As we shift our home to using more and more Internet services such as VOIP, it becomes necessary to replace the existing router, which is usually not able to handle well multiple connection and QoS. We are looking at the current alternatives on the market.
Any router capable of handling the bigger volume of data that comes with N wireless and Gigabit needs to come equipped with beefier specs. That usually implies more RAM and more processing power. When an alternative linux firmware is used, these routers can run various services, such as asterisk, BackupPC or lighthttpd.
The first and foremost criteria is for me Gigabit LAN and DD-WRT (custom linux firmware) support. Most of my home networking is wired. Good wireless and USB are bonus features, but as it turns out, all gigabit routers I looked at also support N wireless. In terms of custom firmware, Tomato seems to have the most satisfied customers, but unfortunately, it does not support any Gigabit router, which completely removes it from the race.
Why is Gigabit so important? Just have a look at ViperLair’s review of the D-Link GigaExpress DGS-1008D unmanaged gigabit switch to see the difference that gigabit speeds can make..
Another “search” I previously used to narrow my choices, the Costco selection process, did not work this time. Costco only carried two routers with gigabit potential: WRT320N $69.99 which is supported by DD-WRT but is advertised on the box as being 100 Mbps only and WRT 120N, at $98.99 (item #225866), which is Gigabit, but not supported by DD-WRT. Costco does carry a Trendnet TEW-639GR router for $79.99 (item #203658), but DD-WRT support has yet to come true.
After going through a rather large number of routers, I settled on the Cisco Linksys WRT610N (ver 2.0) which I got for CN $139.99 + shipping from NCIX. I have found a large number of complaints with this router – especially inexplicable lock-ups, but I decided to ignore them for two reasons:
- most reviews deal with ver 1.0, and this is 2.0, which has hopefully corrected earlier problems with the hardware at least
- the router is now supported by DD-WRT, which means that if there are problems with the default firmware, they can be corrected by upgrading to the tried-tested-and-true linux FW
As is often the case, not long after I ordered my router, a serious challenger appeared on the horizon: the Netgear Wndr3700 11n 2.4ghz Gbe Router Spi Wpa 5port. For some reason, although it’s been around for a while, I did not see it when I did my research. According to Small Network Builder, this newer router has excellent performance, much higher customer satisfaction and seems to have all the features that make WRT610N so desirable. Netgear’s creation appears to be better in all networking tests, except for the 5 Mhz band where Linksys enjoys a slight advantage.
As DD-WRT increases router support all the time, you might want to have a look at the best gigabit routers by throughput from SmallNetBuilder and cross-reference it the DD-WRT router database.
You might also want to consider the EnGenius 300Mbps Wireless N Router with Gigabit Switch (ESR9850) if DD-WRT support is not important to you, as at $50, this router gives the best value for the money. It may also soon be supported by DD-WRT.
Is there a Gigabit router with DD-WRT support that I should have mentioned?
Sources / More info: viperlair-dgs-1008d, tew-dd-wrt, ncix-s-gigabit, dd-wrt-hcl, ncix-b-gigabit, tomato-fw, tomato-v-dd-wrt, lh-tomato, dd-wrt-best-dualN-gigabit, wrt54gl-replacement, mypha-610n, mypha-dir-655, dd-wrt-610n-wiki, dd-wrt-610n-thread, voip-combinations, ianalis-610n-webserver, amaram-backupPC-610N, wrt320N-wrt, dd-wrt-n-gigabit, 610N-VOIP, dd-wrt-wiki-qos, dd-wrt-qos, snb-610n-review, snb-dir825-wrt610n, snb-w2lT, snb-price-performance, snb-how2test, snb-wndr3700, snb-ESR9850, dd-wrt-ESR9850, WRT-320N-DD-WRT, 2tomato, linux-planet-tomato, ostatic-t-v-d, edn-t-v-d, tomato-etc, recovering from bricking, yt-routersPrior to purchasing my router I found a number of routers in my research. I decided to encrypt the results as the prices are likely to change in time, so this is of little use to the reader. Unless, of course, you have my public key. Here it is: ***