Protecting your online privacy takes effort. Take using a VPN, for example. To actually secure your device, you need to log in to your VPN app and connect to a VPN server first. And you have to do that for each of your devices every time you connect them to the internet.
However, if you’re seeking a more effortless approach to safeguarding your devices, you can opt for a VPN router instead. A VPN router automatically encrypts all your devices’ connections to a secure server, eliminating the need to connect each device to the VPN server manually.
There’s just one problem: Not all routers are VPN friendly, and setting up a VPN on a router often requires some networking experience. Does that mean that VPN routers aren’t for everybody? Not entirely, as there are a select few that can work with VPNs right out of the box. In this piece, we’ll discuss those VPN-ready routers, along with their features, pros and cons, and pricing.
Aircove is the first and only VPN router made by an actual VPN service provider. As such, it comes with a level of user friendliness that no other VPN router can provide.
The Aircove router offers effortless server switching as one of its key features. Let’s say you wish to access Netflix Australia, but your router is connected to a U.S. server. Instead of having to log in to the router’s network administrator settings, you can use the ExpressVPN app to switch to an Australian server instantly. There’s no need for complex networking configurations. Just like using a VPN to watch Netflix on your smartphone, you can select a server location with ease.
Furthermore, with the Aircove router, you can create up to five encrypted tunnels, each connected to a different server location. Unlike most VPN routers, where all devices connect to the same VPN server, the Aircove router allows for multiple devices to use different locations, making it a convenient option for households with multiple online users.
For $190, Aircove is also a pretty decent router. It features the latest Wi-Fi protocol, Wi-Fi 61, and it offers two wireless bands, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. It also has four gigabit Ethernet ports, and its wireless networks can reach speeds up to 1,200 Mbps. Lastly, in terms of security, it supports WPA 2 and WPA 3 for Wi-Fi security and it uses a custom DNS when VPN is not connected.
What We Like
Ready to use
Connect to up to five server locations at the same time
Configure easily using the ExpressVPN app
Supports OpenVPN, Lightway, and IKEv2
What We Don’t Like
Not mesh ready
Requires a separate ExpressVPN subscription
Each location counts against ExpressVPN’s five-device limit
Not as customizable as other VPN routers (for VPN pros)
ExpressVPN is one of the best-performing VPNs on the market, with over 4 million active users worldwide.2 Based in the British Virgin Islands, it offers thousands of servers in 94 countries around the globe.
In testing ExpressVPN, we found it to have the best encryption in the market. It offers incredible IP address protection; no DNS or WebRTC leaks whatsoever. It also built a VPN protocol from the ground up that supports the top-level encryption ExpressVPN utilizes for its encrypted tunnels. Called Lightway, it’s one of the VPN protocols you can access through Aircove.
The one thing we didn’t like about ExpressVPN was the price. At $12.95 per month or $99.95 for a year (about $8 per month), ExpressVPN’s pricing runs pretty high. That said, you get what you pay for in terms of quality. Plus, with Aircove, you get to use ExpressVPN on all devices connected to your Wi-Fi instead of just five devices, which is the typical limit for an ExpressVPN subscription.
Pro Tip: You can connect as many devices as you want to Aircove, and they’ll count only as one device against your five-device limit as long as they’re connected to the same IP address location.
2. Asus AX86U by FlashRouters - The Best VPN Router Bundled With a VPN Subscription
FlashRouter is neither a router manufacturer nor a VPN brand, but it bridges the two industries together by offering routers preprogrammed to work with VPNs. One of the best routers it offers is the Asus AX86U, and if you buy it from FlashRouter, you get a one-year NordVPN subscription absolutely free.
The AX86U is a high-performance router that supports speeds up to 4.8 Gbps when using its 5 GHz, Wi-Fi 6 band. It also supports both Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 standards.
The router runs on a quad-core 1.8 GHz processor, which allows it to perform AI-driven performance boosting tasks. For example, you can configure it to prioritize certain types of traffic, allowing for smoother gaming or streaming.
If you buy from FlashRouter, they’ll ship the router to you preconfigured with NordVPN. All you have to do is plug the router into your modem and connect your Wi-Fi devices.
Although the price is a bit high — the router with a one-year NordVPN subscription costs over $400 — the convenience of not having to set up NordVPN on your router is worth it. Remember that this isn’t a router designed specifically for NordVPN, so configuring it yourself can be tedious. With FlashRouter, however, you get one of Asus’s flagship residential routers programmed to run one of the best VPN softwares.
FYI: FlashRouter provides preconfigured VPN routers for other VPN brands as well, including NordVPN and ExpressVPN. In fact, if you live outside the U.S., ExpressVPN recommends buying its Aircove router from FlashGear.
