best bang for the buck with tomato shibby ?

Discussion in 'Tomato Firmware' started by qwerty11, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. qwerty11

    qwerty11 Serious Server Member

    hi guys
    ive been having a hard time finding the best router

    now i looked at the CPU and the switch

    these are the routers im looking at when its comes to speed for money
    ( i dont care about wifi performance)

    E3200 using a BCM47186 with a switch BCM53125 69.99$ refurbished

    E4200 BCM4718 with a Broadcom BCM53115 Gigabit 90$ used

    WNR3500L BCM4718 with a Broadcom BCM53115 30$ used 50$ refurbished

    you'll notice the e4200 and the WNR3500L has the same hardware but for some reason scores very low compared to the E4200 when it comes to WAN to LAN on Smallnetbuilder even on other sites it scores around ~270MB/s my guess is traffic acceleration or CTF wasn't optimized on the stock (OLD) firmware on the review but doesn't matter since i know that it will be disabled when QOS is on which is important to me is it a smarter choice to choose the WNR3500L over linksys here ? remember wifi speed isn't important for me
  2. lefty

    lefty Networkin' Nut Member

    IMHO, i would go for the E4200v1 out of the three you listed. The WNR3500L is a good unit, and around $40 here refurb, but it has 2 limitations to me that i didn't like.

    1) they advertise it to have an 8MB flash, but because of how netgear engineer their boards, you don't get the full 8MB flash, only about 7.6MB, because they use some of the flash space for storing board data. imo, netgear's should come with 16MB flash standard if they are going to continue to engineer their boards in that fashion, then they would be decent units all way around.

    2) it only has 32k of nvram, which to me now, its crucial to have no less than 60k of nvram for storing settings, vpn certs etc etc. If you don't manage a somewhat sizeful network, 32k nvram is still ok, but as my network grew, so did the need to have the extra nvram.
    Jay So and qwerty11 like this.
  3. qwerty11

    qwerty11 Serious Server Member

    thanks you for the fast reply
    The only thing i use on tomato is QOS i turn everything off so does this mean the WNR3500L is a better choice ?

    EDIT why do i need more nvram if i have a bigger network ?
    i have two routers and one switch connected to the main router (a total of around 9 devices )
  4. JugsteR

    JugsteR Addicted to LI Member

    The smart choice is not to try to save money on the router. Buy the one that is actually best, you'll probably have to live with it for awhile, a few dollars counted on a couple of years is nothing. Same goes for monitors, power supplies and keyboards. Don't skimp out.

    With that said, my 3500L works wonderfully.

    Signature? Signature!
    qwerty11 likes this.
  5. lefty

    lefty Networkin' Nut Member

    If all you use is QoS, the 3500L should be fine then. Why do you need more nvram if you manage a sizeful network you ask? Because the nvram of a wireless router is where all the nvram variables are stored, for just about everything - core wise - that the router has, hardware setting variables, firewall settings, qos rules, vpn certs etc.

    Where i first felt the effects of this is having a WRT610N v2, after flashing it with 3rd party firmware and it only having 32k nvram, you are only left with a very small amount left after the flash itself, because hardware variables themselves eat up nvram, and since it was a dual radio unit, it ate 2x as much just on initial bootup - not even configured yet. So you were left with a very small frame of nvram in which you could customize your network with - IE after around 20+ port forward rules you start running low, if you get into the 100bytes free of nvram zone, the router will become unresponsive after some given while in which only a reboot can fix it for a small time, then it'll be back to where it was again, unresponsive. Then i read about a wrt610n v2 conversion to e3000 (which has 60k nvram). i did that to the unit and got more nvram and now have no problem with worrying about nvram, the unit now has plenty free where it stays stable now and doesn't ever become unresponsive atleast for now ;)

    But as i said, if all you are wanting is what you stated above with just using QoS, then the 32k nvram that the 3500L has should be enough, its when you start piling config upon config on top of that that you may run low on nvram, but doubtful on that unit, my case was different though and you asked so there it is. :)
    qwerty11 likes this.
  6. qwerty11

    qwerty11 Serious Server Member

    thanks for the help !
  7. Ole Juul

    Ole Juul Networkin' Nut Member

    Having recently purchased one, I can report that the WNR3500L actually has 120MB of flash and 120MB of nvram. It is the old model (v1) which has the lower figures. I did notice that there were vendors on eBay and Amazon who were seemingly unscrupulous and selling the old ones without making that clear. I've also seen advertisements on many vendor sites which give wrong information. It appears as if somebody at Netgear has not managed their informational releases properly and caused confusion in the market place.

    That said, I haven't tried the other two routers, but the Netgear has been functioning like a charm running Shibby 105 AIO. If I cared more about wireless, I think I would rethink the internal antenna option though, and go with something else.
  8. qwerty11

    qwerty11 Serious Server Member

    from what i understand the v1 is more desirable
    i dont want to go into it but people got pissed at what netgear did with the v2

    tomato shibby supports the v2 but its an RT build not a plain K26 build
  9. lefty

    lefty Networkin' Nut Member

    Actually you are both wrong, the WNR3500L v1 is a BCM4718 @ 480Mhz has 8MB flash and 64MB ram and uses the older RT driver and only has 32k nvram.

    The WNR3500L v2 is a BCM5357 @ 480Mhz with 128 flash (nand) and 128MB ram and has to use the newer RT-N driver as the RT driver doesn't have support for BCM535x or BCM470x newer chipsets, and also this unit only has 32k nvram as well.

