Best VPN Routers of 2019

Today, using a VPN to hide your identity and location makes more sense than ever before.

As netizens of the Internet, we face cybercrime, data mining, targeted marketing, and the threat of ISPs and other agencies snooping on our activity.

VPN-enabled routers add an extra layer of security to guard against these dangers. Not only can you protect single devices with a VPN, but your entire home network (and subsequently, all devices connected to the network) can benefit from the protection.

By using a router that supports VPN software, you can protect an entire family of devices without worrying about maxing out your simultaneous connections—very few VPN services offer more than 5 at any given time.

Because your router installation only counts as one device, anything connected to your router will not count towards this limit.

How We’ve Decided on Our Picks for Best VPN Routers of 2019

We carried out extensive research into the current offerings (100+ reviews!) on the market heading into the new year. Looking at metrics such as speed, security, compatibility with different VPN services, and, of course, price points, we have curated a small list of the best VPN routers on offer right now.

It was important to us that all the routers featured allow any VPN service to be installed… that is, any of the best VPNs worth getting:

Are you still yet to decide on a VPN service, never mind a VPN router? We’ve got you covered! Check out our other guides related to this—

Other Important Factors to Consider

Although speed, VPN compatibility, and security are all important, there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Specifically, usability and hardware.

1. DD-WRT vs. Tomato

Most routers you come across will not come with suitable firmware installed that supports VPN services.

DD-WRT and Tomato can both be configured through an intuitive web interface.

While some VPN providers do have apps that support specific routers and models, people that don’t own one of these have to install the firmware themselves. That is, assuming they own a router that allows firmware installation. Not all routers do, especially those provided by ISPs.

This firmware is generally either DD-WRT or Tomato, two open source pieces of firmware that are free to use. They are purpose-built for VPN usage and provide you with the scope to make tweaks and changes, for example to allocated bandwidth and range.

If you plan on buying a VPN router, especially any featured in our list, you don’t need to worry about this, but it’s worth knowing about regardless.

2. Number of antennas

Most routers have two antennas (or one!). This is known as single-input, single-output (SISO). One antenna sends data and the other receives. If you’re using a router provided by your ISP, chances are you’ll have one of these.

For casual use, this is just is just fine. However, a SISO router is never going to be the fastest available.


MIMO routers (multiple-input, multiple-output) have–you guessed it–more than one antenna for input and output. Two or sometimes three of each antenna means two or three times faster data transfer and a more reliable connection.

To make things a bit more complex, it is multiple-user MIMOs that make the very best VPN routers—these can communicate with multiple devices at the same time.

3. Dual and tri-band

Dual-band routers can transmit data across both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. When the 5GHz band gets too crowded, it will switch your data to the 2.4GHz band meaning that performance won’t be hampered during peak times.

Image courtesy of Amped Wireless

Although routers tend to use the 2.4GHz band by default, we recommend configuring yours so it uses the 5GHz band instead. This delivers higher levels of performance and the difference is definitely noticeable.

You can do one better with a tri-band router, though. A tri-band router will transmit three different signals that are divvied up between all your devices. With a tri-band router, there are three frequencies—one at 2.4GHz and two at 5GHz.

Most of our readers will not have such a demanding network but it doesn’t hurt to future-proof your hardware!

4. CPU

VPN routers that have a better CPU–the processor–will work a lot faster. Think of your router as a miniature computer whose job is to figure out the best way for your data packets to be forwarded to their final destination. To do its job correctly, it needs a CPU and, as with your computer, the better and faster the CPU, the faster it does this job.

A lot of router manufacturers these days advertise the number of cores their products have and what their processor speeds are. This is important information if you are a ‘power user’ who wants to carry out advanced tasks such as VPN configuration because firmware such as DD-WRT and Tomato have certain CPU requirements.

All the VPNs in our list below feature powerful CPUs that are perfect for running VPN firmware.

5 Best VPN Routers of 2019

Without further ado, here are our picks.

1. Asus RT-AC5300 – The best overall VPN router

Remember how we mentioned that some routers can have two or even three of each antenna (three input, three output)? Well, how about four of each antenna? That’s exactly what you get with the Asus RT-AC5300 tri-band router.

We’ll be the first to admit that this is going to be a bit overkill for most people. But, if you want high performance then that’s exactly what you’ll get with this router, and then some.

Designed to cover larger homes, the eight antennas can cover a massive 5,000 square feet and it is MU-MISO, meaning it can communicate with several devices at the same time.

As with most Asus routers, it is optimized for VPN usage meaning installation is a breeze and you won’t notice any drops in performance.

