[Resolved] Home Router Suggestions

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Meteorswarm
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[Resolved] Home Router Suggestions

Postby Meteorswarm » Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:44 am UTC

My router for my house of myself and 11 others just died and will not function with encrypted wireless. This is bad.

I'll need to get a new router. It needs to support b/g/n, and ideally would support the 5GHz band as well as the 2.5 GHz. We're splitting the price 12 ways, so it can be fairly pricey, but I also don't want to waste my housemates' money. Performance is important because all 12 of us will want to use it simultaneously, and we're all fairly heavy internet addicts.

I don't care a whole lot about being able to muck with the firmware, but if it can run Linux, that's always nice...

Looking on Newegg, there are routers available over a huge spectrum of prices, so I don't really know what's a good value and what isn't. What should I do?

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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby distractedSofty » Mon Dec 13, 2010 2:34 am UTC

A lot of articles I have read declare the current router king the Netgear WNDR3700 (also known as the WNDR37AV). Supports simultaneous dual band with guest networks for each band, and gigabit wired. It is supported by dd-wrt if you end up wanting that.

I've had one for about 3 months now, and it's been rock solid. They go for around $150 on newegg.

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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Obby » Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:49 pm UTC

Not really related to tech specs, but a bit of advice:

Do not split the cost of electronics. Even if it seems $12 is a fair price for each of you to pay, in the end, there's a very real possibility that there's going to be a fight over that $150 router when the time comes for you all to leave over who gets to keep it. Unless you're all going to live together until the day you die, or you don't really care if you never speak to any of those 11 other people again, I'd recommend against splitting the cost.
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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby mosc » Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:53 pm UTC

Forget the N and get yourself a WRT54GL. It's still the only not completely awful (though I'd hardly call it good) router you can buy that doesn't say CISCO on the front and have a 4 or 5 figure pricetag.
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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Yakk » Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:03 pm UTC

Split the cost of the electronics.

Once it is purchased, set up a basket. Put each person's name in it.

Draw a random name. The electronics "belongs" to that person, with a requirement that it stay and be in use for at least 1 year (or until the person moves out, whichever is later) as a router at this location.

If you want to get fun, allow people to "sell" their tickets to the router to other people for half the face value before you do the draw.

Instant "150 router cost splitting problem gone" solved.
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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Meteorswarm » Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:00 pm UTC

Obby wrote:Not really related to tech specs, but a bit of advice:

Do not split the cost of electronics. Even if it seems $12 is a fair price for each of you to pay, in the end, there's a very real possibility that there's going to be a fight over that $150 router when the time comes for you all to leave over who gets to keep it. Unless you're all going to live together until the day you die, or you don't really care if you never speak to any of those 11 other people again, I'd recommend against splitting the cost.


We've already split the cost of a refrigerator without any complaint, and this is a house that's going to stay in the custody of friends for many years to come, so this isn't really a big deal.

Is ~$150 a reasonable amount to spend on this kind of router? I'm looking at either the NETGEAR WNDR3700-100NAS or its twin, the NETGEAR WNDR37AV-100NAS as recommended for $150, or the LINKSYS E3000 for $146. They seem almost identical in terms of specs (the netgear has a faster processor, but does that even matter?), so I'm not really sure of how to decide between them. They seem to have similar reviews, working fine for most and dieing spectacularly for a few.

Should I be looking at a cheaper price point entirely? I really like the idea of having the two frequency bands simultaneously, it would help with our heavy usage, and I already have a wifi card that can transmit at the 5 GHz band, but if it's substantially cheaper, I'd be willing to trade down.

I don't really like the idea of buying a g-only router; we use a lot of internet.
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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby dukederek » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:22 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Forget the N and get yourself a WRT54GL. It's still the only not completely awful (though I'd hardly call it good) router you can buy that doesn't say CISCO on the front and have a 4 or 5 figure pricetag.


I think mine does say Cisco on the front actually...

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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby mosc » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:55 pm UTC

Meteorswarm wrote:I don't really like the idea of buying a g-only router; we use a lot of internet.

