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Top 5 DD-WRT & Tomato Routers for 2018

Published 11/21/2017  Tomato and DD-WRT firmware are open source alternatives for some routers that both significantly increase the router's capabilities, boost their functionality and offer increased performance, security and QoS options. They take a $200.00 to $400.00 router and make it a $1250.00 plus router. Although there are other versions of open source firmware, Tomato and DD-WRT are two of the most popular offering stability, great feature sets and a large community of online support and developers.
Tomato offers one of the best QoS functionalities with tools that allow for graphic displays of bandwidth to identify hogs, a visual map of connected Ethernet devices and tools to find the best channel to use wirelessly, as well as a way to increase the signal output strength. It also is an excellent firmware with OpenVPN for use as a client with many popular VPN service providers.
DD-WRT can be flashed onto a much larger number of routers due to certain compatibilities, so you will find it being used on Netgear, Linksys, TP-LINK, etc., making it extremely popular. It also advances additional optional wireless modes over Tomato for those that need to use the device as a repeater. It also includes more options for advanced WiFi hotspot creation. Some suggest because of the granular levels of multiple settings and configuration options that it is more technical, and we would concur, however there is a lot of online support forums, so with some network knowledge this firmware can get you the setup you'd want.

All in all, both DD-WRT and Tomato are possibly the best open source firmware for those that want a router with advanced features, increased security, more control and better performance.

Two of the Best for a Flash of Tomato

1) Netgear R7000 Nighthawk AC1900 Tomato Router

The Nighthawk AC1900 has been a top list stalwart for its exceptional ratings in all measured categories for some time now and has earned its reputation as one of the best. It's one of the best reasonably priced routers that can run Tomato. Popular with just about all buyers, it brings with it exceptional speed, superb functionality and offers enough computing power that it'll have power to burn for any future needs. It can be flashed with either Tomato or DD-WRT. Increasingly as time progresses videos and other networking needs are becoming more intensive .
When flashed with a high-end Tomato build the R7000 can separate connections. You can set specific websites to go through the VPN whereas other websites when visited will connect through your local ISP assigned IP address. The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 integrates three external antennas for a strong performing wireless footprint. Being external, they can be later upgraded to even more powerful antennas if ever needed. Another plus for future proofing your purchase.

Netgear Nighthawk R7000 with DD-WRT firmware.

  • AC1900 WiFi—600+1300 Mbps speeds
  • 128MB Flash Memory and 256MB RAM
  • High-powered Amplifiers with 3 External Antennas
  • 1 GHz Dual Core Broadcom Processor
  • Numerous awards and kudos from the technology world.
  • Tomato or DD-WRT capable.
Pros: Well established dual-band router, proven reliability, many flashed installs, excellent combined throughput, excellent range, now very affordable. Plenty of users run this router with Tomato, so there's a large online community for support. Great for very small office or medium home with 8-12 devices.
Cons: None


 2) Asus RT-AC3200 AC3200 Tri-Band Tomato Router

The Asus RT-AC3200 Tri-Band router has been and continues to be a great Tomato flashed router choice and comes with powerful hardware for both excellent coverage and excellent  performance at varying distances. It has been on the top recommended lists of many review companies with the only caveat that it was a bit pricey. However, now that this router has been on the market for a period of time, its price has dropped by a third, making this router not only a top choice for performance, but for price as well.  It's a great choice for a small office or larger home dwelling where coverage is an issue and multiple devices will be connecting. Small offices will find that this router does an excellent job in maintaining optimum connectivity for multiple devices.

Asus RT-AC3200 triband router. 

  • 1GHz Broadcom CPU
  • 256 MB RAM and 128 MB Flash Memory
  • 6 High-powered External Antennas
  • Tomato or DD-WRT Capable
  • AC3200 ultimate AC performance : 600+1300+1300 Mbps
  • Beamforming
  • Automatic assignment for each device to either the 2.4 GHz band or one of the two 5 GHz bands, according to the device's speed, its signal strength, and how much traffic exists on that band.
Pros: Tri-Band Wireless Gigabit Route with powerful hardware and great 5GHz throughput. Can operate as a powerful VPN/NAS server. Great for small office or large home with 10+ devices.
Cons: File transfer speeds could be better.

Three of the Best for a Flash of DD-WRT

3) Linksys WRT1900ACM AC1900 Router with DD-WRT

The Linksys WRT3200ACM offers the fastest processor currently available in a router that can use an open source firmware. With MU-MIMO technology, the router can communicate with multiple devices simultaneously increasing the speed of your WiFi network by limiting the interference between connected devices. If you are in the market for a top shelf router for video calls, streaming, video or to max the speed of your VPN use, this is a router that will future proof your purchase.

