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The Best VR Wi-Fi Routers Plus a Cool Trick: When Virtual Reality Gets Real

If you’re into virtual gaming — or virtual desktop, or any virtual apps for that matter — you must have been aware of Oculus’s Air Link. With luck, maybe you’ve even been able to use it with a certain level of success.

Among other things, the most significant about this feature is the fact it enables you to use the Oculus Quest 2 headset without being tethered to your computer via a USB cable. Instead, you’ll use the headset’s built-in Wi-Fi for the connection.

And that opens up to a whole lot of possibilities. You can walk around somewhat freely in the real world when being in your virtual one. In return, it makes picking up the right Wi-Fi router for your VR headset an even more consequential task.

This post will help you figure this all out and include a list of the best VR Wi-Fi routers currently on the market. The key here is the bandwidth.

Dong’s note: I first published this piece on May 21, 2021, and last updated it on October 5 to add more relevant information.

Best VR Wi-Fi Router: The TP-Link Archer AX90 Wi Fi 6 Router vs Netgear RAX200
The TP-Link Archer AX90 Wi-Fi 6 Router vs Netgear RAX200

Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: Understanding virtual reality’s bandwidth requirement

When it comes to VR and bandwidth, the quick take is the more, the better. VR is easily the most bandwidth-demand application — there’s a lot of information going between the headset and your computer.

The bandwidth requirements depend on things that happen in real-time and how high the resolutions you want to appear in front of your eyes.

From my own experience and with the inputs of some vendors, here are my guesstimates on the bandwidth required for any 360-degree real-time immersive graphic rendering:

Again these are ballpark numbers, but the idea is you need a lot of bandwidth. However, don’t assume right away that this is what you need from your Wi-Fi. That depends.

The Wi-Fi requirement for virtual reality

Indeed, despite the high bandwidth demand, VR apps’ need for Wi-Fi depends on how you use the headset.

Traditionally, when the headset (and therefore, you) links via cable to a computer, it’s the USB connection that handles this bandwidth.

And in this case, chances are you will use USB 3.0 or higher — so you’ll have around 5Gbps (5000Mbps) or more at your disposal — that’s plenty. In return, you have to stay close to the computer and risk tripping on the wire.

(And in most cases, you have no other options.)

In this case, the VR app doesn’t need more Wi-Fi than any other apps. So, in terms of home networking, you only need an excellent router or a good gaming one if you play VR games.

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In other words, using a wired headset makes VR similar to any regular application. Your computer uses Wi-Fi only to connect to the Internet, and there’s no special bandwidth requirement.

Oculus’s Air Link and Wi-Fi

Things change, though, with Oculus’s new Air Link feature. It opens up to a new and more accessible way to be in the virtual world.

That’s because, in this case, the USB cord is no longer, and the headset uses Wi-Fi to link to VR the computer wirelessly.

And that dramatically puts more stress on the wireless connection since the VR-related bandwidth requirements remain the same.

As you can imagine, in this case, a couple of VR apps will virtually, pun intended, saturate a high-end router’s entire 5GHz band’s bandwidth. Just a reminder, this band currently caps at 2.4Gbps (on paper) with Wi-Fi 6. If you use Wi-Fi 5, that number is even lower.

See also  Wi-Fi 6 Explained in Layman's Terms: The Real Speed, Range, and More

Note: Currently, no VR headset supports Wi-Fi 6E, but that will change. The Oculus Quest 2 has a 60GHz Wi-Fi module that is not Wi-Fi 6E (which uses the 6GHz band). This module will likely never be helpful unless you use a 6GHz adapter card for your computer, as mentioned below.

And that brings us to the best way to handle home networking for full wireless VR.

Best Wi-Fi setup for Oculus Quest 2 with Air Link

This part applies to the Quest 2 headset with Air Link or any other fully Wi-Fi headset. In this case, it would be best if you dedicated as much Wi-Fi bandwidth to the headset as possible.

