"Best" router to buy...?

Discussion in 'Tomato Firmware' started by burritoboy9984, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. burritoboy9984

    burritoboy9984 Addicted to LI Member

    I looked briefly and didn't really find a thread discussing this... But if you were going to buy a new router to run tomato on it, what would it be? I noticed the cpu in the Netgear is a little more powerful, while the Linksys and Asus seem to be similarly slower and much the same (minus the usb). So, am I missing anything or would the Netgear be best?

  2. Toastman

    Toastman Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    I think there have actually been several threads on the subject recently - you could say it's been done to death! The consensus is that the WRT54G-TM wins on most counts.
  3. burritoboy9984

    burritoboy9984 Addicted to LI Member

    Can you still buy those? (other than ebay?) If not, what is "second best"? lol

    Or you can link me to the other threads and I will read up :)

  4. philtrim

    philtrim Addicted to LI Member

    newegg.com has the Linksys wrt54gl for 49.95 free shipping!
  5. burritoboy9984

    burritoboy9984 Addicted to LI Member

    ya, saw that... was thinking about that... newegg also has the asus 520 for $32 to my door after mail in rebate... Trying to decide what to get... Also found the netgear and buffalo for $55 on amazon... decisions decisions...

  6. neoufo51

    neoufo51 Network Guru Member

    Best routers I would have to say are in this order:

    1) Linksys WRT54G-TM
    2) Buffalo WHR-HP-54G
    3) Asus WL-520gU
  7. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 LI Guru Member

    I'm more than just a little curious, too.

    I'm currently running an older Linksys WRT54G v1.0 (20 LEDs) on the home network, under Tomato v1.19. I ran into trouble with v1.23, so reverted back to v1.19, and it's been rock-solid for at least 180 days when I last rebooted it to clear the log out.

    We run 6 computers in a house of 4 people, as well as 5 SnapServers and Vonage VoIP. Broadband is 10Mbps Charter cable modem, with a potential upgrade soon to 16Mbps. The WRT54G v1.0 feeds the wireless signal through a WSB24 booster and out through a pair of HGA7T antennae, giving excellent 802.11g coverage on my property, both inside and outside.

    I know full well that my WRT54G v1.0's Broadcom chip runs at 125Mhz, and the WRT-54GTM has better stats with respect to CPU and memory. The question I have is will I actually notice much of a performance increase by switching to a WRT-54GTM w/Tomato vs. the current WRT54G v1.0 w/Tomato?

    The WRT-54GTM seems to be the hot setup nowadays. I'm of the opinion I should grab one and flash it to Tomato, and relegate the older WRT54G v1.0 to spare status in the unlikely event that the WRT54GTM dies.

    I'm very much interested in inputs regarding the performance differences between the two variants of Linksys WRT54G routers.
  8. Incidentflux

    Incidentflux LI Guru Member

    I went for the 'Buffalo WHR-HP-G54', at first because it was a hassle looking for the 16 MB Linksys WRT54G version in the United Arab Emirates, apparently new ones are few and far between.

    Since all Buffalo WHR-HP-G54 come with 4 MB of flash and 16 MB of RAM, the choice was simple. Very happily running Tomato with my Buffalo WHR-HP-G54.

    Google product search - Buffalo WHR-HP-G54

    Amazon.com - Buffalo WHR-HP-G54
  9. wasp87

    wasp87 Network Guru Member

    @ Gewehr

    I would think you'd notice a performance difference coming from a WRT54G 1.0, especially with wireless. The 1.0 had ADDON wireless, it's chip wasn't even integrated on the motherboard lol. Sounds very primitive.

    Even going from 200mhz to 216mhz there is a benchmarkable throughput increase.
  10. spliff

    spliff LI Guru Member

    The Asus WL-520GU has the BCM5354 which has better wireless sensitivity than the older broadcom chipsets and runs at 240mhz. It has 16M/4M memory configuration and its cheap.
  11. bripab007

    bripab007 Network Guru Member

    Yes, but haven't I read that, despite running at 240Mhz, the processor in that Asus is slightly different than the ones in the latest WRT54G-TM and -GL, and is sluggish compared to theirs, even when running at only 200Mhz?
  12. spliff

    spliff LI Guru Member

    The BCM5354 is an upgrade to the BCM5352 found in the WRT54G-GL/TM. It is faster and has better wireless sensitivity/performance.
  13. bripab007

    bripab007 Network Guru Member

    Maybe I'm confusing the Asus router with the Buffalo...one of the two has gone through several model changes, all capable of running Tomato, but the latest version is more sluggish than the harder-to-find original version. It must be the Buffalo, because 264Mhz is stuck in my head as the figure...okay, yeah, just Googled it, I think it's the Buffalo G54...although the Asus WL-500 also shares this proc.: Broadcom 4704 @ 264Mhz.
  14. Toastman

