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The Best VPN Routers Of 2018

by Grey One •

Using A Router With A VPN

A VPN-capable router is a convenient device — it can provide VPN connections to your computers and mobile devices via Wi-Fi. You won’t have to install a VPN client on each device. Instead, all your devices are routed via one connection to your VPN provider. Also, you can connect devices incapable running a VPN client — such as Kindles, Netflix boxes, Apple TVs and gaming consoles such as XBox and PS3.

VPN-capable routers tend to be like mini-computers, often supporting NAT devices via built-in USB ports, and support for VOIP phones.

Here’s my list of the best VPN Routers:

The Most Convenient Option: Buy A Pre-Configured Router

The easiest way to get a VPN Router running is to buy one that is pre-flashed and pre-configured for a specific VPN service. This means the router has a VPN firmware installed on it (DD-WRT or Tomato). The firmware replaces the router’s original built-in OS, allowing it to be configured for VPN (i.e. with PPTP, L2TP/IPsec or OpenVPN).

Flashrouters is a good vendor for such devices. They have routers that are pre-configured for the following VPNs providers: Private Internet Access, ExpressVPN, IPVanish, HMA and VPN.AC. Note that you must purchase the VPN service separately from the router.

Flashing Your Own Router

Another DIY option is to flash a suitable router with DD-WRT or Tomato firmware. A good place to find information on flashing routers is MyOpenRouter, and you can find a guide to setting up OpenVPN here.

Here are the two of the best routers for flashing:

The NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Router

Best Router With VPN Capabilities

If you can afford $200 for a VPN router, I’d recommend the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Router. The router forums are all buzzing about this router, and with good reason. It’s a 1900 Mbps Wireless-AC capable router, which is the latest Wi-Fi upgrade (it’s about twice as fast as Wireless-N). It has a 1GHz Dual Core processor, and USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port. This router is also capable of “beamforming”, meaning it can focus Wi-Fi signals on devices that tend to move like smartphones, tablets and laptops. Reviewers say that the resulting range of this router is quite impressive. It also received a Editor’s Choice award from PC magazine, summarizing it thusly: “Sharp design. Great throughput at 5GHz. Excellent range. Wonderful QoS. Full VPN capability.” The only major cons for them was “less-than-expected throughput at 2.4GHz band.”

This router can run as a VPN server, so you can connect to it when you are not at home. You can, of course, flash the firmware, and install a VPN to encrypt your outgoing traffic. The DD-WRT firmware version to use on this router is the DD-WRT Kong AC. You can find some installation instruction here and here (this one is for the R6300 but it should work).

The Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 Router is available on Amazon for around $175.

The ASUS RT-N16 Router

Best VPN Router: The ASUS RT N16

ASUS makes a number of routers that support DD-WRT. I like the ASUS RT-N16 because it’s a Wireless-N (300Mbps) router that you can get for about $80. The router has two USB ports, meaning that you can attach any USB hard drive or thumb drive, thus making a fully functional NAS device. It also has 128 MiB of RAM, 32 MiB ready for flash and three detachable antennas.

As with just about any other ASUS router, you’ll need to flash it with a proper DD-WRT firmware. Stock firmware does not possess an openVPN client by default. However, the flashing process is straightforward when using the ASUS Firmware Restoration Tool. See this guide to putting VPN software on it.

The router works well with either the PPTP, L2TP or openVPN protocol. When it comes to speed and stability, openVPN UDP probably you best bet.

Update: The ASUS RT-N66U is now out with “a 600 Mhz processor (25% more powerful than most high-end devices), 4 times the high-end industry norm in Flash Memory/RAM, Dual Band Wireless speeds up to 900 mbps and 2 USB ports”

Other VPN-Capable Routers

Here’s a list of popular VPN-capable models: Linksys E4200, Linksys E1200, ASUS RT-N66U, ASUS RT-N16, Netgear WNDR4000 and the Netgear R7000 AC1900.

Sharing VPN Using WiFi

Another alternative is to set your desktop or laptop computer up as a WiFi hotspot, and to share your VPN connection with all connecting devices. It does require leaving your PC running whenever you want to use VPN on a mobile device however.