And there are two ways to achieve this: Getting a top-notch tri-band router or turn your computer into one. Let’s find out more about the latter first.

Wi Fi 6E Adapter Card
Here are a loose (laptop) Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E card and an Intel AX200 card already on a PCIe adapter ready to be installed inside a desktop computer. You can use either as your dedicated VR Wi-Fi broadcaster — you’d want to use the 5GHz band anyway.

Cool VR Wi-Fi trick: Turn your computer into the broadcaster

That’s right. You can turn your VR computer itself into a dedicated Wi-Fi broadcaster for the VR connection. In other words, the computer itself will host the VR headset via an exclusive Wi-Fi network.

VR Wi Fi
Make sure you use the 5GHz band (or the fastest supported) for the VR-exclusive Wi-Fi network.

The gist of this is you add a Wi-Fi adapter to the computer and then turn the computer itself into a hotspot. I detailed the steps in this post on how to turn your computer into a mobile spot.

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Which adapter card to get, you might wonder. And that’s a good question.

Technically, you can use any Wi-Fi adapter for this job, but I’d recommend a PCIe adapter — your VR machine must be a desktop — for the best result. Here are my suggestions:

  • If your VR set supports the 60GHz band, get a 60GHz adapter card — there are not many of them on the market.
  • Get a top-tier Wi-Fi 5 card. Like this Asus PCE-AC88.
  • If you want Wi-Fi 6, the Intel AX200 or AX210 are the only options for now.

After that, follow the detailed steps in this post to add the card to your computer.

See also  Wi-Fi 6/E Upgrade: Here's How You Can Add It To Your PC Today

(If your computer doesn’t connect to your router using a network cable or has an existing Wi-Fi card, you will need two such adapters. One for the Internet connection, the other for the dedicated Wi-Fi VR link.)

Once you’ve installed the new adapter(s), look for a Mobile hotspot on Windows 10 (or 11)’s Start Menu, run it, and turn the newly available Wi-Fi adapter into a Wi-Fi network to use for the VR headset. For the task, make sure you use the 5GHz band — or the fastest band supported by the VR headset.

Mission accomplished.

VR Wi Fi
Turning an additional Wi-Fi adapter into a mobile hotspot will give you a dedicated Wi-Fi link for the VR headset.

Getting the right router or mesh setup

If turning your computer into proves too much work, getting a suitable router might be the right way to go, especially when you might want or need a new router any.

In this case, keep the following in mind:

  • Your VR computer should connect to the network (router) via a network cable when possible.
  • The Wi-Fi broadcaster (router) should have a dedicated band for the VR application. Specifically, this band is used only for the headset (and the VR computer, if the wired connection is not an option).

Consequently, using a traditional tri-band router — one with an additional 5GHz band — is an easy choice. Dedicate one of the two 5GHz bands — preferably the one with upper channels — to VR Wi-Fi with a separate SSID (network name).

(In the future, when a headset that supports the 6GHz and is available, you can also consider a Wi-Fi 6E router. But the idea is you use a single band for VR only.)

If you live in a large home and need a mesh system, then:

  • Wired backhaul is a must. Still use tri-band and dedicated a 5GHz band for VR.
  • If wired backhaul is not possible, you should use VR only at the main router’s location. Again, this router must be tri-band and has the ability o separate the two 5GHz bands.

Depending on how crowded your home is, a dual-band router might still work out, but a fully wireless mesh system, like the Netgear Orbi or ARRIS mAX, definitely won’t cut it.

With that, let check out the current list of the best routers you can get right now for the Oculus Quest 2 with Air Link.

Best Wi-Fi 6 Routers for Oculus Quest 2 with Air Link (or any fully wireless VR headset)

This list uses the review order, with the latest on top. The numbers in front of their names are just numerical and not meant to be the ranking.

