The 5 Best VPN Routers


Everyone should be using a VPN by now. The news is consistently awash with articles detailing the abject destruction of your privacy. And once gone, it is gone forever. The trouble is that using a single VPN requires you to set up each device in your house.

Luckily, there is an alternative method. There are plenty of reasons to use a VPN. However, instead of painstakingly entering credentials on individual devices, why not upgrade to a VPN router and protect every device all at once?

Here’s what you need to know about VPN routers.

What Is a VPN Router?

Before we delve into the best VPN routers, let’s quickly establish the difference between the VPN on your laptop or smartphone and a VPN router:

  • VPN client: A VPN client on your computer protects data transmissions for that system alone. Once you sign-up and download a client, the VPN protects the individual device. Many services offer protection for multiple devices under the same subscription, but you have to download the software/app for each device.
  • VPN router: A VPN router provides the security and privacy of a regular VPN, but covers every device on the network. All of the devices in your home can simultaneously use and benefit from a VPN without fiddling around with masses of login credentials and app downloads. The tradeoff, however, is having to set up a VPN router.

VPN routers were once the sole reserve of security and network buffs. But as internet users seek to improve their privacy and security, VPN routers have become more accessible.

Different Types of VPN Router

VPN routers come in a few different flavors depending on your requirements. Almost all require you to run a custom router firmware, like DD-WRT or Tomato. These Linux-based custom router firmware projects offer far greater customization than a standard OEM setup. Support varies from router to router, depending on the manufacturer and device hardware.

In that, you have two options: Purchase a router with your firmware choice preinstalled or buy a compatible router and take matters into your own hands.

The Best VPN Routers

Without further ado, here are the best VPN routers you can lay your hands on.

1. Asus RT-AC5300

ASUS RT-AC5300 ASUS RT-AC5300 Buy Now On Amazon $295.11

The Asus RT-AC5300 is a visually impressive router that will make your friends wonder about their inferior router choices. It has eight antennas and can blast wireless signals across 5,000 square feet, making it perfect for anyone with a large home or office.

The RT-AC5300 is a tri-band router that uses Asus’s Smart Connect feature to level out demand. This means the router switches between 5GHz bands to make sure there is no network congestion.

In addition, the router packs a decent 1.4GHz dual-core CPU with a similarly decent 512MB RAM, has eight Gigabit Ethernet ports for cable connections, and uses MU-MIMO for better speeds with multiple devices. Another bonus is the USB 3.0 port for external storage devices, as well as a USB 2.0 port too.

This VPN router is an excellent choice for network intensive environments, or even just large, bandwidth-hungry families, albeit at a high cost. The RT-AC5300 supports DD-WRT but not Tomato.

  • Purchase without VPN provider or custom firmware via Amazon
  • Purchase with DD-WRT custom firmware via FlashRouters

2. Netgear Nighthawk R7000

Netgear Nighthawk R7000 Netgear Nighthawk R7000 Buy Now On Amazon $109.00

The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 is one of the cheapest options on this VPN router list. But cheap VPN router status aside, the Nighthawk R7000 is well worth your time. The R7000 features a 1GHz dual-core processor with 256MB RAM, as well as four gigabit Ethernet ports, a USB 3.0 port, and a USB 2.0 port.

The Nighthawk R7000 is a dual-band router, allowing it to switch seamlessly between bands. Also, the router has several Quality of Service (QoS) features to boost streaming and data throughput. For instance, you can optimize traffic for video streaming or online gaming, and so on. You also get some NAS functionality through Netgear’s ReadyShare technology, allowing you to use a large external drive as a basic NAS.

This isn’t the fastest or most powerful router on the list (most models have 802.11ac mode, but some only have “b/g/n”—do not buy any router without at least “n”). But the Nighthawk R7000 provides a cheap entry-level VPN router experience, especially if you purchase the router and flash the firmware yourself. The Nighthawk R7000 supports DD-WRT and Tomato, as well as other custom firmware. It also looks cool.

