wireless router recommendations?
September 13, 2005 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Aaaaargh! I hate my wireless router! Are there any good wireless routers out there?

This expletive deleted router (SMC Barricade) seems to have spasms every few weeks, wherein it will drop connection every few minutes for a few days. What is a good -- nay, great -- wireless router that I can rely upon? (Mac iBook, if that matters). Bonus points if I can connect my parallel-port printer to it, or connect a network backup drive to it, or connect some sort of music device to it.
posted by five fresh fish to Computers & Internet (35 answers total)
I love my Airport Extreme. Plus the setup program is most likely already on your iBook.
posted by addyct at 10:12 AM on September 13, 2005

I love my Linksys WRT54G - at one time I had four of them setup in a "mesh" config as wireless-to-ethernet bridges as well. I've still got two (one as the primary router, one doing wireless bridging to a couple machines in the music room).

The 54Gs get even better when you add the Sveasoft firmware.
posted by mrbill at 10:14 AM on September 13, 2005

I always liked my Linksys until I got a Netgear--it's much easier to administrate. I can "force" certain MACs to get a particular IP address via DHCP, for instance, and I have much more control over logs and attached devices.

Plus they're all translucent and white and silly as it seems it counts a bit ;)
posted by bcwinters at 10:24 AM on September 13, 2005

I have the Linksys WRT54G as well and like it overall but mine will occasionally, every month or two, have a spasm or two and need to be shut down for a few minutes and then restarted.

But its been a solid router most of the time.

I am thinking about getting the Airport Express just to make it easier to stream my music.
posted by fenriq at 10:27 AM on September 13, 2005

Another vote for the WRT54G or WRT54GS (I recommend the first one, it's cheaper).

MY NETGEAR WGT624 SUCKED and I paid over $100 for its useless 108Mbps features! I'll never buy Netgear again.
posted by exhilaration at 10:32 AM on September 13, 2005

I'll third (or fourth) the WRT54G. Still going without a problem since I got it about nine months ago. I had the 10 Mb version previously and that never failed either.
posted by poppo at 10:34 AM on September 13, 2005

I use a couple Airport Extremes that have been rock solid.

I've had mixed results with all other brands.
posted by trevyn at 10:34 AM on September 13, 2005

Urrrrgh, Airport Express(es). I hate myself.
posted by trevyn at 10:35 AM on September 13, 2005

I had a netgear that ran hot and burned itself out. I now have a wrt54g, and it's been rock solid.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:37 AM on September 13, 2005

can any of you wrt54g lovers tell me why mine loses the internet connection until i restart the router?
posted by neilkod at 10:40 AM on September 13, 2005

I've used several wifi routers and as the above have mentiond, the WRT54GS is quality. (speed booster is gratuitous really) As bcwinters mentioned Netgear routers have a nice interface, as well as a more powerful "management suite." I really liked the 624, no probs what-so-ever; FWIW, I have a Pismo running panther, with a 3rd party card I bought at tigerdirect for $13: I connect to the dlink at home, linksys at work, and had no problems w/ the netgear.
posted by AllesKlar at 10:45 AM on September 13, 2005

Airport Express here as well. Love the fact that it also directs my iTunes music to my stereo, and it also acts as the wireless hub for my printer, allowing me to print from any of my PCs or Macs in the house.
posted by benjh at 10:47 AM on September 13, 2005

neilkod: Are you sure it's your router and not your cable/dsl modem? Upgrade to the latest firmware. Maybe it's wireless interference or a bad wireless card, do you get this issue if you plug a computer directly into its Ethernet ports? And finally, it's possible you have a defective unit - contact Linksys, they'll send you a new unit.
posted by exhilaration at 10:48 AM on September 13, 2005

i love the wrt54g + the sveasoft firmware. i've got one attached to the cablemodem as the main access point, and one in the living room which is configured as a wireless to wired bridge for all of my junk in the living room.

a year ago the bridge thing was difficult to set up with the sveasoft firmware, but i think they've got it working smoothly now.
posted by joeblough at 10:51 AM on September 13, 2005

by the way, I happened across this bargain just now: Netgear WGR614 802.11g Wireless Router $22.99 shipped free

Haven't used it myself, but maybe someone else will pipe up with their experience with it
posted by poppo at 10:53 AM on September 13, 2005

I've had problems with both a WRT54GS and a d-link 802.11g router. The linksys worked fine for 6 months or so then just up and died one day. The two replacement routers I tried both dropped connections every few hours and the sveasoft package felt like it made things worse.

I had a first-generation apple airport that was flawless, but didn't offer a ton of configuration details (I like to port-forward to different machines, and do DHCP but always give the same IP to certain machines, etc).

I just got an airport express for my new place and will likely toss my d-link router when I move.
posted by mathowie at 11:13 AM on September 13, 2005

I've had crappy luck with large data transfers with my WRT54G. Transferring anything big from other computers on the network or even long high speed downloads would cause the connection to drop. A recent firmware upgrade fixed it, though. It appears to actually overclock the router a bit, from looking at the analysis on the Linksys hacker forums. BTW, Sveasoft's business model is ridiculous and totally exploits the generosity of open source. Don't buy it.
posted by zsazsa at 11:20 AM on September 13, 2005

I second Mr.Bill.
posted by k8t at 11:45 AM on September 13, 2005

Another thought is that I should purchase a big-ass WAP and offer wireless to everyone. I'm on top of a hill and can see probably the better part of 10 000 residences from my windows.

