Best DD-WRT Routers – 2021 Review

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Need a router that can do more than simply connect you to the internet? 

The best DD-WRT router unlocks a world of possibilities, including increased privacy, security, and the option of using VPNs. 

We take a look at the best DD-WRT routers in today’s post, but first, we walk you through everything you need to know. 

Our Top Picks for Best DD-WRT Routers

  • Dual bandwidth
  • For all systems
  • Increases bandwidth
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  • Voice control
  • Many connection ports
  • Versatile router
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  • Best for the Money
  • Wan and LAN ports
  • Dual bandwidth
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Comparison of the Best DD-WRT Routers

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Operates at 2.4 as well as 5 GHz
  • Works with all Windows and Mac operating systems
  • Doubles bandwidth from 80 to 160 Mhz
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  • Compatible with Alexia for voice control
  • Comes with up to 6 Ethernet ports and 1 x 10g SFP+ port
  • Can use with PC, consoles and streaming devices
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  • Best for the Money
  • Wan and LAN ports for ethernet connections
  • Operates at 2.4 as well as 5 GHz
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  • Best DD-WRT Router Under $50
  • 4k HD video streaming ready
  • Up to 300Mbps throughput for better performance
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  • Best DD-WRT Router Under $100
  • Converts to private networking for better privacy
  • Up to 128 MB ram storage capacity
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What is DD-WRT?

DD-WRT is a Linux-based firmware developed for wireless routers and access points. The manufacturer initially designed it exclusively for Linksys WRT54G series. However, it’s now compatible with various models. 

The DD-WRT is a third-party firmware, developed to replace the manufacturer’s pre-installed software. Once installed, it offers customizable features and functionalities. 

What is a DD-WRT Router?

A DD-WRT router is a unit that includes a pre-installed special open-source firmware called DD-WRT. It allows you to customize its features, adding more security for you while you browse. 

Linksys WRT3200ACM

Why Use DD-WRT?

We have multiple reasons why you should get a DD-WRT router as opposed to a general one. 

  • Added layer of protection: DD-WRT routers offer more protection by including a pre-installed VPN or providing the opportunity to install one. 

  • Optimal in multi-device households: If several people under your roof use internet-connected devices simultaneously, this is the best choice. They offer more power, and you can monitor your internet traffic more efficiently. 
  • Restrict bandwidth: DD-WRT routers often allow you to control how much bandwidth you use on streaming, gaming and downloading. 

  • Stream geo-restricted content: Thanks to the VPN, you can access content otherwise restricted to certain territories.

There are countless benefits of using DD-WRT. You can purchase a router with DD-WRT firmware pre-installed or get the software separately. 

Can You Really Find a Quality DD-WRT Router That’s Affordable?

DD-WRT routers are available at different price points. However, the average is above $100, and it usually pays off by investing a bit more money upfront. 

With that said, there are budget options—under $100—that work just as well; we have two on our list today. They may have limited storage and lack some features, but they are, in general, great routers. 

Quick Take - Best DD-WRT Routers

Just looking for the three best DD-WRT routers? Here they are:

  1. Linksys WRT3200ACM
  2. NETGEAR Nighthawk R9000-100NAS
  3. ASUS RT-N66U

Review of the Best DD-WRT Routers

Now it’s time to take a look at our choices for the best DD-WRT routers. 

Best Overall:
Linksys WRT3200ACM

Linksys WRT3200ACM Dual-Band Open Source Router for Home (Tri-Stream Fast Wireless Wi-Fi Router, MU-MIMO Gigabit Wireless Router)

PROS

  • It offers a bandwidth of 160 MHz
  • Works with dual-band Wi-Fi speeds 
  • Router works with the existing modem
  • