The entire concept behind the inception of gaming routers was to prioritize gaming traffic. This would help to eliminate congestion and provide players with a faster, more streamlined, lag-free experience. 

This is known as QoS or Quality of Service and it has been an incredible marketing tool, driving up demand while placing a tangible sense of separation between itself and regular routers. 

The problem with a gaming router is that this is basically the only thing that it has to offer in comparison to regular routers, many of which are exceptional pieces of hardware.

As it turns out, when a gamer plugs their console or PC directly into the router via an ethernet cable, the speed differences between a gaming router and a standard router become negligible.

Are Gaming WiFi Routers Worth It?

A gaming WiFi router may be worth it if you live in a household where many different devices connect to the WiFi and it isn’t practical for you to always connect via ethernet cable. If you are getting a connection speed of less than 100 Mbps and you are experiencing regular ping spikes due to other people using the network, then the added features on a gaming router, like being able to boost mobile gameplay and prioritize your gaming devices for the best experience. 

But there is usually only one feature on a gaming router that truly separates itself from a normal router and that is the QoS feature. However, since the level of separation between a gaming router is still pretty small, spending a ton of extra money for a gaming router really isn’t worthwhile, with a few, possible exceptions. 

Of course, gamers who spend a lot of time online, trying to gain the slightest of edges over their opponents, want something that is going to be better than what is considered standard across the board. So, there is a unique attraction to something that could potentially give you that edge. 

Gaming routers claim to do this by streamlining and prioritizing your traffic, especially during times of the day when the most people are on their WiFi, chewing up all of that bandwidth. One of the biggest problems with this is that it isn’t your router that makes the difference. 

Good routers improve latency, of that there is little doubt. The problem is, they can only improve it so much.

For instance, you’re not going to get a connection that is faster than 30ms, almost anywhere. So, if your router is capable of handling that speed, why get a gaming router?

It’s not going to be able to take better advantage of that connection speed.

After all, 30ms is 30ms and so long as your hardware can handle it, nothing will change, even if you shell out a ton of money for a gaming router, you won’t notice a change in your gameplay because there is none.

In many instances, a gaming router will equal a standard mid-range WiFi router, with some gaming-type styling, jazzy branding, and a massive price hike for the privilege.

It’s often pure marketing, and a way to get you to fork over more.

The thing is that in the vast majority of cases, your router will have hardly any impact on latency, which is what makes a difference for gaming.

You’ll be a lot more likely to improve your gaming experience by plugging in a direct ethernet connection to any midrange consumer router rather than relying on a WiFi gaming router.

What Do Gaming WiFi Routers Do?

Good gaming routers like the AX5700 WiFi 6 gaming router are aimed at improving your network performance by reducing your ping. It does this by prioritizing your traffic through the QoS feature. The feature is certainly helpful if you have a lot of people in your home and they all love to chew up bandwidth throughout the day. 

However, there are other things that gaming routers feature that you may find helpful as well. 

  • They tend to have more ethernet ports than standard routers
  • Many of these ports are gigabit ports
  • 802.11ac compatible
  • Customizable dual-band
  • Antennas designed for a broader range

To be fair to the “standard” routers here, most of the higher-end routers, such as some of the routers that TP-Link, Netgear, and ASUS offer have just as many ports as you would find in a gaming router and they often have as many gigabit ports as well. 

Even 802.11ac compatibility is worthy of a shrug, not because it isn’t awesome (it is), but because you would have to have the hardware capable of receiving that signal, and there is not a large market for it right now. 

The same could be said for the customizable dual-band. The idea would be to put your PC and game consoles on the 5GHz band, leaving the lower band for everything else.

The problem is that many routers already offer this option, so it’s not a separating factor.

What Are The Differences Between Gaming WiFi Routers And Normal WiFi Routers?

Part of the reason behind the narrow separation of a gaming router and a standard router, is that standard routers are quickly closing the gap on anything that separates a gaming router from other routers. 

Technically, the biggest separating factor between a gaming router and a standard router, high-end or not, is the QoS.