    Toastman Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    I have several WL500gP v2's. My findings are quite different. The 5354 is a budget chipset, and due to its internal architecture it is very noticeably slower than the WRT54GL. The wireless is also inferior to the WRT54GL, all the ones I own have less range and sensitivity. The chipset can't be overclocked, nor the transmit power increased.

    This sluggishness has also been commented on in different forums by "Oleg", the author of the most popular third-party firmware for ASUS routers, along with many other users.

    Or, to put it a different way, it's a pile of dingo's kidneys ...
  15. spliff

    spliff LI Guru Member

  16. darthboy

    darthboy LI Guru Member

    I remember that due to some issues, recent ddwrt and tomato builds limit the WL520GU to 200MHz, despite the chip being capable of 240.
  17. Toastman

    Toastman Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    spliff, don't have time to do the tests again. But you can easily see. Just access the 54GL web GUI via LAN. It's nearly instantaneous. Now do the same with the ASUS. There's a noticeable delay. The response to everything is slower. I believe the internal architecture of the processor is responsible, these all-in-one solutions often cut corners. The throughput was down, but I didn't keep any figures. I did find some complaints with Google, although the majority of people seemed to impressed by the USB and the shiny case, the few people who did any real tests found the same as I did and they raised the issue with Oleg, his comment was really that the router was indeed slow and did not deserve the 500gP v2 label as it had nothing in common with the v1. Today I can't find that thread - it was on the ASUS English forum somewhere.

    Re the wireless, my nearest AP site which I use for tests is 25m away, and reaches me through some concrete walls. The WRT54GL gives me close to 54Mbps connection, the ASUS mounted in exactly the same spot gives me only 5Mbps.

    I'm waiting to get hold of the Asus RT-N16 which looks as if it could take anything you can throw at it.

    Broadcom BCM4718 at 533MHz.
    28Mbytes DDR2 memory. ROM: 32MB
    Support up to 300,000 sessions
    USB Ports: 2
    WLAN: Dual Radio N
    Support NTFS read/write.
    Simultaneous 5GHz and 2.4 GHz operation

    Thread and pictures here: http://wl500g.info/showthread.php?t=19629

    This is a router that does run Linux, there have been two versions of firmware, 2.4 and 2.6 kernel based, so it does look as if a possibility is there for tomato.
  18. jsmiddleton4

    jsmiddleton4 Network Guru Member

    Thatsa nice router....
  19. neoufo51

    neoufo51 Network Guru Member

    Holy crap. That is a god among routers.
  20. spliff

    spliff LI Guru Member

    Toastman I think you are right. I did some testing with my Netgear WNR834B V2 running DD-WRT and the WL-520GU running Tomato. The Neatgear loads pages much faster. I did some reading and the BCM5354 appears to have the radio on this chip itself while the BCM5352 interfaces with a BCM2050 wireless controller. So the BCM5354 is more integrated and therefore slower?

    I also found those threads that say the WL-520GU runs at 200MHZ and not 240MHZ.
  21. bripab007

    bripab007 Network Guru Member

    Well, I guess I wasn't going crazy after all :biggrin:
  22. spliff

    spliff LI Guru Member

    I wish I could read russian because there is a ton of posts on the asus site regarding the 5354 chipset. If there's one thing I've learned about Russians, when they want to know something they will know it well! :smile:
  23. Toastman

    Toastman Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    I think the internal memory addressing is responsible. To me, the 5354 seems to be a crippled budget chipset. I really use the 500gP v2 for only one reason - the 32MB memory. It is the only such router commonly available here. Actually, most places seem to have stopped selling it recently.

    This is not to say it's a bad router - it isn't really that bad, and it's reliable. It's actually quite nice and I'm sorry I was rude to it. But it ain't as fast as the WRT54GL, 240 MHz or not. Period.