Pros Cons
+ Supports DD-WRT Does not support Tomato
+ A whopping eight antennas High price point

2. D-Link AC5300 Ultra Wi-Fi Router

Another fully-loaded VPN router is the D-Link AC5300. Offering comparable wireless performance to the Asus AC5300 router, it is another firm choice for somebody who wants unrivaled performance when using a VPN service through their router.

It comes with 8 antennas with further upgrades available, but we really can’t see the average user needing to take advantage of this. Also, just like the Asus router, it is tri-band and can support simultaneous connections from multiple devices at one time.

The AC5300 is a tri-band router

Its QoS (Quality of Service) engine prioritizes traffic and ensures the best performance for activities and programs that are data-intensive such as streaming video or playing games. Finally, it automatically adjusts transfer rates to prevent network latency when a slower device connects.

Pros Cons
+ Includes USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports No wireless bridging available
+ 4Gbps ethernet ports DD-WRT but no Tomato

3. NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 – The best VPN router for streaming and entertainment

What the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 loses in terms of antennas—as you can see, it has four instead of eight—it makes up for in being a wireless AD router instead of a dual or tri-band router.

Alongside a 1.7GHz quad-core processor, this provides serious speed for devices that support 60GHz connections. While 60GHz connections are nowhere near being common yet, they will be in the future and the X10 is a great router to buy in preparation.

Like the D-Link router above, it has QoS software that prioritizes traffic and ensures peak performance for data-intensive tasks. While the X10 is pricey, it is a router that is future-proof and will last for a number of years… not something that can be said for even pricier dual and tri-band alternatives.

Pros Cons
+ Wireless AD Only two pairs of antenna
+ MU-MIMO support Again, no Tomato support
+ 1.7GHz quad-core processor

4. Asus RT-AC88U – Also built with gaming in mind

The Asus RT-AC88U is a dual-band router featuring two pairs of antennas that were designed specifically with video games in mind. Naturally, this makes it a good VPN router as it can stand up to high-performance tasks that are data-intensive such as streaming and torrenting, two things VPNs are regularly used for.

VPN setup itself is relatively painless and the router supports DD-WRT. Most VPN providers have guides available on their websites to walk you through the process.

Pros Cons
+ 512MB of RAM Still no Tomato support
+ 1.4Ghz dual-core processor DD-WRT but no Tomato
+ 8(!) LAN ports The dual band requires manual setup
+ Very VPN-friendly and simple to use

5. Linksys WRT AC3200 – The best VPN router for standard everyday use

Finally, we have the Linksys WRT 3200. While it is by no means going to blow you away in terms of its performance, it is still good enough for most VPN users and is by no means a weak device.

If you simply need a router, any old router, that supports a VPN, go with this Linksys model that won’t break the bank and includes all the features and support you need.

It is a tri-band router with two pairs of antennas. It supports DD-WRT for seamless VPN compatibility and there are USB 3.0 and 4Gbps Ethernet ports, too. These features alone make the AC3200 a brilliant router in itself without even considering the support for VPN services.

Thanks to DD-WRT, VPN installation is a breeze and all VPN providers that support routers have their own guides and documentation to help you out if you need it.

Pros Cons
+ Tri-band Not the best router for super-intensive use
+ 4Gbps ethernet ports DD-WRT but no Tomato

You Can Always Buy a Pre-Configured Router

Is all this too much for you? Do you just want to buy a router and get going without all the hassle of configuring it yourself?

If you want the easy way out and are only interested in having a VPN router that works easily and with minimal fuss, you can always opt to purchase a pre-configured VPN router.

Essentially, a standard router (e.g. one made by Linksys) comes pre-loaded with a certain VPN service and is ready to use out of the box, all you need to do is authenticate.

ExpressVPN’s range of DD-WRT FlashRouters and NordVPN’s FlashRouter are prime examples of these. (Here are our top recommendations for VPNs with pre-configured routers.)

Of course, the major pro is that you get all the benefits associated with a VPN router without having to choose and configure one yourself. The downsides, however, include the fact that your choice of a router is limited and that you pay the price of convenience—VPN-specific FlashRouters are often quite expensive.

Whichever option you choose, we hope you’re now armed with sufficient knowledge to find the best method that works for you!

Best VPN for Routers

When you install a VPN on your router, you ensure that all devices connected to your home’s network remain protected with minimal effort and fuss. Instead of downloading a native app for all devices, you can simply configure your router to protect all your devices.

However, not all VPNs are router-friendly, and not all routers support VPNs. That means you need to do two things:

  1. Check to see if the VPN offers router support.
  2. Get a VPN-friendly router.

If you need help on finding a router that can handle a VPN, read our guide on the best VPN routers of 2019. Otherwise, proceed below for the best VPN for various routers.

