Wireless Router Recommendations
August 9, 2006 2:15 PM   Subscribe

I need to replace the wireless router I bought for my Dad a couple of years ago (which has died) and was looking for some recommendations. Signal strength/range is a major issue due to the fact the house has some pretty thick walls and is fairly large.

I've been looking at MIMO routers and wondering whether it's worth getting something pre-n, but after my last experience buying a router I'm after a bit more information than just reviews. I need to be able to secure the network well and am looking for something solid so I can just set it up and leave it.

The modem he's using is a D-link DSL 300-T which, ideally, I want to set to gateway mode and set up the PPoA internet connection through the router as that would seem to be the option involving less hassle, but if the modem needs changing because of compatibility issues with newer routers I'm prepared to do that as well. Not overly bothered if the connection is 54Mbps or 108mbps, but am leaning towards 108mbps. Any recommendations much appreciated. If it's from a company that won't withdraw all support like kcorp did a few months after I bought the last router from them that would be a plus.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Wireless access point power is regulated by the FCC.

As far as I know, Pre-N isn't going to get you anything over a G or B wap except a lighter wallet.

I love my WRT54G's running DD-WRT firmware with 400% increased power output.
posted by SirStan at 2:47 PM on August 9, 2006

I just recently went the geek route and bought a Linksys WRT54GL, which is the recommended version for flashing to a custom rom. I replaced it with the DD-WRT Rom which has been great.

Another thing you might wish to investigate is Repeating. It's easy to setup, providing you have two identical wireless routers, and more difficult if not. A slightly more difficult method is called WDS, and would require flashing both systems to DD-WRT

Basically one router is powered on and plugged into ethernet, and the other is plugged in somewhere else and set to repeat the first's signal. The nice advantage to this is that you don't need an ethernet connection on the second, just a power cord.

If you use WDS you need ethernet for both.

I was able to set this up in a three story house with 25 rooms and a basement by putting one router on the first floor, at one side of the house, with the antennas set at a 45 degree angle, driving the signal crossways up to the third floor. The other was on the third floor, driving the signal back down through the house.

It was a nice solution that only cost $150 to do where a Cisco solution might have cost several thousands.
posted by WetherMan at 2:49 PM on August 9, 2006

Just be aware WDS kills your speeds and you will be golden. I only use WDS where it is impossible to do otherwise (which is rare). I usually power my wap's over ethernet anyways, as it is cheaper than running electrical.
posted by SirStan at 3:00 PM on August 9, 2006

Get a Linksys WRT-54G and replace the Linksys firmware with the DD-WRT 3rd-party firmware. If you're a newbie at such things, don't worry; all you do is upload the new firmware file to the router through its Web interface. The result works beautifully, and as other posters have said does indeed allow you to jack up the transmitter's power well past the FCC's guidelines.

Make sure to get the WRT-54GL as opposed to the WRT-54GS. The newer 54GS models run VXWorks instead of Linux, have much less memory, and are harder to install third-party firmwares on.

Here's a link to the box you want at NewEgg.
posted by killdevil at 3:09 PM on August 9, 2006

WRT-54G, of course.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:50 PM on August 9, 2006

GL, not G. The G has insufficient RAM for the typical open-source upgrades, at least as of a month ago.
posted by NortonDC at 6:30 PM on August 9, 2006

Although at least one open source firmware (DD-WRT) now boots on the cheaper, regular WRT-54G(S) (with 2MB of flash ROM) instead of the more expensive WRT-54GL, the list of compatible routers is quite large, and by no means restricted to Linksys models. The recommended models are:

Cheapest 100% Compatible Wireless Router: Buffalo WHR G54s

Best 100% Compatible Wireless Router (With really high OC'ing too!): Asus WL 500G Deluxe

Best Price/Performance 100% Compatible Wireless Router: Buffalo WHR G54s

Fastest DD-WRT Compatible Wireless Router: WRTSL54GS or Asus WL500G Premium

There's also OpenWRT, which is more stable and supports far more routers but orders of magnitude less friendly unless you know your way around Linux command lines.
posted by meehawl at 7:06 PM on August 9, 2006

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