An Overview of the Best VPN Routers

VPN routers on a podium and a hand holding a magnifying glass
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Summary: the Best VPN Routers

When you install a VPN on your router, all devices connected to that router’s network will automatically be protected by the VPN. This is what makes VPN routers so useful, as you can protect the online data of your entire family in one simple step.

Not all routers work with every VPN. Luckily, there are special VPN client routers you can set up yourself. A VPN that works very well with most routers is ExpressVPN:

Want to know more about VPN routers, which ones are the best, and how you can install a VPN on yours? Read the rest of this article below.

VPN routers are one of the best means of improving your security online. By setting up a VPN connection on your router, you ensure that all data passing through the router is automatically encrypted and anonymized. This means you won’t have to install a VPN on multiple devices: everything is encrypted and protected by the router.

This article looks at which routers work best with a VPN service. We’ll also tell you more about the advantages of installing a VPN on your router.

The Best VPN Routers Comparison Table

Need a quick overview of the top 5 VPN routers and how they stack up against each other? Below, we’ve given a comparison of each router’s key features. You’ll find more information on each router further down in the article.

VPN Router1. Asus RT-AC88U2. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC53003. Linksys WRT3200ACM4. TP-Link Archer C23005. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000
Data transfer rate3167 Megabits Per Second5334 Megabits Per Second2160 Megabits Per Second2.3 Gigabits Per Second11000 Megabits Per Second
Voltage19 Volts240 Volts240 Volts110 Volts19 Volts
Network ports884415
Dimensions11. 8 x 7. 4 x 3. 3 inches11.46 x 4.72 x 14.88 inches9.68 x 2.04 x 7.63 inches6.46 x 8.51 x 1.46 inches11.3 x 4.74 x 14.86 inches
Wireless type802.11ac802.11ac802.11ac802.11ac802.11ax, 802.11ac
Where to buyView on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon

The Best VPN Routers (To Set Up Yourself)

To get started, you’ll need to find a compatible router. Below, we’ve listed five routers you can set up yourself. These are so-called VPN client routers, which you can set up to connect to a VPN provider.

If this process of setting up your own router seems too complex to you, you might prefer a router that’s already set up by the store or manufacturer. We’ll discuss these “pre-flashed” routers later on in this article.

1. Asus RT-AC88U – Best VPN router with eight network ports

Asus RT-AC88U VPN routerThe Asus RT-AC88U is one of the best routers for VPNs, boasting eight network ports. Because of its speed, number of ports, easy-to-install VPN software, and reasonable price, this router deserves first place on this list.

This router performs fastest with devices that support a 5GHz connection. All in all, it’s a great choice for any VPN user. Follow the link below to order this Asus router.

View Asus RT-AC88U at Amazon

2. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 – Fantastic performance, but slightly expensive

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 VPN routerThe Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is an impressive piece of technology, looking more like a spaceship than an actual router. You can opt whether to use a VPN connection or not for each individual network port. This gives you greater control over individual devices.

You can also choose to set up multiple VPN tunnels. This way, one device could be connected to a local VPN server via the router, while another device on the same network is connected to an American VPN server. This is especially useful if you want to watch the American Netflix on your Smart TV, for example.

Click the button below to order the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300.

View Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 at Amazon

3. Linksys WRT3200ACM – Easy to set up

Linksys WRT3200ACM VPN routerThe Linksys WRT3200ACM is extremely easy to set up with most VPNs. ExpressVPN in particular works very well with this Linksys router. When you have a subscription with ExpressVPN, you’ll receive an activation code that you can enter in your new Linksys WRT3200ACM router. Instantly, you’ll be ready to use the internet safely and anonymously.

This router allows for the use of OpenVPN TCP and UDP and is based on OpenWRT. The firmware of this version was specifically developed for ExpressVPN. However, this router also works very well with other VPN-providers.

View Linksys WRT3200ACM at Amazon

TP-Link Archer C2300 VPN routerThe TP-Link Archer C2300 may not be the best router on this list in terms of performance, but it’s still a great option. That’s why we recommend it as an entry-level model. Everyone should be able to take charge of their online safety and privacy, including the people who don’t have the funds for one of the aforementioned VPN routers.

This router currently is the best VPN router in its price range. It can achieve excellent speeds, although your achievements will be best when the connected devices support 5GHz.

View TP-Link Archer C2300 at Amazon

5. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 – Powerful but pricy router

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 VPN routerAlthough this router will be a bit over the top for many users, we still wanted to mention it in our VPN router overview. This is probably the best router available at the moment. However, you’ll only be able to reach the highest speeds with devices that support Wireless AX technology.

This router might deserve a higher spot in the list in the future, but for now this option is too expensive for many users. Moreover, not all of its functionalities will be relevant for the average user.

View Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 at Amazon

The Best VPN Routers with Pre-installed VPN Firmware

Instead of flashing your router yourself, you can also choose to buy a router that’s already configured to work in combination with a specific VPN across many devices. This is called a pre-flashed router.

