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Networking Upgrades Wireless Networking Hardware

Ask Slashdot: DD-WRT Upgrade To 802.11n? 196

Posted by timothy
from the bending-over-backwards-for-flexibility dept.
First time accepted submitter krinderlin writes "My home network consists of a Linksys WRT54GL for WAN access and a WRT54G version 8 for a wireless bridge for my Blu-Ray and old XBox 360*. Due to a recent move and coaxial jack placements, I can't run Ethernet to the office, so I'm now looking at about 8 wireless clients at any given time. I'd like to start piecing together a network upgrade to 802.11n, but want to keep the flexibility and power of DD-WRT. So what 802.11n routers do you have with DD-WRT? What would you recommend for PCIe x1 and USB adapters? *Because $100 for a 802.11g adapter is pure insanity."
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Ask Slashdot: DD-WRT Upgrade To 802.11n?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @10:44AM (#37831360)

    Quite a powerful router, I use it heavily for my VPN. It also allows you to upgrade to DD-WRT right through their interface.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833320038&Tpk=asus%20rt-n16

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AdamJS (2466928)
      It should be noted right away that the RT-N16 is only a single-band router, which could be make or break for many people. I use one, the thing is designed for custom firmware. But if you have to use the stock firmware for more than an hour, submitter would go insane.
    • by omnichad (1198475)

      I have one using Tomato, and I love it. I was a huge fan of DD-WRT, but the simplicity of Tomato won me over. It has plenty of power for me, and the UI is pretty. It handles torrents very well since it's pretty well loaded with RAM.

      Having N at only 150mbps wasn't a dealbreaker for me. Wireless is just more reliable with multiple antennae.

      • by dintech (998802)

        Wireless is just more reliable with multiple antennae.

        Indeed, I noticed that my old two-antennae router had trouble reaching my dungeon downstairs. The undeclared members of my family could only get intermittent reception. Now they can access youtube and email from this remote part of the house and I don't get so many complaints.

    • Agreed. I've had my RT-N16 for about a year. It is great with DD-WRT (I guess it supports Tomato, but I haven't had a need to upgrade). I did have problems with mine overheating (not overclocked or anything), but some left over heatsink coolers from way-back and an ancient graphics-card cooling fan completely fixed the issue for me.

      The RT-N16 seems to have some quality control issues, but for the price, there was nothing better when I bought mine. There may be better options now though.

    • I too have had great experience with the N16 running Tomato USB. I convinced a couple friends to get it as well, and they're also very happy. The router has tons of RAM, ROM, and CPU. My only complaint is that it's only 2.4GHz, not 5GHz dual-band. However, the only 5GHz device I've got is my work laptop, and I have a separate AP for 802.11g and not much else around me, so 5GHz isn't that big a deal right now.

      There are a few advanced features of DD-WRT that Tomato USB doesn't do (at least from the GUI),

    • by gothzilla (676407)

      RT-N16 all the way. I have plaster walls in my house (the kind held up by perforated metal sheets which make excellent faraday cages) and couldn't get wireless through. Got this router specifically because it had 3 removable antennae. Threw on some monster 12db antennae, loaded DD-WRT, tweaked a few settings and poof I had wireless through the whole house. The antennae I got had super long cables on them so it made finding the perfect placement easy.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This router is an absolut beast in terms of range and throughput. The DD-WRT support is terrific and the device is rather cheap.

    If you do not absolutely need 450 Mbit/s, but are satisfied with 300 Mbit/s, go with the WNDR3700v2

  • WNDR-3700v2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @10:45AM (#37831372) Homepage Journal
    The Netgear WNDR-3700v2 is powerful, reasonably cheap, and well-supported. It also is the target of the CeroWRT project, which deals with bufferbloat, and should be of interest to advanced users at this point. Bufferbloat changes are also being adopted into stock OpenWRT and the Linux kernel, so eventually will make it to more routers.
    • by AdamWill (604569)

      I mostly agree, except I found it to have infuriating reliability issues compared to my old router, a WRT-310N. Every so often - say, once or twice a day - it'd just stop passing traffic to/from the WAN for a minute or two. No rhyme nor reason, no useful info in the control panel or logs; the traffic just went into a black hole. My 310N never, ever did this.

