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Banish lag with these mesh WiFi routers for gamers

NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home Tri-Band Mesh WiFi on a table.

As an avid online gamer, you know how crucial it is to have a reliable internet connection. The last thing you want is for your game to lag when you’re going in for the kill! But when your internet connection isn’t strong, it can be tough to take your game to the next level — literally.

What is latency and how can mesh WiFi improve it?

The most important factor when it comes to gaming is avoiding latency. A small amount of latency may not even be detectable when browsing the internet, and it often isn’t a big deal when streaming video content either. But when you’re gaming and every second counts, latency can be detrimental to your gameplay. That’s why gamers want the most reliable and fastest WiFi mesh available as they will eliminate dead spots around the home and allow for several devices to be connected to the internet without affecting latency and, ultimately, ping.

Latency is measured in milliseconds as ping: the amount of time it takes your device to send data to a server (in this case, the game’s server) and back again. Generally, you want your ping to be as low as possible; anything lower than 30 milliseconds is great, and under 10 milliseconds is exceptional.

Is mesh WiFi good for gaming?

You can play most games with any router. In fact, many gamers play video games that are downloaded to their computer, so they don’t even need the internet to play. However, for those who are into online gaming, your router will make a big difference when it comes to your enjoyment and success. These online games require real-time interactions, so if your connection is lagging, you’re going to feel the effect of that delay. Whether it’s a mouse click, a keyboard tap, or a press on a connected controller, you want your game command to take effect immediately — but that can’t happen if there’s major lag.

Simply put, your gameplay can only be as good as your internet connection will allow. And while your router can’t lower your latency — that’s at the mercy of your internet provider — it is responsible for eliminating any extra lag. Fortunately, there are plenty of mesh WiFi options to get the job done right.

So what is a mesh WiFi system?

WiFi mesh will deliver reliable WiFi throughout your entire home, eliminating dead spots and allowing for speed on multiple devices without slowing your gaming system. It works using a main router and satellite nodes which are placed strategically around your living space to reduce spotty service. (We covered the topic in-depth here.)

The nodes, which use the same SSID and password as the main router (unlike WiFi range extenders), help to cover areas in the home that the main router doesn’t reach, like the basement or the far reaches of the house. The best systems are easily expandable by adding more nodes as needed.

What should I look for in a mesh WiFi system for gaming?

The best mesh WiFi systems have (or have the ability to expand to) multiple nodes and feature security software to keep your browsing, devices, and gaming safe. Most importantly, the ideal mesh will deliver spotless connectivity wherever needed.

The most important things to keep in mind while researching which mesh WiFi system to buy are connection speed and reliability, price point and the size of your living space, which will determine the amount of coverage you need, measured in square feet.

When it comes to online gaming, specifically, you may also want to look for a mesh WiFi system that allows your gaming system to get “first dibs,” so to speak. That is, a feature that allows you to designate a priority device or, in some cases, a priority application (i.e. your game). This will come in handy if others are eating up bandwidth on your network with their far less important “Zoom meetings” and “homework.” Because your gaming system has priority, those other demands on the network won’t slow you down. (But don’t worry, everyone else will still be able to get all their work done without even noticing that their tasks aren’t top dog.)

How does mesh WiFi work and is it easy to set up?

Setting up your whole-home mesh WiFi coverage couldn’t be easier. Basically, all you have to do is plug your WiFi router into your internet provider’s modem and you’ll be well on your way to getting your mesh WiFi network started. Next, you’ll place any necessary mesh WiFi satellites around the rest of your home to help the wireless mesh network reach all the far corners where it is needed. Even better, many mesh WiFi systems will come with an easy-to-use smartphone app that’s designed to make this whole process even quicker and easier than it already is.

What are the best mesh WiFi systems?

Overall, the best mesh WiFi for gaming is also going to be the best mesh WiFi for whole-home coverage. We’ve done the research (so you don’t have to) and curated the most reliable mesh WiFi routers out there that also happen to be ideal for gaming.

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