Wired connections have been the norm for gamers ever since competitive online gaming became a thing. Emerging WiFi technologies combined with the latest specifications from the Wi-Fi Alliance are turning the tide in 2023.
For the first time, Wi-Fi routers are capable of matching the low latency and high bandwidth of wired connections. Gamers can retain a competitive edge while playing on wirelessly connected PCs, consoles, laptops, and mobile devices.
Still, not all Wi-Fi 6 routers are good for gamers. The hardware used in a router to employ the latest technologies makes a huge difference. Here we discuss the specs and features gamers should look for in a router. Let’s get started.
WiFi routers have a maximum speed at which they can transfer data. This speed is called the maximum throughout. You may see the maximum rated throughput written as AX####.
For instance, the maximum rated throughput of the Nighthawk® Pro Gaming router is AX5400. These numbers tell you the throughput in Mbps, so the Nighthawk Pro Gaming router is capable of 5400 Mbps or 5.4 Gbps maximum throughput.
Note that high throughput can only allow high internet speeds as high as your Internet connection bandwidth. Click here and upgrade to one of the new RCN Internet plans to benefit the most from your new gaming router.
A high throughput of 5.4 Gbps can improve internet speeds even if you have a 500 Mbps connection. This is because smart home devices also communicate with each other via the WiFi. They may not use much of your internet bandwidth but they do consume your WiFi throughput. A high throughput ensures there’s always enough room in the LAN for all your smart devices without limiting your internet bandwidth.
Top Speed on the 5 GHz Band
Conventional WiFi routers used a single frequency band of 2.4 GHz. High-speed routers today include a second band of 5 GHz. These are called dual-band routers. Some even use two 5 GHz bands and are called tri-band routers.
The 2.4 GHz band can ideally support speeds of 500 Mbps. But really, you can’t expect more than 150 Mbps from this band. The 5 GHz band can allow speeds up to 1300 Mbps if the router supports Wi-Fi 6.
Higher frequency signals carry more energy, which makes it more likely for them to get absorbed or reflected by the molecules in your walls, furniture, and even the air. This gives the 5 GHz band a lower range compared to the 2.4 GHz band.
If you’re a gamer, you’d want to set up the router as close as possible to your PC or console. If you play on a laptop or a mobile device, you’d ideally sit close to the router for minimum ping. Gaming routers have both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. But from a close range, you’ll only be using the 5 GHz band.
You need a high throughput on the 5 GHz to ensure a consistent, low-latency connection. The total throughput doesn’t directly tell you that as it’s the sum of the throughputs of all the bands.
Sticking to the example of the Nighthawk Pro Gaming router, the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands in the router have 600 Mbps and 4.8 Gbps throughputs, adding up to 5.4 Gbps. Choose a gaming router with a high top speed on the 5 GHz bands.
Wi-Fi 6 Technologies Hardware to Support It
Wi-Fi 6 has greatly improved wireless connectivity with faster speeds, increased efficiency, and lower latency than ever before. However, not all Wi-Fi 6 routers employ all the technologies Wi-Fi 6 has brought and improved upon. The extent to which a router benefits from Wi-Fi 6 depends on how well it’s built.
For instance, Wi-Fi 6 uses a new method called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) to send data to multiple devices via the same transmission window. This can lower latency by up to 75%. Some routers are able to lower latency by up to 93% compared to conventional wireless technologies, which is a huge advantage for pro gaming.
Beamforming is another notable technology used in gaming routers. Conventional routers send signals spherically in all directions. Beamforming allows routers to send focused signals in the direction of the connected devices. Signals are stronger and can reach farther without sacrificing speed.
Wi-Fi 6 improves beamforming to increase speeds and range. However, not all Wi-Fi 6 routers have beamforming. Make sure the Wi-Fi 6 router you choose has all the features of the Wi-Fi 6 you want by reading the specifications, don’t assume anything.
Wi-Fi 6 gaming routers bring low-latency internet to wireless connections. However, not all Wi-Fi 6 routers are created equally. Make sure your router has a high total throughput and a high top speed on the 5 GHz band. Also, look at the specifications to verify that the router has all the Wi-Fi 6 features you want.