Below you’ll find the best routers for ExpressVPN. We chose ExpressVPN, because it came out as the best VPN provider in many of our tests and reviews.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
From
$6.67
9.5
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

To use a router’s VPN functionality, you’ll need to get a subscription with the VPN provider that the router supports.

Please note that all pre-flashed routers come from America. You’ll have to pay by credit card or PayPal, and you might also need to order a special adapter for your power outlet if you live outside of the US.

1. Netgear R7000 FlashRouter for ExpressVPN

The first router we selected for ExpressVPN is the Netgear R7000. This router doesn’t just look like a powerhouse; it behaves like one, too. This router has three antennas and a very fast 1.0 GHz dual core processor. It allows you to easily connect five or more devices at the same time.

This router is described as the optimal choice for online gaming and streaming in 4K quality. Since this router is set up to work perfectly with ExpressVPN, you’ll have more online freedom in an instant. This is ideal for streaming Netflix in high quality, or watching BBC iPlayer. You can order the Netgear R7000 by clicking the button below.

View Netgear R7000 for ExpressVPN

2. Linksys WRT3200ACM for ExpressVPN

We already discussed the Linksys WRT3200ACM in our top 5, but because this router works so well with ExpressVPN, it now reappears in our list of pre-flashed routers. It’s an excellent VPN router for ExpressVPN, and if you order it using the button below, you won’t have to flash it yourself.

View Linksys WRT3200ACM for ExpressVPN

What Should You Look For in a VPN Router?

There are a few important things to keep in mind when deciding which VPN router is the best. In addition to general factors, such as speed, it’s wise to consider the following things:

  • Installation process: in order to install a VPN on a router, you need to set up the router. This is called flashing. When choosing a VPN router, you can get a pre-flashed router if you don’t want to flash your router yourself. When putting together our list of best VPN routers, we paid special attention to routers that are easy to flash or pre-flashed.
  • Network ports and connectivity: it’s possible set up different network ports or connections on routers. This allows you to use a VPN on some connections, but not all. Moreover, this means you can set up different VPN-servers on different network ports. This way you could have a local VPN tunnel on one port, and an American one on the other.
  • Price: there will be those of you looking for the best budget VPN router. The difference in price between routers can be huge; some VPN routers are four times more expensive than others. Therefore, it’s important to consider whether you actually need the extra options that more expensive routers offer.
  • Processor power: usually when choosing a router, the processing power isn’t too important. However, this is different for VPN routers. Since the VPN router has to encrypt and decrypt your data,  it has to work harder than a regular router. That’s why we also took processing power into consideration when compiling our top 5.

Finally, the price of the VPN software is important as well. After all, most VPNs aren’t free. To use the VPN functionality of these routers, you’ll have to get a VPN subscription as well.

How Do I Set Up a VPN on My Router?

Setting up and configuring a VPN on your router correctly is quite simple. Much like your computer runs on Windows or your Mac on MacOS, routers have their own operating system too. A router’s operating system is also known as its “firmware”, which is responsible for security, network routing, and other router features and services.

For most people, the default firmware is enough. But if you want to install a VPN, you’re going to need to “flash” your router. This literally just means you’ll be replacing the existing operating system software on the router’s flash memory. However, you do need to follow the right instructions, because there’s a small chance the router will be damaged if you make a mistake.

How to flash your router: Step-by-step guide

Not sure how to flash a router? We’ve made things straightforward for you; simply follow our step-by-step guide to flashing a router below. This will ensure all your connected devices automatically use the VPN connection:

  • Find your router in the router database of DD-WRT (on this page) and download the .bin file.
  • Check the specific instructions on this DD-WRT page to find out how to install the new firmware. If your router isn’t listed, simply Google your router in combination with the phrase DD-WRT.
  • The easiest way to change the firmware is by using Web-GUI:
    • Reset your router (via the button on your router).
    • Log on to your router’s management system on your computer. You can access this with your router’s IP address.
    • Check the management system for where you can flash new firmware.
    • Flash the firmware. Take note: this process shouldn’t be interrupted, or your router may be permanently damaged.
    • Reset your router.
  • That’s it!

For more information on how to flash your router, please check out our DD-WRT article, which explains how to flash a router in greater detail.

I already have a Wi-Fi modem. Can I still use a VPN Router?

Chances are you received a Wi-Fi modem from your internet service provider (ISP). If you still want to connect your devices to a VPN router, you have to buy it separately and connect it to the Wi-Fi modem of your ISP. The best way is to connect your VPN router to your Wi-Fi modem with a cable. This will allow you to reach the highest speeds.

Moreover, you’ll need to set your Wi-Fi modem to ‘bridge mode’. This ensures that your Wi-Fi modem will only transmit the internet to the next router and won’t act as a router itself. By doing this, you’ll be able to connect a VPN router with a standard Wi-Fi modem from your internet provider.