6. TP-Link Archer AX90: A simple Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router with lots of bandwidth

The TP Link Archer AX90 Wi Fi 6 Routers Left Side
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: The TP-Link Archer AX90 is a well-performing and straightforward tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router.

The TP-Link Archer AX90, for the most part, is a simple and well-performance router.

Thanks to the excellent performance and the tri-band setup, it’ll make an excellent standalone broadcaster for those who need one for virtual desktop applications.

TP-Link Archer AX90's Rating

8.4 out of 10
The TP Link Archer AX90 Wi Fi 6 Routers Top
Performance
9/10
Features
7.5/10
Ease of Use
8.5/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Reliable and fast Wi-Fi performance, excellent range.

Tri-band, 160MHz, and a 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig port.

Comparatively affordable.

Standard web interface with optional mobile app.

Wall-mountable.

Cons

Slow 5GHz-1 band.

Mobile app, login account, and a monthly subscription required for advanced features.

Relatively slow NAS performance when hosting a portable drive.

See also  TP-Link Archer AX90 Review: A Worthy Upgrade, Mostly (vs. Archer AX3200)

5. Asus RT-AX92U: The litter Wi-Fi 6 tri-band router that could, as a single broadcaster or part of a mesh system

Asus RT-AX92U Tri-band router
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: The Asus RT-AX92U is one little cute tri-band router that packs a huge bunch.

The Asus RT-AX92U is like the mini version of the GT-AX1100 below. It’s a mini tri-band gaming router.

If you live in a relatively small home, it’ll make an excellent single broadcaster. But those in a large house can use it as part of an AiMesh system, too. And when using wired backhaul, you can dedicate its 5GHz-2 band for VR.

ASUS RT-AX92U's Rating

8.5 out of 10
Asus RT AX92U Cuteness
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8.5/10
Ease of Use
8/10
Value
9/10

Pros

Compact design, tri-band specs

Good performance, large coverage

Excellent set of features, including online protection, WTFast VPN for gamers, and system-wide Guest network when working as a mesh

Link Aggregation and Dual-WAN support, wall-mountable

Comparatively affordable

Cons

Wi-Fi 6 available only on one of the 5GHz bands

No Multi-Gig port

See also  Asus RT-AX92U Review: A Cute and Effective Little Odd One Out of AiMesh

TP Link Archar AX11000
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: The TP-Link AX11000 is a massive router with eight removable antennas.

The TP-Link Archer AX11000 gaming router is not what TP-Link wants you to believe since it’s not a gaming router.

But it looks great and has plenty of bandwidth via its two 5GHz bands. It’ll make an excellent router for wireless VR.

TP-Link Archer AX11000's Rating

8.4 out of 10
TP Link Archer AX11000 Router 18
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8/10
Design and Setup
9/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance

2.5 Gbps WAN port with eight Gigabit LAN ports

160 MHz channel bandwidth support

Excellent, Antivirus, QoS, and Parental Control features

Robust full web user interface, helpful mobile app

Eye-catching and convenient hardware design

USB-C ready, wall-mountable

Cons

Misleading gaming veneer, no actual gaming-specific features

No multi-gig LAN port, bulky design

Not mesh-ready (at launch)

Artificial" "Game" items make the interface unnecessarily confusing

Mobile app requires a login account

See also  TP-Link Archer AX11000 Review: Cool Looking yet Ridiculously Misleading

3. Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien: The one-of-a-kind tri-band mesh-ready Wi-Fi 6 router

AmpliFi Alien Front
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: The AmpliFi Alien has a sleek touch screen and a bright status light ring.

The AmpliFi Alien is a bit weird. In a good way. The design makes it somewhat of a router for VR since it’s a bit out of this world. It’s not a gaming router, so it’s best for those using virtual desktop apps.

This one is also a tri-band router, and you have the option to get two to form an Alien mesh system. Just make sure you use wired backhaul.

