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We are a generation accustomed to constant connection to the web via our phones, tablets, and computers.

But the piece of equipment which makes this possible remains largely ignored in discussions about the internet: routers.

Routers are our gateway to the internet and deserve consideration at some length before you decide to purchase one.

You can opt for a basic router that simply connects you to the web with no other features or functionality.

Or, if you’re like me and prefer having a variety of options, then there are a lot of feature-heavy routers available that go way beyond the basic functionality, such as serving as a VPN router that connects all of your devices to a secure network.

Needless to say, these advanced routers can significantly boost your online experience.

In this blog, I will recommend the best routers you can have and also discuss why it may be a good idea to configure VPN on your router.

What is a VPN Router?

As the name implies, a VPN router is simply a router with a VPN installed in it.

This means that every time the router connects to the web, it will do so through a secure VPN tunnel, rather than connect to the internet the way a conventional router does.

As such, every device you connect to this router will automatically communicate to the internet via the VPN.

The utility of this approach is obvious. Rather than purchasing and installing a VPN for every individual device, you can simply turn on your router, and be done with.

However, that is only possible if you have a router that supports VPN clients.

Key Considerations for buying a VPN Router

Although a VPN supporting routers are great for connecting every device in your home to VPN servers, there are a few considerations you need to make before you decide to purchase one:

  • Cost: Routers with advanced features are more expensive than basic routers. If you have multiple devices/PCs which you want to connect to VPNs, then the cost-to-benefit ratio of getting a VPN router will be in your favor. However, if you have only one device, going through trouble of configuring a VPN on router won’t be very cost-effective.
  • Tech-savviness: Installing VPN on routers is not a very intuitive process. It can get quite involved with a series of steps involved. If you’re not very good with computers in general, a VPN router might not be for you. However, for a little extra money, you can get routers with pre-configured VPNs (More on this later). So, this again boils down to how much you are willing to pay and how badly you want your entire home to rely on a single router for making connection with VPNs.

5 Best VPNs for Routers in 2019

VPN services today are capable of supporting multiple devices from phones and PCs to smart TVs and routers. As such, compatibility is an important factor that makes a particular VPN the right choice for your router.

Here are the top 5 VPN services that integrate with the best functionality for routers in 2019:

VPN ProvidersPrice ($)Special DealsMore Info
Best Affordable VPN
PureVPN
PureVPN
$10.95
$2.88 Per Month
Best for Private Browsing
CyberGhost
CyberGhost
$12.99
$2.75 Per Month
79% Off
3 Years Deal
Best Budget Service
Surfshark
Surfshark
$11.95
$1.99 Per Month
Best for Geo-Unblocking
NordVPN
NordVPN
$11.95
$2.99 Per Month
75% Off
3 Years Plan
Best for Streaming
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
$12.95
$6.67 Per Month

 

7 Best VPN Routers for 2019

The market of top-notch VPN routers is dominated by only a few companies. Nonetheless, the competition is still quite strong with a number of great routers available in the market.

You can purchase pre-configured VPN routers from Flashrouters, which is a company that will simply install your preferred VPN on your preferred router for your convenience.

Here are the top 7:

1. Linksys WRT 3200 ACM – $299.99

linksys-li-WRT3200ACM-10

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Linksys WRT 3200 ACM is easily the most cost-effective router you can get. It boasts impressive band throughput of 5 GHz for rapid file transfers and MU-MIMO support. With 4 powerful antennae, it can cover a lot of space with strong signal strength. It comes loaded with customizable open-source firmware.

Pros
  • 4 Antennae
  • 5 GHz Band
  • Supports MU-MIMO technology
  • 512 MB of RAM
Cons
  • Average performance on 2.4 GHz throughput

 

2. TP-Link Archer C7 AC1570 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (V2) – $67.92

TP-Link-Archer-C7-AC1570

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This TP-Link router deserves to be on this list due to its excellent affordability. It delivers fast performance and allows a wide number of options and management settings for customizability.

The router is really easy to install and there is literally no faster alternative in this price bracket.The only small problem is that it is still a little outdated in terms of peripheral features, such as supporting only USB 2.0.

Pros
  • Fast Performance
  • Cheap Price
  • Supports IPv6
Cons
  • No MU-MIMO Support

 

3. Trendnet AC2600 StreamBoost MU-MIMO WiFi Router – $106.98

Trendnet-AC2600-StreamBoost

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Trendnet router is another moderately cheap option in the VPN router industry. It supports MU-MIMO, USB 3.0, and consistently fast throughputs. In terms of usability and installation, it is an extremely intuitive router. However, the file transfer needs are an aspect that need improvement.