Outside of that, other routers have much, if not all, of everything listed above in terms of what a gaming router does. 

Now, if you have a lot of people at home and they all love to spend a lot of time on the WiFi, that QoS feature could be a huge difference. 

This is also true for those who live in major metropolitan areas, as the congestion after working hours is bound to be at its peak.

Related Article: Top 23 Reasons Why You Should Buy A Gaming PC Instead Of A Console

Do Gaming Routers Reduce Ping?

Technically, no router can do that. Or, at least not beyond a certain point because ping is associated with your ISP’s server and its connection to the game server as well. What your gaming router does, is improve the speed of the connection between you and your ISP, so any residual ping between you and your ISP is within your router’s purview. 

Outside of that, it’s out of your control.

If you have an instantaneous connection between your system and your ISP’s (in a hypothetical scenario), and you are still observing 50ms, then you are quite literally looking at the speed of your ISP’s servers communicating with the game’s server. 

Ultimately, how much is ping worth your while? 

The average human being’s reaction time is 250ms or slower and a minimum standard for MMO games is 100ms, a speed at which your mind can’t even catch. 

While a gaming router can work to improve the speed of your connection with your ISP’s server, you could own a $5,000, state-of-the-art router and there is nothing that it can do to improve the speed of the ISP’s connection to any given server.

Are Wired Or Wireless Gaming Routers Better?

A wired connection, via an ethernet cable, is always the pinnacle in speed. When you are talking about a wireless, WiFi connection, there is always a level of interference, no matter how minor. The gigabit ports on the back of your router are going to provide a faster and more stable experience than anything else. 

  • Cat 5: Cat 5 cable has been around since the 80s and even today, it can 100Mbps at up to 325’.
  • Cat 5e: The successor to the Cat 5 crown, 5e is far superior and can handle speeds up to 1,000Mbps at 325’.
  • Cat 6: Despite being the next in line, a Cat 6 cable can handle the same speeds as a 5e cable and no more.
  • Cat 6a: The 6a is to the 6 what the 5e is to the 5. It can handle data transfer speeds up to 10,000Mbps at 325’

You can use a Cat 6 cable for your internet connection but that would be like using silver wire to conduct an amount of electricity that copper wire is more than capable of handling on its own.

You’ll never get 10,000Mbps (unless we get there somewhere down the road) and the high-end ports are only rated for 1Gbps.

Wireless connections just aren’t as fast and that is mostly because they are not as stable as a wired connection. Not only that, but the overall stability of a wireless connection can change over time, depending on what is going on. 

For example, if you are plugged into a gigabit port, you will get 1,000Mbps all of the time, regardless of the time of day and regardless of who is on the WiFi.

However, if you are connected to the 5GHz band on your WiFi, and several family members jump on it as well, your experience is bound to get slower.

Does A Gaming Router Come With Internet?

Internet access has to be purchased through an ISP. It’s possible that you can find a gaming router that is sold by or through an ISP and it comes with the internet at a certain price throughout the year. 

However, that’s about the extent of it. WiFi routers are nothing more than the traffic controllers for data transference. If you imagine data as millions of little cars coming and going, stopping at red lights (routers and extenders), and going when the light is green, you have an idea of what a router is. 

It simply directs the traffic, but it doesn’t bring the traffic. Much like a real-life situation, the traffic has to come to the red light, not the other way around. What a good gaming router can do, however, is make the traffic flow a whole lot smoother than it did before.

All Things Considered

Gaming routers will provide added value in some use cases. There is little doubt about that. They are exceptional routers with all of the latest and greatest tech packed into what is typically a streamlined and cool-looking device. 

However, it’s also a bit like having 5G in an area that only has 4G towers. Not to mention the fact that the other devices that communicate with the 4G towers are rapidly catching up while you wait on a 5G tower. 

Ultimately, unless you’re a competitive gamer and the competition is so tight that the slightest of edges would be an advantage or you have a very specific problem to solve, such as a large volume of household members and smart devices locked onto your network, going with a gaming router is probably not going to improve your experience much beyond what it already is, especially if you already have a half-decent regular router, to begin with.