If after hearing the term gaming router you responded with, “What, they make gaming routers too?“, know that you aren’t the only one.
The kind of growth pc hardware industry has seen is just incredible.
I think I need to explain the term growth here a little bit.
Computers from the time they have been developed have always found their uses.
Their development process has mutated itself to ensure that computers find deployment in all fields.
Today, can you imagine your personal and professional tasks without computers?
One area of computer deployment that always fascinates me is the gaming domain.
There is no doubt how real the gaming specific hardware demands are.
Your PC must have the right kind of hardware ranging from the right CPU, right motherboard, graphics card, to the right PSU in order to get the performance that you want.
Gamers are so zoned in to create a PC matching their needs, that they usually go into a lot of research before they build their own gaming PC.
That and the fact that, pc hardware in general is expensive, so the idea that you better know what you are getting usually pushes a pc builder to do his research.
While the domain is demanding and attracts very relevant introductions from the manufacturer’s, there are certain hardware introductions in the gaming domain that gamers and users raise a finger on and ask is it really necessary.
One such hardware unit that attracts a lot of fingers is the gaming router.
So, do gaming routers make a difference or in other words are gaming routers worth it?
A gaming router uses what is known as QoS to prioritize network traffic so that traffic influx on other devices doesn’t bottleneck your demands. So, you don’t need to opt for flashy, pricey routers with gaming tag, but getting a decent router is definitely going to enhance your gaming experience.
There is a confusion among many first-time buyers where they think a new gaming router as it were will help in increasing their core internet speed.
This isn’t true. What is true is the fact that a new decent router (doesn’t matter whether it is marketed as a gaming router or not) will definitely provide a more versatile and stable connection than what you have with the default router provided by your ISP.
While that is the gist of it, but there are way too many factors involved if you are pondering getting a gaming router or a decent router for your needs.
In the forthcoming sections, let’s go a little deeper into understanding what makes a router good and what are the features that you need to check into before investing into a router.
Let’s also see whether this whole “gaming router” business is a marketing gimmick or is there any substance in these flashy, pricey, demony looking gaming routers.
Here are some other articles my readers rave about,
- Do You Need Both Router And Modem To Connect To The Internet?
- How To Setup A Wi-Fi Router Without Computer?
- 12 Creative Uses Of Old Routers
- 8 Simple Ways To Boost Your Wi-Fi Without Antenna?
- Do Smart Home Devices Slow Down Wi-Fi?
What Are Gaming Routers Used For?
I know this article is going to be read by a very diverse set of eyes.
Not all of you are going to be a tech savvy or geeky to delve into the details directly and know how to pick the right router for your needs.
Let me quickly tell you what a router is, what it does and how it is different from what is referred to as a gaming router.
You can understand router as that fundamental unit whose repetition gives you a network like the internet.
So whatever router that you are using right now, you can look at it as the control centre that directs the incoming traffic to its different destinations which would be your PC and your other internet enabled devices.
Now many of you might wonder, wait, I don’t have a router as a separate hardware unit, how on earth am I receiving internet then.
Well, that is because your ISP installed a two in one modem-router that is modulating and spreading data packets as one unit.
Now, you may think, that’s better right?
Well not quite, read this article, titled do you need both router and modem to connect to the internet to understand how getting a separate router can have so many benefits.
Now how does what the manufacturers refer to as gaming router differ from the usual routers that you normally see.
Normal routers do not demarcate between traffic supply. What I mean is any internet data packet that comes in through your router is supplied as is needed by the different devices.
So, if someone is watching a web series on Netflix, or downloading large size files from google drive, uploading to dropbox, or simply browsing the internet, it is all the same to your router.
However, with a decent router you will be able to prioritize your network traffic to deliver the traffic in variable proportions.
If you don’t have a lot of devices to extract the internet traffic, then you probably will be okay, given you have a good high-speed internet plan.
However, when you have multiple devices competing for the bandwidth and you also wish to play online multiplayer game with your friends, you shouldn’t be surprised if your gaming experience is laggy.
