looking to get a RELIABLE and DEPENDANBLE router, opinions?

Discussion in 'Cisco/Linksys Wireless Routers' started by peanotation, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. peanotation

    peanotation Network Guru Member

    I've had it. I've had it up to here with this POS router. Linksys WRT54G Ver2. I tried every firmware in the world, i tried everything every single person ever told me, this thing is trash. i spent countless days messing with QoS settings, bandwidth managment, nothing worked. i guess i got a lemon, i dont know, and i dont care, but my shotgun had a fun time shooting that piece of $h1t to pieces. too many problems.

    I'm a torrent whore, I play a lot of online games, i have some people with wireless needs, and i got a few computers that are plugged in with cat5 cables.

    question: what router is best for me?

    i REALLY don't want to get another linkshit, but i can't think of another brand that could compete. i need a router that is RELIABLE (KEY word here), CONTROLLABLE, won't crap out on me in a few months like this one did, and isn't a mess of problems.

    basically, is there a router out there that's the best. obviously i can't get a REAL router, like something a company would use for networking, so try not to suggest anything in the $10,000 price range.

    all suggestions welcome
  2. TEG-Neo

    TEG-Neo Network Guru Member

    my WRT54GS V4 has been nothing but a dream
  3. NateHoy

    NateHoy Network Guru Member

    Well, solidly between the consumer Linksys routers andthe $10,000 price tag you want to avoid are several options.

    If you have an older computer, you can convert it into a larger Linux computer based router like Smoothwall or m0n0wall. They need fairly low-end Pentium machines, so you don't need top-notch hardware.

    You can also look at some of the lower-end IOS Cisco routers. They will set you back $500-1000.

    Netgear makes some "semi-pro" routers in the $200-250 range that perform quite well under load.

    By the way, my WRT54G V4 aka WRT54GL is put to more demanding tasks than yours, on a 256k capped upsream connection, and has been nothing short of wonderful once I got it configured. I have typed up a guide to QoS in case you find it helpful.


    The key is to use MANUAL upstream speed settings, and to test for it accurately. Then, once you have a stable base, you can build a good QoS traffic shaping pattern on it.

    I highly recommend HyperWRT Tofu 12 to take advantage of it. Thibor 12 is also an excellent choice. Others work very well, though Tofu and Thibor generally have the reputation for being the fastest.

    Here is an example of my setup screen, to give you an example of a working configuration.


    If you want assistance getting the most out of your setup, please post:

    1. Speed test results from www.dslreports.com/stest

    2. Full screenshot of your QoS settings screen on your router.

    3. A description of each machine on the setup, and what you do with it.
  4. swinn

    swinn Network Guru Member

    I'm sure that many of us here would of taken that version 2 off your hands and even paid something for it. Too bad :p

  5. NateHoy

    NateHoy Network Guru Member

    I completely missed the "shotgun" note. Dang. I would have paid for it as well. My mother is looking into using a WISP, and I'm going up this weekend to see if my WRT54G V4 Tofu 12 can lock into anything. If it does, I'll need one that can be a wireless client. ;)

    Oh, well, guess I'll mail order a GL.
  6. sd2001

    sd2001 Network Guru Member

    Anyone have a suggestion for a router with similar specs to the WRT54G that is similar in price that can be classified as "dependable"? I would only need 1 port, not the 4. I would consider any suggestions Linksys or other brand as long as the my research on the product showed me that it is more reliable than this V5. POS I have now.

    NateHoy, that is an interesting idea that you had about using an old computer, but I don't have one and wouldn't even begin to know how to set that up if I did. I wouldn't even trust myself to follow directions. I basically just want something that I can take out of the box, plug in, encrypt, and will work around my small house getting 54Mbphs. I am not concerned with performing any mods or tweaks.
  7. NateHoy

    NateHoy Network Guru Member

    Well, I can tell you that a WRT54GL, which is the WRT54G V4 rebranded (and, sadly, raised in price) is a most excellent router.

    I have a WRT54G V4 that I found in "old stock" at Walmart just after the V5s came out. Running HyperWRT Tofu, it's done everything I hoped for and more. Since I purchased it a few months ago, my unexpected downtime has been ZERO, NADA, ZIP. My record, to date, on that router is 32 days, with heavy BitTorrent running the whole time, and using VoIP (Vonage) on it.

    You can have my WRT54G V4 when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. And I promise, if there is an afterlife, I'll come back and take it back from you somehow. ;)

    On the stock Linksys firmware, a GL should work very well for you. Unfortunately, those are only available via mail order.