  • Purchase without VPN provider or custom firmware via Amazon
  • Purchase with ExpressVPN with DD-WRT custom firmware via FlashRouters
  • Purchase with DD-WRT custom firmware via FlashRouters
  • Purchase without VPN provider with Sabai OS custom firmware via Sabai Technology

3. Asus RT-AC86U

Asus RT-AC86U Asus RT-AC86U Buy Now On Amazon $189.99

The Asus RT-AC86U is a powerful dual-band VPN router featuring 512MB RAM and a 1.8GHz dual-core processor. It comes with three high-power antennas that broadcast over a huge area, as well as packing in NitroQAM technology to boost your data transmission rates by utilizing extra wireless band capacity.

The RT-AC86U features four Gigabit Ethernet ports, a USB 3.0 port, and a USB 2.0 port. You can use Asus’s AiPlayer and AiDisk as a media server and file server in conjunction with an external hard-drive, doubling up as a NAS of sorts.

But best of all, the Asus RT-AC86U is easy to set up with your own custom VPN router firmware, with support for Asuswrt-Merlin (a customized version of Asus’s existing firmware), Tomato, and DD-WRT variants. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a retail option with a pre-installed VPN provider and custom firmware. However, there are several tutorials online that will guide you through.

  • Purchase without VPN provider or custom firmware via Amazon

4. Linksys WRT3200ACM

Linksys WRT3200ACM Linksys WRT3200ACM Buy Now On Amazon $209.99

The Linksys WRT3200ACM consistently features in roundups of the best VPN routers and for a good reason. Like the RT-AC86U, it features a powerful 1.8Ghz dual-core processor with 512MB RAM.

As well as this, the WRT3200ACM uses MU-MIMO to keep those speeds high. In addition to MU-MIMO, it utilitizes the Linksys Tri-Stream 160 technology to boost Wi-Fi speeds across wireless bands (somewhat similar to NitroQAM). The WRT3200ACM broadcasts using four antennas with an extensive range. You’ll also find a USB 3.0 port, along with a combined USB 2.0/eSATA port for plugging in peripherals.

Finally, the router supports OpenWrt and DD-WRT custom firmware, allowing you to customize your VPN router as you see fit. However, pre-installed WRT3200ACM VPN routers are available, with the ExpressVPN/OpenWrt combination one of the easiest to use. This VPN router really does have a considerable amount of support, allowing you to fine-tune your setup.

  • Purchase without VPN provider or custom firmware via Amazon
  • Purchase with ExpressVPN with OpenWrt custom firmware via FlashRouters
  • Purchase with DD-WRT custom firmware via FlashRouters

5. D-Link AC5300 DIR-895L/R

D-Link AC5300 DIR-895L/R D-Link AC5300 DIR-895L/R Buy Now On Amazon

The D-Link AC5300 DIR-895L/R comes with a 1.4GHz dual-core processor with 256MB RAM, broadcasting using eight antennas. The router is tri-band, using MU-MIMO to provide consistently high speeds to every device in your household or office, with a total theoretical combined throughput of 5,332Mbps (1,000 Mbps in 2.4GHz, plus 2,166 Mbps in 5GHz and 2,166 Mbps in 5GHz).

The DIR-985L/R also comes with four gigabit Ethernet ports, along with a USB 3.0 port and a USB 2.0 port. Like most of the other listed routers, the DIR-985L/R will function as a simple-but-effective NAS if you attach an external hard drive of sufficient size.

The AC5300 DIR-895L/R has extensive support for DD-WRT, with some support for other OpenWrt projects such as LEDE. This is a well-rounded VPN router that provides ample power for a large household with multiple devices (up to 20) or even a small office.

  • Purchase with VPN provider or custom firmware via Amazon

Which VPN Router Will You Choose?

You have five excellent VPN routers to choose from. But if these VPN routers don’t suit your requirements, there are plenty more on the market to check out.

Using a VPN router extends the protection and privacy of a regular VPN to your entire family. And with the range of online support available, setting up a VPN router is no longer a daunting task that only network savants should attempt.

Read the full article: The 5 Best VPN Routers

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