In the upcoming section let’s see how a decent “gaming router” can help solve this problem.
Gaming Router Buying Guide
Now we acknowledge that the area where a gaming router is effective when compared with your usual router is in traffic redirection.
So, how do decent routers actually manage to do that?
The gaming routers use what is commonly referred to as QoS or Quality Of Service that takes the incoming traffic and redirects it such that it aids in enhancing your gaming experience.
In other words, all the gaming connections to your router will receive data packets with maximum priority while all other connections (incoming and outgoing) gets bundled into a separate stream.
Now let’s look at some other network aspects that are important in online gaming.
Our most obvious input in this would be that you need to have a very high-speed connection. Well, yes but not necessarily.
Yes, I mean you must have sufficient bandwidth which is a given especially if you have multiple devices connected to the router fighting for their chunk of the bandwidth.
But for high speed online multiplayer games what you are really looking for is low latency.
In simple words, latency is the time required by an electronic signal to go from your pc or gaming console to the game server and vice versa.
A decent router, labelled as gaming or not can only improve latency to a certain extent.
The normal server connection speed in your home will range anywhere between 30 ms to 100 ms.
If you choose to go with a better router than what you already have, you will of course have a better and mush more stable connection between your console and your ISP’s modem.
However, it won’t do much as far as the connection between your games server and your ISP server is concerned.
So, if your ISP does not provide a good quality connection to you, your gaming experience is going to be laggy and there won’t be much you can do about it.
Now that doesn’t mean getting a new decent router won’t do you any good.
In addition to QoS, here are the other important features that you are going get if you choose to invest in a better router.
Other Important Features You Need To Look For
So, if you are looking to upgrade to a better router for gaming or otherwise here are the other important features you need to be aware of.
More Ethernet Ports
One of the most obvious that you are going to get with a new gaming router is having more ports.
Some high-end routers have as many as 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports which can be really good for multiplayer online gaming and negates the use of switches.
So, if you are indeed looking to get a router that you wish use primarily for gaming purposes, observe how many devices do you want to provide wired connection to and how many more devices are you planning to connect in the future.
If you are buying a new router you need to be mindful of the protocols on which it operates.
Most new routers that you will see or pick for yourselves will use 802.11ac standard.
However, the next step up in networking protocols is the 802.11ax.
Even the next version of the protocol labelled 802.11ay is under development which is going to use the enticing 60 GHz spectrum.
Router Core Hardware
If you want to run fast paced multiplayer titles, your router needs to be fast.
And therefore, the router on which you have your eyes on must feature powerful CPU and healthy amount of memory.
This will help in not only ensuring that the router is capable of handling multiple connections but also in reducing latency and in order to put QoS features into action.
Most routers today spread their signal via two bandwidths 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz.
With certain high-end routers, you may also find that they feature triple bandwidths over which they transfer their signals.
The spectrum used are 2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz and 5.0 GHz. Some advanced routers even broadcast their signals over still largely untapped 60 GHz frequency.
Now I need to reiterate here, that not all routers need to be labelled as gaming router to have all these features.
Its highly likely that you will find most of these features in decent routers that don’t have a gaming tag associated with it.
Now, once again making absolute statements like all gaming routers are just a marketing scheme and are not worth the money they demand hold no gravity.
The key point to keep in mind here is that, know very clearly what your needs are and when you find them in a reasonably well-known router, buy it.
There’s no need for it to essentially have a gaming tag associated with it.
Because there indeed are certain manufacturers that will use the mental impressions that gaming creates in you to shell out those extra bucks.
That’s just the plain fact of it.
Game Mode In Non-Gaming Routers
Now, if getting a decent router isn’t something that you can do right now, certain routers like the ones from D-Link come with an inherent gaming mode.
This of course doesn’t anywhere compare to high-end routers that use QoS features but it’s something that you need to be aware of.
For example, let’s consider the gaming mode of D-Link routers.
D-Link unfortunately doesn’t disclose a lot about the feature but we known that D-Link’s gaming mode is nothing but your router operating in “Full Cone NAT“.