But I think that'd probably piss off my ISP.

What makes some routers better than others? Code stability? Antenna power? Chipsets?

Also, what channel should I use, assuming someone has 2.5GHz phones nearby and knowing that someone has an HP ad-hoc network on one of the higher channels (10?) Can I improve my router by adding a bigass antenna or tinfoil or something?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:50 AM on September 13, 2005

I've also gone throught the heartache of having an SMC wireless router die. Having a parallel port on it was great - while it worked. I was unsuccessful finding a direct replacement that included the printer port for a reasonable price, so I ended up buying a non-print-capable Netgear router for pretty cheap. My printer was made usable by connecting it to my desktop and sharing it over the network. Of course the downside is the desktop computer needs to be powered on for this to work.

Have you considered an ethernet print server? These can be purchased for pretty cheap, and all you need to do is plug it into one of the wired ports on your router.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:51 AM on September 13, 2005

Actually, the print server I linked to is wireless as well.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:53 AM on September 13, 2005

WRT54G indahaus
posted by angry modem at 12:04 PM on September 13, 2005

I had 3 Linksys that would fail eventually and would be really sensitive to interference so neighbor's phones, microwaves, etc would kill it. I tried the Linksys firmware and the sevasoft. No dice. Often times I would need to reboot the router + the cable modem to get things to come back to life.

I bought a Buffalo wireless router because it had a decent reputation but found it would die when a neighbor used their dryer. I gave it to a friend living a house and she's had no problems. I got it for about $40 before rebate at Frys.

I finally bought a Airport Extreme and have experienced zero downtime on it. It plays quite nicely with my Airport Express so my network extends to the other end of the house and that makes my stereo and TiVo happy. It is a lot more expensive and not as hackable as the non-Apple brands, but it plays nicely with my Macs [and a PC now and then].
posted by birdherder at 12:38 PM on September 13, 2005

I used the NetGear WGR614 in a barracks, and was able to split a connection 5 ways with no appreciable loss through several walls of cinderblock. For $22.99 its a bargain. I left it in the barracks for incoming personnel and from what I've heard, its still there six months later, chugging right along.
posted by tetsuo at 1:20 PM on September 13, 2005

My experience with a Netgear WAP/router and Netgear USB wireless card was terrible, and Netgear support was terrible. YMMV, but I won't buy anything else from them.
posted by theora55 at 2:54 PM on September 13, 2005

I use a Netgear DG834G, hasn't given me any problems at all for the past 8 months solid use.

I think poppo may have found you a diamond.
posted by NinjaPirate at 3:02 PM on September 13, 2005

My wrt54g drops out fairly regularly and is sensitive to my neighbors electronics too. Im using the HyperWRT firmware. I tried a netgear 624 and a buffalo and found them both problematic.
posted by blueyellow at 3:13 PM on September 13, 2005

Never had the slightest problem with my D-link 524. Not exactly a power-user, but I've never had it drop a signal it didn't pick back up by itself in less than 5 seconds. It's been in near constant use for a year now.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:03 PM on September 13, 2005

So far, it sounds like a crapshoot, though the dice are loaded in favour of the WRT54G.

I have, somewhere in a box, a Linksys (I think; it's blue) wireless print server. It is singularly the most frustrating bit of kit I have ever touched, and I'm used to dealing with obsolete and weird stuff as an A/V tech at a university. A pox on whomever is responsible for designing and manufacturing that P.O.S. OMG, I have never been so frustrated, even angry, with an inanimate object. Gahd. Killkillkill.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:29 PM on September 13, 2005

I suggest the Linksys WRT54G. Not the WRT54GS, which is bad. The WRT54G is good.

I've had an SMC Barricade, which is a fine router (though it overheats every so often) but a crappy WAP with a range of just a few feet.

I've had a Netgear something or other, I don't remember what. White, oblong shaped. Every few hours it would drop the entire wireless segment until reset.

The WRT54G -- even with the sub-par firmware shipped by Linksys -- has been rock solid.

Most other Linksys gear is crap. The WRT54G is not crap. Buy that. It's cheap and it works reasonably well. Be forewarned that if you have an interesting network configuration -- such as multiple IP addresses and static NAT tables -- the WRT54G won't be useful unless you re-flash it with better firmware.
posted by majick at 7:24 PM on September 13, 2005

Oh, and since you're having problems with the Barricade: Try running it on its back. The heat is better vented and it's much more reliable when sitting that way.
posted by majick at 7:25 PM on September 13, 2005

So it might be an overheating issue? Gah.

Maybe I'll put it in the freezer. Though I can't imagine the radio range will be all that great...
posted by five fresh fish at 8:06 PM on September 13, 2005

My barricade does the same thing - some days, I just have to go into the admin page and re-enable the wireless capabilities over and over, and some days I have to restart it over and over and over. But, it was $10 after rebate, and it lasted me about a year and a half, so I'm happy. Thanks for the thread, good tips abound here!
posted by sluggo at 8:43 PM on September 13, 2005

You know, I don't think the bastards ever sent me my rebate.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 AM on September 14, 2005

My Linksys WAP11 has similar lock-up behavior that others have described. When it does it I have to power-cycle it and then it's fine. Goddamned annoying.
posted by phearlez at 1:00 PM on September 14, 2005

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