Wireless Router Recs
October 11, 2011 8:40 PM   Subscribe

Help me choose my next wireless router.

We have had a D-Link DIR-655 for the last three or four years, and have been reasonably happy with it. Over the past week, it has been dropping connection at least once an evening, sometimes more. I've checked the D-Link forums, and it looks like upgrading the firmware has a low chance of fixing the issue (and comes with its own set of possible problems), so I am considering buying a new wireless router.

Our previous router was a Linksys, and I wasn't very happy with the reliability. D-Link has been rock solid until now, but I don't know if there are any other brands I should be considering.

We don't have that many systems connecting - typically only a couple of laptops and a tablet, but occasionally we have more folks over to the house and may run up to 5 systems at once.

Thanks for any recommendations -- both pro or con.
posted by blurker to Technology (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A recommendation.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:51 PM on October 11, 2011

Even if you may not be interested in its advanced customization possibilities (DD-WRT)...

The legendary Linksys WRT54G Series? I agree Linksys can be honky in reliability (especially with Cisco Small Business stuff), but the WRT is a well loved and is a reliable edition of the Linksys Wi-Fi Router.

(You can probably find it cheaper then the link I added)

I think that Asus that Tyler recommended is very cool looking though... :/
posted by Bodrik at 8:57 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you need: 802.11n or Gig-E? These are the issues which decided for me last time I looked.
posted by pompomtom at 8:59 PM on October 11, 2011

Response by poster: I don't believe we need a GigE at this time.
posted by blurker at 9:03 PM on October 11, 2011

I got a Linksys WRT160Nv2 from Woot a while back and have had no problems at all with it. Good range, fast. Both macs and PCs like it.
posted by drhydro at 9:39 PM on October 11, 2011

I'd recommend the ASUS RT-N16. I'd recommend it even more if it ran Tomato USB out of the box (it's easy enough to install even if hacking wireless routers isn't your thing).
posted by togdon at 9:40 PM on October 11, 2011

One of my clients had an ASUS WL-500G Premium that I liked, but it died in relatively short order. My Linksys/Cisco E2000 works pretty darn well, surprisingly enough. I didn't need dual band since I have another AP for that, so I didn't need to go all the way to the E3000, which is simultaneous dual band. (it has two separate radios in it, while the E2000 has only one radio that works on either band)
posted by wierdo at 9:54 PM on October 11, 2011

I had a problem with my router but it turned out to be a power supply problem. Had another that would work and things have been fine since.
posted by CodeMonkey at 6:07 AM on October 12, 2011

SOOOOO n'thing anything that can run Tomato. I would recommend the Buffalo I have but it isn't exactly state of the artiness. It is, however, rock solid, reliable and flashable. The antenna collar is a little easy to crack though.
posted by Samizdata at 8:06 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you looking for a wireless router or just an access point?

I paid the premium for a Cisco device (which I can't find a link for right now) and it has been solid. My advice is for you to consider carefully; this is an area where you do get what you pay for.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:38 AM on October 12, 2011

Linsys WRT-54GL, running Tomato. To counterbalance your bad experience, I'm responsible for three of them and they've all been problem free (one has been in use for almost four years now).

Although before you ditch your current router you should check to see if there's some new source of interference causing the problem, because a new router won't fix that.
posted by anaelith at 9:29 AM on October 12, 2011

I never have to reset this. I bought mine refurbed, and I think it might have been the 4th gen. I highly recommend it. The USB port for instant hard drive sharing is also quite amazing.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:38 AM on October 12, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas, hivemind.

I've gotten several recommendations for the Apple Airport, although some folks on the boards have said that the customer service is poor if you're not on an Apple computer.

anaelith, other than rebooting the wifi box to make it work again, what other checks shoudl I be performing?
posted by blurker at 11:30 AM on October 13, 2011

Switch channels is the first thing I would do. 1, 6, or 11 (the others are basically worthless). The other thing is pay attention to your surroundings. I don't know if you are in a built up area or not, but things like noticing that whenever the phone rings the wireless drops (or whenever your neighbor's phone rings, the wireless drops)... How many other networks can you "see"? Check what channels they're on, then switch to a different one (hopefully you can).
posted by anaelith at 9:12 AM on October 14, 2011

Best answer: I don't have any association with either company. Now that's out of the way...

I have inSSIDER before with some good success. It will give you some visualization of the local wireless landscape.

HeatMapper I have heard good things about but have yet to use.

Both are free, but I know for sure inSSIDER is uncrippled and hasn't bugged me about staying free in the past.

Hope these work for you. Let me know. I am personally kind of afraid of going Apple as I like the ability to tinker outside the walled garden.

(P.S. The previously mentioned Tomato firmware also has a built in textual site survey feature.)
posted by Samizdata at 9:28 AM on October 14, 2011

Oh, these are both Windows tools. I suspect you are using Windows because of your comment

I've gotten several recommendations for the Apple Airport, although some folks on the boards have said that the customer service is poor if you're not on an Apple computer.

I do not hate Apple, as I own a G4 Sawtooth, but I find some frustration in ceding control of my gear.
posted by Samizdata at 9:29 AM on October 14, 2011

Oh, and the Buffalo I mentioned earlier has run pretty much non stop for over 3 years without a problem.

And I really need to think things out before hitting Post. I know this. (grin)
posted by Samizdata at 9:31 AM on October 14, 2011

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