Best VPN Router: Want To Stream, Game And Work In Total Privacy?

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Are “Big Brother” and other virtual intruders watching your every move online? Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) router in your home or office for the ultimate digital fortress to protect you and your family and give you freedom to browse the web securely.

Article Overview

What Are My VPN Router Options?

You have 3 different options to set up a VPN on a router:

  1. Purchase a pre-configured VPN router. Although more expensive, this is your easiest option to save time and any setup hassles. Flashrouters offers a variety of routers that are already configured with VPN service (you have to purchase service separately). Another plus is that Flashrouters gives you free tech support for one year.
  2. Get a VPN-enabled router. These routers natively support OpenVPN and don’t require flashing (installing firmware on your router). There are many different models that support OpenVPN right out of the box.
  3. Flash a router with firmware to enable VPN usage. This option can be tricky for less tech-savvy people.

Features To Consider

Speed is the number one factor when choosing a router for VPN purposes. Why? VPNs reroute network traffic through a VPN server to secure your privacy, and this can slow your speed. Here are some features to look for if you want fast processing:

  • CPU strength. Look for a minimum of 800 MHz (preferably more) CPU to gives you better bandwidth.
  • Dual- or tri-band router. By default, most devices connect using the 2.4GHz band (including your neighbors), so you can run into signal congestion. Dual-band routers, however, can also transmit using the less common 5GHz band. Tri-band routers broadcast three signals, one 2.4GHz and two 5GHz frequencies.
  • Multiple antennas (MU-MIMO routers). Lower-end routers typically use two antennas, one for sending and the other for receiving. MU-MIMO routers support multiple input and output. A router with four antennas (such as our winner from Netgear) uses two for sending and two for receiving — you get double data rates. Multiple antennas also improve your connection reliability.

Best VPN Routers

We chose our winners based on speed, ease of setup and use, features, price and other factors. All of the routers in this review are wireless.

NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Review

NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200#1

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NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 is one of the fastest routers on the market, making it an excellent choice for large homes or among the best VPN router for small business owners. This router is DD-WRT firmware-enabled, so you can use it with OpenVPN right out of the box. The Nighthawk 10K also has Adaptive QoS, which prioritizes for activities with higher bandwidth needs.

Pros

Cons

  • Fast processor at 1.7GHz optimizes network traffic and connectivity speeds
  • 4 antennas to supports multiple data streams
  • Wireless-AD (latest wireless standard) uses the 60GHz spectrum
  • Plex Media Server lets you enjoy all your tv shows, movies, videos, etc. on all devices
  • You can set up router and manage internet access via mobile app
  • Compatible with Alexa and Amazon Cloud backup
  • 90-day tech support included
  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t support Tomato firmware

Price & Tech Specs

  • $395.99 on Amazon
  • 1-year manufacturer’s hardware warranty
  • 1.7GHz Quad Core Processor
  • 6 Gigabit LAN Ports
  • 2 USB 3.0 ports
  • Wireless compatibility: 802.11ac and 802.11ad

Asus RT-AC86U Review

Asus RT-AC86U#2

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Asus is a powerhouse when it comes to VPN routers, and the RT-AC86U model is one of their best options. It’s not quite as fast as our number one pick, but the Asus RT-AC86U is more affordable and still top-of-the-line.

If you’re a Tomato firmware fan, you’re in luck. Asus routers all support Tomato, unlike our 2 other top 3 picks. Asus routers also come with added security measures. Their Aiprotection feature provides built-in 24/7 protection from external attacks and threats.

Pros

Cons

  • Excellent value
  • Fast 1.8GHz 32bit dual-core processor
  • MU-MIMO technology for data transfer speeds up to 2900 Mbps
  • Supports Tomato, DD-WRT & third-party firmware
  • Adaptive QoS and Gamers Private Network features
  • AiMesh feature connects to other compatible ASUS routers for a whole-home Wi-Fi network
  • Mobile app lets you set up your network, manage usage and get instant notifications about important network-based events
  • Isn’t Wireless AD
  • Only dual-band
  • Design isn’t as appealing as many other routers
  • Some user complaints that the router frequently loses your settings and configurations

Price & Tech Specs

  • $168.99 on Amazon
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • 1.8GHz 32bit Dual-Core Processor
  • 4 Gigabit LAN ports
  • 1 USB 2.0 port and 1 USB 3.0 port
  • Wireless compatibility: 801.11 AC, 802.11n, 802.11A, 802.11B, 802.11G

Linksys WRT AC3200 ACM Review

Linksys WRT AC3200#3

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The Linksys WRT AC3200 ACM router is an excellent alternative to our number one pick if you want to save some money. Open-source ready with OpenWrt and DD-WRT and a speedy processor, this router gives you a pretty big bang for your buck.