Under normal circumstances the router operates in Symmetric NAT Mode.
Now what does this mean?
Well, its simple enough to understand. Let’s say your PC has established an outgoing connection via your internet to a server.
If the default Symmetric NAT is active, data packets or traffic will be transferred to the PC only if the incoming data has its source in the server to which the original connection was established.
With the Full Cone Nat or the gaming mode activated, the router will actively forward all traffic to the PC.
To put it even more simply, with gaming mode after your console has opened up a connection it can receive traffic from all other addresses.
Prioritizing Network Traffic On Your Gaming Router
So, once you have a decent router how do you prioritize the influx of traffic?
Let’s see what are the different ways you can prioritize the influx of traffic to ensure you have the best gaming experience.
- Service Based Prioritization.
If you choose to prioritize on the basis of service you can set all the different gaming devices on your router to have priority when running a particular game or even a web service like Netflix.
- Network Based Prioritization.
If you wish to prioritize on the basis of network you can do that as well.
This simply means that you can choose to have a higher priority for say wireless connections over wired or vice versa.
- IP Based Prioritization
On similar lines you can even choose to drive your traffic on the basis of your devices IP address as well.
Every single device on your network is going to have its unique IP address and you can choose to prioritize your network traffic on the basis of IP addresses as well.
This is particularly helpful as only a few of the devices on your network will you game on.
And you can provide each of these devices with higher priority.
- MAC Address Based Prioritization
This is very similar to IP address-based prioritization. Every hardware that will connect to your router will have an inherent identifier known as mac address.
You can use this mac address to prioritize the network traffic as well.
Okay so now that we have looked at what makes a router good and the different features that must be available in a gaming router, let me draw a conclusion to this comprehensive article by answering a few questions that I know for a fact you are going to have.
Do Gaming Routers Lower Ping?
Certain high-end routers like the NetDuma R2 allow you to manually select the game servers which are geographically closest to you thus essentially reducing ping. Combine this with QoS, and a fast stable and reliable connection and you can with a decent router enhance your gaming experience.
Now what needs to be reiterated here is there is no way to actually enhance your core internet speed with the help of a gaming router.
That is just the plain fact of it. However, a good router gives you certain capabilities like QoS and the option to select a game server closest to you which in a way will help reduce ping and thus enhance your gaming experience.
Does A Gaming Router Need A Modem?
If you want your router to also broadcast internet, in addition to creating a network, yes you will need to connect it to a modem that is usually provided to you by your ISP when you decide to get internet service.
I have discussed this in great details whether you actually need both modem and router to connect to the internet in this comprehensive article.
You will be surprised by the answer.
Do Gaming Routers Boost Internet Speed?
Your core internet bandwidth will always be limited by what your ISP provides you. However, if you ensure that you have the right router you can use it to create a reliable connection and link with your closest game server, thus reducing ping and enhancing your overall gaming experience.
So, this is what is actually going to happen. The core bandwidth that you receive via your modem is totally going to depend on what kind of internet speed you are going to have.
That is just the fact of it. However, if you don’t have a decent router creating a network between the modem and your devices your data transmission will be lossy, unreliable and unstable.
So, are gaming routers worth it?
Addressing the fundamental fact that there are many manufacturers that misuse the name gaming to their advantage, you cannot overlook the fundamental fact that a decent router will do a world of good for your gaming experience and yes some of them do come with a gaming tag to them.
Does that mean a router that isn’t marketed with the gaming tag is bad?
Absolutely not the keyword here is decent. Read all the topics above that I relayed to learn what make a router good.
Do some more research in learning about the particular router model you are looking at and arrive at purchase decision that fulfils all your needs.
I hope I was able to answer your query on do gaming modems and routers make a difference.
Are they worth it and what are the different features you need to be aware of before you make a gaming router purchase decision.
If you have any other doubt, query, comment or feedback about anything that you just read, let me know in the comments section below.
Take great care of yourselves and I will see you in the next one!