Help me find the best router with some specific requirements
February 2, 2012 1:42 PM   Subscribe

I currently have all my non-portable Netflix devices hardwired to my router, but I'm moving to a house where that won't be possible. I hate to say goodbye, but the trusty WRT54G will have to go. Help me find the best replacement router.

We have multiple devices that may be streaming HD content simultaneously. It's a single story house with a pretty open floorplan. Here's what I'm looking for:


- Simultaneous dual band capability
- VPN passthrough
- 2+ ethernet ports
- Reliable wireless (some models seem prone to dropping connections and/or constantly renegotiating speed)


- Some sort of guest/DMZ mode
- Good QOS
- Ability to flash Tomato
- Parental controls

Anyone have success with a router than meets these criteria?
posted by jluce50 to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I have an Asus Black Diamond (RT-N56U) that I think meets all of those criteria (I'm not sure about VPN though).

Great speed, and it's never once dropped a connection on me. I use it for streaming Netflix to my WDTV.
posted by balistic at 1:51 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have the RT-N56U router that balistic mentioned and it's the best one I've owned.

Regarding the must-haves: It is simultaneous dual-band, has 4 ethernet ports plus the WAN port, all ports are 10/100/1000 and very reliable wireless. The wireless in my house (1800 sqft, 2 stories) maintains at least 80% signal throughout. I'm fairly confident it will pass through VPN. Per this forum post, it appears you will need to make sure it has the latest firmware.

Nice-to-haves: The QoS works, but we've had issues with it in my household due to too many devices fighting over bandwidth, so we leave it disabled. No Tomato. DMZ exists. Don't remember on Parental Controls.

Price usually runs around $125. Occasionally I've seen it for $105 on Newegg and Fry's.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:03 PM on February 2, 2012

Turn that WRT54g into a dumb wireless repeater with de-wrt!
posted by PSB at 2:24 PM on February 2, 2012

Response by poster: I've already got an old WRT54G acting as a repeater, but that doesn't really solve any of my problems.

As far as the Asus, I actually hadn't seen that one yet. Looks promising. As long as the VPN works, and I don't experience problems with iPhones connecting that some have reported, it looks like the winner at this point. Also, I noticed that the smallnetbuilder review specifically says it doesn't have any sort of guest/DMZ functionality. I'd really like it, but that's not a deal-breaker...

posted by jluce50 at 2:28 PM on February 2, 2012

I'm not sure a new router will solve your problems, as it appears the main one is streaming HD wirelessly. I just did a bunch of research on this a few weeks ago, and I came to the conclusion that a new (even dual band) router was not going to cure our streaming problems. Netflix was never an issue on our old -g router, but ps3mediaserver would have all kinds of problems with 1080p wirelessly, even in our ~1,000 sq ft house. The solution I found was powerline connectors, specifically these.
posted by Big_B at 4:03 PM on February 2, 2012

We switched to the Asus Black Diamond after years of WRT54G (with alt firmware) and we're thrilled.

The native firmware is awesome too.
posted by k8t at 4:06 PM on February 2, 2012

VPN passthru on more recent firmware btw.
posted by k8t at 4:06 PM on February 2, 2012

Response by poster: @Big_B: Netflix HD is 720p I believe. There seem to be plenty of people streaming HD wirelessly with wireless-N routers. The powerline networking is intruiging, but I've never understood how (or if) it works with multiple circuits. Will it still work even if the router and the Bluray player are on different breakers?
posted by jluce50 at 4:51 PM on February 2, 2012

I am not enough of a wireless geek to know if it would meet all your requirements, but I can say that I am very happy with my current wireless router (a Netgear WNR3500L) and we do a lot of streaming at our house in different rooms. YMMV.
posted by forthright at 7:15 PM on February 2, 2012

Netflix at my house streams at 1080i most of the time, but yeah that's comparable to 720p. Like I said, when you start moving around 1080p videos, from what I gathered even -n wouldn't stand up.

Our powerline connectors are on separate breakers and work fine.

Honestly I don't want to derail your question, and I'm not totally clear on how they work, but I've been really impressed with the last week or so of usage and it seemed like a relevant solution to at least some of your problems. We are going to be upgrading our router soon anyway due to dropping problems and the availability of other new features like you mentioned.
posted by Big_B at 7:24 PM on February 2, 2012

I have a Linksys PowerlineHD system, and it was not able to stream 720p (compressed with XVID). I had a hard time even figuring out exactly what the maximum transfer rate through it was, because it kept going up to 10Mb+, then dropping precipitously, then climbing back up again. It might have been able to do Netflix, though I didn't have it at the time.

I stopped using it and got out the fish bit and a spool of Cat5e after I realized I was spending more time tweaking it then it would take to run cable and patch up the holes when we were ready to move out. YMMV.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:15 PM on February 2, 2012

I bought a Belkin 150 (yes, the $29 router) for my mom's house, somewhat expecting it to not work all that well. After installing it the not recommended way (sitting on top of the cable modem, on a different floor), I was able to connect up two laptops streaming Netflix, sitting right next to each other. No troubles at all- they acted as if they were wired. Seeking and pausing and all that worked like a breeze.

It worked so well that I bought one for myself. What I did, and what you might try, is to use your WRT54G as the router, and turn off its wireless. Then hook up the new router and set it to act as an access point only. That way you can keep all the features of the WRT54G you like, but also have newer/better wireless.
posted by gjc at 7:45 AM on February 3, 2012

Clarification: the router was at one end of the house on the second floor, and the two laptops were sitting next to each other at the other end of the house on the first floor.
posted by gjc at 7:47 AM on February 3, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions!

I'm thinking I may take Big_B's advice and try out some powerline adapters. I'll make sure to pick them up locally so I can easily return them if they don't work.
posted by jluce50 at 1:27 PM on February 3, 2012

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