    I think we are at the point where people want more performance from a router, and that we will soon see several new solutions like the RT-N16. Personally I think that Linksys's new WRT160NL "N" router, as a replacement for the WRT54GL, is too little, and much too too late. As for me, I will try to avoid buying any more wireless routers until I have got my hands on a RT-N16! And I fervently hope that somehow, Tomato will get ported to this platform! Next, we need low cost AP's which complement these newer routers. Until then the WRT54GL is my preferred AP. (Why do dedicated access points always cost an arm and a leg?)
  24. Vezado

    Vezado LI Guru Member

    That router looks fantastic, but the price is quite high. I hope that drops down to a realistic level soon, even after the price reduction it is still 4x the cost of a 54GL.
  25. spliff

    spliff LI Guru Member

    The BCM4704 is quite fast under DD-WRT. I should do some benchmarks but it appears that it doesn't even break a sweat with 30 megabits on my cable modem. Its a shame Tomato does not run on the newer Broadcom routers.
  26. Toastman

    Toastman Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    Spliff : here's a typical post from DD-WRT forum - note this was 2007! And this is not even a v2 ...

  27. Trademark

    Trademark Network Guru Member

    Be sure to check your local T-Mobile stores. I just picked up a few WRT54G-TM @ 19.99 each.
    Smokin' deal for a great router while supplies last.

    And I have to say that the RT-N16 looks VERY nice. I want one.:thumbup:
  28. spliff

    spliff LI Guru Member

    Just found a store that has the WRT54-TM's in stock for $20. I am going to buy 3. :biggrin:
  29. mpegmaster

    mpegmaster Addicted to LI Member

    I too went to the local T-Mobile store.
    I went in to get [3] three of them...
    The had their last [7] seven in the store...
    Got all [7] seven for $100.00 plus tax...
    The manager just got tired of having them around, he offered me the deal, I said sure...
    So for around $15.72 each with the tax included...
    Better then eBay or Craigslist... ;^)

  30. Trademark

    Trademark Network Guru Member

    Nice Score! Nice manager too.
  31. spliff

    spliff LI Guru Member

    The store I went into had about 10 left too. This is a crazy deal. I wanted to buy more but my wife would kill me!

    Anyways since I had everything unplugged I did some benchmarks comparing the WRT54G-TM (Broadcom 5352 @ 200) running Tomato with my Netgear WNR834B v2 (Broadcom 4704) running DD-WRT.

    The WRT54G-TM is CPU bound natting at about 54-55 megabits/sec.

    The Netgear WNR834B is CPU bound natting at about 59-60 megabits/sec.

    The ASUS WL-520GU is CPU boung natting at about 40 megabits/sec

    The WRT54G-TM is definitely snappier/faster and has higher throughput than the ASUS WL-520GU.

    Toastman, I keep doubting you and and I keep getting proved wrong. You are the man in my book :friends:
  32. neoufo51

    neoufo51 Network Guru Member

    What an awesome deal on the TM!

    I might have to visit my T-Mobile store and see if they have any in stock just to have a repeater/backup router.
  33. rizsher

    rizsher Network Guru Member

    Have you installed a heat sink to run the router at 225 Mhz?. Is it stable?.
  34. bripab007

    bripab007 Network Guru Member

    Mine's been running at 225Mhz for several months now without any heatsink.
  35. spliff

    spliff LI Guru Member

    With a heatsink you think it can run @ 250mhz stable?
  36. bripab007

    bripab007 Network Guru Member

    Well, I've heard it can run at 250Mhz without a heatsink, but I don't really have the need to try.
  37. tstrike2000

    tstrike2000 Network Guru Member

    Toastman is the man. Per his recommendations, I overclocked my 54-TM to 240 Mhz with no heatsink and it's been stable for a few months now with no real excess temperature spikes that I can see.
  38. Trademark

    Trademark Network Guru Member

    Mine has been perfectly stable @ 225MHz. I have heat sinks on the CPU, RAM, and Flash chip (this one was probably unnecessary, but I love tinkering with these routers).

    I did some testing with the cover removed while running (using my fingers, completely unscientific) and found that the ram heat sink was hotter to the touch than the CPU. This surprised me a bit.

