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I'm currently looking for a new router as my current one is dying and insecure. One of it's major problems is that it stopped getting updates from the manufacturer and doesn't support WPA2. Of the two routers I'm looking at, one is listed on the web site for the open source router software, Tomato, but only goes up to g. This one is made by ASUS. The other is a very well reviewed router but goes to n, is dual band, but it doesn't support open source software and is made by Cisco.

I honestly doubt my broadband will ever be able to push out more than 54Mbps which is the theoretical maximum of a g router but I'm wondering if it's better to get a newer router even if it can't get the latest open source software. Seldom will large files be transfered across the wireless and they could always be plugged in if need be.

In the event use matters, there will potentially be between 2 and 3 computers plugged into the router and 2 laptops, 1 to 3 Android phones, and 1 iPhone connected wirelessly. The phones I believe have n but I'm unsure about the laptops.

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Dual band and N capability are two good features if your PCs have compatible NICs (or if you're willing to purchase USB adapters or PCI/PCIe cards). The 5GHz band tends to be less congested than the 2.4GHz band. Since most home routers and switches are store and forward (i.e. every packet or frame is fully buffered before retransmission) rather than cut through, any increase of link speed can improve overall throughput. IMO open source software can be nice if you need to setup a nontrivial network (i.e. wireless bridge), but could be slower than OEM firmware. – sawdust May 6 '12 at 23:41
up vote 2 down vote accepted

One thing to consider is whether you will be transferring files between computers on the network. The 'N' routers only work if both the router and the computer support it. Assuming your computer has a wireless card that supports 'N', you may or may not see any improvement either now or in the near future over 'G'.

But if there is a second computer that also supports 'N', and you want to transfer files between the two computers, then it may speed up the transfer.

Another thing to consider is whether you will actually install Tomato. I have a Netgear router that supports it, but after reading up on alternate firmwares, I decided not to take the chance on upgrading and adding possible problems to my life. It seemed like it was something in the hobbyist stage of development, and I just didn't want to spend the time with it; this may have changed in the last year or so since I looked at it.

I'd go with the cheapest router that meets your requirements for speed and reliability for the near term, and not think too far into the future. The future of technology is so variable that it's pretty hard to plan very far, in my experience. I've wasted a lot of time and money on potentials that were never used.

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