Linksys WRT3200 Router ready for DD-WRT. 

  • 1.8 GHz Marvel Dual-Core ARM Processor
  • 512 MB RAM and 256 MB of Flash Memory
  • Dual Band (2.4 and 5 GHz) AC3200 (600+1300+1300 Mbps), MU-MIMO
  • Tri-Stream 160 technology doubles bandwidth and the fastest dual-band of any router.
  • 4 External Dual Band Detachable Antennas
  • Open-source ready to flash with DD-WRT or OpenWrt
Pros: Fastest processor with blazing 5GHz throughput and file transfer speeds. excellent wifi speeds, good open source firmware support, prime choice for small office using video calls,
Cons: None

4) Asus RT-AC5300 AC5300 DD-WRT

The RT-AC5300 is a 4X4 router meaning it uses four individual streams to deliver and receive data, which is a big advantage to offices who may be using data intensive connections like IP Video phones and is recommended for 10+ connected devices. It offers eight antennas for an excellent large wifi footprint and with extra RAM and a 1.4 GHz processor, one of the fastest that you can put DD-WRT with, it will keep those multiple devices connected without any delays.  Processing power is key to high performance routing, and the RT-AC5300 by Asus offers extra capacity for growth as streaming video and other network intensive demands grow. It’s ideal for high-end use such as a small office.

Asus AC5300 DD-WRT Router.

  • 1.4 GHz Broadcom Dual-Core Processor
  • 512 MB RAM and 128 MB Flash Memory
  • 8 Dual Band Detachable External Antennas
  • Tri-band with the latest 802.11ac 4x4 technology for maximum throughput and coverage up to 5,000 sq. ft., MU-MIMO capable
  • AC5300 ultimate AC performance:1000+2167+2167 Mbps
  • Highest number of antennas currently available in these types of routers.
Pros: Strong tri-band wifi coverage, fast throughput speeds, smart device allocation, great for small office or large home with 10+ devices
Cons: Only one USB 3.0 connection, large device, on the expensive range

5) Netgear R9000 Nighthawk X10 AD7200 DD-WRT Router

The Nighthawk R9000 X10 comes with plenty of power and excellent speeds.  It's one of the fastest routers for media streaming. Rated for 20+ devices the Nighthawk X10 will do the job for small businesses which have numerous connected devices at any one time. And with Ethernet Port Aggregation, which allows combining two LAN ports, it can accelerate file transfer speeds making large file transfers that much faster; back-ups to the cloud will be that much more efficient. There are less expensive routers available, however this router will deliver ultra-smooth lag free streaming with plenty of processing power as increasing demands on networks will become greater over the next few years.

Netgear's Nighthawk R9000 X10 Router

  • AD7200 Tri-Band WiF
    800 Mbps @2.4GHz – 256QAM 1733 Mbps @5GHz – 256QAM 4600 Mbps @60GHz - SC
  • 1.7GHz Quad-Core Processor
  • 512MB NAND Flash and 1GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 4 External Active Antennas with high powered amplifiers
  • Six Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports with the ability to
    aggregate two ports for faster file transfers
  • QUAD STREAM—Up to four data streams per WiFi band
    maximizes connection speed, MU-MIMO
Pros: Robust hardware with excellent speeds and coverage. Ultrafast wired connections for high-end servers and fast network storage. Built-in Plex server for media streaming. Great for small office or large home with 10+ devices.
Cons: Priced on the expensive side.

Holiday Season Best Buys

All five of our top router picks are best choices for 2018. Each choice offers excellent performance, plenty of power, a good value and will accept either DD-WRT or Tomato open source firmware, as noted.

 

Flashing Router Firmware

Installing firmware like Tomato or DD-WRT can be done by yourself or you can get these routers already flashed with the best stable version of the appropriate firmware. Firms that sell flashed routers also offer support and other services, like VPN setup that make their services a very good value.

for the best voip call quality install a good router on your network.

The cost of a good Wi-Fi router, one able to handle numerous connections at high speeds, pass traffic without bottlenecking, offer security, and offer QoS has come down to very reasonable levels.  As one of the primary components of any office network, having a good late model router will pay dividends with performance and stability.

Best Prices Best Value

Linksys for DD-WRT

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DD-WRT & Tomato

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Reviews for top 5 open source wifi routers - Conclusion

Deciding on the best router can depend on your needs, not only now but for some time to come. All five of these routers can be enhanced by flashing either Tomato or DD-WRT, taking your network to the next level. However, each of these routers come straight from the factory ready to go with the manufacturers software and can be used right away with the knowledge that you can step them up as future needs demand.