September 25, 2010
Do you remember when a router used to be an exotic bit of network kit?
Those days are long gone. A router is one of those salt-of-the-earth items now; anyone who pays for an internet connection needs a router, for:
- NAT and basic hardware firewall protection from internet evildoers
- A wired network hub to connect local desktop PCs
- A wireless hub to connect laptops, phones, consoles, etcetera
Let me put it this way: my mom – and my wife's mom – both own routers. If that isn't the definition of mainstream, I don't know what is.
Since my livelihood revolves around being on the internet, and because I'm a bit of a tweaker, I have a fancy-ish router. But it is of late 2007 vintage:
Although the DGL-4500 is a nice router, and it has served me well with no real complaints, the last major firmware update for it was a year and a half ago. There have been some desultory minor updates since then, but clearly the vendor has, shall we say, moved on to focusing on newer models.
The router is (literally!) the central component in my overall internet experience, and I was growing increasingly uncomfortable with the status quo. Frankly, the prospect of three year old hardware with year old firmware gives me the heebie-jeebies.
So, I asked the pros at Super User, even going so far as to set up a Recommend Me a Router chat room. (We disallow product recommendation questions as they become uselessly out of date so quickly, but this is a perfect topic for a chat room.) I got some fantastic advice from my fellow Super Users via chat, though much of it was of the far too sane "if it ain't broke don't fix it" variety. Well, that's just not how I work. To be fair, the router market is not exactly a hotbed of excitement at the moment; it is both saturated and heavily commoditized, particularly now that the dust has settled from the whole 802.11 A/B/G/N debacle. There just isn't much going on.
But in the process of doing my router research, I discovered something important, and maybe even revolutionary in its own quiet little way. The best router models all run open source firmware!
That's right, the truly great routers are available in "awesome" edition. (There may be other open source router firmwares out there, but these are the two I saw most frequently.) I learned that these open source firmwares can turn a boring Clark Kent router into Superman. And they are always kept updated by the community, in perpetuity.
In my weaker moments, I toyed with the idea of building a silent mini x86 PC that could run a routing optimized distribution of Linux, but the reality is that current commodity routers have more than enough memory and embedded CPU power – not to mention the necessary wireless and gigabit ethernet hub bits already built in. Dedicating a whole x86 PC to routing is power inefficient, overly complex, and awkward.
Yes, today's router marketplace is commoditized and standardized and boring – but there are still a few clear hardware standouts. I turned to the experts at SmallNetBuilder for their in-depth technical reviews, and found two consensus recommendations:
Update: Though these models are still fine choices, particularly if you can find a great deal on them, I have newer recommendations in Because Everyone (Still) Needs a Router.
Buffalo Nfiniti Wireless-N High Power Router ($80)
NETGEAR WNDR3700 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N ($150)
Both of these models got glowing reviews from the networking experts at SmallNetBuilder, and both are 100% compatible with the all-important open source dd-wrt firmware. You can't go wrong with either, but I chose the less expensive Buffalo Nfiniti router. Why?
- It's almost half the price, man!
- The "high power" part is verifiably and benchmarkably true, and I have some wireless range problems at my home.
- I do most of my heavy network lifting through wired gigabit ethernet, so I can't think of any reason I'd need the higher theoretical wireless throughput of the Netgear model.
- Although the Netgear has a 680 Mhz embedded CPU and 128mb RAM, the Buffalo's 400 MHz embedded CPU and 64mb of RAM is not exactly chopped liver, either; it's plenty for dd-wrt to work with. I'd almost go so far as to say the Netgear is a bit overkill… if you're into that sort of thing.
I received my Buffalo Nfiniti and immediately installed dd-wrt on it, which was very simple and accomplished through the existing web UI on the router. (Buffalo has a history of shipping rebranded dd-wrt distributions in their routers, so the out-of-box firmware is a kissing cousin.)
After rebooting, I was in love. The (more) modern gigabit hardware, CPU, and chipset was noticably snappier everywhere, even just dinking around in the admin web pages. And dd-wrt scratches every geek itch I have – putting that newer hardware to great use. Just check out the detailed stats I can get, including that pesky wireless signal strength problem. The top number is the Xbox 360 outside, the bottom number is my iPhone from about 10 feet away.
Worried your router is running low on embedded CPU grunt, or that 64 megabytes of memory is insufficient? Never fear; dd-wrt has you covered. Just check out the detailed, real time memory and cpu load stats.