    Nothing was really very hot at all, so 250MHz is probably safe with a heat sink and, as bripab007 said, 225MHz runs stable without any additional cooling for him. I'm just paranoid, so I tend to go overboard with my cooling mods.
  39. Trademark

    Trademark Network Guru Member

    In case anyone was interested, here are the valid clkfreq values for the BCM3302 v0.8:
    183, 188, 197, 200, 206, 212, 216, 217, 225, 238, 240, 250
  40. GhaladReam

    GhaladReam Network Guru Member

    As you can see in my Sig, my TM is running at 250 MHz. Mind you I have a heat sink and a fan on it, so the chip is barely warm to the touch. Without either, it gets pretty toasty.
  41. Dashiell

    Dashiell Network Guru Member

    When I first started reading these accounts, I thought perhaps a few guys were "blowing smoke" as it were. Boy, was I wrong!

    I went out to lunch today and passed a T-Mobile store on the way. I had these posts wrangling around in my head so I thought, "why not?"

    I waited for one customer to be finished, while I was waiting the lovely lady manager came out... long story short (too late) I asked her about these WRT54G-TM models while admitting it may have been a bizarre request... she looked in the back.

    They had 9 left in the stock room! She said they were $19.99 each... I said, what will you give me if I buy all of them?

    At the end, she gave me all 9 for the price of 7! Two free!

    I'm thinking of selling a couple. If anyone's interested, PM me.
  42. Toastman

    Toastman Super Moderator Staff Member Member

    Spliff & Dashiell, I'm jealous. I want a TM!!!! But most people won't even accept an order, and won't ship here because their insurance won't cover them (we have a lot of stuff stolen in the mail). I've just obtained some 32M RAM chips to mod some GL's...

    Guys, as I said before, I have a lot of 54GL's (over 300 now) running for 18 months at 250 Mhz and txpower set to 150mW - with no heatsinks, and no fans. This is Thailand, the ambient temperature on some sites is 40 degrees, and sometimes the routers are in sunlight. Enclosed in boxes, with (hot) power supply, watertight, no ventilation. Never had any failures.

    Incidentally, a good way to test if a processor is too hot, is jam your finger on it hard. If you smell burning skin, then it's probably too hot (just kidding).

    In future, I think we will all move on to faster routers with more memory.

    EDIT: In February 2010 the favorite is without a doubt the ASUS RT-N16 - 480MHz and 128MB RAM. With Tomato from Teddy Bear now stable....
  43. spliff

    spliff LI Guru Member

    I just overclocked a WRT54G-TM to 250mhz and I am very impressed. Almost 67-69 megabits natting speed!
  44. burritoboy9984

    burritoboy9984 Addicted to LI Member

    In case anyone is still looking for some, dealadeal.com has them periodically under the auctions (search wrt54g). They have 3 right now, don't bother bidding on them, because someone will bid them up to 24.52 and then the buy it now of $25 goes away, lol... Just buy it now... I have gotten 4 so far... All brand new in box :) After shipping and tax it was $33 each...

  45. nameinuse

    nameinuse Addicted to LI Member

    I wish people would make it more known that the WL-520GU's CPU sucks, I tried researching it for hours before purchasing coming only to the conclusion that the CPU is of the same brand but higher clock speed so it should be faster. I received mine yesterday and flashed it yet I'm only just learning its in fact slower than the 200mhz broadcoms that are so easily overclocked to 240mhz and beyond.

    Luckily I already have a WRT54GL running as a bridge for my Xbox 360, I can just swap places with the router since being a wireless bridge isn't CPU intensive at all.
  46. GhaladReam

    GhaladReam Network Guru Member

    I love my WRT54G-TM. I got it about a month ago on eBay. I know it can overclock to 250 without any extra cooling, but I glued a small heatsink to the CPU and added a small externally powered fan to the top to give some airflow. Probably not necessary, but with that, the CPU now stays a just a little bit above room temperature, and I know it will last a long time. Definitely worth the $40 I paid for it.
  47. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 LI Guru Member

    How about wired throughput?

    I'm sure the boost in processor speed between 125Mhz to 200Mhz or faster would probably make itself known in the wireless side of the home LAN, but what about wired throughput?

