How to Choose the Best Firmware to Boost Your Low Cost Router
High performance routers offer great quality and many advantages that make them an investment worth considering. However, not everyone can afford paying between $150 to $400 for a top-end router. That’s why it’s important to think about ways to improve the performance of a cheaper router.
The best solution is to install third-party firmware that would significantly enhance the capacity of a budget router. Unfortunately, using third-party firmware would void the warranty of your router, meaning that if anything goes wrong, your router could be ruined and unserviceable. It is important to follow instructions so that you don’t waste money on a bricked router.
Users who do not have the necessary technical skills, or do not feel comfortable flashing their router’s firmware, would be better off buying a pre-configured router. This is an ideal alternative for anyone that isn’t tech-savvy, but wants to use a third party router firmware. There are great and varied pre-configured routers available online and you can find websites that offer great customer support.
For now, lets a look at the third party firmware options available; DD-WRT, Tomato and Open WRT, to help you choose the right solution for your router.
DD-WRT is one of the most popular firmware options to flash a router. It is well-established and with years of development, a stable and easy to install version is available. You even can update it on your router without any issues.
Although DD-WRT is widely used, it may not be the best option for every situation. Its extremely versatile, and can be used for simple tasks such as re-purposing an old router into a Wi-Fi repeater. It is important to keep in mind the model number of your router and its specifications before you opt for this route. Some of the models compatible with this firmware include ASUS RT-AC56U/RT-N10, Belkin F5D7130/ F5D8235-4 and SparkLAN WX- 6615.
You can find the full list on DD-WRT’s official website or consult our selected list of routers. Read more about setting up DD-WRT for VPN use, as well our suggestions of VPN services to use in conjunction with the firmware.
Tomato is another well-known firmware that works in almost the same way as DD-WRT, although it offers less features. While there are some adjustments required during the installation and upgrade, the process is very simple. Tomato is excellent for routers that are not supported by DD-WRT and is the best alternative. Tomato’s compatibility is limited compared to other firmware, but it works with routers like Linksys WRT54GL.v1.x/ WRT54G v1-v4 and Buffalo WHR3-AG54.
OpenWRT is on a different league than DD-WRT and Tomato. Instead of offering all the features in the same package, OpenWRT works as a platform where features can be developed. OpenWRT may work differently for every user, providing a package management system that lets you add functions and create new possibilities for your router.
Keep in mind that in order to get the most out of OpenWRT, technical skills and knowledge would be required to avoid any risk of damaging the router. Overall, the platform has become much more user friendly, and is gradually becoming very popular due to the performance it delivers.
This brief comparison between the three will help you to identify the best option for your router . Remember that you need to know what you are doing before flashing your router firmware, otherwise, you may end up bricking it. If you do not feel that you have the expertise to install third-party firmware on your router, the best solution is to purchase a pre-flashed router.