Comments 30

  1. I stream USA Netflix everyday from my location in SE Asia all day using ExpressVPN on my routers, androids, Macs, smart TV’s etc etc, and I can unblock USA netflix NO PROBLEM with expressVPN servers!!

    Mike’s comments above are mis-guided, USA Netflix is unblocked easily from anywhere in the world using expressVPN. I use Asus AC86U and AC88U routers with with usa VPN servers configured and USA netflix streams seamlessly…from Asia.

    Pay no attention to this dude, he knows NOT what he’s talking about.

  2. There’s just 1 problem with Express VPN. No matter what you’ve read, it does NOT work in acquiring USA Netflix (as of Jan 2018) on routers, in my case an ASUS RT-AC86U. They say it does but it doesn’t. They say it works on the 87U except it doesn’t. (Purchased and returned both.)

    Express VPN provides all sorts of server locations in the USA and Canada that they claim can still access Netflix. NOT ON THE ROUTER LEVEL, THEY CAN’T. I actually spent/wasted a ton of time trying every one of Express VPN’s USA as well as Canadian servers that they claim can still access Netflix USA and Express VPN’s Netflix USA as well as Canada access is blocked across the board!

    How do I know this? I am in Canada. If I bypass Express VPN (and disable it in my router) I can then access Netflix Canada’s content without issue. As soon as I set up VPN on my router, and then tried to access Netflix through one of Express VPN’s ‘CANADIAN’ server locations – again NETFLIX blocked me. They’ve clearly been targeted by Netflix and continue false advertising claims to suggest that many of the VPN servers in the USA and Canada can still access it. It’s bull-s–t. Fortunately they do give refunds.

    And the same identical situation with NORD VPN.

    So if you’re thinking of buying a pre-configured router, or you’re tech savvy enough to set up VPN on your router, save your money if the goal is to access Netflix USA content. It won’t happen. On the upside, and if all you want it a really good, strong wireless signal in your home and something good for streaming, than many of the current AC-enabled routers should provide that.

    1. I stream USA Netflix everyday from my location in SE Asia all day using ExpressVPN on my routers, androids, Macs, smart TV’s etc etc, and I can unblock USA netflix NO PROBLEM with expressVPN servers!!

      Mike’s comments above are mis-guided, USA Netflix is unblocked easily from anywhere in the world using expressVPN. I use Asus AC86U and AC88U routers with with usa VPN servers configured and USA netflix streams seamlessly…from Asia.

      Pay no attention to this dude, he knows NOT what he’s talking about.

  3. I have a Netgear N900 wireless router with 8 ports in the back but there’s no VPN software on it and I don’t have a modem (my router apparently acts as my modem and wireless router). I have a PUREVPN subscription but it won’t work with my router. My question is whether buying a new router with PURE VPN already installed on it will protect my privacy and security while using KODI. Do I need to get a modem so I have something between my ISP connection and the new VPN router? I am installing cat6 wire in 6 rooms and want to plug my Nvidia Shield and Amazon fire tv boxes directly into the back of my router via a 6 port connection that I’m installing in the wall literally right next to my router. Will the VPN work with them plugged in directly into a VPN router or does it have to be over WiFi?

    As you can see, I’m not an IT guy but I can run cables and wire ethernet cable plugs myself. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. As far I as know, any device using a VPN router will have it’s network connections routed through the VPN (for both wired and wireless connections).

      This is one of the main reasons why people use VPN routers — it’s the only way to protect devices that can’t run a VPN client.

      1. I do not know if this will help.. but….. I’ll explain my set up….
        I have 2 routers. They are both hooked into the same modem. One has a vpn service on it and the other does not. I have several (too many actually ! :). ) devices that connect wirelessly. Including: Desktop, laptop, ipad, ipod, android tablets, smart tv…
        I switch between the vpn and non-vpn on the devices by signing in to either my local isp or the vpn. Very simple once you set it up. Because going through a vpn will slow down the speed (you are going from your isp, then through the vpn, which could be in a different country, then to your destination ), I have my smart tv through the local iSP (Non-vpn) so I can stream watch. I.E.: Netflix, you tube, on demand…. I have a KODI box which definately goes through the vpn flashed router. Actually, it’s an Amzon fire tv box that I put KODI on. When I am viewing regular Amzon apps/programs, I use the local. This way I don’t have to keep signing in every time the VPN uses a different IP address. I went to flashrouters.com to purchase a router that they configured/set up with the vpn service I subscribe to. Yes… I could have purchased a used router online, flashed it (set it up for the vpn by changing the operating system) by going online for directions…. but seriously, I didn’t have the time or energy. Besides… if I made a mistake; expensive router in trash can! It came in the mail and I set it up the same way that I set up the netgear router (non-vpn) that I already owned. I was able to secure it as well. I can’t suggest a router because it really depends on your configuration, number of devices, etc… Privacy is important to me because of the work I do and because it is my human right! 🙂 Good luck!