Pros

Cons

  • Fast processor at 1.8GHz
  • 4 antennas support multiple data streams
  • Tri-Stream 160 feature doubles the bandwidth of the 5 GHz band to power data-heavy activity with 2.6 Gbps WiFi speeds
  • 256MB Flash and 512MB of RAM deliver improved data transfer speeds
  • You can manage internet access via Smart WiFi mobile app
  • Doesn’t support Tomato firmware
  • Isn’t Wireless AD
  • Some user reports of WiFi dropping
  • Customer support can be spotty

Price & Tech Specs

  • $177.11 on Amazon
  • 1-year manufacturer’s hardware warranty
  • 1.8GHz Dual Core processor
  • 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 1 USB 3.0 port
  • Wireless compatibility: 802.11 a/b/g/n, 801.11 AC, 802.11 A/B, 802.11A

Category Winners

These routers didn’t come in our top 3 overall, but they win their respective categories: best for gaming and most affordable.

Best For Gaming: Asus ROG RT-AC5300 Review

Asus ROG RT-AC5300View on Amazon

Are you a major gamer? If so, you should take a serious look at the DD-WRT-enabled Asus RT-AC5300 router, one of the best high-end gaming routers on the market — and an excellent VPN router for multiple devices in large houses or a small business with coverage up to 5,000 sq. ft.

This router has some awesome built-in features, including VPN Fusion, which maximizes your connection speed to gaming servers while on a VPN, and advanced Aiprotection and Game IPS, which protects your network from external attacks and threats.

Pros

Cons

  • Fast processor at 1.8GHz
  • 8 antennas support multiple data streams
  • Tri-band with Smart Connect feature to automatically manage device bands
  • Supports Tomato, DD-WRT & third-party firmware
  • Built-in support for WTFast Gamers Private Network (GPN) and adaptive QoS
  • AiMesh feature connects to other compatible ASUS routers for a whole-home Wi-Fi network
  • Expensive
  • User interface isn’t as intuitive and is geared toward gamers
  • External design is large and unappealing
  • Mobile app only works locally

Price & Tech Specs

  • $418.79 on Amazon
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • 1.8GHz 64bit Quad-Core processor
  • 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 2 USB 3.0 ports
  • Wireless compatibility: 802.11ac

Most Affordable: NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Review

NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900View on Amazon

Looking for a more affordable router solution that’s still fast enough for VPN? The NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 (R7000) is a great choice. This router is ideal for small to medium homes and comes with “Circle With Disney” smart parental controls. It’s also suitable for gaming and 4K streaming.

Pros

Cons

  • On the more affordable side
  • Supports Tomato and DD-WRT
  • Downstream and upstream QoS prioritizes streaming and gaming
  • Works with Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant
  • You can manage internet access via Smart WiFi mobile app
  • Not ideal for large homes
  • Processor isn’t as fast (1GHz)
  • Isn’t MU-MIMO equipped (only has 3 antennas for limited data streams)
  • Some users report that the router stops working after several months

Price & Tech Specs

  • $142.08 on Amazon
  • 1-year manufacturer’s hardware warranty
  • 1GHz Dual Core Processor
  • 4 Gigabit LAN Ports
  • 1 USB 2.0 port and 1 USB 3.0 port
  • Wireless compatibility: 802.11ac

How Does A VPN Work?

The following video gives an excellent illustrated guide to how a VPN works.

Need A VPN Service Provider?

To maximize your router’s speed and performance, it’s crucial to have a top VPN service. If you don’t already have a service or are unhappy with your current VPN, be sure to check out our Best VPN Service article, where we rank and review more than a dozen of the most popular services. If you are in the market for a less expensive option, we have reviewed the best routers for every budget.

What’s your primary reason for wanting a VPN router for your home or office?

Sources: Restore Privacy, Cloudwards

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Sally is a passionate writer but her interests do not stop there. She spends a lot of time daydreaming about the beach, however, she spends most of her time taking advantage of all the activities her town has to offer in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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