Traffic shaping with a cheap consumer router
July 23, 2005 9:35 PM   Subscribe

Are there any inexpensive home routers with support for traffic shaping? I'm willing to load third-party firmware as long as it's stable and cheap.

It looks like some of the alternate firmware distributions for the Linksys WRT54G can do this... if you've done traffic shaping with one, I'd love to hear about your experience. However, I'd prefer to save money and forego wireless capability if possible, since this thing will be sitting in my basement. Besides, I already have a fine wireless router that I plan to use as a WAP in my improved network.

I am aware that I could just set up an old computer for this, but since I don't have one handy, I'd wind up spending more money on a PC and a switch. A consumer router would also generate less heat and consume less power.
posted by Eamon to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Googling for "inexpensive home routers with support for traffic shaping" returns a number of hits of people writing articles and discussing this issue on tech/broadband forums. That would be the first place I'd look.
posted by Jairus at 10:17 PM on July 23, 2005

There was a previous thread about this that might be worth checking out. I've tried the Sveasoft firmware with some success... but the latest stock firmware for the WRT54G can already do quality of service and whatnot.

Personally, I've not played with it in any depth... but the wrt54g is kind of a remarkable device. You're not likely to find anything that compares, price to power-wise.

If you're interested, here's the text from that page on my router's config:

Two types of Quality of Service features are available, Wired QoS which controls devices plugged in to the router with a Ethernet cable, and Wireless QoS, which control devices that are wirelessly connected to the router.

Wired QoS

Device Priority : You may specify priority for all traffic from a device on your network by giving the device a Device Name, specifying priority and entering its MAC address.

Ethernet Port Priority : You may control your data rate according to which physical LAN port your device is plugged into. You may assign High or Low priority to data traffic from devices connected on LAN ports 1 through 4.

Application Priority : You may control your data rate with respect to the application that is consuming bandwidth. Check Optimize Gaming Applications to automatically allow common game application ports to have a higher priority. You may customize up to eight applications by entering the port number they use.

Wireless QoS

Wireless QoS is also referred to as Wi-Fi MultiMediaTM (WMM) by the Wi-Fi AllianceTM. Select Enable to utilize WMM if you are using other wireless devices that are also WMM certified.
posted by ph00dz at 6:03 AM on July 24, 2005

I use a WRT54G with (the last free version of the) Sveasoft firmware, which allows prioritizing by port (that's port as in TCP/UDP, not physical LAN port). I set BitTorrent/P2P ports to low priority. I haven't done any experiments, but my perception is that browsing doesn't slow down nearly as much during periods of intense (p2p) bandwidth use. I don't use VoIP, or do much online gaming, so my experience is pretty limited.

I'd encourage you to get a WRT54G. Since so many people are using them, development is active and forum support is pretty good, and you can always disable the wireless support.

And, when one considers power consumption, and my (not-very) valuable time, I'm pretty sure the WRT54G is cheaper than the Pentium 133 Freesco box that I was using previously.
posted by box at 9:54 AM on July 24, 2005

Response by poster: Jairus: most of my searching turned up info on the WRT54G and tips for rolling your own router. I'm sure with the emerging popularity of VOIP that many newer consumer routers advertise QoS, but I have a feeling most implementations are unreliable. Made sense to turn to the knowledgeable people here.

So it looks like the WRT54G wins. Thanks for your input, guys.
posted by Eamon at 10:21 AM on July 24, 2005

I'm using the D-Link DGL-4300 "gaming router" after being enormously disappointed by a Linksys RT042. It only offers QoS for outbound traffic, but since most broadband Internet connections are asymmetrical, that's mostly where you need it anyway. It doesn't have any bandwidth-limiting features, but you can assign priorities by IP address or port range and any higher-priority traffic will automatically get bandwidth before lower-priority traffic. It works well and I recommend it. They have both a wired-only (DGL-4100) and wired-wireless (DGL-4300) model.
posted by kindall at 11:57 AM on July 24, 2005

I've got two WRT54Gs running the Sveasoft firmware, and have had no problem with the QoS features on them.

There are also some "dedicated" QoS/traffic-shaping boxes coming out soon - the Hawking Technology HBB1 Broadband Booster and the Broadband Internet/VoIP Accelerator (DI-102) from D-Link. Both of these boxes use the same QoS / shaping processor that's in the "Gaming Routers", but in a dedicated box that goes (transparently) between your DSL/cablemodem and your normal router.

I'll be picking one or the other up as soon as they hit mainstream distribution ("Any Day Now"), and seeing how it compares to the built-in QoS on the WRT54Gs.
posted by mrbill at 7:12 PM on July 24, 2005

also, wrt54g isn't the only hardware choice, at least for some of the 3rd party firmware... I've been thinking about getting one of the asus 500 models, which look pretty sweet.

also, traffic shaping is much more likely to give results than qos, unless the actual isp supports qos.
posted by dorian at 8:53 PM on July 24, 2005

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