    2. You’re good plugging them directly into the router. By default, any device connecting to a VPN router, whether it uses WiFi or is hard wired, will be routed through the VPN.

      As an aside, Tomato firmware does allow you to do selective routing (I’m not sure about DD-WRT, but I imagine it’s the same) if you want to have certain devices not use the VPN while all others do (or vice versa). It’s useful if you want to have your KODI device always use a VPN but not, for example, your smartphone. I use a setup along those lines and it works great.

    1. It’s combined with a TP-Link TL-MR3020 which is a N router which tops its Wi-Fi at 150mbps. I don’t understand why, it’s like going back more than 10 years ago, very insufficient for any media streaming. That’s not an option.

  4. I’ve been recently using an Asus RT-AC66U (DD-WRT) for a VPN connection to PIA over a Time-Warner Cable modem that gives me up to 300mbs download speeds (it can vary from 25mb-200+mbs, but still pretty fast overall). The problem is that no matter how I configure or tweak the Asus router settings, I can never get beyond about 8.5mbs download speeds–though the upload speeds are almost double the download speed.

    I’ve seen online in places that this router simply bottlenecks at about the 8mbs download mark when used as a VPN router, and I’m wondering if someone could verify that. If so, time to dump it I guess even though I’ve read that overall it’s a great router (which is why I bought it.) Of course, why would it go so high in the upload speed if it’s still going thru the VPN?

    Still, I’d appreciate any info on this problem.

    1. I can confirm that. I have 200Mbs connection that drops to 6 with the VPN turned on at the router. The CPU gets pegged on the router. Shopping for something better.

  5. Im looking for at least a 6 port firewall/router (prefer wired only but if wireless comes with it thats fine). Current home network has mobile devices, (iPhones only, Macbook and x2 Windows Laptop, video game systems x2, IP camera’s x4 and NAS. I already have wifi via my Airport Extreme…Ideas?? Currently I have a nether FVS318G but after extensive testing that device has network speed issues and drops my 100MB cable modem connection speed to 15-20

    1. Kevin, I have a similar setup with the same FVS router that I would like to replace. Did you ever find a good solution?

  6. Hello Grey, if Flash router firmware is better than our firmware feature wise, I will give you our router for free. We support 8 VPN protocols, non complicated and not technical DIY setup, or we can preset. We support PPTP, L2TP, IPSecure, IKEv2, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSecure, SSTP and SSL VPN dial in or dial out VPN. And more features that go beyond just VPN.

  7. The best place to get a router is sabaitechnology.com they will set you up and give you a year of tech support. Ask for rhett he set it up via remote session and I didn’t have to do anything

  8. Let me just say that the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Router is NOT a good wifi router – range is not as good as my ancient Linksys WRT-54GL. As a Tomato capable router though it’s brilliant!

    1. Try ours. http://www.customrouter.com

      We support PPTP, L2TP, IPSecure, IKEv2, OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSecure, SSTP and SSL VPN dial in or dial out VPN. Can’t think of any provider that won’t work with at least one of these VPN protocols.

    2. Heinz,
      I’m getting 45MB on my Asus 68U. Hit me up for settings if you want. Williams.Carl.481@gmail

  9. I have been using VPN on my computer with Private Internet Access following your recommendation with great success. I was wondering why all the router options are wireless. Would it not be simpler to use a wired VPN router and then wireless access points for the wireless devices? This is only for my house, but I was surprised not to see that type of option. Could you please help explain? Thanks so much for this resource. The information is fantastic.

    1. If you like to tweak stuff, Openwrt is the best. Its linux for the routers. If you dont like to setup Openwrt your self, you can buy punchvpn router which uses Openwrt.

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