    Check around at your local stores, too, to see if you can find a WRT54G with a serial number starting in CDFA or lower, or a WRT54GS starting in CGN6 or lower. Wal-Mart and other places that techies don't tend to congregate will tend to have slower turnover on those units. Check high shelves and check the back of the rack for possible boons from lazy stockers who don't rotate stock properly. Dusty boxes are your friends in this hunt. Look for them. You MIGHT get lucky. ;)

    CDFB and CGN7 indicate V5 hardware. Some report good results with them. You could give me one, and I'd probably find a use for it, but not in anything resembling a serious application. I've heard reports from people using them for simple stuff like you appear to want (wireless, more casual use, lower loads) and I'm hearing that the latest firmware makes them work better than they started. But I'm sticking with old tried-and-true in the blue box until I can't get 'em any more, then I'll find something else Linux based and use that as my base. Even if I have to build it and run M0n0wall. ;)
  8. sd2001

    sd2001 Network Guru Member

    Yeah, my use can definitely be considered "casual." I don't run bittorrents at all, I don't run P2P, and I don't have a lot of users. In fact, I only have 3. None of these users ever do anything more than check email, basic surfing, etc. We just aren't a very "high tech" bunch.

    I am going to visit the Wal-Mart where I bought my original V3 from (which I had to take back after 3 months of sketchy performance only to get this V5 in its place). I'll check the stock for the numbers you cited. If that doesn't work, I will visit the other one. If that still doesn't work, I'll research reviews on other items. I will also look into the GL.

    I am still hesitant about sticking with a Linksys product, but your enthusiasm for the V4 intruiges me, so I will give it one more shot.

    Thanks for your repeated good advice.

    **While trying to post this reply, my V5 went out once again. Today has been an exceptionally bad day with a drop at least every 15 minutes.**
  9. sd2001

    sd2001 Network Guru Member

    Great news!

    I just returned from Wal-Mart. They only had 3 or 4 WRT54G's out on the shelf so I looked at each one. All but one were V5's but there was one stuffed in the back that had a box that I could tell had been opened before. I took it down and it was a V3.

    I had already packed up my V5 and brought it with me, but I had left it in the car just in case they had nothing but more V5s and I wouldn't have to go through the process of getting a sticker on it and everything for nothing.

    Since they had that V3, I handed it to my gf to hold while I ran to the car to get the V5. I got some strange looks when I tried to explain that I would rather have the "old" version than the new but the toothless woman behind the counter eventually told me to just take it. She kept calling it a "dang 'Tendo" (I presume she was mistaking the item for a Nintendo).

    At any rate, it turns out that this is the VERY SAME V3 that I returned in the first place. I always roll power cords a certain way that I learned in the military and sure enough, they were rolled that way. I took it back as defective and they just stuck it right back on the shelf. Thanks to Wal-Mart's incompetent employees, I got back the V3 that I so stupidly returned in the first place.

    It is working fine thus far, however I will be looking into some kind of firmware to load on it to make it as rock-solid as others' seem to be. No, I am not a "tech guy" but this ordeal has dragged me into actually learning some of this stuff kicking and screaming.

    I'm going to be looking around for it myself but just in case, does anyone know of any third party 'ware that works best for the V3? Or will any of the 'ware for the WRT54G series do?
  10. sd2001

    sd2001 Network Guru Member

    More great news!

    I uploaded HyperWRT Tofu 12 into the V3 and for the first time ever was able to encrypt, disable broadcasting status, and edit the list of computers able to access the network!

    It was so much easier than I thought. If a "technically challenged" individual like me can handle it, anyone can.

    You guys, this forum, and the author of HyperWRT Tofu 12 are awesome! (and yes! I WILL be using that "Make a Donation" button!)


    Thanks a million, NateHoy!
  11. peanotation

    peanotation Network Guru Member

    i dont think you guys were running as much bandwidth as i was. keep in mind, i'm a home user, but i have a 6mb connection that has been clocked over and over at 1MB/s download (MB, not Mb). sometimes i'll have 10 diff. programs uploading/downloading at once.

    regardless of high bandwidth usage, sometimes i'm just checking my email. and the router is STILL slow.

    a couple times a day i would plug directly into the modem and the speed was constantly wicked fast. then i would plug into the router, enter my network settings on my nic card, and go run a bandwidth test or check my email or open cnn.com, and the speed would just be insanely slow. i tried running HyperWRT tofu 11 (and every other firmware i could find), it was the same as all the other firmware, just bogged down everything.