Reasons to Install a VPN on Your Router

Most people simply install a VPN directly on their computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Generally, this is the easiest and quickest way to access the internet safely and anonymously. If you’re considering using a regular VPN service as opposed to a VPN router, then we recommend ExpressVPN, which offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee.

However, more advanced users may wish to set up a VPN on their router. There are several reasons as to why you might want to do this:

  • By setting up a VPN connection on the router, all your internet traffic will go through the VPN server. This means you won’t have to install VPN software separately on every single device.
  • Some Smart TVs and other devices won’t allow VPN software to be installed on them. Installing the VPN on your router will allow you to enjoy all the advantages of a VPN on these devices as well. Think of unblocking different streaming sites on your television, for example.
  • Security companies often discover security breaches in public Wi-Fi networks, which shows that even secure Wi-Fi connections are vulnerable to hackers. This also applies to our home networks. By using a VPN, you’ll make it more difficult for hackers to break into your Wi-Fi network.

As soon as you’ve set up the VPN client on the router correctly, all devices on the network will be connected through a secure VPN connection, protecting your data. The following graphic shows what this looks like:

The connection of a flashed VPN router

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a good VPN router, we’d advise you to pay attention to factors such as the installation process, number of network ports, price and processor power. In order to give you a clear overview of the best VPN routers, we carried out a comparative research into the best VPN routers. Our top 5 of routers is as follows:

  1. Asus RT-AC88U
  2. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300
  3. Linksys WRT3200ACM
  4. TP-Link Archer C2300
  5. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000

You can also choose to order a pre-flashed router from the USA. We recommend these two options for ExpressVPN:

  1. Netgear R7000
  2. Linksys WRT3200ACM

If you don’t live in the USA, we’d recommend you flash your router yourself using our DD-WRT step-by-step plan.

VPN RouterPRICEWHERE TO BUY
1. Asus RT-AC88U$209.99View Asus RT-AC88U at Amazon
2. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300$297.99View Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 at Amazon
3. Linksys WRT3200ACM$219.98View Linksys WRT3200ACM at Amazon
4. TP-Link Archer C2300$106.11View TP-Link Archer C2300 at Amazon
5. Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000$418.14View Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 at Amazon
The Best VPN Routers: Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for the best VPN routers of 2021? Take a look at our FAQ below to get the answers you need.

The Asus RT-AC88U is, in our opinion, the best router for VPNs. With no less than eight network ports, high speeds, easy to install VPN software, and a reasonable price, this router delivers an excellent all-round performance.

Would you rather use a different router? Read about different options in our top 5 of best VPN routers.

The best router with pre-installed firmware is the Netgear R7000. This router is tuned to the use of ExpressVPN, the best VPN provider we’ve tested. This router is a powerhouse that’s described as the best choice for online gaming and viewing content in 4K HD.

If you’re wondering how to flash a router, the good news is it’s simple.

  1. First, search the DD-WRT router database for your router and download the .bin file.
  2. Check the specific instructions to learn how to install the new firmware.
  3. Adjust the firmware via Web-GUI. We recommend you read our extensive manual for a step-by-step explanation on how to do this.

When you set up a VPN connection on your router, all data traffic that travels through the router is automatically secured and anonymized. There’s no need to install a VPN on all your devices separately. Your online traffic will be encrypted, so no one will be able to see what you’re doing online.

VPN routers ensure that all devices on your local network are securely connected. If multiple devices use the local network, they’re automatically protected. This saves time compared to installing a VPN app on all of these devices individually.

Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. She has broad experience developing rigorous VPN testing procedures and protocols for our VPN review section and has tested dozens of VPNs over the years.
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  1. My friend has TP-Link Archer C2300 with NordVPN, he’s happy with it, but I want to make a present for Christmas and buy him a new router, going to buy him the Asus ROG Rapture GT because according to you it’s good and I mean… it looks like from a sci-fi movie hahaha

  2. Flashrouters is a good product for pre-flashed devices; you’ll pay about a $100 mark-up for their labor, app, and a year of support. But after that year, good luck, because their pricing model for extended support is very poorly-priced. It’s another $100 for another year of support (keep in mind it was $100 extra for the flashed router, app, AND support at point of purchase), or $50 for three months of support. It makes no sense whatsoever. Why not $75 for a year of extra support and $25 for three months of e-mail support? Why not an a la carte option where you can pay for support when you need it?

    But my biggest complaint is the lack of providers for their app. They don’t even have Mullvad on there and Mullvad is out there doing big deals with Malwarebytes and Mozilla.

  3. This is very informative. As using PureVPN, I came to know that it is easily configured with almost all the routers that are mentioned in the blog. I have just upgraded my PureVPN account as they are having Black Friday deal giving away 88% discount so it cost me $79 for a subscription of 5 years.

    • True! PureVPN also works with many routers. The Black Friday deal is still live now, since it’s Cyber Monday, as are many of the great deals by other VPN providers. We hope you enjoy your PureVPN subscription!

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