VPN Router: How to Choose, Recommendations

As the digital landscape evolves, so does the sophistication of threats lurking in its shadows. A VPN router helps mitigate risk by ensuring that every device in a household remains one protective umbrella.

The problem is that running a VPN on an ordinary router can provide mixed results at best. Whether you're a streaming enthusiast, an online gamer, or someone who relies on digital business tools, choosing the right VPN router can make all the difference.

If you haven't already, read our Beginner's Guide to Virtual Private Networks

How to Choose The Best VPN Router

A VPN router like Aircove can protect an entire household.
A VPN router like Aircove can protect an entire household. (Source: ExpressVPN)

Like choosing a suit that fits perfectly or finding the right car for your needs, picking the perfect VPN router hinges on understanding its features. Here's what to keep an eye out for:

Powerful Hardware

The heart of any VPN router is its hardware. Encryption and decryption of data, especially at high speeds, demand powerful hardware components. A router with robust processing power ensures that data encryption doesn't become a bottleneck in your internet speed. 

When choosing, prioritize routers with fast processors (CPUs) and ample RAM, as they are better equipped to handle the rigors of constant encryption and decryption, ensuring a smoother online experience.

Compatible Firmware

Firmware is the code that manages how your VPN router works. Always ensure that the router you're looking at can support a VPN. If not, you'll have to flash the router with third-party firmware, which can be complex.

Protocol Support

Having a router support VPN installation is far from sufficient. VPNs can run with various protocols, each with different security and performance profiles. Ensure you get a router supporting WireGuard, the fastest and most streamlined VPN protocol.

Ease of Use

A fortified digital fortress shouldn't come at the expense of user-friendliness. Dive into user reviews or product demos to gauge if the router's interface is intuitive and if the setup process is simple enough. Remember, a tool is only as good as its usability.

VPN Router Recommendations

The realm of VPN routers is ever-expanding, with myriad brands and models vying for attention. To help you navigate this vast landscape, here are some standout VPN routers we recommend:

Asus AX86U

The Asus AX86U is a part of Asus's new generation of routers, optimized for both speed and security. Its dual-band functionality ensures fast network speeds, and it comes equipped with advanced features like AiProtection and Adaptive QoS. 

  • Pros: High-speed performance, robust security features, user-friendly interface.
  • Cons: Premium features might command a higher price.

Asus AX1800S

Another gem from Asus, the AX1800S, is designed for homes with high bandwidth. It supports the latest WiFi 6 standard, ensuring faster speeds, and has advanced security features, making it a formidable choice for those prioritizing speed and security.

  • Pros: WiFi 6 support, adaptive QoS, broad compatibility with VPN services.
  • Cons: Regular firmware updates may be required.

Netgear Nighthawk RS700S

The Nighthawk RS700S embodies Netgear's commitment to performance and security. With its tri-band technology and powerful processor, it can handle heavy network traffic with ease. Its sleek, angular design not only looks impressive but also ensures optimal antenna positioning for better coverage.

  • Pros: High-performance hardware, extensive coverage, advanced security features.
  • Cons: Might be overwhelming for beginners due to its plethora of features.

TP-Link Archer AXE95

TP-Link's Archer AXE95 is designed for the modern smart home. Supporting the WiFi 6E standard, it ensures ultra-fast speeds and reduces network congestion. Its user interface is intuitive, making both setup and daily use straightforward.

  • Pros: WiFi 6E support, user-friendly interface, competitive pricing.
  • Cons: Advanced users might desire more customization options.

ExpressVPN Aircove

A product of collaboration between ExpressVPN and router manufacturers, the ExpressVPN Aircove is optimized for users of the ExpressVPN service. It offers an easy-to-use interface and ensures optimal performance when connected to ExpressVPN, making it a go-to choice for subscribers of this VPN service.

  • Pros: Tailored for ExpressVPN use, easy setup, top-tier security features.
  • Cons: Limited appeal for those using other VPN services.

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Advantages of Using a VPN on Your Router

Most of our homes today have multiple smart devices. From our smartphones to laptops and home security systems, each device is a link to the digital world. Installing a VPN on your router helps ensure every device is automatically shielded.

You essentially get;

Unified Protection

With cyber threats becoming more advanced, it's no longer just about protecting our computers or phones. A vulnerable IoT device can be a backdoor for hackers, giving them access to your entire network. A VPN router closes this loophole.


Remembering to turn on a VPN on each device can be tedious. With a VPN router, it's a one-time setup, and you're covered. No more fretting about whether you remembered to activate your VPN before that online shopping spree.

Cost Efficiency

While many VPN services limit the number of simultaneous connections, a VPN router ensures multiple devices can use a single VPN connection. This could mean significant savings in the long run, especially for larger households or businesses.

In essence, a VPN router isn't just a luxury or an addition to your digital arsenal—it's becoming a necessity. As we integrate more smart devices into our lives, we must ensure they don't become our Achilles' heel.

Potential Disadvantages of VPN Routers

While VPN routers offer many benefits, from enhanced security to the convenience of a unified protective network, they aren't without their potential drawbacks. Awareness of these can help you make an informed decision:

Reduced Internet Speeds: Encryption and decryption processes can slow down internet speeds. While a good VPN router minimizes this impact, some speed reduction, especially during peak usage times, is typical.

Initial Cost: VPN routers, especially high-end models, can be more expensive upfront than regular routers. However, considering the long-term benefits and potential savings from securing multiple devices, this initial investment often justifies itself.

Complex Setup for Some Models: While many modern VPN routers strive for user-friendliness, some models, especially those with advanced customization options, might have a steeper learning curve.

Limited to One VPN Service: Some VPN routers might be tailored for specific VPN providers. If you ever switch your VPN service, your router might not support the new provider, leading to potential inconveniences.

Regular Router vs. VPN Router: What's The Difference?

The primary function of traditional and VPN routers is the same. However, VPN routers are specifically designed for use with VPNs. That distinction can make a massive difference in your online experience.

Here's how they usually differ;

Purpose of Use

A regular router is mainly used to provide internet access to connected devices. Think of it as a traffic cop, directing data between your devices and the internet.

VPN routers do the same but add another layer by routing all this traffic through a VPN service. This means every byte of data is encrypted and anonymized, ensuring a more secure and private online experience.

Security Layers

Regular routers today provide essential security features like firewalls and password protection. VPN routers add to this by encrypting all data passing through them. 

This not only safeguards against potential eavesdroppers but also masks your digital footprint, making it harder for advertisers, hackers, and even governments to track your online activities.

Setup and Configuration

Typically straightforward, regular routers can generally work with basic internet connection information and WiFi settings.

VPN routers require an additional step to configure the VPN service, either by integrating with a VPN provider or manually setting up VPN configurations. However, many modern VPN routers have easy-to-follow guides or pre-configured setups for popular VPN services.

Cost Differences

Regular routers come in a broad range of types and prices. Most home internet connections can get by with less expensive options. VPN routers typically carry a slightly higher price tag due to the added functionalities and more powerful hardware. 

Final Thoughts

The quest for online security and privacy has never been more pressing. A VPN router emerges as a vital element that can help us safeguard our digital lives. However, like any technology, they come with their set of considerations. 

It's pivotal to approach the decision with a well-rounded perspective, weighing the benefits against potential drawbacks. Equip yourself with knowledge, stay updated, and here's to a more secure digital future!

Timothy Shim

Tim is a former tech journalist turned web technology junkie. He spends his time exploring the best in digital privacy and security tools. Meanwhile, experiments with SEO continue to increase his blood pressure. ( Contact Tim on Linkedin )

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