multiplayer matches weren’t brought down by those streaming video by creating two entirely different wireless networks.
Regardless of which router you choose with your next console, remember to ask about the return policy in case it doesn’t have the features you want or lacks enough power to reach that nook or cranny you’re going to place your console.