      I eventually wound up running (and am still running) a dumb-but-works combination of the WNDR-3700v2, using its native firmware, acting purely as a wire

      • Try OpenWRT. It might have some bug fixes missing from DD-WRT. It has the advantage of being fully Open Source, while DD-WRT wants you to pay for some features and some platforms. The development version runs well and is updated continuously. It has so many packages that it looks like a desktop/server Linux distribution. It seems to be directed at a more advanced user.
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @10:45AM (#37831374) Homepage Journal

    Check out the WNDR3700v2 [amazon.com]. The folks doing serious research [bufferbloat.net] into home network performance have settled on this unit. Check out the prices on Amazon's refurbished stock - equivalent to what I was paying for 54GL's back in the day. I picked up a new for the office and a refurb for home.

    They have lots of RAM, a decent processor, and dual-band radios. I think it's the 54G for the new decade.

    • by dintech (998802)

      Have you tried HomePlug instead of wifi? I find the bandwidth to be a big improvement over wifi. I can at least max out my 50Mb cable connection and no ethernet cables running through the house.

      • Have you tried HomePlug instead of wifi? I find the bandwidth to be a big improvement over wifi. I can at least max out my 50Mb cable connection and no ethernet cables running through the house.

        I use HomePlug in my neighborhood network. The version 2 stuff (is that 'AV'?) is really good - v1, not so much. I get about 50Mbps between a garage and the house's basement, and didn't have to dig new conduit, so totally worth the price (I think those were Netgear too). It sits behind a 40Mbps VDSL link, so plent

        • by dintech (998802)

          I know exactly what you mean, I upgraded to the newer netgear HD 500mb kit from 100mb belkin stuff. I used to get dropped connections that could only be fixed with a restart of the hardware but that has all now more reliable (and faster).

      • by blair1q (305137)

        HomePlug is usable, but it's comparatively underpowered. Good wireless speeds are now 300-450 mbps.

      • by AdamWill (604569)

        I tried homeplug for a while. It was nice and fast, compared to 2.4GHz wireless at least, but it corrupted data: about half of my large file downloads wound up corrupted. I'd download a 4GB ISO and find it didn't match the sha256sum, re-download it and it'd be okay.

        Never happened on the same systems since I ditched the homeplug and just ran an ethernet cable across the ceiling to the router, so it was definitely the homeplug screwing it up. Mine are now collecting dust...

      • It's really hit or miss. I find that when I have two homeplug endpoints on the same breaker circuit, I can get a solid 100mbps. On different circuits, I get 1-2mbps. Homeplug just varies too much between manufacturers and home wiring. If you find a homeplug product that works for you, go for it. Just don't expect it to be the best solution 100% of the time.
        • If the homeplug nodes are on opposite sides of the breaker box your signal goes through the transformer on the pole down the street.

          • ps - I use homeplug *and* WDS at the house - mainly because there are three walls and a floor between my home router and the rack where directv/PS3/xbox lives. There is a WDS node in the kitchen one floor below the my router and another one in my bedroom feeding a directv receiver. This is a fairly new house and the spousal unit won't allow me to pull wire through her walls.

            Yet. ;-)

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Any chance they'll start geeking out over the WNDR4000?

      It'd be fun to hack it onto mine myself, but it would also be a lot of time I don't have.

      Oh, I suppose I could stop reading /.

      And I suppose I would, once I bricked my router...

    • by NitroWolf (72977)

      Check out the WNDR3700v2 [amazon.com]. The folks doing serious research [bufferbloat.net] into home network performance have settled on this unit. Check out the prices on Amazon's refurbished stock - equivalent to what I was paying for 54GL's back in the day. I picked up a new for the office and a refurb for home.