What We Like
Speed performance boost
Supports speeds up to 4 Gbps
Supports AiMesh with other Asus routers
Comes with one year of NordVPN free
What We Didn’t Like
Switching servers requires logging in to the network administrator page
Requires a NordVPN subscription (one year included for free)
Limited one-year warranty
NordVPN is one of the best VPNs right now, and it perfectly complements the performance of the Asus AX86U. For example, just as the AX86U router is good for gaming and streaming, NordVPN is also one of the best VPNs for gaming and streaming. It offers fast speeds, a wide selection of servers, and incredible security features.
NordVPN hails from Panama, a privacy-friendly country, and has a zero-logs policy. It has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries, all of which offer fast speeds and reliable connections.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN uses RAM-only servers, but in addition, NordVPN offers some of the most advanced VPN features available. For one, it supports Onion Over VPN, which means you can connect to the Tor anonymous network via NordVPN. It’s one of the only handful of VPNs that allows for that.
Pricewise, NordVPN is one of the most cost-efficient VPNs available, and you can buy a subscription for as low as $3.99 per month. Plus, since FlashRouter includes a one-year subscription free, you don’t have to worry about buying a subscription in the first year of use.
3. InvizBox 2 VPN Router - The Most Affordable VPN Router
InvizBox creates online security hardware, including an on-the-go VPN hot spot called the InvizBox Go, as well as a VPN router, the InvizBox 2. The latter supports some of the best-rated VPN services, including ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark. Surfshark even recommends it as the best router to use for its services.
One of the best features of the InvizBox 2 router is that, although it’s a third-party router, it’s easy to set up with a VPN. If you already have a Surfshark subscription, all you need to do is set it up like any normal router, download the InvizBox app, and then log in with your Surfshark credentials. You can even switch servers right on the app.
The InvizBox 2 is also one of the most affordable VPN routers available, costing only $129 for the hardware. That said, it’s not the most powerful VPN router. It’s best used for a small home or office setup because of its limited range, and its speed when connected to Surfshark is only about 100 Mbps.
On the bright side, the InvizBox 2 comes with a few nice features built-in, like ad-blocking, parental controls, and a firewall. You can also set up multiple VPN hot spots, allowing you to connect different devices to different VPN locations.
Allows multiple VPN hot spots
Easy to set up
Includes ad-blocking, parental controls, and a firewall
Limited range (30 to 50 feet)
Requires a separate Surfshark subscription
Limited speed (around 100 Mbps with VPN)
No external antennas
Surfshark is one of the highest rated VPNs of 2023, with over 3,000 RAM-only servers. It’s also one of the most affordable VPNs, with subscriptions as low as $2.39 per month.
While Surfshark works well with VPN routers, it’s also an incredible on-the-go VPN for smartphones and laptops. It allows unlimited simultaneous connections, so while your devices at home enjoy VPN protection from your VPN router, your smartphone and other mobile devices can still access Surfshark outside your home network.
On top of that, Surfshark’s innovative features make it one of the best VPNs for security. It has a camouflage mode, for example, which camouflages your VPN traffic as normal internet traffic to avoid detection. This feature is perfect for those living in or traveling to countries where VPN use is strictly monitored.
Should You Use a VPN Router?
That’s our list of the best VPN routers in the market today, but if you’re wondering whether you should use a VPN router or a VPN app, here’s what we have to say: you can use both.
A VPN router ensures all traffic from your devices remains encrypted and private as long as you’re connected to your home or office Wi-Fi network. That includes traffic from your Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home devices, which don’t often get as much attention as smartphones, tablets, and computers when it comes to digital privacy. Internet-connected smart home devices, security systems, and security cameras can be hacked, which is why you should pay attention to their digital security as well.
A VPN app, on the other hand, is best used when you’re on the go. If you connect to a public Wi-Fi, for example, we recommend turning on your VPN to protect yourself from hackers and spying.
VPN routers and VPN apps are both useful, and with our top picks, you can protect your devices with both using only one subscription.
If you’re buying from a company that offers preprogrammed VPN routers, the router will ship to you preconfigured so that you can set it up like a normal router. If you’re configuring your existing router, however, it’ll require some networking experience. Some VPNs provide instructions for setting up their products with certain router models.
That’s certainly possible, but most VPN routers aren’t configured to run that way. While you’ll likely still be able to connect to the internet with that kind of setup, you might experience significant speed loss as a result.
Most of them do. VPN routers provide the networking configurations necessary for your traffic to be routed through encrypted VPN tunnels, whereas VPN services, which you pay for through a subscription, provide the infrastructure for the virtual private network.