Trying to figure out how much WAN/LAN/Wireless bandwidth you're using? How does a real time SVG graph, right from the router admin pages, grab you?
It's just great all around. And I haven't even covered the proverbial laundry list of features that dd-wrt offers above and beyond most stock firmware! Suffice it to say that this is one of those times when the "let's support everything" penchant of open source projects works in our favor. Don't worry, it's all (mostly) disabled by default. Those features and tweaks can all safely be ignored; just know that they're available to you when and if you need them.
This is boring old plain vanilla commodity router hardware, but when combined with an open source firmware, it is a massive improvement over my three year old, proprietary high(ish) end router. The magic router formula these days is a combination of commodity hardware and open-source firmware. I'm so enamored of this one-two punch combo, in fact, I might even say it represents the future. Not just of the everyday workhorse routers we all need to access the internet – but the future of all commodity hardware.
Routers; we all need 'em, and they are crucial to our internet experience. Pick whichever router you like – as long as it's compatible with one of the open source firmware packages! Thanks to a wide variety of mature commodity hardware choices, plus infinitely and perpetually updated open source router firmware, I'm happy to report that now everyone can have a great router.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Also, if you're upgrading your router, don't forget to choose fast DNS nameservers when setting it up!
The NameBench tool will use your browser's history to tell you which (free) DNS servers are optimal for you. Very, very slick tool. (and yes UltraDNS wins for me as well.)
I see you're sharing your MAC address. Is it risk-free? Don't you fear being tracked?
MAC addresses are routable only on the local ethernet, so feel free to post those all over the place :)
> I'm so enamored of this one-two punch combo, in fact, I might even say it represents the future
It has been for some time with a range of manufactures, so that is a safe bet! I mean, using the GPL sources the vendors are obligated to share it, and the community has pretty much 'forced' the issue by providing forked versions of the firmware.
By now, vendors are beginning to understand.
These open source firmwares are indeed great, but I have one major problem with them: They are just inferior to my old clunky USR Robotics Router when i comes to QoS/Traffic Shaping (a very importing feature for me).
I am still using a 2005 US Robotics 9107 (http://www.usr-emea.com/support/s-prod-template.asp?loc=grmy&prod=9107), which has a horrible web interface and doesnt have a lot of options, but its QoS Technology is, for some reason, just way better than anything else i tested. I wanted to replace this router for years and tested a couple of different models (dlink,linksys,zyxel) with a lot of differnt firmwares (openwrt, ddwrt, tomato, oem firmware) but a soon as i turn on my Torrents web access becomes slow. If you use Traffic Shaping with them it gets a lot better. (Accessing web pages is not slow anymore, but you can still tell if your torrents are running or not).
With my old USR i can upload with uTorrent at 80Kbyte/sec (~85 is my connection's maximum) and ping/latency goes up from around 40 ms to around 50-55 ms for most of the web sites i visit. I can even play online shooters without noticing that my torrent-pc is pumping stuff at almost full throttle. When using other routers you can just feel that web pages come in more slowly.
Maybe it has sth. to do with the way the USR applies his rules to the traffic. On the webinterface you can specify an 'atm priority' which I havent seen on other firmwares.
Forgot to mention, that the issue is even bigger when working remotely.
I do a a alot of stuff over ssh/rdp and with ddwrt/tomato i always had to close uTorrent or limit the upload rate. (I hate it when a console has a delay for every keystroke you make, really annoying) With the USR router the ssh/rdp connection stays responsive.
I know im whining like a crybaby here, but does anyone know a router/modem which has a simliar QoS?
The problem I have with routers is that I prefer the adsl/router combo (because buying two devices seems silly), but the product lines in that area seem a lot more crappy, for some reason.
Oh, and don't buy anything from Linksys. I've got some of their stuff and it is some of the worst hardware I've used so far.
Which version did you flash? mega, VPN, voip, etc?
Interesting. I would have expected you to go for a DrayTek (what with being geeky *and* having built in VPN endpoints...).
If the author cares that much he really shouldn't be using an all in one anyway. He should be rolling with separate access points and router. I do the whole Airport Express (for music streaming) and pfSense / m0n0wall thing (lately I've been using the ALIX boards from PC Engines http://www.pcengines.ch/alix.htm).
> I'm so enamored of this one-two punch combo, in fact, I might even say it represents the future
So...does this mean that you will be replacing your iPhone with an Android phone?
I'm still running a router from circa 2001.