    me and a buddy would play counterstrike 1.6 on two seperate comps and hook into the router, turn off wireless, and while we both played i would mess with every setting in the book. QoS, port forwarding, everything i could find by searching this forum. the ping was always HORRIBLE. 150ms+ ping to any server.

    then i would plug my comp directly into the modem, release/renew dhcp, start counterstrike back up, BAM, hundreds of servers with less than 100 ping, most of them less than 30ms. i would do the same to the other comp, bam, tons of servers with 20ms ping. beautiful.

    like i said, i think i got a lemon router, i dont know.
  12. peanotation

    peanotation Network Guru Member

    any more ideas? i'm not gonna be buying another linksys if we can't figure out why my old one was a pos
  13. NateHoy

    NateHoy Network Guru Member

    peanotation -

    Dunno what to tell you. You've obviously tested out your numbers, and there's a fairly large body of people who complain about Linksys routers under "extreme" loads (over 15-16mbps, or about 2 mBps, and fuhgeddaboudit), but the router should be able to handle your load easily.

    I'm not sure what else to say... I mean, you started by saying you SHOT a functional router, and now you're asking us to convince you to buy an identical new one? Thanks, but no thanks. I don't want to be victim #2 in your next fit of pique.

    Dropping names like "linkshit" on your very first post, then saying you shot the router with a shotgun, really hints to me that you aren't interested in being convinced that a Linksys can work for you. Fair enough. Time to look elsewhere.

    NetGear makes some nice higher-end routers in the FR series, and for about $150 or so you can get into some "prosumer" gear that the Linksys competes with - has most of the features of the aftermarket-enhanced Linksys and they come highly recommended by several friends of mine.

    If you need a high end router, consider Linksys' parent company, Cisco. They make some SWEET routers that have FAR more capability than anything that will go under the Linksys brand. $500-800 will get you one nice router. You may also consider, if you have an old computer banging around, loading up M0n0wall or Smoothwall and getting a simple switch. A decent computer makes for a FAST! router.

    The Linksys WRT54G series is equipped with a 200mhz processor and a highly optimized kernel. A PC that can run circles around it wouldn't set you back more than $200-300 on the used market, tops. Add a nice switch and you're in business. A "prosumer" router that can handle larger loads runs about $150-200 in a nice neat package.

    I firmly believe, based on feedback from a lot of people, that the Linksys WRT54GL is the best router in the market in the under-$100 category. When paired with aftermarket firmware like Tofu, it competes with devices in the $150 category, for half the price.

    My router runs on a 3mbps down and 256kbps up connection, and BitTorrent makes sure it stays very busy all the time, and it doesn't break a sweat. Yes, your connection is double that or a little more. Several people on dslreports were complaining because the Linksys could only efficiently handle 1/4 of their 100 mbit connections, so I don't think 8mbps is a huge problem - it tops out at at least double that.

    But I can't prove it to you because you ventilated your old Linksys with a shotgun. So you might want to try another brand. Perhaps from a store that offers a decent return policy in case you don't like it, so you can try out a few different routers without the temptation to add "cooling holes" with buckshot. ;)
  14. dfischer

    dfischer Network Guru Member


    Yep. Many, perhaps most, are crap. I've only tried 2, a wrt54g and a GS, and they were simply unreliable POS's. I mentioned it to a college IT admin I know and he started laughing. They bought something like 100 of the things in a special purchase from LS. Paid $25 each. He says 3 out of 5 are defective.

    So I bought a belkin Pre-n. ROCK solid. and the adapter shows SO much more signal under netstumbler it's crazy. Of course I now see networks I'd never even seen w/other cards...

    So, while I'm sure some are havings success, and perhaps even historically the product was good, today the odds of a good experience are, well, not to high.

    All that said, the Belkin I bought is the version 1 release. I found it on a circuit city shelf. No new firmware, no longer made ( they only make the V2 now) but dead solid reliable.

    So why do I bring this up on a linksys forum? Because linksys support is nearly useless, but Belkins IS useless. This site is the nuts. And because BOTH the belkin first release and at least one of the Linksys WRT54GX's early versions are based on the first release Airgo reference design.

    This means the old LS firmware can be used on the Belkin and vice versa (it's been tested. google) And if you can find a first release of either the LS or the belkin, you might buy it.

    That said, be advised both the belkin and the LS later releases are um.. buggy. It might fixed, but...

    No matter what you do, this Belkin Pre-N adapter is THE CARD to be using for sensitivity. No WPA drivers for W2k, but most don't seem to care...
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