      They have lots of RAM, a decent processor, and dual-band radios. I think it's the 54G for the new decade.

      Since the OP is intending to run DD-WRT on it, it doesn't really matter... but this router is a piece o' crap with the stock firmware. The external drive function has never worked properly, Netgear has known about the bug and never bothered to fix it. The drive(s) will go offline for no explicable reason and require a power cycle. If you aren't using that portion of the router, it's probably fine, but since I purchased this router for my parents house and purchased it explicitly for the extra drive connec

  • I had WRT300N for a dozen of months or so, it worked fine. Since few weeks ago I'm using E4200 which is dual band and cannot complain.
  • Could you not just check the list here:

    http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Supported_Devices [dd-wrt.com]

    and go with your favourite supplier of quality hardware? Also, bear in mind that some of your connected equipment isn't and can't be N-enabled (PS3 it think from memory). Therefore, you'll want something that can gracefully handle both G and N at the same time (ideally as separately configured wireless networks).

    • The plan is to find a Firmware that supports making the extra router into a wireless bridge and run Ethernet from XBox 360 and Blu-Ray to a second router acting as a bridge and forwarding DHCP and what-not back and forth. As I've stated before, "Supported" does not mean "Good experience". I've seen that database burn plenty of people. :-)
    • by JimMcc (31079)

      Because he isn't looking for a compatibility list. krinderlin said "So what 802.11n routers do you have with DD-WRT? What would you recommend for PCIe x1 and USB adapters?" Notice that he said "what ... do you have ..." not what will work with.

    • by harrkev (623093)

      Maybe because that list is full of routers that are old and not currently available from places like Best Buy and Newegg. Knowing that DD-WRT works great on a router that I cannot actually buy is pretty useless. Also, many routers have multiple versions, and DD-WRT only works on some of them. Yes, that list would have what you need, but the work needed to go though the list to find something easily available would be a LOT of work.

  • by thue (121682)

    I have seen the WNDR3700 [dd-wrt.com] recommended as being a good option. The hardware itself is relatively powerful, with a 680MHz processor, 64MiB RAM, and 8MiB flash. The 4 internal+1 external RJ-45 ports are gigabit. It costs US$120 from Newegg.com .

  • My Cisco/Linksys E3000 is running DD-WRT v24-sp2.

  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @10:47AM (#37831426) Homepage

    So what 802.11n routers

    I've ended up replacing most of my previous kit with acquired-from-eBay Apple kit. 802.11n over 5Ghz for some devices, and over 2.4Ghz for others, with fallback to 802.11g for older devices. Airport Extreme for the main routing, with some Airport Express units for the music system. I used one as a wireless bridge for the PS3 for a while, but, since switching to an old Apple TV for playback, everything's streamed fine over Wi-Fi.

    Was there particular functionality you wanted, which led you to DD-WRT? Or might other routers be able to do what it is that you need?

    do you have with DD-WRT?

    None :)

    • by AdamWill (604569)

      "Was there particular functionality you wanted, which led you to DD-WRT? Or might other routers be able to do what it is that you need?"

      I've found most consumer router firmwares don't support NAT loopback, which I find pretty useful. dd-wrt does.

  • I've been using one with ddwrt for a while, it was pretty simple to get setup and AFAIK it is fully supported.

  • I use a WZR-HP-G300NH and it has worked well for me for quite some time. I've probably had it for a good 18 months now. With DD-WRT I am limited to 130mbps instead of 300, but other than that it's rock solid.

    • by Alyred (667815)
      Definitely the one I would suggest as well.
      Or it's dual-band big brother, the AP WZR-HP-AG300H. $89.99 for the router itself at Amazon [amazon.com], oddly enough. Nice little table at the bottom comparing the Buffalo router model features as well at that link.
      Supports DD-WRT out of the box and support by the manufacturer.
      My ONLY complaint is that the radio on my G300NH model is a little bit weaker than my old Linksys routers, since I could boost the signal. I don't think that option works in the firmware on the
  • I had the same problem a year ago, plus interference from my neighbors routers. I opted for ethernet over power lines. I got a couple of single port netgear XAV101v2s adapters (you can get a pair for $70.99 from newegg) and a 4 port XAV5004 for my home entertainment system. I use the wireless only to hook laptops and cell phones.
    • I opted for Ethernet over powerline in my house, to run from 1 floor down to another. Performance / lag times vary, and it is not as good as I would expect. Sometimes there is certain "lag".

