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How to Choose the Best Gaming WiFi Router

At Friendly PC we can help you select the best products and build the best gaming PC, but if you play online and have to endure lag, you’ve wasted your money.

As a gamer, fast and reliable internet is a requirement. You haven’t perfected your skills just to lose a battle because your internet connection skipped a beat. There are a number of reasons for a slow internet connection. In some cases a bad router may be the cause of your internet woes. Routers become obsolete and simply wear out over-time. If you’ve come to the decision to replace your old router or upgrade, this user-friendly guide will help you understand what to look for in a good gaming WiFi router.

What is a gaming router?

If you’ve just begun to enter the world of competitive gaming, or are just wanting to up your gameplay with friends your first question may be: what is the difference between a gaming router and normal WiFi router?

Marketing standard model routers as “gaming” products has become a common practice for manufacturers to take advantage of less knowledgeable gamers. In some cases, “gaming” routers provide the same features as “non-gaming” routers, but have nicer aesthetics and a premium price. However, there is a true difference between a router meant for use in online gaming, and a traditional router meant for everyday use.

The main difference is how gaming traffic is handled. A true gaming router has Quality of Service (QoS) features that focus on sending your gaming data where it needs to go and prioritizes that traffic over other types on your network. Using a router with QoS features specifically designed for gameplay will ensure that you get the fastest performance and lowest latency even if you’ve got a 4K video streaming on the same network.

What specs should you choose?

You’ve decided you’re in need of a quality gaming router and not a standard affordable model. It’s time to buy. You’ve made the trek to your local electronics store or found a comfy chair and scrolled endlessly through Amazon looking for the right product, but all you can see is seemingly incomprehensible combinations of letters and numbers. What do they mean and which ones do you choose?

Buying the best router for your gaming needs doesn’t need to be hard or require you to spend an obscene amount of hard earned money. You can make the choice a lot easier by doing a little reading upfront on what all of that tech speak really means.

Dual-band vs tri-band routers

Most affordable router models are dual band these days. This means that if you’re using multiple devices at the same time the router spreads your wireless signal across a 5GHz and 2.4GHz radio frequency. The 2.4GHz band is longer-range, but has lower speed capability. A 5GHz band is much faster, but travels a shorter-distance.

Tri-band routers work in much the same way but add a third band to the mix, usually a 5GHz band. Some tri-band routers use a 60GHz frequency instead of 5GHz. This third band can be a handy addition to your gaming setup because you could password protect it only for gaming use. If you have a friend visit who is unfamiliar with your WiFi connection, they can’t accidentally use your gaming connection . Effective tri-band routers are often more expensive, but some higher tier dual-band routers are equally pricey. Total cost is always worth considering.

Your choice should be made by understanding how many devices you’ll be using at any one time, and if the amount and level of your gaming fit within dual-band parameters. Also keep in mind if you’d prefer a dedicated gaming connection for your PC.

Router Speeds: AC What?

Router models listed with speeds such as AC1900 or AC2600 are simply using the shorthand naming convention for the 802.11ac wireless standard. AC is the most common in 2019, but as speeds and hardware improves, routers will eventually move on to the newer AX standard.

It’s important to remember that the number listed after the “AC” is the total combined maximum speed for all of the router’s bands. In theory, the combined maximum speed for an AC1900 router would be 1900 megabytes per second (Mbps). Each band has its own maximum as well. So, for a dual-band AC1900 router the 2.4GHz would have a maximum speed of 600 Mbps, while the 5GHz band’s maximum speed would be 1300 Mbps. Follow this link to review the most common AC band speeds.

Before making your decision on which model to buy, be sure to test your speeds of each device at home first. Then select the model that is higher than your test speeds.

MU-MIMO. Do you really need that?

When choosing the best gaming router, MU-MIMO is a must-have feature. Short for “Multi User, Multi Input, Multi Output”, a router with MU-MIMO allows you to use multiple devices simultaneously on the same network, and prevents device from having to wait in line for signal availability. This feature isn’t required for gaming, but for most households it is an advantage and critical for any serious gamer.

Finding the right wireless router for your gaming needs is not as complicated as it might seem.  By understanding how you’ll use your router, you can make an informed decision on which product will best serve you, and get back to trading rounds with friends and keeping the enemy waves at bay.
Whether you’re starting from the ground up with a new PC build or need help tweaking your setup, Friendly PC is here to help you create the best gaming experience. You can reach visit our store, or request a house-call if you short on time. Our April special is almost at an end. Find out how to save on a new computer now!