I tried upgrading once. The results were... less then acceptable.
I just ordered an ASUS RT-N16 two days ago. It was pretty much a tie between that and the Buffalo, but I decided to go with the ASUS because, if you'll skim over the Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH forum thread on dd-wrt.com, you'll notice that there are different versions of the router, and some simply refuse to work normally with that firmware. Also, I haven't seen much info on Tomato being able to support the Buffalo router, and I've been itching to try it and maybe even get away from DD-WRT, which my current router is running.
To some extent you get what you pay for. My old Linux-based router would break persistent SSH tunnels after about 24 hours. When I upgraded to an expensive but rock-solid Cisco 877 (running IOS, not the consumer Linksys crud), my problems stopped.
Good article, but would have been better without the sexism.
What about using a Mac Mini? We don't own any desktop computer, and as much as I love my TimeCapsule it doesn't do all the nifty things I'd like it to do, like upload the weekly snapshots to S3, for example. Right now I use the Capsule as a router, but as it's now time to move on, I was wondering if replacing it with a Mini made sense? Any insight on this?
I recently went and replaced my modded ASUS WL500gP (32MB ram stock, 128MB ram after mod) with a newer Netgear WNR3500L. The L = Linux as would be the case alot so it was easily modded and I dropped DD-WRT almost the day I got it. Internally it contains a 453Mhz Broadcom BCM4716 processor, 8MB flash, and 64MB ram which is plenty. The added bonus is that this particular router came with a TTY interface not only available but the header was already installed. ;) Therefore if I do happen to brick it then I can easily recover. The cable can be had for $20 and modded to work with the TTY pinout on the router. It went for $90.
Oh and it is gigabit ethernet too.
Forgot to mention that I usually go by the "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" rule but my ASUS was going on the fritz on me.
I'm having a hard time seeing how you're excited about using DD-WRT.
A brief tour of the Wiki shows the typical Linux UI: "Here's the nice web form you fill out, um, except for the options we're too lazy to provide UI for. So use this cryptic half documented command line. For details, go read the source code..."
I'll take my dusty three your old router instead, thanks.
@John - You're really missing out, a "brief tour" is never a good way to go about using/dismissing something. There are a few advanced features where you need to know command lines, but almost everything is covered by the UI (and that's a very long list).
I personally found DD-WRT years ago and have used it on every router since...stock firmware is severely lacking in comparison on anything I've bought. I really recommend you give it another try...if you're at all unhappy with your stock firmware that is.
My favorite thing about DD-WRT is being able to use it as a ssh tunnel back to the states. When I am deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan I get a bit paranoid about my browsing habits as anyone can see my info with the right tools.
This message was sent from Afghanistan through the US!
Does the Buffalo Nfiniti Wireless-N High Power Router support wireless devices that aren't N?
I've just started looking for a new router and people keep suggesting an Apple Airport because of its separate N/B G/A networks.
I have the buffalo with dd-wrt mega flashed on it. It hosts my home voip and vpn. It's great! My cat did knock it down and the antennae ripped off, but I soldered them back on. Just be warned they are a little flimsy and difficult to repair. It is otherwise a fantastic router. You get so much bang for your buck.
Yeah, I used DD-WRT two or three years ago on an old Linksys, but I haven't needed it since. Routers are powerful enough that I don't need the better firmware.
On another note: "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" is a horrible saying. A saying of slackers, bums and lazy shits.
If it ain't broke you better be working on fucking improving it.
I have been using dd-wrt for last 3 years on my Linksys and honestly I can't live without it anymore. I don't think there is a router with stock firmware able to run OpenVPN server, WOL service, QoS tweaking and a limitless possibilities with the hackable Linux on tap. The v24 even supports virtual Wireless Interfaces.
I realized the potential of dd-wrt when I was able to recover my old router with a damaged WAN port due to lightening. In a matter of minutes, with dd-wrt, I was able to make PPPoE dial through one of the LAN ports instead of the usual Internet (WAN) port. The same recovered router has now been serving my dad's laptop for a while.
Thank you, this patch sounds very interesting and may do the trick. Will try it out.
I messed around with voip, vpn and standard images but they all performed similarly. I really think now that it has sth to do with the atm layer because the difference between the 9107 and all other firmwares/routers was just too big. When I was testing ddwrt I had to stop uTorrent or other downloads whenever i needed "fast" internet and restart them afterwards (which I often forgot). With the old router I just let it run 24/7/365 and dont have to think about it.