      It depends a lot on the wiring in the house, so the system is sensitive in that way. The wiring in my house is good, though.
    • by dmomo (256005)

      This works well for me as well. The DLink adapters I got can only do 10mbs, though. It's only an issue when I want to transfer large amounts of data to a network share that isn't in the same room.

  • Tomato (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@NosPaM.cornell.edu> on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @10:57AM (#37831564) Homepage

    DD-WRT development is basically dead. There hasn't been an update on their homepage in over a year.

    There are unofficial builds in the forums, but even those are at this point old. For example, the "Recommended" version for Broadcom-based devices still includes an ANCIENT release of inadyn that doesn't work with most dynamic DNS providers at this point (nearly all implemented SSL security which breaks with older inadyn.)

    Tomato/TomatoUSB are the way to go at this point. (Tomato itself isn't updated much either - TomatoUSB has improved support even for non-USB devices.)

    • by Reapman (740286)

      Another vote for TomatoUSB over DD-WRT - open source and very feature rich. The Asus RT-N16 runs great on Tomato - that's what I use and love it but like mentioned above it's only single band.

      • Ditto on the above comments... TomatoUSB + Asus RT-N16 is about the best combo available. I've used RT-N12's as well, but they don't seem to be as stable, and had trouble getting an N12 into bridge mode (would brick itself, sftp for recovery).
    • DD-WRT is not dead but the developers work in the strangest of ways and can't be coaxed toward sanity. If you browse the file directories on the server (many links in the DD-WRT forums) then you can find updated beta builds. The beta builds that we forum moderators recommend is getting old but that is because the newer builds have several major bugs, but you're free to run any build you want.

      Just look at the DD-WRT Trac for proof that it's still being developed.
      http://svn.dd-wrt.com/timeline [dd-wrt.com]

      • by Gordo_1 (256312)

        I have to agree. I bought a Linksys E4200, and while it more or less works in DD-WRT with some manual config edits and in very specific configurations (only 2.4GHz N, only 10MHz channels, and only on the default channel numbers), it has dozens of bugs. OpenDNS updates don't work, I had to write my own fix for loopback operation, the router has to be rebooted daily to prevent wireless drop-off, etc...

        None of these bugs ever seem to get fixed, but instead I see the couple developers who do write code fixing l

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        Well, in that case - whatever development effort is remaining is being executed very poorly.

        Deficiencies in older releases aren't being corrected, while new releases introduce new bugs - sounds like if it isn't dead, it's poorly developed.

        inadyn in the recommended release is multiple versions old and fails on many services now. But instead of fixing the old bugs, they're just creating new ones and not touching the known-broken stuff? Last I checked, DD-WRT was including inadyn 1.6 - that was last released

    • by Frederic54 (3788)
      Absolutely right, I am using Tomato USB on both my WRT160N-v3 and E3000, there is also some interesting "mod" like [i]Toastman[/i] builds.

      I have had a lot of problem with dd-wrt running on a WRT160N-v3, N was dropping about every hours, I tried dozens of build for more than a year before switching to TomatoUSB.
      • by Frederic54 (3788)
        damn [i]...

        I can add that my E3000 runs flawlessly in ABGN mode, no problem with 2.4GHZ and 5GHz, support USB drive sharing, etc.
    • by antdude (79039)

      Why did its development stop? Did no one take over it?

      • by Sleepy (4551)

        Because dd-wrt wanted to take the project closed. Not necessarily closed source, but effectively so with some deliberate barriers to discourage folks getting into the code and making their own customizations. This drove away both users and potential contributers. Big surprise, that.