5 Best VPNs for Routers

How We Chose the Best VPNs for Routers

There are several factors that go into deciding which VPN to use with a router. These include:

  • Router Support: Either the VPN lets you buy pre-flashed routersmeaning a router with the VPN already installed, or you can install the VPN on the router yourself using either native or third-party firmware like DD-WRT or Tomato (more on that below).
  • VPN Speed: Since installing a VPN on your router likely means you’ll be using the VPN on a variety of devices, fast speeds are essential. All the VPNs we’ve picked have fast speeds so you won’t experience slow internet speeds on all your devices–a nightmare!
  • Encryption: If you’re going to rely on a single VPN service to secure all your devices via the router, you better make sure the VPN offers the best encryption. That means the VPN should offer the OpenVPN protocol (the most secure) and AES-256 encryption (military-grade).

We also consider the usual (price, features, business history, etc) as it is part of our review process.

Key VPN Router Terminology: DD-WRT vs Tomato

Two terms you will come across when researching VPN routers are DD-WRT and Tomato—these are both open-source third-party firmware that are available for free online. Simply put, they enable your router to function as a VPN client when it is installed (“flashed”) on one.

DD-WRT and Tomato both improve your security, let you use different VPN protocols, disable router manufacturers’ security loopholes, extend your Wi-Fi range, and regulate bandwidth. They do differ in some areas, though. Here’s how they stack up—

DD-WRT Tomato
Available on more devices. Run two VPN servers at once.
Adjust Wi-Fi signal strength. Better bandwidth monitoring.
Prioritize certain types of traffic. Works better with more VPN services.
Access home network remotely. Supported by fewer routers.

5 Best VPNs for Router Installation—Our Picks

These are, in our opinion, the 5 best VPN services available on the market for use with a router. We have tested each of these services extensively, alongside 100+ others, and tested all their features to arrive at our conclusion.

All these VPNs can easily be installed and used on a router. If you get stuck during the installation phase, each service offers comprehensive guides on their website to walk you through the process. If you still need help, their customer support teams will be on-hand, usually 24/7 through live chat, to provide immediate assistance.

1. ExpressVPN – Our Top Pick!

ExpressVPN is the best all-around VPN service that does just about everything you want it to, and then some.

First of all, for those of you who want the simplest and most seamless installation process, ExpressVPN has their own powerful pre-configured router that you can use out of the box. This is a better choice if you don’t want to do any work at all and want a newbie-friendly VPN router–it costs around $50 more than it would if you bought a regular router and an ExpressVPN subscription.

If you don’t mind doing a little bit of work for yourself though, you can follow their detailed installation tutorial that provides instructions for DD-WRT router installation. With ExpressVPN’s own firmware, installing the VPN on your router and protecting all your home’s devices becomes a painless task.

In addition to this, supplementary features put you in complete control—you can pick and choose which devices’ traffic to tunnel through ExpressVPN and which can remain unprotected. There is also MediaStreamer that you can use to unblock Netflix and other services from devices that don’t natively support ExpressVPN.

In the unlikely event that you run into problems, ExpressVPN’s knowledgebase and support team will be on hand to help in minutes. You can also take a look at some of their guides. ExpressVPN has taken the time to create a comprehensive selection of guides that are tailored to each of their router offerings.

As you can see on the right-hand side, they cover just about every supported router and firmware. You can find this guide and more here in their knowledge base.

An example of ExpressVPN FlashRouter UI courtesy of

With thousands of lightning-fast servers spread across 90+ countries, ExpressVPN provides everything you could ever need from a VPN at a budget-friendly price point.

ExpressVPN Pricing:

  • From $8.32/month for a 1-year subscription
  • Pre-flashed routers from $174.99 via

Try ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN – Best Value

Second in our list is NordVPN. Again, it is easy to install NordVPN on a router by following their tutorials.

These explain how you can connect your DD-WRT router to NordVPN by using the OpenVPN protocol. Support is also available for L2TP and PPTP; however, we recommend using OpenVPN for most internet users.

Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN offers their own pre-configured routers. There are several different versions for you to choose from depending on what level of protection you need or how many devices you want to connect.

(If you do go ahead and purchase a NordVPN router, make sure you use the code NORDVPNROUTER for 20% off at!)

Everything can be managed from NordVPN’s FlashRouter Privacy App. Using this, you can easily connect to and switch between servers and enable/disable the kill switch for seamless and intuitive use. This is much more preferable to having to navigate confusing router control panels each time you want to connect, disconnect, change a server, or modify other settings.

In terms of performance, NordVPN delivers good speeds across a consistently reliable server network. While there are more servers with NordVPN than ExpressVPN, NordVPN has slightly fewer locations as ExpressVPN. (At the time of writing, NordVPN’s servers are available in 62 countries whereas ExpressVPN’s are in 94.)