I'm surprised to hear how widely people recommend the dd-wrt software, because my experience with it has been so awful. Based on the glowing recommendations and constant goading of my friends, I tried flashing my Linksys with it three years ago.
The first thing that annoyed me was what @John mentions: the rudimentary UI for the install process quickly fell down, requiring me to telnet into the router and run cryptic commandlines that I had to scour from forums. Some steps required me to retype all of my network information into the router UI, because it got totally reset after each change ("that's the FUN of open source software!" a forum post chipperly declared).
After that, I noticed that it was causing strange problems with some of the devices on my network: my TiVo suddenly couldn't talk to anything else, and my XBox had insanely slow download times from Live. So once again I had to go onto forums searching to see if anyone else had this issue. It turned out that this was biting a number of users, but because none of the authors had noticed it on their own equipment, the advice given began with, "first build a JTAG cable and crack open the case on your WRT so you can solder it to the motherboard. Then, download the source code from..." And that's when I installed Tomato instead.
I did file a bug report (with a wireshark trace) on the Live issue before deleting dd-wrt. I never got a resolution, but the unqiue email address I used to register on the dd-wrt forum apparently got sold to pharmo and phishing spammers, so at least I hear from them.
Building a x86 router is not so much about memory or CPU power than increased functionality. DD-WRT is excellent but it's still not on par with pfSense (v2.0-BETA4).
The impact on your power bill for an Atom system should be quite insignificant, although the initial cost is no doubt much higher than that for even your top-end consumer routers.
Look at the good side though: Routers that are eventually replaced will end up in the trashcan. Power efficient x86 machines can always be reused as mail/web servers!
You could always build your own router out of old PC parts and an ADSL modem.
Then you can run any software you like!
I'm sorry, did you say your XBox 360 is *outside*?? You have to share what's going on there... sounds too cool to not want to hear more!
I would consider carefully before publicizing device MAC addresses. Even though they are typically private within your LAN, they can be compromised via geolocation services and then publicly tied to your (possibly very specific) location.
I have a Linksys-by-Cisco WRT320N (about $80 it seems), and it does fine. It's supremely fast and stable even with 300+ connections, although to be fair I only tested it up to 22 Mbit/s, because that's the limit of my connection.
I'm using the default firmware, which is good enough for my purposes. It does have weird issues with uPnP though, randomly dropping your speed to a pathetic 500 kB/s until you reboot it. Disabling UPnP works like a charm though, and it's a pointless feature anyway.
So yeah, maybe not worth recommending over that Buffalo, but it seems like a nice alternative for a similar price.
Regarding your "wireless range problems", you should consider adding reflectors to your antennas before jacking up your power transmission levels.
A nice corner reflector like this one ==> ( http://freeantennas.com/projects/Ez-10/ ) will increase your antenna's output by 10dBi in one direction. It will also increase the receiving ability by blocking out errant signals coming in from the sides. I've found it easy to build and superb at improving the wireless performance of my router.
Increasing power levels on your router only solves 1/2 the problem. Your remote stations can "hear" the router better, but the router cannot hear the remote stations any better because they aren't transmitting any "louder" than they were before.
Using a reflector on your router's antennas fixes both problems because now you're focusing your power in only the directions that you need and the reflector improves the router's ability to "hear" in that direction as well.
I just want to throw out there that I've had nothing but problems with my NETGEAR WNDR3700.
Inability to connect. Dropped connections requiring frequent power cycles. Poor throughput. Ultra flaky 5GHz. USB fails more often than it works, not to mention slow as a floppy disk, and it doesn't support printers.
I am seriously disappointed with my WNDR3700 and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
So commodity routers are much like commodity PC's. If you throw away all of that junk software they come with and just install the free open source stuff, they really get faster and more useful.
Er, you do realize that DD-WRT hasn't released updated firmware in a year as well?
Also, and much more importantly, DD-WRT's QoS simply doesn't work, and never has.
I've never used Tomato (my router doesn't support it), but I've heard of lots of people switching to it despite its smaller feature-set simply for its working QoS.
Been running DD-WRT on a WRT-54GL since at least 2007 and love it. A few times I've upgraded and one of my previously used features quit working. But I've always just downgraded and waited for the bug to be quashed.
I've been running SP2 for a while now on 4 routers, and they have been quite solid, no maintenance needed. DD-WRT offers many more features than the stock Linksys firmware. I'd have tried Tomato, but it doesn't support virtual WLANS.
