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The 6 Best Routers for Streaming Netflix, Twitch, and More

If you love streaming your favorite shows on Netflix, live gaming on Twitch, or videos on other platforms, you know how frustrating constant buffering, stuttering, and low resolution can be. Often, the culprit is an underperforming router that can‘t keep up with the demands of high-quality video streaming.

That‘s why having a powerful, reliable router is essential for cord-cutters and streaming enthusiasts. But with so many models and technical specs to wade through, finding the best router for your streaming needs can be overwhelming.

To help you out, we‘ve thoroughly tested and rounded up the top routers optimized for a silky-smooth Netflix or Twitch streaming experience. Whether you live in a small apartment or a large house, have just a few devices or dozens, or want the absolute best or are on a budget, we‘ve got you covered.

The most important features we looked for when evaluating routers for streaming were:

  • Fast, consistent wireless speeds, preferably using the latest WiFi 6 (802.11ax) standard for improved range and performance, especially in homes with lots of connected devices. Some cutting-edge routers even support WiFi 6E, which adds a 6GHz band for even more bandwidth.

  • Quality of Service (QoS) settings that let you prioritize streaming video traffic over other types of network traffic, so your Netflix or Twitch doesn‘t get bogged down by downloads or other less critical data.

  • At least 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports, so you can hardwire your streaming devices like smart TVs, gaming consoles, or streaming boxes for the most reliable speeds.

  • Mesh networking capabilities, to blanket larger homes in fast, seamless WiFi with no dead zones.

With those key factors in mind, these are our top recommended routers for streaming:

Best Overall Router for Streaming: ASUS RT-AX86U
For most streamers, the ASUS RT-AX86U is the complete package. This WiFi 6 powerhouse delivers incredible performance with wireless speeds up to 5700 Mbps – more than enough for flawless 4K streaming.

QoS is excellent, with automatic prioritization of gaming and streaming data. And if you want more control, the ASUS router app lets you easily see in real-time how much bandwidth each device and activity is using and adjust accordingly.

You get 5 Ethernet ports (1 of which is ultra-fast 2.5Gb) for your most important streaming hardware, along with 2 USB ports to host network storage or backups. Coverage is outstanding thanks to 3 beefy external antennas.

If you want top-notch streaming performance and total control over your network, the ASUS RT-AX86U is hard to beat. Just be prepared to pay a premium for this beast of a streaming router.

Best Router for Netflix: Google Nest WiFi
If you‘ve invested heavily into the Netflix ecosystem, you want a router that plays extra nice with it. Enter Google Nest WiFi, one of the few routers that Netflix itself recommends for the best experience.

Google‘s mesh WiFi solution is impressively easy to set up and manages your network intelligently behind the scenes. Connection speeds are automatically optimized for streaming, and your Netflix traffic always gets top priority.

With a Nest router and a satellite node, you can cover up to 3800 square feet in strong, stable WiFi that easily handles multiple 4K Netflix streams at once. The sleek nodes double as Google Assistant smart speakers too. The main catch is no WiFi 6 support yet.

Best Streaming Router for Large Homes: Netgear Orbi RBK852
For large homes up to 5,000 square feet, a mesh networking setup is a must for robust streaming. And the Netgear Orbi RBK852 is one of the fastest, most fully-featured mesh kits we‘ve tested.

You get an AX6000 tri-band system using the latest WiFi 6 technology, so speeds are incredible: up to 6Gbps. That‘s more than enough for several simultaneous 4K (or even 8K) streaming sessions. Setup is a cinch thanks to the Orbi app, and you can easily add more satellite nodes if needed.

The dedicated third wireless band handles all the router-to-satellite communication, freeing up the other bands for your streaming devices. 4 Ethernet ports on the router plus 2 more on each satellite give you flexible wired connectivity options too.

Unsurprisingly, all this mesh streaming goodness doesn‘t come cheap. But for larger homes where streaming is a top priority, the Orbi RBK852 is worth the splurge.

Best Router for Twitch and Gaming: Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR1000
Serious gamers who livestream on Twitch have some specific router needs. Namely, you want all the speed you can get plus granular control over prioritization. And that‘s exactly what the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 specializes in.

This gaming router leverages WiFi 6 for breakneck speeds up to 5.4Gbps – ideal for gaming while also streaming to Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook at high bitrates.

The XR1000 runs special DumaOS 3.0 software that gives you a dashboard view of your network and lets you optimize settings for maximum performance. Geo-fencing features let you get matched to the closest game servers for the lowest ping. And you can allocate bandwidth not just by device, but by the specific game or application.

It even has a special built-in Twitch mode that automatically detects your Twitch stream and prioritizes that traffic above all else. Anti-buffer bloat (ABB) technology keeps your livestream smooth even if other network traffic would normally cause issues on other routers.

With top-tier hardware and every software trick in the book, the Nighthawk XR1000 is a dream for Twitch streamers and hardcore gamers.

Best Budget Router for Streaming: TP-Link Archer AX10
If you want to upgrade your router for better streaming but don‘t want to overspend, the TP-Link Archer AX10 is your best bet. For not much more than a standard 802.11ac router, you get the improved range and capacity of WiFi 6.

