What Router or Access Point to buy for dd-wrt?

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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
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Location: Latin America

PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2020 21:48    Post subject: What Router or Access Point to buy for dd-wrt? Reply with quote
For those in the market for a (new) Router or Access Point for running dd-wrt on it and taking advantage of the many benefits it offers, there are several things to consider:

First steps
Consult the list of Routers and APs
a)compatible with dd-wrt, and
b)incompatibles con dd-wrtincompatible with dd-wrt[/url].
c)For a better understanding, beyond looking for a specific Router/AP in the tables, read the first paragraphs of both webpages, where it's explained why some devices are supported and others are not.
d)Take into account that even a Router/AP is stated as supported does not necessarily imply that the installation process is simple and/or that it works without limitations/failures. To be sure check the installation guide for that particular model, and the respective forum if still in doubt.

Note: If you want a certain Router/AP to be supported, you can contact one of the Developers to raise the request, and optionally offer a donation (equipment or money).

Switch type
a)If you have a wired Internet connection of 100Mbps, 150Mbps, or more, you'll probably prefer to have a router with Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000), since a Router/AP with 100Mbps ports can hardly deliver 88Mbps through any wired port, regardless of whether it could be labeled such as "AC1900" (because that would be the top speed it could deliver between ALL connected devices, not necessarily between ONE of those and the Internet).
b)If your Internet connection is wired and less than 80Mbps, a router with a Fast Ethernet switch (10/100) could be enough, especially if it has a recent SoC under an appropriate WiFi standard.

Hardware specs
Depending on the intended use (VPN, Gaming, general use, etc.), and the bandwidth that you are going to manage, check also the specifications of RAM, Flash, and NVRAM.

SoC and Radio(s) Support
Years ago, the developers of dd-wrt had access to the drivers or libraries of the Processors and Radios, either for being included in the Linux kernel, for being open source or for having established private agreements (such as with Buffalo), thing that allowed to leverage the benefits of SoCs, Switches, and Radios. That has been changing, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to offer support for certain chip manufacturers/models.

Additionally, manufacturers try to cut costs, and some are using 5GHz Radios integrated into the SoC, and/or connected by USB, which makes it difficult to support them, and it also has been reported that the 5GHz Radio strangely fails sporadically if more than 32KB of NVRAM are used.

And, devices are also being manufactured with dual-partition for firmware, and/or some manufacturers are now verifying if the firmware is signed before flash, which both complicates even more flashing any third-party firmware and/or later returning to the stock fw.

Consequently, for computers based on recent Broadcom chips (such as the Linksys EA series and others), in several cases it's necessary to open the device, connect a serial TTL cable, replace the cfe with one modified by hand using a hexadecimal editor, and all this strictly following a procedure, which includes flashing twice, with the risk of bricking the device. If all this seems too complicated, you'll rather look for alternatives.

Compatible standards
Besides what previously mentioned about Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet, the wireless specifications of the Radio(s) must be taken into consideration:
a) 802.11b: up to 11Mbps over the 2.4GHz band,
b) 802.11g: up to 54Mbps over the 2.4GHz band,
c) 802.11a: up to 54Mbps over the 5GHz band,
d) 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4): up to 150Mbps per antenna/stream, with some devices with the possibility of handling 2 or 3 simultaneous 2.4GHz streams (up to 300Mbps or 450Mbps respectively); or higher speeds if the equipment supports dual band, simultaneously using 2.4GHz and 5GHz (up to 450Mbps, 600Mbps, 750Mbps, 900Mbps),
e) Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac): better use of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously, to obtain theoretical speeds of up to 1Gbps or 3Gbps
f) Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax): higher speeds
g) Wi-Fi 6E: higher speeds, incorporating the 6GHz band
Please note that to take full advantage of any of the above standards, both the Router/AP and the terminals must support that standard and the same number of antennas/simultaneous transmissions.
Fortunately, most standards are compatible with terminals of previous generations -as long as operating over the same band- so you probably can buy a recent router and use it with new and old terminals.

Site where it will be used
a)If the Router/AP is going to be in a suburban area, there probably shouldn't be much interference, and 20MHz, 40MHz, or even 80MHz or 160MHz bandwidth channels can be used. But please remember "the good neighbor policy": 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands are meant for public use, if we all collaborate in the fair use of the spectrum, we all win by reducing the mutal interference.
b)If the Router/AP is going to be in a densely populated area, such as downtown, or with tall buildings in proximity, it's probably best to use only 20MHz channels, and/or prefer the 5GHz band if feasible, trading-up theoretical top speed for real coverage/stability.
In fact, it has been proven that in environments with low RSSI, a higher thoughput can be obtained with 20MHz than with 40MHz.

Having said all of the above, and knowing there is no single Router/AP ideal for everyone's needs, the following are some
Routers/APs recommended by other community members at the time of writing:
a) Price above USD200:?
b) Price between USD100 and USD199: Netgear R7800, others
c) Price less than USD99:?
d) Low prices: you can always choose a "Refurbished" or "Used" equipment (i.e. eBay or others, or the dd-wrt Search & Find, Sales & Offers sub-forum).

Worked with: WR850Gv2, WHR-HP-G54, WRT54 G/GL/GS, f5d7231-4p, wl-520gU, WRT150N, DIR-400A1, DIR-600B1, WLI-TX4-G54HP, WHR-HP-GN, F7D3301/FD7301, F7D3302/F7D7302, WNR3500Lv2, e1000
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