Pros
  • Supports MU-MIMO
  • USB 3.0
  • 4 Antennas
Cons
  • Average File Transfer Speeds

 

4. Asus RT-AC5300 Wireless AC5300 Tri-Band Gigabit Router – $499.99

Asus-RT-AC5300-Wireless-AC5300

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This router is pretty large in size as compared to most other routers, but not without good reasons. The Asus was designed with gamers in mind and offers operation in 3 frequency bands powered by 8 monstrous antennas.

If you like having the control to play around with a variety of management settings, Asus grants you all the ability to configure the device the way you want it to behave.

The only downside is that it is a little too expensive.

Pros
  • MU-MIMO Supported
  • Fast throughput Rates
  • Variety of Settings
  • 8 Antennas, Great Range
Cons
  • Expensive

 

5. Asus RT-AC88U Dual-Band Router – $209.33

Asus-RT-AC88U-Dual-Band-Router

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The Asus RT router is a pricier option, but is probably the most stylishly designed devices in the market. The MU-MIMO technology effectively serves multiple connected devices simultaneously, without dropping throughputs.

It has 8 different WAN ports, and 4 antennas, which can cover every corner of your house.

The fast throughput rates for both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands make this a solid option as a VPN router if you have the budget to go for an expensive solution.

Pros
  • High throughout on both Bands
  • Supports MU-MIMO
  • 4 Antennas
  • Multiple Encryption Protocols
Cons
  • Expensive

 

6. Netgear Nighthawk X4S Smart Wi-Fi Router (R7800) – $349.99

Netgear-Nighthawk-X4S

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The Netgear Nighthawk supports DD-WRT firmware that allows OpenVPN installation. It offers a smaller choice of port selection than Asus routers, but 4 WAN ports is adequate for most people who need it for home use.

The router offers a good range of settings and supports MU-MIMO for streaming and gaming.

However, it is too expensive, and you can get better Asus models by paying a little more and receiving a lot of additional features such as antennas.

Pros
  • Easy to Setup
  • MU-MIMO Support
  • Fantastic Speeds
Cons
  • Average Technical Support

 

7. Netgear – Nighthawk AC2300 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 5 Router – $219.99

Netgear-Nighthawk-AC2300

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The Nighthawk series of Netgear routers contain some of the best devices this company has put out over the years. The Netgear AC2300 delivers fast performance, provides excellent range, and superior usability. Setting up a VPN on this router shouldn’t take you much time.

Pros
  • Easy to Use
  • Fast Speed
  • Excellent Range
  • Supports MU-MIMO
Cons
  • Intermittent Coverage Issues

 

Installing a VPN on Router

You can either install VPN on routers manually yourself or purchase a pre-configured VPN router.

Manual Installation

The method for installing VPN on routers varies depending the router make, model, firmware, and of course, the VPN service itself.

As such, there are no general guidelines for VPN installation on routers that apply to every case. You will have to refer to the manual of your router and guides of your chosen VPN provider for the setup.

However, if you have a DD-WRT firmware on your router, you can get a good idea about the basic steps involved through our VPN router setup instructions.

Pre-configured Routers

This approach is far easier, but also costlier. A pre-configured router comes with a VPN already installed in it, saving you the trouble of having to set it up yourself.

Flashrouters is a company that offers pre-configured VPN routers. The company charges about $50 more than the market price for the same un-configured router, but you get the satisfaction of knowing the router is ready to work from the get-go.

So, if you can afford the $50 something price overhead, you should go ahead with this option and forget worrying about installing a VPN on your router.

How to Install DD-WRT Firmware on Routers?

DD-WRT is a Linux-based firmware for routers that makes VPN easier to install on these routers.

It was first exclusively designed for Linksys WRT54G router series, but due to its popularity it is now available for most routers including ASUS, D-Link, and Netgear.

The advantage of DD-WRT routers is that they provide users with a ton of different options to change settings and customize router functionality as per your preferences.

Depending upon your router, the installation process for DD-WRT will vary. In general, however, these are the main steps:

Note: You can brick your router if you install the wrong/incompatible firmware version. Proceed at your own risk.