    I ask because I did in fact upgrade to Charter's 20MBPS service over Christmas, and they've just bumped us up to 25MBPS as a network-wide free upgrade.

    I don't see that kind of speed on any of the wired connections on this side of the WRT54G v1.0, so perhaps the upgrade to a faster WRT54G-TM would be a logical next step?

    Tomato's QOS settings are adjusted to reflect the newer Charter cable model download/upload ratings, but I'm lucky to see 12 meg down/400k up.

    Ouch. :frown:
  48. kornaz

    kornaz Addicted to LI Member

    I'd say forget all those Linksys, Buffalo, Dlink, etc. routers. None of them are able to NAT full 100 mbps, no matter what firmware you use (although Tomato is the best hands down) - 200-300 Mhz CPU is just not enough these days. Go for Mikrotik routerboards @ www.routerboard.com . RB450G and RB750G are waaaaaaaaay more powerful (but still cheap!) routers. 99$ for 450G + 30$ for a case and power supply and you'll get a 680 Mhz beast with 256 MB RAM, 512 MB flash, microSD slot and 5 gigabit ports in a tiny box (at least twice smaller than many standard SOHO routers). 750G is even more cheaper (69$, case and power supply is included), but you'll get the same 680 Mhz CPU and 5 gigabit ports (32 MB RAM, 64 MB flash) - more than enough for a home network. The only thing that's missing is wifi - but you can turn your good (bad?) old Linksys router in to AP.

    I myself was using WRT54GL for 3 or 4 years and got sick and tired of its incapability to NAT me a full 100 mbps I get from my ISP. Had it overclocked to 250 Mhz with heavily tuned Tomato, but the best I could get from it was like 7.2 MB/s (60 mbps) with torrents and ~8.5 MB/s with a single http/ftp connection. Not to mention all the performance troubles I had with multiple IPTV connections..

    So last year I bought myself a Sheevaplug (not a routerboard, but that's a different story - I wanted to have a small yet powerful box with FULL featured Linux OS on it). It's a 99$ mini-server/computer (the size of 3 cassete decks) with 1.2 Ghz ARM processor, 512 MB RAM, 512 MB flash, SD card slot, 1 gigabit port. I quickly set up a Debian Linux system on a SD card and... turned the device into a router, even though it has only one physical NIC. I coupled it with pretty cheap entry-class HP Procurve 1800-8G VLAN switch, set up VLANs on Sheevaplug and Procurve and NAT between VLANs. Compared to my old WRT54GL the difference was huge:

    WRT54GL performance with multiple torrent sessions:


    Now the same test with Sheevaplug:


    Notice the idle CPU percentage in both screenshots :)

    Also, now I can serve a lot more IPTV clients without any performance issues. With WRT54GL I could only serve 2-3 clients.

    By the way, there's a new revision (or version) of Sheevaplug coming next month - Guruplug Server Plus - for 129$ you'll get the same 1.2 Ghz CPU, but with _TWO_ gigabit ports (no need for a VLAN switch this time), integrated wifi/BT, couple of USB ports and even one eSATA port.

    So if you're a Linux geek and like to have full control of everything - go for a *plug computer. If you're not - go for a routerboard.
  49. stevekeel

    stevekeel Networkin' Nut Member

    Walled Garden Wireless Router on a Guruplug

    kornaz - since you have experieince with the SheevaPlug and know about the GuruPlug perhaps you know if I can turn a one of these puppies into a wireless router with a walled gardern capability. The manufacturer said it could be used as a wireless router, but said I should scout the forums regarding the walled garden feature. Your post referred to Mikrotik on a routerboard. I know that the Mikrotik software does walled gardens. I thought I heard ther Guruplug guy say they used Mikrotik. Do you have any definitive answers...
  50. FattysGoneWild

    FattysGoneWild LI Guru Member

    Okay. This might be a really stupid question. But that MikroTik RB750G looks really nice. Does it come with its own firmware or can you load Tomato on it?
  51. azdps

    azdps LI Guru Member

    FattysGoneWild the MikroTik you are referring to uses a Atheros cpu. From my understanding Tomato only supports Broadcom.
  52. FattysGoneWild

    FattysGoneWild LI Guru Member

    That sucks. But what about the firmware for it? Does it even come with any? I do not see any firmware updates for it on the website.....


    I see where you can now on the official site.
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