The Best VPN Router: Our Survey of the Market’s Best

article by Maria Perinic
February 17, 2020
Got a lot of devices in your home? Installing a VPN on your router is the best means of guaranteeing maximum multi-device protection. To help you find the best VPN router, we’ve taken the market’s best offerings for a test-drive and even provided some useful tips on how to setup VPN on a router.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are excellent tools for protecting your privacy online. When purchasing a VPN subscription, users are normally restricted to a certain number of simultaneous connections.

To avoid being restricted with your connections, one of the solutions is to use a router-based VPN. This means all of the devices that connect to the internet via your router are protected. However, VPNs can only be installed on certain routers.

Below, we have a list of the best VPN routers in our VPN router review and why you might want to purchase one.

Our Top Picks for the Best VPN Router

There are plenty of router-based VPNs out there, but finding out why any specific one might be perfect for you is too time-consuming. Check out our list of best VPN routers.

Synology RT2600AC

This is a great option for home use as it offers excellent speeds and great connections. Synology RT2600AC also has a fake OS which you can access online. Many of its functions can be controlled via the desktop-like platform. Manuals for this router are readily available and are very simple to follow.

There is a dedicated app store for plugins that can expand its functionality. For any advanced users, you will be happy to know that it has an SD port. It can be used to expand the storage space on your router.

To change the Synology RT2600AC into a NAS server, all you need to do is add a hard drive and download the correct package.

We like that there is a great range, the router is very simple to set up and use, and there are many ports available. The only issue we have with Synology RT2600AC is that it isn’t as cost-effective as some other options out there.

Technical Specifications:

  • Speed: 2.4 GHz: 800 Mbps; 5 GHz: 1733 Mbps.
  • Wireless spec: 802.11ac
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Antennas: 4
  • LAN Ports: 4
  • External Ports: 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x SD

Asus RT-AC88U AC3100 Dual Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router

This VPN router is best suited to large homes complete with online gamers. There are four antennas on the Asus RT- AC88U that are able to cover an area of 464 square meters. Those that love gaming will be happy to know that the router is able to prioritize gaming so you won’t suffer from lag.

You can install the router via the web interface. This is also where users are able to fine-tune any other functionalities. There are great speeds on offer and the UI is incredibly simple to use. The router comes 8 LAN ports, however, it is said that the NAS performance is mediocre.

Technical Specifications:

  • Speed: 2.4 GHz: 1,000 Mbps; 5 GHz: 2167 Mbps.
  • Wireless spec: 802.11ac
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Antennas: 4
  • LAN Ports: 8
  • External Ports: 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0

Netgear R6400 Smart WiFi Router

This mid-range VPN router is a perfect solution for those households looking for a cheap VPN router. Although it costs as much as half the price of some other routers, it can also perform twice as slow. The Netgear R6400 is ready for Wireless-AC standards, but also provides full support for Wireless-N and Wireless-G devices.

With a Dual Core 1 GHz Broadcom CPU internal processor, the Netgear R6400 is powerful enough to support as many as 5 devices simultaneously. Those worried about streaming performance will be glad to know that the VPN can handle 4k without any issues.

For those people worried about security, the great news is that this router comes with DoS attack prevention as well as double firewalls to Circle Smart Parental Controls. It should be noted, however, that this is one of the rare Netgear models that doesn’t support MU-MIMO.

Setting up is simple via the Netgear Nighthawk app, which can also be used to control it, including the option to pause your internet connection. It is compatible not only with Windows platforms but also works with Mac, UNIX, and Linux as well.

Technical Specifications:

  • Speed: 2.4 GHz: 450 Mbps; 5 GHz: 1300 Mbps.
  • Wireless spec: 802.11ac
  • MU-MIMO: No
  • Antennas: 4
  • LAN Ports: 4
  • External Ports: 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0

Linksys WRT3200ACM AC3200 MU-MIMO Gigabit WiFi Router

This well-rounded VPN router makes our list of best VPN routers because it is both affordable and also packs a punch. The Linksys router has a 1.8 GHz Dual-Core ARM processor and is one of the first VPN routers to include a Marvell chipset. It means that anyone that needs a powerful router for gaming, streaming, video calls or any other tasks use up a lot of data will love this option.

