Home router recommendations

Discussion in 'hardware' started by MrBrian, Dec 6, 2014.

  1. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    Does anyone have any info or good resources for choosing a new home wireless router?

    Here are some good general resources I've come across so far:
    http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/ - lots of good info here; start with How To Buy a Wireless Router: 2014 Edition
    http://thewirecutter.com/leaderboard/networking/ - in-depth testing for best routers

    Here are some resources that list recommended and non-recommended routers based upon compatibility or technical tests:
    Analysis and Control of Middleboxes in the Internet (2013 thesis) - see Appendix B
    Vonage's list

    Alternate firmware compatibility:
    http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Supported_Devices
    http://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/start
    http://tomatousb.org/doc:build-types

    Security issues:
    Wi-Fi Protected Setup

    I am thinking of TP-LINK TL-WDR3600 (around $60 in U.S. dollars), the current budget category pick at http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-cheap-router/. I realize that it's a 802.11n router, not a 802.11ac router.

    Does anyone have personal experience with routers from TP-LINK? I noticed that a backdoor was found in some TP-LINK routers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2014
  2. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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  3. Veeshush

    Veeshush Registered Member

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  4. guest

    guest Guest

    We have been using TP-LINK brand for quite some time, but they are router-modem hybrid products. And they are kind of... hard to tell. Mine is still up and running despite often being used for long period of time. But one of my relatives' got broken with less average usage than mine. Also, mine is an older model (in fact it does not support wireless N) while the one that got broken is much newer. I myself had some sudden connection drops a few times in the past, but I haven't experienced any of it again recently.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2014
  5. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    Here is part of the abstract of the thesis mentioned in the first post:
     
  6. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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  7. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    From https://www.wi-fi.org/certified-products-search:
     
  8. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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  9. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    I am also considering TP-LINK Archer C7 V2. It's normally around $93-$100 (U.S. dollars) but there's a deal out there for $60, good through December 8.
     
  10. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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  11. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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  12. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    After a decent amount of research, I purchased TP-LINK TL-WDR3600. I've used it since yesterday and am quite happy with it thus far. I got it for ~$40 with a promo code that expired on Dec 25.

    The hardware I got is v1.5. I updated the firmware to v141022.

    Some pros:
    • has a physical power on/off button
    • has a physical wireless on/off switch
    • has 2 USB 2.0 Ports
    • the WAN port and 4 LAN ports have speed 10/100/1000 Mbps
    • is listed as compatible with alternative firmware DD-WRT and OpenWrt
    • Wi-Fi Protected Setup can be disabled
    • the admin interface uses a cookie for authentication instead of HTTP Basic authentication
    • with the router at ground level floor at one end of a moderate size house, was able to connect in the basement at the opposite end of the house on the 5.0 GHz band at 2 bars of strength (with 5 bars being max possible) with download speeds around 35-40 Mbps according to this speed test.
    Some cons:
    • isn't listed as Wi-Fi Certified
    • when I changed certain settings in the admin interface, I noticed that Wi-Fi Protected Setup got re-enabled. I'm not sure if this is a bug or intended, but this could easily escape one's notice
    • the bottom of the router doesn't have non-slip materials, so it's easy to move the router by accident on surfaces with little friction
    • the time between the latest firmware and the second latest firmware is over 13 months
     
  13. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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  14. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    TP Link is a good option, one of the WDR series. As for the exploits, if you don't open the remote management port, you're ok.
    Mrk
     
  15. WildByDesign

    WildByDesign Registered Member

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    Have you considered flashing OpenWrt on there? TP-Link is generally known for having quite a few well supported routers for OpenWrt. I was actually doing some research over the past few days regarding Archer C7 as well as a few others by the same company. I have two routers in my network setup already running OpenWrt, one running specifically as DNS server to filter advertisements/malware and the other running Snort for IDS. There are so many different software options to run on there.
     
  16. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    I might do it in the future. Compatibility with alternative firmware was high on my list of requirements, because someday there won't be further manufacturer-supplied firmware updates for security issues.
     
  17. WildByDesign

    WildByDesign Registered Member

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    That's very wise that you had already had an open mind to consider compatibility with alternative firmware for future possibility. I should have realized that from your initial post, my apologies. Your research strategy is something any user should follow prior to purchasing a new router.
     
  18. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    No apology needed :).

    By the way, if it's ok to ask, have you (or anyone else reading this) ever bricked a router by trying to install alternative firmware?
     