While the AX1500 speeds won‘t break any records, they‘re more than adequate for a couple 4K Netflix streams in a medium-sized home. Beamforming and 4 external antennas help direct wireless signals where you need them most. And you still get QoS settings to put streaming first.

OFDMA and MU-MIMO technologies help this budget router efficiently serve lots of devices simultaneously. And if you have any wired streaming components, there are 4 LAN ports on tap.

The Archer AX10 may not be the flashiest or fastest, but it offers excellent value and more than respectable streaming performance for smaller households on a budget.

How to Choose the Best Router for Streaming
Still not sure which is the best streaming router for your needs and budget? Here are the key factors to consider when shopping:

Wireless Performance and Technology
For the most seamless streaming experience, we recommend springing for a router that uses the latest WiFi 6 (802.11ax) technology. WiFi 6 routers offer substantially better speed and range than older 802.11ac models, especially in homes with many connected devices. The improved efficiency is really noticeable when it comes to demanding applications like 4K streaming.

For smaller apartments or homes with only a few occupants, a dual-band router with 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands will likely suffice. But for larger, multi-story homes, a tri-band router adds a second 5GHz band to better manage network traffic and deliver maximum speeds to your streaming devices.

And if you want the ultimate in future-proofed performance, keep an eye out for WiFi 6E routers. These support an additional 6GHz band that‘s even faster and less congested. Just keep in mind that most client devices don‘t support 6GHz yet.

Range and Coverage
Before pulling the trigger on a new router, think carefully about the size of your home and where you‘ll be streaming. For smaller homes or apartments, a single powerful router should be able to cover the entire space. But for medium to large homes, you‘ll likely need a mesh setup with 2 or more nodes to ensure strong streaming speeds in every room.

Fortunately, most of the top router brands offer mesh systems specifically designed for larger homes. Ideally, look for a mesh kit that uses a dedicated band for communication between the router and satellite nodes. That way your streaming traffic on the other bands won‘t have to compete with the mesh network chatter.

Also consider the construction of your home. If you have lots of thick walls or other signal-impeding obstacles, even a nominally powerful router may struggle to deliver the range you need. In those cases, mesh is definitely the way to go.

Wired Connectivity
While most streaming happens over wireless these days, it‘s still a good idea to have a few Ethernet ports on your router. Wired connections are always more reliable than wireless, so using Ethernet can help prevent buffering on your most important streaming devices.

We recommend looking for a router with at least 4 LAN ports. And if you have a lot of wired gear, a switch can help expand your port selection. Bonus points for a router with a multi-gig WAN or LAN port, which can come in handy if you have a very high-speed internet plan.

Your video streaming data deserves to be protected. Choosing a router with strong security features gives you peace of mind and keeps your viewing habits private. At minimum, insist on a model that supports the latest WPA3 wireless encryption standard.

Other helpful security features to look for include firewalls and VPNs. The best streaming routers also offer regularly updated firmware to protect against the latest threats.

Ease of Use
Powerful WiFi does you no good if you can‘t figure out how to use it. Opt for a router with an intuitive, well-designed app for setup and management. The ability to configure QoS and parental control settings to your liking is also a must. Ideally, look for a model with a streamlined interface for customizing your streaming experience.

While you generally get what you pay for when it comes to routers, you don‘t necessarily need to spend top dollar for great streaming performance. Our best overall streaming router pick is definitely pricey. But our budget selection still offers solid throughput and features in a much more affordable package.

The sweet spot for most streaming enthusiasts is around $200-300. In that range you can find tri-band WiFi 6 routers with more than respectable speeds and coverage. But if you have a smaller space and just stream casually, you can certainly get by with a sub-$150 model.

Q: What internet speed is best for streaming Netflix?
A: Refer to these guidelines from Netflix for recommended speeds:

  • SD quality: 3 Mbps
  • HD quality: 5 Mbps
  • 4K UHD quality: 25 Mbps
    Keep in mind that‘s for a single stream. If you want to watch on multiple devices simultaneously, you‘ll need more bandwidth. For most households we recommend an internet plan of at least 100 Mbps for smooth streaming.

Q: Do I need WiFi 6 for 4K streaming?
A: While WiFi 6 isn‘t strictly necessary for 4K streaming, it definitely helps. WiFi 6 boasts up to 4x faster speeds than WiFi 5 (802.11ac) with much better handling of multiple devices. The efficiency gains are really noticeable when several people are trying to stream in 4K at the same time. If you stream a lot of 4K, WiFi 6 is absolutely worth it.

Q: Is a mesh router good for streaming?
A: Mesh routers are great for streaming in large or multi-story homes where a single router would leave some areas with weak signals. By placing mesh nodes around your space, you can ensure consistently strong coverage for glitch-free streaming everywhere. Mesh kits that use a dedicated wireless band for backhaul traffic (rather than sharing bandwidth with your devices) are especially good for streaming.

The bottom line: For the smoothest, most trouble-free streaming experience, don‘t settle for a hand-me-down router from your ISP. Invest in a streaming-optimized router (or mesh system) with fast WiFi 6 speeds, plentiful Ethernet ports, and advanced QoS. Pair that with a suitably speedy internet plan, and you‘ll be all set to binge in UHD bliss.