DD-WRT is an open source technology that has been catching the eye of hobbyist and professionals alike looking for new routers. With innovations from the community regarding security, functionality, and tools, the routers listed here are some of the best choices for anyone in the market for a new router. Here, we count down the top 10 DD-WRT Routers of 2017, factoring in overall performance, price, specialization and wide application.
10. Linksys AC1900 (Open Source version)
Coming from a brand that is deservedly connected to quality, the Linksys AC1900 Open Source is a great start to this list, offering power, but at a price. Coming in at $150, it’s not the cheapest by far, but also not the most expensive router to make the list. It’s a good all around router, and one that can also attract some attention from console gamers. As mentioned in our article on PS4 Routers, most consoles require a 802.11 N type connection, which this router can do among many others including the AC connection which is purportedly 4.3x faster than the previous. Offering a 600 Mbps 2.4 Ghz channel and 1300 Mbps 5GHz (which keep true to form through most of the apartment I am testing them in, with the exception being 3 walls away and in a corner), this router also has 4 antennas that can help direct connections even better. Inside the router is also 512MB of RAM, which while not the biggest is sufficient for balancing multiple connections and file transfers for most users without issue especially alongside the 1.6GHz processor. One of my favorite things about this router though was the use of the Smart WiFi app that made control of the router about as easy as one could hope for.
9. D-Link AC3200 Ultra
For some they look awkward, for others awesome, there’s no denying that the D-Link brand has a router aesthetic that makes it unique among it’s competition. This is especially true with the screaming red AC3200 that looks like it came out of a 1970’s space opera. Sadly, at $200, it’s expensive enough on the outset to be in a different galaxy than other cheaper options on this list. However, to those who can afford it, the AC3200 can be a great router, using “Ultra Tri-Band Wi-Fi”. This means that it carries one 2.4 Ghz connection and two separate 5GHz which split up and give speeds of 600Mbps and two 1300Mbps connection speeds respectively. Amazingly, the antennas and processing power (1GHz dual core, not the best, not the worst) can allow for decent streaming, even at 4k at range. I would say this is definitely one for the Twitch community, as the initial investment could be made up, and the QoS does make it easy for device prioritization.
8. Linksys WRT3200ACM
You know who never gets enough love in the office? Network and System administrators. These people have to pour over technical data, figure out why Cindy’s connection is failing across the office, and who on earth set up a printer to try and probe the network for open ports. Wait, a printer probably shouldn’t be doing that. Now, what can help with that kind of work? A good, secured router with a few extra features. And an office with enough funds can probably use some extra security for a price, namely about $230. Like the previous two, this is no bargain bin router, but there’s a reason for that. Aside from the MU-MIMO (Multiple User, Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology that will mean less complaints about speed, the Smart WiFi app which, as mentioned before, is amazing, and potential combined speeds of 3.2Gbps, there’s some fine packages with the already open source DD-WRT router. These include the ability to set up a secure VPN, the ability to detect intrusion, analyze traffic, and even turn the router into a web server if so desired. Now, I would still advocate the use of software like Wireshark for capturing and analysis of network traffic (though the router did perform as well with test transfers), and redundancy in intrusion mitigation (which was tested by using tool sets available in the Kali Linux OS and proved pretty good), but a frontline like this is a good start. The 1.8 GHz processor is also quite nice, and I honestly wish that the clinic I had previously worked for had this router dealing with the connections to our EHR systems. My only complaint besides price, which can be justified, about this router? It can get very hot, very fast. An outside cooling mechanism may be a good idea for this device.
7. Asus RT-AC56U
The first on our list under $100 (in fact, just under $70 in most cases) is the Asus RT-AC56U, a neat little router with plenty to offer for the price. Similar to the previous router, this one is also MU-MIMO as well as DD-WRT. Combined speeds of around 1200Mbps are considerably slower, but should be fair enough for most families given they are not ones to all stream simultaneously from across the house. Where this router really shines though is the network control interface, which is not only easy to use but easy to look at, seen as a web interface. Set-Up is about as easy as one could hope for sans something like the Almond router mentioned in other reviews. Another interesting feature Asus decided to add was the Smart Connect that essentially allows channel hopping for devices to either get the best range or best speed depending on where you are in your living space, which is a nice idea in theory. In practice, I found no practical use, but then again, many people may have larger apartments, houses or offices where that could be handy.