  • Visit DD-WRT.com
  • Type in the name of your router in the field

dd-wrt-manufacturer

  • You will likely get a long list of routers. Choose your make and model
  • You’ll see a large number of builds and versions of DD-WRT firmware
  • If you see a mini-build required for flashing, download it (it should be named something like dd-wrt.v24_mini_generic.bin). If no such file is listed, then your router shouldn’t need to be flashed first. Skip to the next step
  • Then download a standard firmware version, as these are usually the most stable (should be named something like dd-wrt.v24-1234_VINT_std.bin)
  • Now log into your router’s settings page by entering your gateway in your browser
    • If you don’t know your gateway, open command prompt
    • Type ipconfig and press enter

routers-ipconfig

  • Copy your default gateway

routers-default-gateway

  • Backup your current settings in case something goes wrong during the firmware upgrade
  • Now navigate to Administration > Firmware Upgrade
  • Choose select file in the dialog box, and click the mini-build file (the one that ends with mini_generic.bin). Make sure this is the correct file for your router, or you run the risk of bricking it
  • Click upgrade and wait until it completes
  • If everything goes well, you’ll be able to log back into the admin settings, and be witness to a different interface that should look something like this:

dd-wrt

  • If you see the above interface, rejoice and celebrate, as you’ve successfully installed DD-WRT on your router!

How to Setup VPN on Router without Modifying Firmware?

Interestingly, you can install a VPN on Asus routers that comes in with preconfigured AsusWRT firmware. Here is how you can do:

  • Sign in to your VPN account and click on Setup on more devices option
  • Click on manual configuration provided on the left side of the screen, choose an OpenVPN tab
  • You can see your username along with password and a list of OpenVPN configuration files
  • Download and save .ovpn file(s)
  • Go to Asus router control panel through your browser
  • Sign in with your name and password, click VPN on left side under Advanced Settings
  • Click VPN tab given at the top, click on Add Profile given at the bottom
  • Choose the OpenVPN tab and provide details like description, username and password
  • Import .ovpn file then upload the downloaded file by clicking Upload
  • Click OK then click Activate to start the VPN

How to Install VPN on Router with DD-WRT Firmware?

You can install a VPN on your DDWRT router hassle-free. Here is the list of steps you should follow that includes:

  • Sign in to your VPN account and click on Setup on more devices option
  • Click on manual configuration provided on the left side of the screen, choose an OpenVPN tab
  • You can see your username along with password and a list of OpenVPN configuration files
  • Download and save .ovpn file(s)
  • Go to DDWRT router control panel and click on the ‘Services’ tab
  • Click on the ‘VPN’ sub tab and activate “Start OpenVPN Client” option
  • Through OpenVPN configuration enter the required settings
  • Before proceeding further, make sure that a new DDWRT firmware does have user pass Authentication
  • If you are using DDWRT router, you will see details like server IP/name, username and password
  • Provide server IP/ name from .ovpn downloaded file along with username and password
  • You should configure VPN keys and certificates
  • From service > VPN explore additional Config box
  • Enter the command that you found in additional Config box
  • Copy and paste the text in between <tis-auth> and <tis-auth> block into TLS Auth key field
  • Copy and paste the text in between <ca> and </ca> block into CA Cert field
  • Copy and paste the text in between <cert> and </cert> block into Public Client Cert field
  • Copy and paste the text in between <key> and </key> block into Private Client Key field
  • You should click on Save and click on Apply Settings to connect to the VPN

How to Setup Dual VPN Router?

If you want to know how to setup a dual router configuration within your business or home network, you should follow below mentioned steps. By doing so, you can access an open router and a VPN router on the same network easily. Here is how you can do:

  • Change router IP address to 192.168.2.1
  • Connect LAN port from primary router to WAN port of router
  • You should reset cable modem and check if your IP address is varying or not
  • Disconnect from primary router and plug secondary router into computer’s Ethernet jack or connect to it through wireless adapter
  • Login to secondary router router’s admin panel by typing 192.168.1.1 in address bar
  • Alter Wireless SSIDs if required
  • Alter DHCP IP address of router to 192.168.2.1
  • You should turn off both routers and cable/DSL modem
  • Connect Ethernet cord through primary router’s LAN port to WAN port on other router
  • Turn on cable modem then primary router and secondary router in the end

What Makes Best VPN for Routers?

I always encourage my readers to realize that there are countless VPN providers out there (some free and some paid), but not every VPN service provider will fit your bill.

To find the best VPN to use on your router, you need to begin by assessing your needs and then identify VPN service providers that are suited to them.

Different people have different needs, but there are a few factors that are undeniably mandatory.

Server spread: When assessing a VPN service provider, remember that your primary priority is country count, and your secondary priority is server count.

Customer Support: Customer support is critically important for you if you plan on using your router for VPN tunneling. You never know when you might run into trouble and nothing works better than 24/7 support at times like these.

Speed: Your VPN router will probably be running the internet for multiple devices at the same time. High bandwidth and speed is imperative for a Router to run VPN.

5 Reasons to Get a VPN Router

So you’re not sure why you should use a VPN router? Here are five good reasons why you should use one:

Secures Everything

There is no denying a VPN has become an ultimate solution when you want to secure your various devices. As a result, you can protect your Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, gaming consoles and other devices with a single router running a VPN.

