When we talk about VPN routers, we refer to routers that have been previously configured to run a VPN service. There are many routers available nowadays that come with a built-in VPN client, which in most cases can be configured through the router’s admin page. You can also flash routers with third-party firmware like DD-WRT and Tomato, which features a VPN client. Furthermore, there are some providers that have pre-flashed routers that have been already configured with their VPN service.
Using a VPN router allows you to enjoy multiple advantages. The main benefit of using a VPN router is that all the devices that are connected to the router are secured with the VPN, even those devices that don’t support VPN software by default, including gaming consoles, smart TVs and Roku boxes. When you connect the devices to a router that is running a VPN service, you will be able to disguise your IP address and location.
For your provider, router only counts as one VPN connection, meaning that you will be able to connect as many devices to the VPN at the same time, using the router. While using a VPN router offers many benefits, the issue is that the process of encrypting and decrypting VPN data requires a lot processing capacity. The majority of routers are not capable of supporting this task, which slows downs your connection. This is an issue that affects mini VPN boxes in particular.
The hardware of certain devices like the PandaPow WiFi and similar options, is simply not capable of handling the task, which leads to significant loss of speed. This is why it is crucial that you select a VPN router that is robust and that offers strong performance to handle the job. This will allow you to enjoy good speeds. We will present a selection of the best VPN routers that you can get, but first we’ll take a look at some important aspects to consider.
Aspects to keep in mind when it comes to VPN routers
The routers available commercially are usually designed to be easy to use to ensure that beginners have no issues with them. The problem is that this may sacrifice the functionality of the router and you may end up with a device that is too basic. In order to expand the functionality of your router, you can rely on firmware like DD-WRT. This open source solution can get rid of the limits that default programming imposes on routers.
You can install DD-WRT on your router to enjoy advanced features, without having to pay for a high-end device. The process offers so many advantages that it is not possible to list them all. However, you can find some important ones below:
Thanks to Network storage (NAS), you can plug USB flash drives into DD-WRT flashed routers that come with USB ports that can be used as network drives.
It is also possible to plug printers into a USB port so that they can be accessed from anywhere within the network.
Thanks to advanced quality of service (QoS) controls, you can change bandwidth allocation settings for a variety of networks. Usually, UPnP media streaming is provided.
DNS caching accelerates host name lookup to improve connection speeds to popular sites.
The advanced performance graphs that DD-WRT offers, allow you to check the network performance and bandwidth use, with detailed information.
You can turn the router into a Wireless repeater to increase the range of the WiFi signal thanks to the wireless bridging.
Kai Daemon is a feature that offers network tunneling for the PC, Xbox and other devices to the open source Xlink Kai game platform.
You can adjust the antenna power and increase the wireless range.
How to flash routers to use DD-WRT
The process of changing or upgrading the firmware of your router is known as flashing. It is not possible to flash all routers with DD-WRT, although there is an extensive selection of bands and models that are compatible. In fact, some devices from brands like Belkin and Buffalo Technology offer DD-WRT as the default firmware. You can check the official DD-WRT website for a fill list of compatible routers. https://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Supported_Devices
There are different methods to get a flashed router. You can buy one that already comes with DD-WRT as the default firmware. Alternatively, you can get a router that is compatible with DD-WRT and flash it by yourself. Although the process is not too difficult, it is important to keep in mind that it requires some technical skills and if you are not careful, you may end up damaging the router permanently. Also note that there is a risk that you void the manufacturer’s warranty. Still, flashing the router on your own is the most affordable option. You can find the installation guide here: http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Installation.
The other option is to buy a router that has been already flashed with DD-WRT. There are retailers like FlashRouters that sell these devices. While buying a router that has been already flashed is more expensive, it is a practical solution that can save you a lot of hassle. After all, if you make a mistake when you are flashing the router, you can end up with a device that doesn’t work at all. Instead of losing time and money, you can buy a device from FlashRouters, a US company that focuses on selling routers that have been already flashed with DD-WRT or Tomato.
How to configure a DD-WRT router to use VPN
Almost all the builds of DD-WRT support VPN using PPTP, which is not the most secure option available. OpenVPN is a better option and while the basic framework of DD-WRT works with OpenVPN, not all routers support builds that support this protocol. The best thing is to check that your router does.
You can find setup guides for DD-WRT routers from many VPN providers, but some only work with PPTP. It is also possible to find general guides on the official DD-WRT website. There are VPN providers that offer routers that have been previously flashed with DD-WRT and that are already running the VPN service. FlashRouters also sells routers that feature well-known VPN services.
Another firmware that can expand the functionality of your router is Tomato. You can use it to flash a compatible router. Although DD-WRT offers better functionality and it may be easier to use for beginners, Tomato is preferred by many users due to its great interface and its fantastic real-time network monitoring capacities.
Best VPN routers
The Linksys WRT3200ACM is a powerful router that is already configured with ExpressVPN’s exclusive OpenWRT firmware. This means that the set up is very simple and the router is very easy to use. The router prevents DNS and WebRTC leaks and the firewall included works as a kill switch. One of the best features is the split-tunneling, which allows you to route some connected devices through the VPN, while others use the standard internet connection.
Linksys WRT1900ACS DD-WRT
This is another fantastic router that is powerful enough to handle VPN technology while offering great speeds. It comes with a 1.6 Ghz dual core ARM processor and it is ready to be flashed with custom DD-WRT builds that are designed to get the most out of the functionality. Alternatively, you can purchase this router already flashed from a retailer like FlashRouters.
Asus RT-AC56U DD-WRT
This router is available for a convenient price and it provides sufficient processing power to support VPN connections with good speeds. The Asus RT-AC56U DD-WRT is an ideal router for users who want to stick to a budget. When it is flashed with Asus RT-AC56U, it becomes a versatile device with a great range of features.
NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000 Sabai OS
While the NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000 Sabai OS doesn’t offer as many features as other routers in the list, it has the capacity needed to process VPN data efficiently. It uses Sabai OS, the open source custom firmware created by Sabai Technology. Sabay Technology offers great support and the router will impress you with its powerful performance.