Are you thinking of getting the best gaming router for under $ 200?
Suppose you consider yourself a serious gamer who puts maximum effort into having a top gaming computer and peripherals. However, do you pay attention to the network you have connected to your gaming PC?
Although you have a speedy network card (NIC) and a Cat7 LAN cable, you must also pay attention to the router. A router is essential because it connects you online to play with friends or in tournament competitions with prizes. Regardless of online gaming, your connection to the outside world must be fast and stable.
Suppose you have problems with the delay while in the heat of the action on the screen. It can negatively affect your gaming score. Just in case, I recommend connecting the cable to your router to eliminate the delay. Getting the highest quality wireless router is necessary if you don’t want a cable connection.
The router manufacturers recognized this in time, so now they are cunningly selling models that often have gaming labels. In this way, they are trying to tell you that their router is intended only for you, the gamer, who will achieve the best network performance with this and such a model.
Three best gaming routers under $ 200
TP-Link Archer AX6600
NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500
Asus ROG Rapture
Is there a difference between regular and gaming routers?
The difference is in the existence of a function called quality of service or QoS. QoS is the ability of a router to give different applications or users priorities to guarantee a certain level of performance related to the data flow.
The standard home router isn’t set up to regulate who to send data to and the priorities. Suppose you set up a router with four or five household members in a home environment. At the same time, you try to maintain a stable and fast connection with your online game; other members of the household stream various content and jam the flow.
In addition to QoS, gaming routers, compared to “ordinary,” have built-in stronger processors and more memory, gigabit or faster Ethernet ports, more WiFi antennas, and the like, all to achieve and maintain the most stable connection.
Which router is best for you?
Many routers can solve your network performance problem, but they may not be all router issues. Also, check your internet connection regarding the speed and quality of the link supplied by your ISP. If many users complain about the quality of support or connection, try changing the ISP.
Otherwise, if everything is OK with the internet connection, start purchasing a quality router. Of course, the best router is the one that will boost your network performance and provide a quality and stable connection with a reasonable investment.
Prices are quite different depending on the manufacturer and the capabilities of the routers. They can range below $ 100 and well over $ 300.
Let’s look at which routers are currently the best choice for everyone’s wallet and price range requirements of $ 100 to $ 200 as the most affordable price range for most users.
How I tested
I placed the router on the ground floor next to the Synology DS218play NAS home. The router and NAS are connected with a quality Dacrown Ethernet Cable Cat 8 to eliminate any interference in data transmission.
Since the test home package of the ISP is 100 Mbit, all routers will meet this speed, i.e., they will not transmit data faster than 100 Mbit. So I set up a NAS with a 1Gps LAN port connected by a LAN cable with a 1GBps port on the router. The wire transfer speed for all routers averaged 930 Mbit/s (116 MB / s), which I expected for such a connection.
With my Acer Nitro 5 laptop (it has an Intel WiFi 6 network card), I connected to a router from three different locations in the house and based on that; I took an average transfer.
Of course, with you, these results in your house can vary more or less depending on the router’s location, the number, and thickness of the walls, building materials, neighboring WiFi networks, and even interference from microwave ovens (operating at 2.4 GHz).
However, based on this testing, you can see how the routers work in real conditions and how close the speeds are to the specifications.
1. TP-Link Archer AX6600 (GX90) – Fastest WiFi Gaming Router
TP-Link Archer AX6600 (GX90)
8× Detachable High-Performance
5 GHz: 4804 Mbps (802.11ax, HE160)
1× 2.5 Gbps WAN/LAN Port
1.5 GHz Quad-Core
512 MB DDR3
1× USB 3.0 Port
At the very top in terms of price and performance is this beautifully designed TP-Link AX6600 (GX90) WiFi 6 router. GX90 is one of the fastest routers you can afford, with many helpful gaming options.
Inside the rugged plastic case is an ARM Cortex A7 Quad-Core processor running at 1.5 GHz and 512MB of DDR3 RAM, promising good router performance.
In terms of design, black and red predominate, suggesting the gaming character of this router. It comes with eight two-band detachable antennas for truly impressive signal coverage. There are two USB ports on the right, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 for backup or media servers.
On the front of the GX90 is a button to turn on/off WPS and WiFi. There’s one 2.5 GHz uplink port, a reset button, an on/off button and 4 Gigabit LAN ports on the back.
Although the uplink port supports fast connections, LAN ports are limited to 1Gbps. So, there’s room for speeds higher than 1Gbps via a wireless network, but it’s more challenging to do in actual conditions. TP-Link was supposed to leave all LAN ports at 2.5 Gbps, so you have the option of connecting a PC or NAS to a router using a LAN cable with a speed higher than 1Gbps.
The RX6600 designation is related to the overall speed that, in theory, the router can achieve in ideal operating conditions. It reaches speeds of up to 574 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band. In the second 5 GHz band, the router can provide 1201 Mbps. In the third band of 5 GHz, the GX90 achieves speeds of up to 4804 Mbps.
Of course, as I mentioned, these are theoretical speeds because you will not be close to these speeds in the real world. The average internet speed in the US is below 200 Mbps, so few will enjoy the specified speeds.
However, in real work and at home, the router proved to be in the best light. I recorded uniformly high data transfer speeds in a friend’s house of 1900 square feet and many walls in almost all locations. At the 2.4 GHz band, the GX90 achieved an average transfer rate of 150 Mbit/s (18.75 MB/s), and at the 5 GHz band, a speed of 1100 Mbit/s (137.5 MB/s).
As for games, the performance is at a desirable level because QoS does the job correctly. Prioritizing will save a drop in the quality and speed of your connection, even if more people access the router to stream or search for something from the Internet.