Provides Next Level Protection

Through a router VPN, you are able to get unmatched online freedom and anonymity from anywhere. Hence, you can do whatever you want over the internet according to your own needs.

User-friendly App

The best thing about a VPN enabled router is its dedicated app that allows you to secure your Wi-Fi routers without any fuss.

Use any Device

When you enable a VPN on your router, you can secure your different devices simultaneously. This way, you do not need to install a VPN on your devices separately.

Overcome Online Restrictions

You can bypass numerous online restrictions through a VPN configure on a single router. This enables you to simply connect your device(s) to the router, and experience restriction-free internet from the get-go.

VPN Router Speed and Performance Characteristics

Many users would complain about speed and overall performance of their routers. There are two important factors that causes routers to perform poorly.

These are:

  • Processor of the router
  • VPN service installed in the router

Router Processor

The biggest factor affecting the overall speed of a router is the processor i.e. CPU. Most routers do have the capacity to install a VPN, but doesn’t have the capacity to handle a stronger encryption of a VPN.

Therefore, always check on the technical specification for your router and then configure a VPN.

VPN Service for Routers

It is important to mention here that some VPN providers would do wonders when they are installed on most devices.

However, when installed on a router they would slow down the speed due to higher encryption.

For example, NordVPN having a double VPN encryption may sometimes result in lower internet speed.

Also, overloaded servers could create this problem.

For this reason, it is recommended to use a VPN that has huge number of servers. This reduces performance bottlenecks that usually result when the server network isn’t large enough to cope with high resource demands.

Pre-Configured VPN Routers

These are VPN-enabled routers are always a good choice as it releases you will all the frustrations of installing DD-WRT and then configuring a VPN yourself.

It will probably save you a lot of time, but most importantly it comes with a dedicated support.

Networking Architecture of Router VPN

I’m guessing you are currently using the internet through one of these two settings:

Setting 1 – Computer > Modem > Internet

Setting 2 – Computer/Other Internet-Enabled Devices > Router > Modem > Internet

If you are currently running setting 1, you need to add a router and implement setting 2.

This is because your modem device cannot possibly function as your router.

Routers can be as easy and as complicated as you want them to be. The easy way is to buy a pre-configured VPN router.

router-vpn

A less easy way is to go into your router’s VPN settings and alter them to run your VPN, and the most difficult way is to pick up an old router, install a new software on it, and then configure that router to run VPN.

If you already have a spare router lying around the house (or can get your hands on one), don’t get jumping just yet.

Yes it can be reset and configured to work a VPN, but first you need to make sure it isn’t bricked.

A ‘bricked’ router is a router that has damaged firmware, and if your degree/diploma in computer hardware did not include a course on Networking Hardware you need to take your router to a technician before you can start configuring VPN on it.

Wireless AC Routers

One of the key factors when buying a router is to look for the fastest wireless standard that a router can run.

Currently, the fastest wireless standard is 802.11ac that has replaced 802.11n standard.

Routers having the latest wireless standard is often referred to as Wireless AC, while routers having a previous wireless standard are referred to as Wireless N.

Dual-Band Routers and Tri-Band Routers

Another factor that you need considering is the dual-band feature of a router.

By default, these devices are connected to 2 GHz band which can pose a lot of signal congestion, which significantly results in slower data speed.

Hence, dual-band routers can transmit 5 GHz band which causes less signal congestion, and therefore faster speed than single band routers. Before you get a dual-band router, do ensure that you have a network adapter that supports 5 GHz.

MIMO Routers

Number of antenna do impact data speed. Routers that uses two antennas are often dedicated to one for sending and the other for receiving data.

These routers are often referred to as SISO i.e. Single Input, Single Output.

Routers having Multiple Inputs and Multiple Outputs are referred to as MIMO.

These routers can serve multiple devices at the same time without experiencing congestion or delays in communication requests.

In the modern environment where every home has multiple devices connected to the web, the MU-MIMO technology has become essential.

DD-WRT vs Tomato

You will find it hard that a VPN service provider offering its designated app for specific routers that do not have DD-WRT installed.

Therefore, it has become a necessity to install DD-WRT and then configure a VPN on those routers.

Tomato VPN is another firmware that is similar to DD-WRT, upon which, configuring a VPN is made easy.

The difference between the two firmware is that Tomato VPN is easier to install, but it is not compatible to many devices as DD-WRT.

The Wrap Up

Since VPN has become a mandatory software that encrypts all your online data and keeps your online activity hidden, many people would want their every device secured over the internet.

Using the best VPN router allows all your devices connect to a VPN directly.

If there are multiple devices in your home that need the protection of secure encryption protocols and bypass geo-restrictions, a router with a VPN installed in it make your life a hell a lot easier.