Why would N help your internet speeds? You think your connection to the internet is fatter than 54mb/s or something?
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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby distractedSofty » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:33 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Why would N help your internet speeds? You think your connection to the internet is fatter than 54mb/s or something?

54Mbps is a maximum, and speed drops off with range. N has a higher speed to start with, and better speeds at longer ranges, ergo N can help your internet speeds. I'm guessing that a house with 12 people living in it is going to be reasonably large.

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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Meteorswarm » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:47 am UTC

distractedSofty wrote:
mosc wrote:Why would N help your internet speeds? You think your connection to the internet is fatter than 54mb/s or something?

54Mbps is a maximum, and speed drops off with range. N has a higher speed to start with, and better speeds at longer ranges, ergo N can help your internet speeds. I'm guessing that a house with 12 people living in it is going to be reasonably large.


It's also old enough to have enough metal in the walls to degrade signal substantially. And if we were all using the internet simultaneously (which happens) 54mb/s would split to 4.5.
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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby distractedSofty » Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:11 am UTC

With regards to your actual question, it depends on your situation. The main reason to have dual band is for interference avoidance, either to avoid your neighbours (might not matter to you), your other computers (with 2 bands operating, you could have a theoretical 600Mbps if you split up your computers. (Many computers are not dual band, so this might naturally sort itself out)). The 5GHz band is generally slower when there are obstacles, though. (Physics. It works, bitches.)

If you have range issues, you might want to stick with the top of the consumer line (or the business line routers, as suggested above), simply because the cheaper ones are also usually saddled with less antennas per band. (On the other hand, if you get a router with external antennas, then you could upgrade them).

I chose the Netgear since it was cheaper than the Linksys at the time, and all the functions were controlled through the web interface (Apparently the latest update to the Linksys made the installed software required for several more features, like changing the SSID, too). Maximum PC also claimed it was the fastest in their showdown around April.

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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Meteorswarm » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:55 am UTC

distractedSofty wrote:With regards to your actual question, it depends on your situation. The main reason to have dual band is for interference avoidance, either to avoid your neighbours (might not matter to you), your other computers (with 2 bands operating, you could have a theoretical 600Mbps if you split up your computers. (Many computers are not dual band, so this might naturally sort itself out)). The 5GHz band is generally slower when there are obstacles, though. (Physics. It works, bitches.)


Hmm, I hadn't thought of the physics implications of dual-band. As far as I can tell, I have lots of neighbors with strong-signaled wifi access points, but that might be my wireless card lying to me about signal strength, since it shows them all at maximum strength. On the other hand, this wifi card might just be really good, because I just connected to my university's wireless from a building across the gorge over 500 feet away (still slower than local wifi, they charge me for bandwidth, other people can't reach it, so we need a new router regardless).

distractedSofty wrote:If you have range issues, you might want to stick with the top of the consumer line (or the business line routers, as suggested above), simply because the cheaper ones are also usually saddled with less antennas per band. (On the other hand, if you get a router with external antennas, then you could upgrade them).

I chose the Netgear since it was cheaper than the Linksys at the time, and all the functions were controlled through the web interface (Apparently the latest update to the Linksys made the installed software required for several more features, like changing the SSID, too). Maximum PC also claimed it was the fastest in their showdown around April.


Some of the reviews of the Netgear say that the web interface doesn't work - do you actually have the netgear (and can provide comment?) I'm running on Linux so driver CDs for the router probably won't work well.
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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby distractedSofty » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:49 am UTC

Yeah, I have it. I've only really used it for basic things (setting up the wireless initially, adding static ports and IPs, stuff like that), but I have used it on both IE on windows and Chromium on linux. I've never had a problem with the web interface, and I have no idea what actually came on the disc with it.

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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Meteorswarm » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:03 pm UTC

distractedSofty wrote:Yeah, I have it. I've only really used it for basic things (setting up the wireless initially, adding static ports and IPs, stuff like that), but I have used it on both IE on windows and Chromium on linux. I've never had a problem with the web interface, and I have no idea what actually came on the disc with it.