This post spurred me to upgrading hardware. I've looked before, but DD-WRT at that time had more problems on hardware that supported gigabit and N. I was leaning towards Buffalo. But after reviewing the DD-WRT forums, I think I'm going with the Asus RT-N16 also.
I've been using a WRT-54GL with Tomato firmware for a while now, and it's great! I wouldn't go back to the stock firmware when the open-source ones (including Tomato, DD-WRT and OpenWRT) are all awesome. :)
Previous to my curren router I used a WRT-54G with DD-WRT. It worked fairly well for about 3 years. I had problems peaking out my 12mb while using QoS, and got tired of having to reset it every week. I like the DD-WRT for all of its abilities, but I decided that spending time figuring out a router isn't how I want to spend my time.
So for the price, performance, concurrency and FULL firewall features, I don't think you can get much better then a Sonicwall TZ 100 for $250 (~$300 w/wireless). Sure it's not open source, but allowing 6,000 concurrent users and up to 100mb internet connections, I seriously doubt I'll have any internet issues as connection speeds increase over the next 5 years or so. With perfect QoS and full NAT/PAT it just blows anything cheaper than it out of the water.
Jeff have fun with DD-WRT, I know I did.. well for a while.
Is it possible to hard limit wireless traffic using this firmware?
In other words, all wireless has a maximum of 100k up and 500k down traffic, if the available bandwidth is 3.5mb/s Essentially I would like to have an asynchronous "lower teir" for any wireless users.
This is something I have been wanting to do for a very long time on my network but can't because the linksys firmware has no options for this.
My main problem, no matter which router I've used, has been heating.
I had a desktop with a wired connection to the router, and then the comcast cable modem, and the router offered wireless access to my original xbox downstairs.
I never got it to work perfectly, because the router's and modems always got really hot.
I can not put the router in the downstairs, where the air conditioning is, because then I really prefer to have a direct wired connection for the desktop pc, which I have upstairs.
I still have a bunch of unused router's, and I usually have to turn off my cable modem every night, even though I live in 1 of the coldest states in the USA.
I have long heard that cable modems are meant to be highly undurable.
I wonder what you guys think?
Just bought the same box. Do you lose the USB port and/or torrent server/file sharing with DD-WRT?
I have a Linksys WRT54GL, the model Linksys released to support third-party Linux firmware in 2005. Works great, 188 days of uptime at the moment and I think I only shut it down then because I was moving it.
I had OpenWRT on it at first, but when the excitement of the tiny Linux box died down I switched to DD-WRT because it had a better web UI and needed less fiddling.
My favorite thing about it is the ability to set up rate-limiting on the firewall to make brute-force attacks difficult. Here's how you do it:
If that router is the WZR-HP-G300NH, you can get an "official" dd-wrt build directly from Buffalo. Check it out.
I've been using an old WRT54G v4 with DD-WRT at home for a while now, and I love it. I'm planning on eventually setting one up at work as well so I can add a PXE server to the mix. Our current router at work doesn't support FOSS firmware, and of course it doesn't let you feed options to dhcpd.
I futzed about with various SoHo routers and 3rd party firmwares trying to get IPv6 on my home network, and discovered that only D-Link seems to have any support for IPv6, but 1) the router advertisements are broken, so autoconfiguration never worked right, 2) there is no filtering support for IPv6 whatsoever, and 3) it uses a TCPMSS rule in iptables which can't be turned off, breaking PMTU and causing frustratingly random TCP resets on random sites on every Linux machine in the house (which, you know, expect the network to freaking work properly).
Most of the other firmwares, including essentially all of the 3rd party ones do not have any IPv6 support at all. Well, with the possible exception of OpenWRT, which is interesting but also much pickier about it's hardware. I simply did not have the patience to research, find, and buy some supported hardware, and then hope I don't brick it.
So I bought a Juniper SRX210 for a song on eBay and taught myself JUNOS. Real traffic control, real flow-based filtering on v4 and v6--all the nice grown-up features.
I can't tell you how nice it is to have a "real" router that doesn't do nasty hacks like brain-dead TCP MSS mangling and other such chicanery that manufacturers seem to think is "okay" on home networks, since well, "it works with Windows so who cares if it's flagrantly broken?"