  19. WildByDesign

    WildByDesign Registered Member

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    Personally, I have never bricked a router with alternative firmware over the course of five years or so of using alternative firmware. Whenever it came to following tutorials regarding flashing specific firmware on specific models, I made sure to follow the steps 100% without cutting any corners. They will often state certain warnings which are important to avoid bricking. It can come down to very specific firmware as well as specific hardware models, revisions, etc. and if users aren't careful, it can be very easy to brick a router. The beauty, though, is that there is often a significant amount of information and tutorials available along with helpful forums as well.

    I started with DD-WRT a little over five years ago because it was one of the easier alternative firmwares as far as installation, information/tutorials, and also the firmware GUI. I used DD-WRT on several routers the majority of those years. I have heard many good things regarding Tomato as well, as far as ease of use for the GUI and installation as well. But I have no experience with Tomato. But as soon as I got my hands on a router compatible with OpenWrt 4-6 months ago everything has changed and I love it. It is more difficult to get started with though, but there is still plenty of information and also a forum. The GUI looks nice although more detailed and could be more complicated for some users and there are also alternative GUI's as well. But what I love about OpenWrt is that it has a package management system where you can install software from a repo of hundreds of different programs anytime you want on the router since it has a fully writable filesystem, whereas DD-WRT are static images and filesystem is read-only. OpenWrt is definitely the more challenging of alternative firmwares, but also the most rewarding once you've conquered it.
     
  20. WildByDesign

    WildByDesign Registered Member

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    How are you enjoying your WDR3600 now since you've been running it a few weeks?

    I just wanted to thank you because after reviewing your research here as well as following up with additional research of my own regarding open source firmware on this hardware, I decided to purchase the WDR3600 as well. Although after a few days I exchanged it since I was able to price match a WDR4300. Almost identical as far as hardware goes, same SoC and so on, basically just the additional antenna. Both models have been absolutely phenomenal running OpenWrt for a few days now and this one router was powerful enough 3 routers that I had running OpenWrt to spread out the processing power. I am a huge TP-LINK fan now. Wasn't too fond of the idea of the networking hardware coming out of China but feel better now after flashing open source firmware on there.

    Cheers! Enjoy your weekend MrBrian.
     
  21. zfactor

    zfactor Registered Member

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    the wdr3600 is a decent router imo average. tplink has some okay stuff though. im a beta tester for them (since mid year last year) and there is for sure some nice things in the works. i use a archer c7 v2 with a custom openwrt on it right now and it runs awesome and just works.
     
  22. TairikuOkami

    TairikuOkami Registered Member

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    It really depends, what functions you require, but for a basic router, I have picked Linksys E1200 because of IPv6 support, SPI firewall and it was cheap, about $30.
    All extra functions only decrease security, so cheaper might be safer. I have disabled 5GHz, it is pointless, since 2.4 GHz should have better signal and range anyway.
    I should mention, that I have had Belkin N300 before and it sucked, constant signal loosing, I have got 2 replacements, they suffered the same issue, never again.
     
  23. WildByDesign

    WildByDesign Registered Member

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    I agree, for sure. They seem to have higher quality components for less money which is always great. These same components under the other brands would by significantly more money. I put serious consideration into purchasing the Archer C7 as well because I would have been able to price match it and get a deal still and it also has great compatibility with OpenWrt. My only issue is that for the C7, the 2.4GHz antennas are all internal while the 5GHz antennas are all external. Reason being is that I rely more on the 2.4GHz band than I do the 5GHz band. So with the C7, it's 2.4GHz band isn't it's strong point. That ended up being part of my final decision between the TP-LINK models.
     
  24. zfactor

    zfactor Registered Member

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    if you find the v3 version it has both external antenna. it has three dual band ones. i sell tp link i can honestly say in most situations where i have used the 3600, 4300 and c7 the c7 wins 2.4 included even with its internal antenna.
     
  25. WildByDesign

    WildByDesign Registered Member

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    I trust your word, especially since you sell the brand and also have first hand experience with the hardware. I don't have first hand experience with the C7 and was simply just basing my decision on a review (http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wire...50-wireless-dual-band-gigabit-router-reviewed) although that very well could have been just a certain hardware revision of the C7. I know that they reviewed other revision(s) of C7 after that now and did not complain about the 2.4GHz in later revisions.

    I'm very happy at the moment with TP-LINK in general and especially how OpenWrt opens up my WDR4300 to utilize the hardware to do so much more. It's more than enough for my needs at the moment, but I will definitely keep an eye on the C series of TP-LINK going forward if/when the time comes for a new router or whatever models they happen to have at that time. I like the idea of the v3 revision that you mention but it's somewhat limited here in Canada what I am able to get my hands on. Although I am very pleased that TP-LINK shows the hardware revisions on the box which is a good thing when looking into open source firmware compatibility in particular.
     
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