UPDATE: A new blog post on the best DD-WRT routers in 2012 has just been added.
A question including the word “best” is destined to have a highly subjective answer. The answer to which is the best fit for the popular DD-WRT router firmware available is a very definitive — “it depends.” Before choosing a router, it is imperative to map out the specific options you need and decide how you plan to utilize it in your network.
Are you using it as a solo router or in addition to your current configuration? Is there a specific setting that you know is available but is missing on your current router? Are you looking for advanced NAT controls for preventing lag and delays with online console gaming like XBOX Live? Do you need simultaneous dual band transmissions and USB support? A router’s standard firmware hinders a person’s ability to have many of these options at your disposal. Replacing it with the open source DD-WRT platform supercharges a router with a wide breadth of abilities, turning the average $100 router into a $500-plus router.
The added features from DD-WRT include advanced QoS (Quality of Service) bandwidth controls for specifying spectrum and speed for specific devices on the network, optional settings to boost a router’s antenna strength, the ability to configure your router as a public wireless hotspot and much more. Dissecting router specifications and quality can quickly become an endless, frustrating task; so here is a handy, time-saving list of the DD-WRT recommended router choices.
The Best Featured All Around DD-WRT Router – Netgear WNDR3700 N600 It offers the full package of top shelf consumer grade router options including Simultaneous Dual-Band. Simultaneous Dual-Band allows you to broadcast two wireless signals on separate levels of the wireless spectrum: the busy 2.4 GHz channel, used and interfered with by cordless phones, microwaves, car alarms, Bluetooth headsets among other things as well the less busy 5.0 GHz channel.
Routers featuring Simultaneous Dual-Band are especially useful if you live in a high density area such as a city or large apartment buildings where the multitude of signals can cause tons of interference. Also known as the Netgear N600, this router features four Gigabit Ethernet ports, eight internal antennas for signal-boosting strength and a networked USB port for network printing and system backup capabilities. Max Wi-Fi speed for the WNDR3700 is listed at 600 Mbps (megabits per second). It is one of the few routers offering this echelon of speed (the standard is usually 300 Mbps).
Running on an Atheros chip, this beauty is quite the blazer, a worthy successor for any outdated unit and is exceedingly adept at handling your wireless network for years to come. Also in the running for best featured all-around DD-WRT router is the Linksys Cisco E4200. If you feel more comfortable with a Linksys, this would be the top choice for you. The main distinction between the two is the E3000’s Broadcom chipset, which allows you to install DD-WRT mega build. DD-WRT comes in a plethora of flavors to meet the specifications of different chips and routers. The mega build is intended for a very specific set of routers that alone can handle the most memory intensive operations.
The Most Popular (Recommended) DDWRT Router – Asus RT-N16 When scouring router reviews and message boards, the ASUS RT-N16 often emerges as the most highly rated by DD-WRT users. A major advantage over some more expensive, higher-end routers is its huge 128 MB of RAM with 32 MB of Flash memory — even the Netgear WNDR3700 only contains 64 MB RAM with 8 MB Flash as well as its high-powered external antennas.
The Asus has space to burn when it comes to installing the mega build of DD-WRT allowing for ample space when buffering your network activity. The RT-N16’s three potent external antennas compared to the trendy internal antennas provide one of the most consistent signals for strenuous, everyday surfing use.
Best Budget Router/Wireless Repeater – Linksys E1000 & D-Link 615 The DD-WRT firmware allows for seamless transition of a router into alternate, more specified network tasks. Adding a low cost second router to your network like the D-Link 615 & Linksys E1000 is an intelligent method for adding a wireless repeater.
A wireless repeater replicates a wireless signal reviving dead zones in your home or office. For more, take a look at the recent discussion on dual router setups. A second router does not need to be as expensive as the main one since the many high end features become moot when a router is acting as a wireless bridge. Options like USB or Dual-Band support can be overkill in certain arrangements. As is the case with all of our FlashRouters, these two economy class routers come with built-in VPN passthrough capabilities for those with security concerns looking to filter all their traffic through an encrypted VPN connection.
Augmenting a network with a E1000 or D-Link 615 enables you to create a separate gateway just for connecting to a VPN while leaving the main router as the center of your network’s standard non-VPN traffic. Of the two, the D-Link 615 has a slightly speedier internal processor and two external antennas versus the E1000′s 2 internal antennas. Yet again, if you prefer the reliable Linksys Cisco brand and are looking for the quickest fix with the lowest price tag, the E1000 has just been lowered to $59.95 for a limited time so jump on it while you can.
For more DD-WRT Router info, updates, and specials, make sure to follow us on Twitter @flashrouters!