It features eight antennas, so it can enable tri-band sending and receiving. On top of that, it offers features like MU-MIMO and ASUS Smart connect, and you’ll have great connections no matter how many devices you have at home.

This high-end router is loaded with both basic and advanced settings offering great speeds and even better sound and image quality for video streaming and gaming. In saying that, it isn’t a cheap VPN router.

D-link DIR-885L/R router

Another all-rounder to make our list of VPN routers for the home is the D-link DIR-885L/R router. On top of looking great, it is fast and also uses all the modern technology you could hope to find in a VPN router. It features four antennas for MU-MIMO and beamforming.

Installing the router shouldn’t be a problem which you can complete either with a phone app or by following the prompts of the online wizard. The phone app is fantastic as it allows you to check out the network use as well as manage the router remotely.

We like that it is simple to set up, allows users to enjoy high speeds and also has open-source support.

Technical Specifications:

  • Speed: 2.4 GHz: 1000 Mbps; 5 GHz: 2167 Mbps.
  • Wireless spec: 802.11ac
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Antennas: 4
  • LAN Ports: 4
  • External Ports: 1 x USB 3.0

Why You Need a VPN Router

No matter what you want to connect to your VPN, your PC, mobile device, or a laptop, a VPN router can help. This is especially true if you have a lot of devices in your home that you wish to connect to your chosen VPN.

To do so, you need to get your hands on a hardware router (such as the DD-WRT VPN router, the Asus router VPN setup or any of the alternative options on the market.)

Once you’ve made your pick, you simply need to select the best VPN software provider for your needs and you’ll be surfing and streaming securely in no time at all.

How to Set Up a VPN Router

Those wishing to set up a VPN on their router can choose from the following two options to get their system set up:

Purchasing a preconfigured router: Both VPN providers themselves and third-party resellers such as FlashRouters offer advanced routers for sale that have been preconfigured to function flawlessly with a VPN company.

Additionally, such devices have any router application that the company offers pre-installed. This is the recommended option for the vast majority of users who want something that will get ‘up and running’ flawless and do not want to take the risk of frying an expensive router during the flashing process.

Installing custom firmware and settings: Users can also refer to a list of compatible routers with a VPN provider and manually install the application themselves. Because this often requires that users replace the default firmware on their router with custom, third-party firmware (such as the well-known Tomato firmware for Linksys routers) there is a risk that the process could irreversibly destroy the router.

As with flashing the ROM on your Android void, this process will also void the device’s warranty in the majority of cases. For that reason, it’s better reserved for advanced users that are confident they know what they are doing.

Benefits of a VPN Router

There are several reasons why you might want to operate a VPN router for home use.

A VPN capable home router:

Is always running: Forget about making complicated configuration changes to ensure that your VPN service always kicks in when your device does. Having the VPN installed at the router level means that a pipe to the geography of your choice is always running for any devices connected to it. In addition, you can rest easy, knowing that all of your household’s internet traffic is being encrypted and tunneled and is inaccessible even if somebody manages to use a brute-force attack to use your WiFi without your permission and attempts to digitally eavesdrop on your traffic.

Works with any device: Any device that can connect to your home or office’s WiFi network can be protected by a router-level VPN. This means that whether you run an obscure distribution of Linux or the latest version of Windows, you’ll never have to worry about checking device compatibility for the hardware or operating system that you run in your home.

Covers your whole network: A router-level VPN provides traffic encryption and protection to any device connected to your WiFi network. That means that no matter how many smartphones, desktops, and laptops you and your family are running, you never have to worry about hitting simultaneous connection caps or device limits with your VPN provider of choice.

Disadvantages of a VPN Router

Users must be aware that encrypting and decrypting VPN data is incredibly processor-intensive. Many dedicated VPN routers struggle with this which results in extremely poor internet speeds.