I will admit that interest in learning JUNOS was probably a not-insignificant part of that decision, but that's probably obvious: anyone who runs a Juniper box for their home network is probably a de-facto uber-geek :)
Did you get extended range on your router? I purchased one, put DD-WRT onto it and I get less range than I did with my ancient Belkin pre-N device. Looking on the forums, it appears DD-WRT doesn't know how to turn on the amplifier inside the WZR-HP-G300NH.
I've started to see old routers pop up in Goodwill stores now too. I keep the DD-wrt "compatible router wiki" bookmarked on my phone, and look to see if the routers for sale for $5-$8 are compatible.
dd-wrt has an infrastructure mode that lets you use these additional routers as repeaters. Considering a $80 repeater to perfect the coverage in your home (or with your neighbors) sounds like something to consider, but to do it for $5? That's not a decision at all, that's easy.
"I concur". DD-WRT is very, very good. I haven't upgraded my Linksys WRT-54G hardware (now 8years old!!) as the DD-WRT firmware is so good that my router does the job. And its now a bit of a classic piece of kit too. I should have blogged about it ages ago, as you have done.
Actually, I don't need a router.
Jeff said: "the last major firmware update for it was a year and a half ago"
Is there a bug in the old firmware you need fixed?
Then what's the point of an update? Updates for updates' sake?
(Contra MJ, many things don't need to be "improved", especially at the cost of stability. A router that does everything it needs to is a finished product, and calling it that is not "laziness", but realism. Some of us, for instance, have better things to do than waste time trying to make an 802.11g router useful in an 802.11n world.
Really, the WRT-54G was a great product. In 2004.)
(I'm glad you're happy with dd-wrt, Jeff, but looking at the docs on eg. how to set up repeating makes me glad I went with a Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme setup.
That and the automatic discovery, etc., which makes the latter solution much more appropriate to the "mainstream" market.
The cheaper Buffalo is nice if all you have is N hardware running in 5 ghz; if you have any mixed-mode stuff [eg. various gaming hardware that doesn't do N, or old hard-to-upgrade laptops like ones with a firmware whitelist for the wireless cards] the dual-band option is really worthwhile, since you can get both fast 5ghz connections on the N network and still use your G stuff. Without collision, even.
And when you're already buying a dual-band router, suddenly that Apple stuff doesn't look as expensive...)
I do like the buffalo Power Router.
Jeff here is the website that you can download free ebooks that other people have to pay for Free E-Book Downloads
I've been looking for a router to replace my trusty WRT54GS, which has been cruising along for at least four years running either DD-WRT or OpenWRT. On Jeff's recommendation, I ordered the Buffalo router featured here.
Both the stock firmware and the DD-WRT firmware "freeze" every 30 seconds or so. The UI isn't responsive and it won't pass traffic. I've tried resetting it and reloading the firmware. No go. I'm sending it back.
A few months ago I tried to use the WRT160NL, but the same problem popped up. It needed to be rebooted every few days, which is unacceptable. (Unsurprisingly, the folks on the support forums think resetting the router every day is perfectly OK.)
I'm so tempted to just order a business-class 802.11n access point and disable the radio on the WRT54GS.
@Learn Violin & Bobby D:
I see we have a new form of spammer...
I'm thinking about buying one of the Buffalo routers. I was going to through Amazon (I have an Amazon Prime trial account until August 2011), but they ran out of this model... and now link to their affiliate buy.com, which costs quite a bit more.
I may get one from NewEgg, simply because it's the same price as Amazon was ($69.99 USD), and looks like it also has free shipping... just not 2-day.
P.S. Am I the only one who hates the layout change NewEgg made earlier this year? The page is 3 times longer than before and has relocated some of the useful information down the page.
Pleased to see that Atwood uses the same router as me.
I tried running the DD-WRT distribution for a while, as I'd had good results with it for past routers. But I found it was flakey with this router. Some client machines would have their throughput stalled while others worked, strange restarts, etc.
I switched to the latest Buffalo firmware (the "official DD-WRT" version) and I miss some of the extra features which are lacking from that version, and the UI is a tragedy, but it's at least very stable.
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Very bad reviews here
Thank you very, very much. The Tomato Speedmod with the tc-atm patches did the trick. Huge improvement over the original tomato qos. As soon as i hit enter on that one command line (... overhead xy atm), pings go way down. It's like night and day.
I can also keep my wrt54gl now and dont have to buy a new one. yay!
So Jeff, do you still like this thing?
