Processor speed bottleneck from WRT54G v1.0 under 25/3 Charter Broadband connection?

Discussion in 'Tomato Firmware' started by Gewehr98, Mar 9, 2010.

  1. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 LI Guru Member

    Charter recently upgraded our 20 down / 2 up cable modem subscription to 25/3 sometime around March 1st, 2010.

    I had been considering dropping the 20/2 service (which we upgraded to in December 2009) and going back to our older 10/1 service since we've seldom see more than 10Mbps on the download side and 400K on the upload side.

    Part of me thinks it's because my ancient Linksys WRT54G v1.0 is struggling with a 125mhz processor under Tomato v1.19. While it was fine at the old 10Mbps rate, perhaps the newer 20Mbps feed was just too much.

    We also have 6 computers tied into the WRT54G v1.0, so when they hit the cable modem, it could be all at once - thereby reducing WAN speed by a given fraction.

    I have our Vonage VoIP Motorola box using one LAN port, so there's also a constant bandwidth sucker right there.

    Some things I've not tried yet are disabling QoS, setting a DMZ to one computer to just do a Speakeasy Speed Test, and plugging a computer directly into the Charter cable modem for comparison.

    While I'm pretty much committed to buying a WRT54G-TM for the extra memory and faster 200+ Mhz processor speed, I'm curious if anybody has ever noticed an improvement in WAN speeds by doing such an upgrade in WRT54G variants. :confused:
  2. joeyford1

    joeyford1 LI Guru Member

    Disable QoS, unplug everything except 1 PC (yours) and do a speed test. then plug direct to modem and test.

    But no, I have not seen any improvement by plugging direct to modem. Keep in mind that even at max speed of 20 down is still much slower than PC to PC on your intranet.
  3. Azuse

    Azuse LI Guru Member

    A multi-threaded http download on my 1.1 @ 250mhz put the cpu at 0.5/6 on a link doing ~ 10.5Mb down (1.3 MB). Sounds to me like you're trying to push that tiny chip much higher than it can go, although I hear asus make a good router these days... :)
  4. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 LI Guru Member

    Played with some settings tonight...

    I disabled QoS, then set the upstream and downstream QoS rates closer to what Charter advertises for the recent 25/3 upgrade.

    I did see some improvement in a batch of speed tests, a couple on the order of 18Mbps down/2.5Mbps up, but nothing like 25/3.

    I bought a WRT54G-TM and am having the seller flash it to Tomato 1.27. When I get it, I'll install heatsinks and try it at 200Mhz or higher, depending on overclocking stability.

    I tend to agree with the idea that I'm just expecting too much in the WAN-LAN throughput of the venerable WRT54G family of routers, and may go with a Tomato-modded ASUS to make best use of my high-speed internet connection.
  5. BobOki

    BobOki Network Guru Member

    I am in the same boat, my wrt54gs overclocked to 250 is hardly pulling down 20/10, if I plug directly in to the modem I get my advertised 50/10 no problem.
    I would love to know if my limitation is the cpu (I only see .16 cpu in top) or something else.
  6. ilovejedd

    ilovejedd LI Guru Member

    I've got the WRT54GL (200MHz CPU, 16MB RAM, 4MB Flash) and I'm getting 30/3 (QoS disabled) with the new Docsis 3.0 modem Charter shipped. Connecting the PC directly to the modem, though, I was getting 43/3.

    Are there settings I should try or do you guys think it might be worth upgrading to a different router?
  7. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 LI Guru Member

    That's interesting, Ilovejedd!

    Charter just notified me that they're sending a new DOCSIS 3.0 modem to me to replace my older version, too.

    Perhaps that will help in the WAN speed, in addition to the WRT54G-TM I just purchased.

    I'm also waiting to see if BobOki's purchase of the Asus N-series router with the Teddy Bear Tomato modification will open things up some...
  8. ilovejedd

    ilovejedd LI Guru Member

    Apparently, the earlier quoted value of 30/3 was on a WRT54G v2.0+Tomato 1.23. I have a WRT54GL v1.0 that was being used as a wireless ethernet bridge for the HTPC and I think an extra WRT54GL v1.1 in a box somewhere (likely in storage). Anyhow, since I wasn't using the WRT54GL anymore (wired the HTPC), I upgraded it to Tomato 1.25 Victek mod, copied the settings from the primary router and overclocked it to 250MHz.

    So far, the router seems stable and it doesn't seem to be running hotter than the previous one despite the overclock. In any case, I can just use my old router with vanilla Tomato as a drop-in replacement should anything happen to the oc'ed router.

    Here's what I got from Speedtest with the WRT54GL v1.0 oc'ed to 250MHz:

    By the looks of it, I won't need to buy a replacement router anytime soon. :biggrin: Methinks you'll be very happy with that WRT54G-TM purchase. :thumbups:
  9. szfong

    szfong Network Guru Member

    I've found speedtest results from various isp's are not particularly accurate. It can only show momentary bursts of speed which does not utilize your router fully or they pay the providers to give you false numbers. Try making multiple ftp or http downloads from say by d/l a microsoft trial software iso file at You'll max your connection & know your true speed. Your true speed will be much slower than the inflated speedtest numbers.