When choosing a VPN router, you must select one that is powerful enough to cope with the data demands and invest in a pricier product than you might otherwise purchase.

VPN Router vs VPN Software – Which is Better

Want to know whether you should go to the expense of purchasing a special router to obtain router-level VPN access or should simply install the software on your devices? We’re here to help make the decision easier. Whether a router or device level VPN setup is better for you depends entirely on your needs. Here are some things you should consider if you’re torn between VPN Router vs VPN Software.

You should consider purchasing a VPN router if:

1) You own a large number of devices and will be wanting to use the VPN with every one of them – often simultaneously.

2)  You require an ‘always on’ connection for every device that you are hoping to protect.

3)  You use a variety of operating systems on your devices, some of which are not supported by the VPN provider that you are currently using.

You’re probably fine with just a VPN app if:

1) You have a limited number of devices that you wish to protect and all of them have apps from your VPN company of choice.

2) You want easy access to features, like split tunneling, that are more easily configured on device-level VPN programs.

3) You only want to use a VPN with specific devices.

Best VPN Router for Small Businesses

If you have a small business and wish to protect your employee’s digital privacy, we suggest you invest in the Asus RT-AC88U AC3100 Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Gaming Router. This is the best VPN router for small businesses as it has the power to run as many as ten or more devices without struggling with slow connectivity.

There are plenty of benefits for using a VPN, not only for security and compliance reasons, but it also means that your IT staff will be able to have better control of your users’ experience.

Best VPN for Routers

When it comes to choosing our top pick for the best VPN for router, we have to recommend ExpressVPN.

Offering more than 3,000 servers around the globe in 160 locations worldwide, ExpressVPN is well-known for having some of the fastest available speeds, with a guaranteed uptime of 99.9%. This is particularly important when it comes to choosing a VPN for your router.

Located in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN has a very strict privacy policy that will ensure your online anonymity at all times. This is something that is highlighted in the ExpressVPN privacy policy.

“We do not collect logs of your activity, including no logging of browsing history, traffic destination, data content, or DNS queries. We also never store connection logs, meaning no logs of your IP address, your outgoing VPN IP address, connection timestamp, or session duration.”

Your router-based VPN is foolproof when it comes to security as ExpressVPN offers protocols including military-grade encryption, OpenVPN, DNS leak blocking, five-party DNS, IPV6 leak blocking, webRTC leak blocking, as well as a Network Lock. The Network Lock will act as a kill switch, ending all your online activity should your VPN connection drop.

If you’re having trouble getting your VPN capable router going, you can always chat with tech support as ExpressVPN has 24/7 customer service available via the chat option on its website. Any other questions for your pre-configured VPN router can be sent through email or by submitting a ticket.

If you aren’t sure as to whether ExpressVPN is the best VPN for routers, you can try out your router-based VPN for a period of 30 days, during which time you can ask for your money to be returned with no questions asked.

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for your dedicated VPN router. Here’s why:

  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Ultra-fast streaming speeds
  • Compatible with Android TV (Box) and Fire TV
  • Apps available for every device
  • Hides your streaming activity
  • No connection logs
  • No activity logs
  • P2P possibility
  • Ping times that are minimally affected
  • ExpressVPN works extremely well in high censorship countries
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Large international server network
  • 30-Day money-back guarantee
  • Outstanding customer service
  • 99% uptime guarantee
  • Up to five simultaneous connections

Want to know more about ExpressVPN? Find out everything you need to know in our detailed review.

Conclusion

When looking for a pre-configured VPN router, you must consider that your VPN needs to have a powerful processor. This can be identified when looking at single-core speeds, as multi-core is irrelevant when it comes to VPNs.

The other thing that users need to think about is the necessity of choosing a VPN capable home router or else one that can be re-flashed to support a VPN.

Desktop computers will remain more powerful and also be able to encrypt VPN at much higher speeds than a router will, so one major question to ask yourself is do you really need a VPN router for home use or can you make things work with regular VPN software.