Ok, that definitely sounds better than using some weird piece of software to configure it. Thanks!
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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Yakk » Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:07 pm UTC

There is some reason to think that picking up one of the routers that can be flashed with open-source software can be a good idea, if you are at all technically inclined.

The better open-source router software gives you things like channel noise levels, the ability to set up double-DSL links to your service provider (load-balancing over each half), better NAT tables and the like. Basically, the hardware manufacturers ship with an easy to use, barely functioning set of software -- while the freeware products are the produce of hobby-love.
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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Meteorswarm » Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:18 am UTC

Yakk wrote:There is some reason to think that picking up one of the routers that can be flashed with open-source software can be a good idea, if you are at all technically inclined.

The better open-source router software gives you things like channel noise levels, the ability to set up double-DSL links to your service provider (load-balancing over each half), better NAT tables and the like. Basically, the hardware manufacturers ship with an easy to use, barely functioning set of software -- while the freeware products are the produce of hobby-love.


The netgear supports dd-wrt so does the linksys, but badly.

I'm only going to be supporting this router through next year - would installing dd-wrt make it harder to maintain for non-techies after I leave?
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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Endless Mike » Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:06 pm UTC

dd-wrt is pretty simple to use. The basic settings are easy enough to find and work with and the more uncommon settings (QoS and such) can just be ignored if desired. It's no *harder* than a typical commercial router, at any rate; it just has more options available.

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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Halleck » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:45 am UTC

I liked DD-WRT. It was easy to use, and if you did have problems, or were doing something complicated like wireless bridging the wiki documentation is pretty good. I would recommend DD-WRT to just about anyone, except old people. Old people should use a Airport Extreme. Setup is a breeze. Support for 50 wireless clients, USB port for hard drive or printer sharing, dual band a/b/g/n and guest network capabilities. Did I mention that it's easy to setup?

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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Punkbob » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:42 am UTC

Meteorswarm wrote:
Yakk wrote:There is some reason to think that picking up one of the routers that can be flashed with open-source software can be a good idea, if you are at all technically inclined.

The better open-source router software gives you things like channel noise levels, the ability to set up double-DSL links to your service provider (load-balancing over each half), better NAT tables and the like. Basically, the hardware manufacturers ship with an easy to use, barely functioning set of software -- while the freeware products are the produce of hobby-love.


The netgear supports dd-wrt so does the linksys, but badly.

I'm only going to be supporting this router through next year - would installing dd-wrt make it harder to maintain for non-techies after I leave?



On the WNDR3700, the biggest problem with DD-WRT is that it shows the wireless cards as two separate interfaces and both must be configured the same. Or it will show up as two networks. And DD-WRT is awesome for it's features, but if something goes bad, a non-techie might be screwed.


My recommendation is to look at getting two routers, turning one into just an AP and putting it at the other side of the house or another location connected by Ethernet. Set them both up with the same SSID but on different channels like 6 and 11. It gives you maximum coverage while at the same time splitting the connections between the two routers, and the different channels with same SSIDs allow you to roam from one AP to the other.

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Re: Home Router Suggestions

Postby Meteorswarm » Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:59 pm UTC

Punkbob wrote:On the WNDR3700, the biggest problem with DD-WRT is that it shows the wireless cards as two separate interfaces and both must be configured the same. Or it will show up as two networks. And DD-WRT is awesome for it's features, but if something goes bad, a non-techie might be screwed.


My recommendation is to look at getting two routers, turning one into just an AP and putting it at the other side of the house or another location connected by Ethernet. Set them both up with the same SSID but on different channels like 6 and 11. It gives you maximum coverage while at the same time splitting the connections between the two routers, and the different channels with same SSIDs allow you to roam from one AP to the other.


There's no way to get an ethernet run anywhere but where the modem is already. This is an old house, and we're renting so we can't drill anything. I'll see if the stock firmware suits my needs, and then thing about dd-wrt.
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