NordVPN Pricing:

  • From $2.99/month for a 3-year subscription
  • Pre-flashed routers from $249.99 via

Try NordVPN

3. Private Internet Access (PIA) – Best for Privacy

PIA is one of our favorite VPNs because they came out on top after two court cases where the authorities were trying to obtain a court order to force PIA to disclose information related to its users. On both occasions, PIA could not produce anything of use to the government.

This shows that their promise to never disclose information holds up in court even though PIA is U.S.-based. PIA doesn’t log anything at all, so even if they were told to hand over information, there would be nothing valuable to give.

In terms of router support, you can either buy a pre-flashed PIA router (the more expensive option) or instead follow their DD-WRT OpenVPN setup guide on their website.

It should be acknowledged that PIA’s setup process is a little more involved than that of Express and NordVPN’s–it requires more manual work and time, making it a less optimal choice for first-time users. There’s no native app for routers either, something both ExpressVPN and NordVPN have.

PIA as a service has been around for a long time now and they have an impressive server network to prove it. They offer what is by far one of the best and most reliable services at one of the lowest price points.

Private Internet Access Pricing:

  • From $2.91/month for a 2-year subscription
  • Pre-flashed routers from $249.99 via


4. Windscribe

An often-overlooked service, Windscribe may not be as good as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but it’s still worth considering. The main talking point here is that Windscribe lets you connect an unlimited number of devices to the network.

Judging by Windscribe’s website, we can see that they have put a lot of thought and effort into their router support.

The VPN can be installed on a router or you can get a pre-configured model. However, you won’t have much of a choice if you want a pre-flashed router. We only found one available at the time of this writing.

For users who want to install the VPN client on their own, Windscribe provides three comprehensive guides to walk you through the process: DD-WRT, Tomato, and Asus.

When we tested out Windscribe, we found that the service’s performance varied quite a bit. This isn’t going to be ideal if you need a consistently reliable service that is always fast and on point. In terms of security, Windscribe uses AES 256-bit encryption alongside OpenVPN and we found no leaks.

It is worth noting that Windscribe offers a free version with a monthly 10GB data transfer limited. However, it can only be used with routers when you subscribe to their Pro version as this is the only version that offers OpenVPN.

Windscribe Pricing:

  • From $4.08/month for a 1-year subscription
  • Pre-flashed routers from $349.99

Try Windscribe

5. CyberGhost

CyberGhost has managed to grow its users to almost 20 million in just under a decade and when you look at the service, it is easy to see why.

If you want to install CyberGhost on your router, their website offers lots of useful guidance and tutorials to help you do just that. Their knowledgebase covers every single type of router installation possible and if you get stuck, their support team are on-hand to help 24/7.

For example, this is a part of their knowledge base that teaches users how to configure OpenVPN on one of their pre-flashed routers (CyberGhost doesn’t use OpenVPN by default.)

This guide is very extensive and walks you through the process step-by-step with up-to-date information and screenshots highlighting exactly what you need to do.

With a constantly growing network of servers offering a fast and reliable global reach and router setup that is 100% painless, CyberGhost had to feature somewhere on our list. Again, it’s not as good as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but their service will probably match your expectations.

CyberGhost Pricing:

  • From $2.50/month for a 3-year subscription
  • Pre-flashed routers from $249.99 via

Try CyberGhost

Types of VPN Routers

For those of you still deciding on which VPN router to get, here’s a short guide on the three different types of VPN routers.

The general rule of thumb is that most ISP-provided routers are heavily restricted and cannot be flashed with VPN firmware. If your router is the same one that your ISP provided, you will need to swap it out for a different one.

The three options are—

1. Manual configuration

Manual configuration (or manual flashing) is where you configure your own router for VPN installation. This can usually be done with routers made by reputable manufacturers such as Asus and Linksys but not always. It is worth double-checking with the manufacturer whether your router supports VPN installation.

2. VPN-compatible routers

VPN-compatible routers come ready to be set up with a VPN out of the box. They have an easy-to-use interface, support OpenVPN, and can easily have firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato installed on them, meaning you can start the setup process with your chosen VPN client right away.

3. Pre-configured routers

Most of the time, pre-configured routers will come with a VPN already installed on them. This means they can be set up and used with minimal effort. However, they can be more expensive. A good example is ExpressVPN’s own DD-WRT router.

These routers are sold through a third-party vendor known as FlashRouters, a company that takes the very best routers available on the market and loads them with VPN software ready for out-of-the-box use.

To sum up, you can go about it in various ways but it usually breaks down into two things:
1. Are you tech-savvy enough to configure your own router? Then just follow our step-by-step guide on how to install a VPN on a router.
2. You don’t want to go through all the trouble of setting up your router? Then you have plenty of choice, just get ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

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