    The main deal with WNR3500L v2 support is it has a few things against it right now that make it hard to support, such as nand flash and serial based radio, it would be hard to add the support for these types of units and still keep it within the main branch of building whilst still supporting older non nand/non serial based units. But with manufacturers and their current design choices (alot of them are starting to use nand flash and serial based radios) soon there will be no choice..
  10. qwerty11

    qwerty11 Serious Server Member

    actually you are wrong
  11. lefty

    lefty Networkin' Nut Member

    Perhaps you should actually read what you post. Even within the wiki devi entry: "FCC photos show the device with a BCM4718A1 WiSoC, BCM4331 wireless chip, and a W9751G6JB-25 RAM chip. This is completely wrong"

    Nothing i posted was wrong, in fact i been working on porting this to a different firmware altogether, but thats another story to be told of some other time. :) And this is also why i know this unit is somewhat harder to support and keep it within the main RT-N build tree.

    And just to confirm it so as to lay it to rest for you:
  12. RDHLLC

    RDHLLC Serious Server Member

    E4200v1 gets my vote. I've got 6 of them and not a single problem.
  13. Ole Juul

    Ole Juul Networkin' Nut Member

    Thanks for the clarification lefty. (yes, I did mean to say 128, not 120)

    Regarding the FCC photos being wrong. I thing the whole release of information from Netgear on this model was handled incompetently. There are errors all over the net. In fact it took me a long time to sort it out, and after I bought the unit I realized that I might have been misled regarding the accessibility of the internal memory. I'm new to looking at routers (other than buying old WRT54G's) so that's not hard to do, but would be interested in more information about how to (if even possible) to utilize the supposed 128MB of storage this thing has. I'll read more on this forum (Netgear's myopenrouter forum has almost nothing about this model) and perhaps start another thread if I need to.
  14. Jay So

    Jay So Networkin' Nut Member

    I like the E4200 v1s but they are getting harder and harder to find online and you get stuck with v2s. I've had quite a few for friends and clients and no complaints so far with DD-WRT or Tomato.
  15. lefty

    lefty Networkin' Nut Member

    Yes, out of the 3 the OP listed, there is a reason the E4200 v1 is still close to $100 even refurb/used, because they are great units. The only unit i have that comes close to its performance is the netgear WNDR4000, and that is mainly because they are almost the same unit - minus nvram and flash space, otherwise they are the same. The WNDR4000 however doesn't have tomato support, but hopefully since the WNDR3700v3 (another variant of the wndr4000 - same hardware/specs) is being ported by shibby, this may possibly change. Who knows...
  16. quihong

    quihong Networkin' Nut Member

    I'll throw out some recommendations:
    Belkin Share N300 (F7D3302/F7D7302) - 1 USB, No Gigabit ($25 shipped on Amazon, low as $18 in the past)
    Belkin Share Max N300 (F7D3301/F7D7301) - 2 USB, Gigabit (discontinued, check ebay, low as $22 in the past)
    Belkin Play N600 (F7D4302/F7D8302) - 1 USB, Dual Band, No Gigabit ($35 shipped on Amazon, low as $25 in the past)
    Belkin Play N600 HD (F7D4301/F7D8301) - 2 USB, Dual Band, Gigabit ($60 shipped on Aamzon. low as $30 in the past)

    Broadcom BCM4716 Rev1
    453 MHz CPU
    8 MB Flash
    64 MB RAM
  17. jerrm

    jerrm Network Guru Member

    I'll second the Belkin routers. There are better units out there, but these are solid performers once they have been flashed with Tomato, especially at the current pricing. Outside of wireless performance, I doubt you will see significant difference between these units and most other other 480mhz BCM47xx models. Wireless performs well, but is hampered a little by the internal antenna config.

    Biggest negatives for these routers -
    1: Internal antennas
    2: Only a singe green/amberLED for the entire unit. The 3302/7302 models don't light up at all when power is first applied. Thought my first one was DOA when I first plugged it in. Give it 30 seconds or so.
    3: Only 32K NVRAM.
    4: Shibby's "initial flash" firmware for these units hasn't worked with the current builds, the CFE mini server says they are invalid. Toastman's work fine. Once the first Tomato flash is done, standard Shibby or Toastman K26 RT or RT-N builds work fine. I'm using RT-N.
  18. quihong

    quihong Networkin' Nut Member

    For the Belkin you need to flash to DD-WRT first then to TomatoUSB. Here are the correct versions for each.

    Belkin Share N300 (F7D7302)

    Belkin Share Max N300 (F7D3301/F7D7301)

    Belkin Play N600 (F7D4302/F7D8302)

    Belkin Play N600 HD (F7D4301/F7D8301)
  19. jerrm

    jerrm Network Guru Member

    No, you can use Toastman's model specific .bin files. In theory Shibby's should work, but don't.
  20. quihong

    quihong Networkin' Nut Member

    Yeah I know technically you can, but it simpler and easier to understand for new users to say - flash to dd-wrt first then tomato.
  21. kinni

    kinni Reformed Router Member

    I'm looking for a solid recommendation as well. And I *do* care about wifi speed and capability.

    What is most stable/best-price shibby/router combo out there? I'll be doing QoS for torrents over wifi... Soo that's important also.

    Thank you in advance.
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