5 Best VPN Routers 2019

A VPN router is the best way to protect multiple devices on your home network. With a router-level VPN, you can protect every device on your network without the need to install the VPN on each individual machine. 

VPN Router

The best VPN Router in 2019: Summary

Below you will find our recommended VPN routers. For in-depth information on any of the models, keep scrolling.

  1. Linksys WRT3200ACM - This is considered the best overall VPN router.
  2. Asus RT-AC5300 This is an extremely powerful router best suited to people with large homes or a large amount of devices. 
  3. Netgear R6400 A solid router perfect for people that desire exceptional value for money.
  4. Linksys WRT1900ACS  -  Another great choice for people on more of a budget.
  5. Netgear R7800 X4SPerfect for medium homes, but a little pricey compared to the asking price on Amazon (non flashed).

What is a VPN router?

A VPN router is a router with a VPN installed directly onto it. All connections to VPN servers are managed in the router when you have a router VPN.

A VPN client is usually installed on individual devices such as smartphones and desktop PCs. This software connects each individual device directly to the VPN in order to protect it. A VPN router, on the other hand, protects all the devices on the network; without the need to install the software on each one.

VPNs can only be installed on specific routers with firmware capable of handling VPN connections. Thus not every router can be a VPN router.

The best VPN routers

Our in-depth list of recommended VPN routers will help you can pick one that suits you: 

  1. Linksys WRT3200ACM (Best Overall VPN Router)

    Linksys WRT3200ACM

    4 External Antennas

    Dual Band Up to AC3200 Mbps

    Recommended Use: Medium Home / 6-10 Devices

    In first place is this excellent Linksys router. At just $249 it is affordable, and because of the power it packs under the hood, it is the most versatile and suitable VPN router available on the market today. This router has a 1.8 GHz Dual-Core ARM processor and is one of the first VPN routers to use a Marvell chipset. Anybody that needs a powerful router for gaming, streaming, video calls, or other data-intensive tasks is strongly recommended this router.

    We think the fact that you can get it with support, and a warranty - fully flashed and ready to use with your favorite VPN - for just $50 over the regular asking price is an absolute steal!

    FlashRouters (pre-flashed, VPN Privacy App Included): $249

    Amazon (pre-flashed, No App, No VPN Support): $199

  2. Asus RT-AC5300 (Best For Power Users)

    Asus RT-AC5300 VPN router

    8 External Antennas

    Tri Band Up to 5300 Mbps

    Recommended Use: Large Home / 10+ Devices

    This is an extremely powerful router that is perfectly suited to large homes and small businesses. It can support up to 10 devices comfortably, and thanks to its eight external antennas (which provides Tri-Band WiFi) it can provide WiFi to a larger surface area. Its 1.4 GHz processor makes it the flagship router for lag-free gaming and high-quality 4K streaming. This VPN is costly, but you get what you pay for; a top of the range router with all the most recent features. If you need power, look no further!

    FlashRouters (pre-flashed, VPN Privacy App Included): $479

    Amazon (Not pre-flashed, No App, No VPN Support): $350

  3. Netgear R6400 (Best Value VPN router)

    Netgear R6400 VPN router

    Recommended Use: Small House / Up to 5 Devices

    This Netgear router is an excellent choice for anybody that needs something practical that is also cheap. The router is future proofed for Wireless-AC standards, while also providing full support for Wireless-G and Wireless-N devices. The R6400 packs a powerful Dual Core 1 GHz Broadcom CPU internal processor, making it powerful enough to handle up to 5 devices. And, if you’re concerned about being able to stream; this VPN will handle 4k without issues.

    FlashRouters (pre-flashed, VPN Privacy App Included): $179

    Amazon (pre-flashed, No App, No VPN Support): N/A

  4. Linksys WRT1900ACS

    Linksys WRT1900ACS VPN router

    Recommended Use: Small Office/Medium Home / 4-7 Devices

    This VPN is exceptional value for money considering it is just $55 more than the standard asking price to get it fully flashed and ready to use. Building on experience from previous models, Linksys’ WRT1900ACS is a powerful router with four external antennas.

    The 1.6 GHz Dual-Core ARM processor makes it perfect for those people looking for a router VPN for gaming, streaming, video calls, or data-intensive tasks. In addition, because it has been upgraded to DD-WRT WRT1900ACv2 it allows for OpenVPN connections.

    FlashRouters (DD-WRT Installed, VPN Privacy App Included, Warranty + Support): $249

    Amazon (pre-flashed, No App, No VPN Support): $195

  5. Netgear R7800 X4S

    Netgear R7800 X4S VPN router

    Ideal for: Large Apartment/Medium Home / 5-9 Devices

    This Netgear router is extremely popular among consumers. It is the hardcore big-brother of a popular router model called the R7000 Nighthawk. The R7800 provides improved wired connectivity and is considered future-proof. The router has 4 powerful external antennas and a 1.7 GHz Dual Core Processor - making it powerful enough to handle just about anything you throw at it.