6. Linksys WRT54GL Broadband Router
For those looking to tinker with the DD-WRT format but afraid of losing a device worth a decent chunk of change, or those looking to use a DD-WRT router for Pen Testing, this may be the one for you. Coming in at under $50, this is about as cheap as you can get while still getting results that could mirror the real world in any useful way. While only having about 54Mbps of speed and a single band, it’s useful for basic tasks, but not too much more. One should not expect a great deal of distance, as walls and doors tend to cause drop offs in speed, but if given clear line of sight it manages to work pretty well. You can expect the now standard WPA2 encryption to be used on this router, and a built-in SPI firewall, which can both protect your router and give you a good challenge during pen testing. As with all DD-WRT routers, customizability is also possible.
5. Linksys WRT1200AC
Another budget option, but with a slightly higher tier of performance is the Linksys WRT1200AC. If you couldn’t tell already, Linksys kind of hits a sweet spot for me in terms of performance and ease of use for set-up and maintenance purposes. And this router matches up to those perfectly, or at least it did with a bit of tinkering. Out of the box, my devices kept getting far slower speeds than advertised (which are 1,200Mbps composite). Now, it turns out the reason for this was not false advertising, but rather that I had to go to the router’s IP and work with the Media Prioritization settings to really let the router loose. Coverage has remained consistent, and the dual core 1.3 GHz ARM processor seem capable of juggling quite a few connections without issue. Parental Controls and a guest network were also a nice plus.
4. Netgear R7000
It’s no surprise that a Netgear Nighthawk could make it on this list, considering its standings in other recent reviews of routers that I’ve written. This thing is more or less an all-around allstar. While I have often mentioned the “stealth” look of this router, frankly if it was a box with some googly eyes slapped onto it, I wouldn’t care if it kept up the same performance. Offering 600 Mbps and 1300 Mbps speeds, while not the fastest, are pretty great for most homes as is the 1GHz processor. Where this router really does well though is consistent delivery of those speeds at long range, and the use of a Dynamic QoS system which is fantastic for gamers and streamers. At around $150 on sale, it’s not cheap by any stretch of the meaning. But, you also get PC backup software included with the router, which in case of a catastrophic failure may be worth the extra coin.
3. Buffalo AirStation HighPower N600
With the idea of the FCC dropping any real internet privacy, or the passage of laws that deal death to anonymity in Germany, many people may be looking to take privacy in their own hands. While not an all-in-one solution, the Buffalo AirStation does offer a DD-WRT customizable router with a built in VPN. While not the speediest router I’ve tested recently, with around 300 Mbps and a range that wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t great either (managing across the apartment but barely). Another handy use for the Buffalo is a way to get region locked content like with Netflix without overly complex means. So, if you’re okay with a little lackluster speed, you can really explore a whole new world of content.
2. ASUS RT-AC5300
It’s big, it’s bad, and it can handle just about anything you throw at it from anywhere. It also comes at a premium. At $350, this router is for people who need lighting connections and probably have the fastest plan available through their ISP. With eight external antenna (four dedicated receiving, four transmitting) and MU-MIMO technology, this router is all about speed and distance. This Asus model can handle two simultaneous 5GHz that can whiz by at 2167Mbps each and 1000Mbps on the 2.4 channel, and also carried 256MB of RAM, 128MB of flash memory, and a 1.4GHz dual core CPU. This could easily handle the load of a creative studio reliant on cloud applications, or day traders where every second of connection counts, and the costs can be recouped.
Coming in as our top choice for DD-WRT routers is an unexpected choice to say the least. It’s not the fastest, or the prettiest, but it’s well balanced and so cost effective that depending on which Café I could write in, I could debate buying this or a large mocha. For sale by some vendors below $15 (usually $12), this router is dual banded at 600Mbps (300Mbps for both 2.4 and 5GHz, an interesting fact) and can handle the average family’s requirements, even with some online gaming thrown in. It’s simple, and DD-WRT open source modifications can be applied, making it one of the best dollar-to-feature ratios on this list.