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.
These advanced routers can significantly boost your online experience. However, you must use a router that supports VPN clients.
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.
7 Best VPN Routers for 2020
The market of top-notch router VPN 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 routers VPN from Flashrouters, which is a company that will simply install your preferred VPN on your preferred router for your convenience.
Here are the 7 best VPN Routers:
- Linksys WRT 3200 ACM – $299.99
- TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (V2) – $67.92
- Trendnet AC2600 StreamBoost MU-MIMO WiFi Router – $106.98
- Asus RT-AC5300 Wireless AC5300 Tri-Band Gigabit Router – $499.99
- Asus RT-AC88U Dual-Band Router – $209.33
- Netgear Nighthawk X4S Smart Wi-Fi Router (R7800) – $349.99
- Netgear – Nighthawk AC2300 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 5 Router – $219.99
1. Linksys WRT 3200 ACM – $299.99
Speed: 802.11ac: 3x 867 Mbps, 802.11n: 600 Mbps | Connectivity: 4x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x USB 3.0, 1 x ESATA/USB 2.0 | Features: Tri-Stream 160, 1.8 GHz dual-core CPU, 512 MB RAM, 256 MB flash memory
Linksys WRT 3200 ACM is easily the most cost-effective and fastest VPN 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.
- 4 Antennae
- 5 GHz Band
- Supports MU-MIMO technology
- 512 MB of RAM
- Average performance on 2.4 GHz throughput
2. TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (V2) – $67.92
Speed: 802.11ac: 2.4 GHz 450 Mbps and 5 GHz 1300 Mbps | Connectivity: Dual USB Ports| Features: Guest Network, IPv6 Supported, Easy Set-up
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.
- Fast Performance
- Cheap Price
- Supports IPv6
- No MU-MIMO Support
3. Trendnet AC2600 StreamBoost MU-MIMO WiFi Router – $106.98
Speed: 1733 Mbps WiFi AC + 800 Mbps WiFi N bands | Connectivity: USB 3.0 share ports | Features: Low latency gaming/voice prioritization, 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, Pre-encrypted WiFi
Trendnet router is another moderately cheap option in the 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 needs improvement.
- Supports MU-MIMO
- USB 3.0
- 4 Antennas
- Average File Transfer Speeds
4. Asus RT-AC5300 Wireless AC5300 Tri-Band Gigabit Router – $499.99
Speed: 802.11 ac 5334 Mbps | Connectivity: USB 3.0 share ports | Features: Low latency gaming/voice prioritization, 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, Pre-encrypted Wi-Fi
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.
- MU-MIMO Supported
- Fast throughput Rates
- Variety of Settings
- 8 Antennas, Great Range
5. Asus RT-AC88U Dual-Band Router – $209.33
Speed: 2,167 Mbps (5 GHz) and 1,000 Mbps (2.4 GHz) | Connectivity: 01 USB 3.0 port and 01 USB 2.0 port | Features: ASUS WRT firmware, AiCloud, AiProtection, High-power mode, Download master application, Dual-WAN, and Port Aggregation
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.
- High throughout on both Bands
- Supports MU-MIMO
- 4 Antennas
- Multiple Encryption Protocols
6. Netgear Nighthawk X4S Smart Wi-Fi Router (R7800) – $349.99
Speed: 802.11 ac 2600 Mbps | Connectivity: 4 x 1G Ethernet, 2 x 3.0 USB, and 1 x eSATA ports | Features: Supports WPA2 wireless security protocols, Designed with a 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, Guest WiFi access, DoS, Firewall
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.
- Easy to Setup
- MU-MIMO Support
- Fantastic Speeds
- Average Technical Support
7. Netgear – Nighthawk AC2300 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 5 Router – $219.99
Speed: 2300 Mbps | Connectivity: 4 x 1G Ethernet and 2 USB ports | Features: NETGEAR Armor, Designed with a dual-core 1 GHz processor, Supports WPA2 wireless security protocols, Guest WiFi access, DoS, Firewall
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.
- Easy to Use
- Fast Speed
- Excellent Range
- Supports MU-MIMO
- Intermittent Coverage Issues
Key Considerations for buying a VPN that Supports 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 for 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. You can check the list of cheap VPN services here.
- 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 assisted 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 a connection with VPNs.
- Server Spread: When assessing a VPN service, 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 router will probably be running the internet for multiple devices at the same time. High bandwidth and speed are imperative for a router to run VPN. Consult this article to see the fastest VPN providers of 2020.
5 Reasons to Get a Secure VPN Router
So you’re not sure why you should use a VPN that supports router? Here are five good reasons why you should use one:
- Secure everything
- Provides next-level protection
- User-friendly app
- Use any device
- Overcome online restrictions
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 router that is compatible with a 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.
The number of antenna do impact data speed. Routers that use 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.
Our Recommended VPN Service for Routers
ExpressVPN (The Best All-Round Service)
Number of Servers: 3000+ | Server Locations: 160 | IP Addresses: N/A | Maximum Devices Supported: 5
ExpressVPN, a BVI based service is surely the best VPN for routers as it offers a next-level dedicated app for routers. If you are using a Linksys at your home or anywhere else, you may setup ExpressVPN router app instantly.
Moreover, you do not have to buy another ExpressVPN account to secure your routers. Above all, the app supports other types of routers too.
ExpressVPN is our recommended VPN service because it offers an exclusive router app you can install on your routers without any subscription.
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 to 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.