    FlashRouters (DD-WRT Installed, VPN Privacy App Included, Warranty + Support): $349

    Amazon (pre-flashed, No App, No VPN Support): $175

How to install a VPN on a router

Installing a VPN on a router differs depending on the model However a basic outline is as follows:

  1. Gain access to the router’s control panel using the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Access the router’s VPN client and add your provider’s server details and other necessary connection details. There will be guides for this on your VPN’s website.
  3. Initiate the VPN connection to your desired VPN server
  4. Now that the router is connected to the VPN server, all the devices in your home appear to be in that location. In addition, they are all being protected with encryption, to give you digital privacy.

Configuring a VPN Router

Nearly all builds of DD-WRT support VPN using the PPTP protocol. However, this is not very secure, and it is generally better to use OpenVPN. The basic framework for DD-WRT supports OpenVPN, but, not all routers support builds that do. Thus, it is always best to check before buying if this is important to you.

Many VPN providers supply setup guides for routers although some only provide support for PPTP.

Tip: the easiest way to get a VPN router is to buy one pre-flashed!

Different Types of VPN Router

DD-WRT

DD-WRT is an open source project aimed at developing a Linux-based firmware solution that removes the restrictions placed on routers by their default programming.

Installing DD-WRT on your router gives it the full functionality of a business grade router, but without the cost. A full list of all the many advantages would be too long for this article, for more information see our DD-WRT router page.

Tomato

Tomato is an alternative Linux-based firmware package for routers, most notably the Linksys WRT54G/GL/GS, Buffalo WHR-G54S/WHR-HP-G54, and other Broadcom-based routers. Like DD-WRT, it can be used to flash a compatible router. This allows it to be used as a VPN gateway, as well as providing a similar functionality to a DD-WRT flashed router.

DD-WRT is compatible with more routers and is generally reckoned more newbie-friendly, but many people prefer Tomato’s interface and excellent real-time network monitoring capabilities.

Why get a VPN router?

Whether you need a VPN for a mobile device, a laptop, or a desktop PN; a VPN router can help.

VPN routers are set up to connect to a VPN service. These routers can be set up to connect to most VPN services, which means you can still subscribe to your preferred service.

It is also possible to flash routers with third party firmware such as DD-WRT and Tomato. Some providers even offer pre-flashed routers that have been pre-configured for their service. These can be purchased either directly from the VPN or via an online store such as FlashRouters.com

VPN routers - Advantages

  • Every device that connects to the router is protected by the VPN.
  • This includes devices that cannot run VPN software themselves, such as smart TVs, games consoles, and Roku boxes.
  • The router counts as just one VPN connection, as far as your provider is concerned. This means you can connect an unlimited number of devices to the VPN at once via the router.

VPN routers - Disadvantages

  • The main drawback is that encrypting and decrypting VPN data is extremely processor-intensive (especially when using OpenVPN). Most routers struggle, which can result in poor internet connection speeds.
  • For this reason, it is important to opt for a router that is truly powerful enough to cope. In general, this means you are going to need to invest a reasonable amount of money to get what you need.

VPN routers for small businesses

If you are looking for a VPN router for a small business, to protect all your employees at once with digital privacy; we recommend that you opt for the VPN that is in second place. The Asus RT-AC5300 DD-WRT is for “power users”. It has everything you need to run ten or more devices securely to a VPN without suffering from sluggish connectivity.

For more information, see our VPNs for small businesses page.

FAQs

We have tried to cover every important point in this article. However, if something about VPN routers is still confusing you, perhaps this Frequently Asked question section can help!

Written by: Ray Walsh

Ray Walsh is no.1 VPN & no.7 Internet Privacy authority in the world according to rating website Agilience.com. Ray's expert digital privacy opinions have appeared in The Express, Washington Post, Market Watch, Threat Post, and CNET to name a few.

5 Comments

  1. VPN solutions

    on August 20, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Douglas, what do you think about pocket routers industry? Will it shake the market ? We have a lot of request from manufacturers, but I don't have clear vision - is it hype or future trend?

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to VPN solutions

      on August 22, 2018
      Reply

      Hi VPN solutions, If you are referring to pocket VPN routers of the kind I have reviewed every now and again (for example here and here), the problem is that such small and low-cost routers simply do not have the hardware (prrocessing power and memory) to process VPN encryption/decryption at speed. The result is unacceptably poor internet performance.

  2. JT

    on July 25, 2018
    Reply

    Sounds like Duhlivar is the one who did not use the router.

  3. Bolivar D. Shagnasty

    on September 2, 2017
    Reply

    Douglas, Concerning the two Linksys routers that you reviewed, did you read the 1-star reviews for both routers on Amazon? I can easily imagine that you didn't hook the two routers up and try them.... Merely reading the spec sheets would produce the sort of review that you wrote.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Bolivar D. Shagnasty

      on September 4, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Bolivar, There are very few products that never receive 1 star reviews. Both those Linksys routers have a 4-star average on Amazon (73% gave the WRT AC3200 a 5 star review vs just 8% a 1 star, while gave the WRT AC19/1200 a 5 star review vs 16% a 1 star). An important point to note is that the WRT AC3200 recommended above is not stock - it runs ExpressVPN's custom firmware (which has its pros and cons). I have fully reviewed the ExpressVPN WRT1200AC Router (custom firmware).

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