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien's Rating

8.3 out of 10
AmpliFi Alien Router
Performance
8/10
Features
8/10
Design and Setup
9/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Fast, reliable Wi-Fi with excellent coverage

Sleek design, well-designed mobile app

Convenient Teleport VPN for mobile devices

Effective ad-blocking feature

Mesh-ready

Cons

Limited in conventional settings and features

Unconventional tri-band setup with no dedicated backhaul when used in a mesh setup

VPN requires an Android emulator to work on regular computers

No 160MHz channel support, multi-gig port, not wall-mountable

See also  Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien Review: A Peculiarly Good Wi-Fi 6 Router

2. Netgear RAX200: A sleek-looking tri-band router

Netgear RAX200 Router
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: The Netgear RAX200 is a sleek, futuristic-looking tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router with a ton of bandwidth.

The Netgear RAX200 is the rival of the Asus GT-AX11000 below. This router is a powerful tri-band Wi-Fi 6 machine with a ton of bandwidth.

However, it’s not a gaming router, so it’s more suitable for those needing a broadcaster for virtual desktop or alike.

Netgear Nighthawk RAX200's Rating

8 out of 10
Netgear RAX200
Performance
9/10
Features
7.5/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
7/10

Pros

Reliable and fast performance

Eye-catching design

Helpful mobile app, robust web UI

Multi-Gig support (2.5Gbps)

Cons

Comparatively super-expensive with nothing extra

Shallow Wi-Fi customization, spartan feature set

Comparatively low CPU clock speed

No 5Gbps or 10Gbps LAN port, not wall-mountable

See also  Netgear RAX200 Review: Nice and Super-fast but Overpriced

1. Asus GT-AX11000: A powerful gamer-edition Wi-Fi 6 router with mesh capability

Asus GT AX11000 2
Best VR Wi-Fi Routers: The Asus GT-AX11000 is almost like the ultimate gaming router.

The Asus GT-AX11000 is a top-tier tri-band gaming router. You can easily dedicate one of its two 5GHz bands to a VR Wi-Fi network, and the plenty of gaming features will help gamers, too.

The good thing about this router is that, like the RT-AX92U above, it’s also part of Asus’s AiMesh ecosystem. So, you can use it with other broadcasters to form a mesh. Just make sure you use wired backhaul.

Asus GT-AX11000's Rating

8.3 out of 10
Asus AX11000 Top 1
Performance
8/10
Features
9.5/10
Design and Setup
8/10
Value
7.5/10

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance with an excellent range

Lots of useful features for home users

Unique and effective settings for online gaming

Multi-Gig network port, Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation

Mesh ready

Cons

Expensive

Bulky design, loose antennas, non-wall-mountable

Fewer LAN ports than the previous model

Long boot-up time, buggy (at launch), fluctuating Wi-Fi throughputs

See also  Asus GT-AX11000 Wi-Fi 6 Router Review: Gamers' Delight

The takeaway

When it comes to virtual reality, bandwidth is the key. Moving from a wired connection (USB) to a wireless one is a significant change. But if you understand the concept of how to dedicate the most bandwidth to the VR set, you’ll be able to get it done.

Things will get easier down the road when VR sets that are more optimized for a wireless connection, and the support for Wi-Fi 6E become more commonplace.

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6 thoughts on “The Best VR Wi-Fi Routers Plus a Cool Trick: When Virtual Reality Gets Real”

  1. Hi Dong,

    Thanks for the great info. I think I see a third option that might save some money. Could I just add a relatively inexpensive Wifi6 access point to my network for the Oculus Quest 2 to connect to? The only ones for under $100 I see are AX1800 ones. Would that be fast enough? The one I see most often is Netgear WAX214 for about $70 with power adapter.

    Reply
  2. Hi dong, great reviews!

    I’m hoping to get a new router for airlink on the oculus quest 2.

    Would you recommend the asus rt-ax92u, rt-ax86u or the tp-link archer ax90?

    Cheers!

    Reply

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