The design of GX90 is gamer-oriented, the performance is excellent, it supports WiFi 6, and the only thing that can keep you away from this router is the price of over $ 200. However, the GX90 proved to be the fastest router and side by side with much more expensive routers of over $ 400.
2. NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 – Runner Up
NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500
4× Detachable High-Performance
5 GHz: 1733 Mbps (802.11ac)
1× Gigabyt WAN
1.7 GHz Dual-Core
512 MB DDR3
2× USB 3.0 Port
The Netgear XR500 looks futuristic, even though it’s not such a young router. The router is built of solid plastic and equipped with four removable antennas to cover every corner of your home with a WiFi signal.
At first glance, you can see that Asus has made an effort to create an aesthetically pleasing network device for ROG fans. At the top of the router is a WiFi on/off button and a WPS button. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the side. Four Gigabit LAN ports and one WAN port are standard on the back.
The router runs a Qualcomm dual-core processor at 1.7 GHz and 512 MB of DDR3 RAM. The XR500 achieves theoretical speeds of up to 800 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band and 1,733 Mbps in the 5 GHz band.
The XR500 has many settings to increase speed using the built-in DumaOS software. Of course, as with all gaming routers, an essential QoS option is to prioritize bandwidth. With a few clicks, you can give yourself the main priority over the others to have an undisturbed gaming session.
Hyper-Traffic is a mode in which the router puts your packets at the top of priority. Not just in gaming but also other activities like streaming or email. The XR500 has geo-filtering to reduce network latency and limit the distance between your location and the preferred game server.
The XR500 has an OpenVPN that it uses if you want to keep your location and identity secret by setting up a virtual private network (VPN).
Let’s look at what data transfer performance is like within a home environment. The data transfer rate averaged about 160 Mbps (20MB/s) for the 2.4 GHz band. The average data rate was about 820 Mbps (102 MB/s) for the 5 GHz band. Note that this is a WiFi 5 router that has seriously approached the GX90 WiFi 6 router in terms of performance.
The Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 is an excellent router in terms of performance and capabilities for gamers who want a fast and reliable router. It’s easy to adjust through DumaOS, has excellent performance, and looks great. Its price is now well below $ 200, making it a perfect opportunity to shop.
3. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC2900 – Best Design Gaming Router
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC2900
3 x External detachable antenna
5 GHz: 2167 Mbps (802.11ac)
1× Gigabyt WAN
1.8 GHz Dual-Core
512 MB DDR3
1 x USB 2.0
Asus offers a wide selection of routers, but it always strives to be innovative in every segment of its products. Asus has dedicated its ROG series of gaming components to hard-core gamers, so why not put this router in that group.
ROG RAPTURE GT-AC2900, as the full name of this router reads, is made entirely of quality and solid plastic in black. The edges are sharp, suggesting a stealth design, and on the body of the router, there’s an RGB ROG symbol and a stylized bar whose lighting you control via the Aura Lighting option in the router menu.
The router has a built-in dual-core processor ARM v8 Cortex A53 running at 1.8 GHz and 512 MB of DDR3 RAM. GT-AC2900 is a dual-band router that theoretically achieves a speed of 750 Mbps in 2.4 GHz mode and reaches a speed of 2167 Mbps in 5GHz mode.
Buttons for LED control, WPS, WiFi, and reset are on the side. At the back, there are various USB and LAN ports. One USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0, a WAN 1Gbps port in blue, and 4 LAN 1Gbps ports. There are three removable antennas on the upper side.
The router’s menu is full of various settings, all in a recognizable ROG style. It’s interesting that it also comes with the Trend Micro security AV program as additional protection. Improved QoS and low latency, excellent design, and quality build are all elements that promise at first glance.
- Triple-level Game Accelerator – optimize online gaming packages from your computer to the game server.
- AiMesh – Works with ASUS AiMesh compatible routers to create a flexible WiFi system for the whole house.
- Front-line Network Security – AiProtection Pro runs Trend Micro security and protects all connected devices from Internet threats.
- ASUS Aura Lighting – RGB effects for a stylish atmosphere, which you can adjust to monitor the status of your network.
- GeForce Now Recommended Router – a recommendation from NVIDIA for a cloud gaming experience with no latency.
Performance in actual conditions also depends on the physical location of the router in the house, the thickness of the walls, construction material, the number of users, networks in the neighborhood, etc. At 2.4Ghz, Asus ROG RAPTURE GT-AC2900 achieved an average transfer speed of about 120 Mbit/s (15 MB/s), and at 5Ghz is about 270 Mbit/s (34 MB/s).
As you can see, the performance isn’t in line with the TP-Link GX90 or Netgear XR500, but this is quite a solid router that offers a lot of fine-tuning for the gaming environment. Having a few more antennas would be desirable because the surrounding in the real world or your home can affect the final performance.
Overall, the GT-AC2900 is an excellent gaming router, with a pleasing design, RGB lighting, and a well-done menu with many gaming settings.
Its price is now affordable, so if you decide to get one decent gaming router, keep the Asus ROG GT-AC2900 in mind.
While you may not have attached much importance to the router in your gaming system so far, it’s worth investing if you spend more time playing online. A good router is also great for your home network if you have a NAS or fast data exchange between multiple devices.
The three routers shown in this article are great devices to take your online gaming experience to the next level. The TP-Link AX6600 (GX90) is powerful and fast and is ideal for a large, modern, and busy multi-member house. If WiFi 6 isn’t your priority, Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 is also a great router with plenty of gaming options and excellent performance.
Finally, Asus ROG RAPTURE GT-AC2900 is for die-hard gamers who enjoy having good performance and an aesthetic experience in using their router. All three routers are affordable so that everyone will choose according to their capabilities and needs.
If you have any additional questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.