So I am currently running a old school hacked Linksys WRT54G and have played around with some of the hacks and currently running Tomato on it and I am pretty happy (tho the lack of OpenVPN Server suck) but I need an upgrade to something with 802.11N and I bet I am not the only one.

The options right now are

  1. Grab a hackable consumer 802.11 Dual Band-N router and throw on it DD-WRT, OpenWRT or Tomato again
  2. Build my own using old hardware (dont really want to, feel they eat too much power for a simple task)
  3. Build/Buy hardware for a custom router (Atom system, or I recall back in the day some people use to sell small ATX-like boards just for embedded linux to run as a router)

So what option would you go with and why? And if the DIY route should I try to get some hardware that is pre made for the job or DYI like a Atom machine.

I even kicked around the idea of getting a beefy NAS, throwing on ESXi and running the router and NAS in one box but then it hit me that was a dumb idea :P

  • I would recommend a buffalo wzr-hp-g300nh. It has 16mb flash, 64MB ram, usb, gigabit-lan and 11n support. It seems pretty much what you are looking for and is supported by openwrt. And it is way cheaper and smaller than comparable custom build routers. Jun 21, 2010 at 7:52
  • I was really looking at that for a while, but it does not have 802.11n dual band and I dont understand why any of the Linux consumer routers support it. The Linksys E2100L is the same deal
    – Zuhaib
    Jun 22, 2010 at 4:44

2 Answers 2


I find that while consumer routers fit their job well, there are still a number of jobs for which they are unsuitable due to a lack of processing power, storage space, or both. Moving these jobs to a dedicated server is just as much overkill. Since I love tinkering and playing around with this kind of thing, there was only one real route to go.

A year ago I rolled my own solution, using options #2 and #3 (mostly old parts, bought a new micro-atx motherboard and case to fit it in a nice package), and have been really happy with it. If you think DD-WRT or Tomato is powerful, wait until you have a system which can support pfSense or m0n0wall. I have similar qualms about the power consumption though, and have been planning to repurpose that system as a media PC (my router really doesn't need to be able to decode 1080p ;P ) and buy something like the fit-PC2 Diskless and add a hardrive to serve as a router. Depending on your needs, such a project can easily double as a NAS or print server, should have plenty of processing power to do fun tricks like Upside-Down-Ternet as well. Because of the way internet access is set up at the apartments where I live, I had particular fun setting the router up as a multi-homed outgoing load-balancer, allowing me to push well over 30Mbits where I should only have access to 3Mbits with the help of a little netgraph magic.

While this option was far from the cheapest, it has provided countless fun since I started, and the advantage to being a custom PC instead of a consumer package is as new technology comes out, I can upgrade instead of buying a whole new device.

  • depends on what is fun for you. i love to work with limited resources to force myself to do things the most efficiant way. pc projects are overkill for a routing/networking device though :) Jun 21, 2010 at 11:08
  • @mugenken Oh, certainly! It just seemed that the OP was looking for a "fun" project, so I was sharing my personal experience. I've also locked up more than one consumer router by overfilling the state table, so having 4GB of memory can be useful at times. ;) Jun 21, 2010 at 13:21
  • Humm, you have given me some great encouragement to go the extra mile (and money :|) and go with a full system again but what about wireless. I was looking at adding a 802.11n Card but cant find a good one that is dual band, or spend more money for a dummy 802.11n AP that does dual band.
    – Zuhaib
    Jun 22, 2010 at 4:42
  • This card is <$30, and does dual-band a/b/g/n. Will likely require a mini PCIe -> PCIe adapter though, and it looks like you have to provide your own antennas. Jun 22, 2010 at 5:35
  • +1 for the Upside-Down-Ternet link. I'm going to have fun with this!
    – paradroid
    Sep 28, 2010 at 22:08

DD-WRT still couldn't handle the requirements of my flat, 6 of us all on a 50meg connection, all the routers we'd been given with dd-wrt or standard netgear or d-link OS would, after an hour slow us to less than 1meg with a ping of over 2s. A housemate had a spare old pc, and I had a spare NIC, setup pfsense... the rest is history been getting 40meg (still disappointing about 10meg loss, but far better than any standart router had given us). Once we have a HDD to put in it will probably run ipfire, or maybe gentoo(unconventional yes but can install a torrent server on the machine therefore reducing work done by our network.).

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