        Everyone has gone over to open-wrt because it is... well, open.

        • by MagicM (85041)

          I'm using dd-wrt because it supports having multiple wireless lans on a single router, each with their own ssid and encryption. Last time I checked Tomato doesn't support that, but your post made me look at open-wrt and it does [openwrt.org]. Thank you.

    • by alexo (9335)

      I got the impression that Tomato does not support dual-band N routers.
      Or am I wrong?

  • DD-WRT isn't what it used to be anymore, the build environment is a mess, a lot of drivers are binary only and often you have to dig around in the forums to find which builds are stable. I had a lot of bad experiences with consumer grade wireless routers (Linksys WRT610N... $#!&) and building my own router was the best choice I ever made. You can use OpenWRT on a broad range of devices and it has similar features as DD-WRT and also a very nice web-interface. It runs perfectly on low power embedded PC's
  • I have one of these, been running DD-WRT since late on day 1, no issues. Dual band, dual radio abgn. Might be getting difficult to find, but the high end Linksys routers are a fairly safe bet, and the DD-WRT wiki will answer your questions.

  • For the stationary equipment (Xbox, Blu-Ray player, etc), use Powerline AV equipment such as http://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-XAVB5001-Powerline-500-Adapter/dp/B004DVEW8I [amazon.com] and connect one of the adapters to the new wireless-N router. Use the wireless only for your laptops and other wireless clients.
  • Look at Ubiquiti and Ruckus. Both are doing really interesting stuff.

  • Not in the sense that you'll ever actually see 200 Mbs, but that they work in some harsh environments. I can get 6 Mbs over 400 ft of buried ROMEX electrical cord between my parents house and garage which is full of electric motors and spliced lines. I expect the upcoming generation of 1Gb G.hn adapters would hit 10-15 Mbs real world. Not bad at all.

    In my house with its 1960's wiring, iperf is showing a consistent 44 Mbs.

  • I have been using dd-wrt/tomato for years and I agree with some of the other posters, that development is nearly at a standstill.

    IMHO, you should switch to a different platform - MikroTik!

    The software is *way* more powerful than dd-wrt, has been more stable and performed exceptionally for me. I must admit, there is a bit of a learning curve but there is a lot of guides out there now and they have added a windows-based GUI, as well as significantly improved their web interface, so most basic stuff is point

  • by nbvb (32836)

    Seriously, if you have coaxial jacks, get MoCA bridges. They're awesome.

  • DD-WRT is very stable on my Netgear WNDR3300, but the CPU reaches 100% usage at relatively low throughput. See here [dd-wrt.com] for some benchmarks recorded by another user.

    I'm looking to get a better router and to OpenWRT in the near future. (The amount of writable flash on my router is too small to have a usable OpenWRT install with a JFFS2 partition.)

  • 1 x Linksys E2000 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4/5GHz Selectable Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Router up to 300Mbps [newegg.com]
    4 x ENCORE ENUWI-2XN42 USB 2.0 Wireless N300 Adapter, 2dBi [newegg.com]

    Those were the most recent purchases I made to upgrade an old 1800's house where the owner preferred no holes to be drilled to run wire. I believe I left a wrt54gn on the third floor for a multifunction printer that could not utilize a wireless device. Both routers were equipped with dd-wrt. The Encore adapters work very nicely.
  • by zbobet2012 (1025836) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @12:40PM (#37832816)
    Many (most) Buffalo routers ship with DD-WRT if you want to go that route. They also tend to be decently priced. As others have mentioned DD-WRT is: A) A bit dead in development B) A bit unstable I would recommend going with either TomatoUSB or OpenWRT+ LucI.
    • by Sleepy (4551)

      Plus dd-wrt is a bit "closed". They seem to deliberately go out of their way to make it difficult even for experienced developers to package up their own custom firmware. (If I don't qualify that, someone will reply with a red herring case why newbies shouldn't hack router firmware... and in such an extreme example, I agree).