I just got the Buffalo, but I'm disappointed. Unless I'm missing something, it seems to be 2.4GHz only. I expected a cutting-edge N router in late 2010 to have 5GHz support. I'm going to be returning it for something with better radios.
Geoff, great article, but you left out OpenWRT in your discussion, a bit unfair IMHO.
Whilst firmwares such as DD-WRT are great, polished, 'consumer' oriented firmwares, OpenWRT is more aimed at hackers and router builders. Seeing as your blog is aimed at developers it is strange that you did not mention it.
OpenWRT comes as binary releases and also a fully modular build system with complete control of such things as target platform, kernel version, software packages (ipkg). There are hundreds of prebuilt packages available and you can easily ad your own. Hardware support is superb: http://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/start and extends far beyond routers to all manner of embedded devices.
Also, Comcast have chosen to base their IPv6 software on it:
Following this blog post's glaring endorsement of the combination of the Buffalo router with DD-WRT I bought this unit and immediately ran into all sorts of performance problems after flashing it with the official Buffalo-endorsed build of DD-WRT. It seems the PPPoE client built into DD-WRT is buggy, causing the speed of my normally fast internet connection to drop by a factor of 10!
Details can be found here: http://forums.buffalotech.com/t5/Wireless/WZR-HP-G300NH-super-slow-with-DD-WRT/m-p/47300#M7478
I also tried re-flashing the router with the non-branded build of DD-WRT, which appears to be identical to the Buffalo-branded version except for the logo. Same disappointing results.
The Buffalo tech support guy was very polite, understanding but ultimately unable to offer any help beyond the advice not to use DD-WRT and to stick to the native firmware instead. He said DD-WRT has "numerous problems" and is not recommended for use. It's unfortunate then that Buffalo touts it as a valid option on its website.
The problem with the native "user friendly" firmware is that it is anything but, i.e. every minor change requires a restart of the router, which takes between 30 seconds to a couple of minutes to complete because the firmware insists on scheduling its restarts instead of effecting them immediately.
Overall, I am extremely disappointed with this router. After killing 1.5 days tinkering with it I reverted to my old Linksys because I don't want to waste any more time on something this flaky.
So yeah I bought this router on the strength of this blog post. Should have read the comments in more detail first :)
My initial requirement was more power; our old wrt54g didn't cover the whole house. Additionally I liked the idea of sharing a USB disk and upnp.
In practice (using the Buffalo ddwrt default firmware)
- Wifi is less reliable (connections drop) and the same or perhaps slightly less range than the Linksys. Note that on Atheros the power isn't tunable in the firmware; there is a separate hardware amplifier.
- USB mounts OK but there is no Samba support, only FTP
So it is essentially worse than the 54g. What is most disappointing is that the product claims (e.g. sharing) are not for the DDWRT firmware but for the terrible looking alternative "Easy to use" firmware - which is actually what I'm running at the moment (which does work provide disk sharing etc).
Might try OpenWRT at some point.
I initially ordered the Buffalo Nfiniti, but came back to this thread since the shop used a lot of time delivering the thing. I've cancelled the order now after reading these comments, and ordered the Netgear WNDR3700 instead. I can't find a bad review on it anywhere :)
I purchased a Netgear WNDR3700 to replace a WRT54G that would flake out and lose all its settings about once a month. I'm running it with the native firmware and couldn't be happier with it. It is a very powerful router for the network I have set up ( Five devices at most, all but one connected via wireless.) However, this has been adequate for my father to use a VPN to his work through the router, as well as supporting my own VPN needs for my tech job. We even have a wireless printer attached now. The only feature that I would really like to have that might make me flash DD-WRT onto the router is Non-WDS bridging.
I suppose my advice to you and to my fellow readers would be to not mess with success every once and a while, even though that is essentially what developers and engineers make their living doing. Sometimes the best device you own is the one that just works without having to fool with it every-time someone sneezes.
I just purchased the Buffalo Nfiniti Wireless-N High Power Router and flashed it with DD-WRT. It works great and I really like all the features. Thanks for the great post.
PS namebench made my lookups 42% faster!
This router has issues with wifi availability in many situations. High traffic, or high connection counts, or heavy bandwidth usage all can cause the router to start showing latency and packetloss on wifi<->internet traffic. At the same time wifi<->router and router<->internet traffic will have no problems, so this is obviously something internal to the networking hardware.
I greatly regret buying this router.
http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Buffalo_WZR-HP-G300NH#Fix_for_WiFi_Dropouts helps a little