    D/l multiple well seeded linux iso's should also max your conection and show your true dl & ul speed
  10. ilovejedd

    ilovejedd LI Guru Member

    Granted, that may be true, but I'm just trying to eliminate the router as bottleneck and looks like that's been accomplished. Besides, my connection's just 25/3. :tongue:

    Stressing my internet right now and looking at Tomato's bandwidth monitoring, highest burst speed I got was 78Mbps (9750KB/s). Average download speed was 26Mbps (3250KB/s). Not bad at all... :cool:
  11. szfong

    szfong Network Guru Member

    With DOCSIS 3.0, the wrt54gl can be the bottleneck, the diff w/ router & without during stressful testing can be significant. A newer more powerful Tomato router is recommended. If your not going to need to constantly max out you connection, it won't matter.
  12. FattysGoneWild

    FattysGoneWild LI Guru Member

    Glad I came across this thread. I have Charter as well and was upgraded to the 25mb/3mb tier. In which Charter also uses powerboost. I had to buy a new modem. A Motorola SB6120. I also have a Linksys WRT54GL v1.1 running Vicktek 1.25 ND firmware. Router is not overclocked. My area has not enabled channel bonding just yet. Seems like it may be best to upgrade the router as well. I really want to stay with Tomato. I have been hearing good things about Asus. Should I go with that? I think it is the WL-520gU or WL-500g? I dont care about the usb support. I want to stay with Victek's version if at all possible. My only concerns are if it is hard to flash and will it meet my needs speed wise with this new upgrade from Charter?
  13. Armand1234

    Armand1234 Addicted to LI Member

    Fatty did you read post No. #8 in this thread?
  14. szfong

    szfong Network Guru Member


    As long as you do not do much QoS and constantly connect multiple wireless clients (wireless uses quite a bit of cpu), then it's ok. a few years ago I had hit a similar bottleneck, I built an embedded board for routing, and used Tomato only for wireless/wired bridge/monitoring traffic. Also avoid p2p transfers, at such high speeds, especially over wireless when using wrt54gl. Your options are more numerous nowdays, as higher speed cpu routers from asus & netgear are being made compatible w/ tomato.
  15. FattysGoneWild

    FattysGoneWild LI Guru Member

    I read it. But to scared to OC to 250mhz.


    As for wireless. We only have a netbook and nintendo wii using it. QoS I don't even use because of powerboost Charter uses. No p2p being used either. I am curious though. What newer routers actually use Tomato now? I mean officially and not just some beta or some thing.
  16. rhester72

    rhester72 Network Guru Member

    For the record, I have two (physically) unmodified GLs overclocked to 250MHz and have been for more than a year each without issue. YMMV, of course, but it seems just fine on the GL and TM.

    All newer hardware support in Tomato has been a community/beta effort. To the best of my knowledge, Jon has no direct plans for expanding the range of "officially" supported hardware.

    In my mind, Tomato has effectively been forked from itself, and I personally now consider the 2.6 tree/git repository "official" (though beta). Others are welcome to disagree, but the number (and depth) of changes to Tomato coming directly from Jon has slowed to a trickle over the past six months. This is partly because a brick wall was hit with 2.4 and partly because he no doubt has more pressing real-life obligations and/or tired of working on Tomato by himself. In any event, I believe the wider community effort, once having gelled a bit and having a slightly more stringent code review/testing process, will ultimately become the official source. Whether it's called Tomato or Plum or something else is a matter for debate, but what you see in git right now is as real as it gets.

  17. szfong

    szfong Network Guru Member

    They are all "beta" code, however don't let that label bother you too much as I've used so called "release quality" router firmware with horrible results.

    btw, I also use to OC my router, just make sure you've modified your bootloader for easy recovery if you brick it by OC to 250. Some newer routers will auto revert to old freq if properly hard reset. What little performance you get, you will or should need a fanless chipset sized heatsink, cut to size on the broadcom cpu. Also realize that depending on which part of the wafer the cpu core was produced, your mileage may vary greatly on how far your cpu will OC or could OC to 250MHz. Just cuz others can by sheer luck does not mean your router can. My advice, get newer/better/faster router that only costs about $20-30 more than the wrt54gl.
  18. FattysGoneWild

    FattysGoneWild LI Guru Member


    Making my own thread. Don't want to hijack this 1.
  19. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 LI Guru Member

    Bottleneck averted, for now.

    I received the Ubee DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem from Charter last Friday. I tore apart my NIB WRT54G-TM and installed heatsinks on the ICs that looked like they needed them, then I configured Tomato v1.27 with all the QoS and wireless settings that I had on the older 125Mhz WRT54G v1.0.

    Logging into various online speed test sites from the different computers on the home network, I'm delighted to see between 21/2.5 to 27/3.5 on the screens. Granted, that's very much dependent on what time of day I do the tests, and it appears Charter hasn't enabled channel bonding on the DOCSIS 3.0 modems just yet.

    Right now, the WRT54G-TM is running at the stock 200Mhz. I *could* overclock it later, but it's doing just fine in the current configuration. I suppose Charter will eventually roll out faster service now that DOCSIS 3.0 is implemented, and then I'll have more work ahead of me. In the meantime, the WRT54G-TM looks happy where it is, basement lights on or off! :biggrin:


  20. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 LI Guru Member

    Quick update...

    I overclocked the router to 225Mhz for now, and I'm seeing 29/3 - 30/3.5 more often than not. Two stepsons tell me their WarCrack sessions are blazingly fast, and even in heavily populated virtual cities (Ironforge?) the characters and scenery "pop" into view with no lag whatsoever. I do notice that the WRT54G-TM is warm to the touch, so I may put the small DC squirrel cage fan behind the stack to keep it happy over the long term. I'm amazed that a change in hardware from the older 125Mhz WRT54G v1.0 to the newer 225Mhz WRT54G-TM (plus the extra memory, I guess) can improve so much in the general throughput scheme of things! :biggrin:
  21. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 LI Guru Member

    It's been a while, and Charter has since enabled channel bonding on the DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem. I'm averaging 40/3 speeds, and that's with two other people in the house running WarCrack and the spousal unit on the Vonage phone. I also bumped up the WRT54G-TM's clock speed to 250Mhz, with stability solely dependent on the battery capacity of the UPS attached to the router. That's pretty darned good, IMHO.
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