      Supposedly open source projects shouldn't go out of their way to keep people from modifying the source. This hurts not just the users, but it drives away potential new contributers. Whi

  • I've just posted HOWTO run DD-WRT on a Netgear WNDR3700 (http://fak3r.com/geek/howto-run-dd-wrt-on-a-netgear-wndr3700/) as I upgraded from the Linksys WRT54GL running the Tomato firmware. Step by step directions and more details than you need to run it yourself. (PRO-TIP: find a 'factory refurbished' WNDR3700 v1 - I got mine for 55$ on eBay). I couldn't be happier with this setup, and recommend it over any other router currently available.
  • Ditch DD-WRT.

    I use ipCop that gives me 80X of what DD-WRT can and a pair of dedicated ap's. works far better than any consumer router running DD-WRT and delivers more "flexibility".

    Real 802.11n at 5 ghz is where your performance gains are, avoid the Fake 802.11n routers or ap's that are not dual band with 5ghz. I bought a decent pair of dual band N ap's and a tiny mini-itx based PC that had 3 networks ports, this was 2X the price of a consumer grade real N router but it's far more powerful, flexible an

    • by Gazzonyx (982402)
      When you say that you're using a pair of dedicated AP's, are you setting them to the same SID? I'm about to start a project for adding wireless over a warehouse where I'll need to use more than a single AP to cover the area. Have you found it to work reliably and seamlessly? Any info would be appreciated so I can learn from others mistakes.
  • Apple's Airport Extreme is one of the best available. Doubt you can get dd-wrt on it, and I'm sure the software will annoy... but it works, and works well by all reports. Worth a look even if only for comparison, to make sure whatever you get is just as good.
    • by sheddd (592499)
      I've been using one for a couple years; pricey but it does work well. I had one quit working (replaced by warranty). I wish it had good reports, and I don't really care for Airport Utility... I've got MRTG [oetiker.ch] running on a server to query it... my ISP has been performing pretty badly; I'd like to see how bad; this article inspired me :)

      I'm gonna try and get hourly/daily/monthly totals and identify which port is which tonight... then get some absurdly popular .torrent, and see how bandwidth performs over a
  • I use a Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH. I run OpenWRT on it, but IIRC DD-WRT is actually officially supported for it--though when I bought the router it was missing features. It has a fast CPU, plenty of RAM, plenty of flash, and GigE.

    It lacks 5GHz 802.11n, though. There might be something new in the same line that has it, though, I guess.
  • Not a answer to your question per se, but I ran into a very similar problem when I moved to a new apartment 2 years ago. Rather than upgrade everything to 802.11n (and suffer the whole issue of too many wireless cooks in the pot as everyone now has their own access point) I got two Homeplug v2 adapters and moved my router to my office. Cable modem connects to my coax, which is then plugged into a Homeplug. The 2nd Homeplug then goes to the WAN interface on my house router. Works like a charm and I can still

  • I asked this question awhile ago and after doing a bunch of research I've decided to wait for the ASUS RT-N66U which should be coming out in the next few weeks. Its gigabit with 802.11N dual channel and two USB ports. It has a 600Mhz Broadcom chip and 256M of RAM. While googling around for it I've seen a couple of references in Tomato and OpenWRT to them adding code for it so I assume it will be supported, most other ASUS routers are.
  • A little off-topic, but...

    If you have a WRT54G (the original, stackable version), and/or a BEFSR41 (same case style, no wireless), get a fan like an old 486 or socket 5/socket 7 Pentium heatsink fan, and 4 plastic motherboard standoffs.

    The part of the standoffs that stick up through a motherboard are the part that'll go into the fan's screw holes.

    The other end of the standoffs has a broad flange and a part below that that hooks into the mounting holes on the case.

    Saw off that part under the flange, leaving

  • www.fon.com - It uses its own version of dd-wrt, but you can just use the regular one.

    Good things: the work they did over the original dd-wrt, usb port, torrent out of box, etc.

    Bad things: no 5gz, ethernet is 100mpbs.

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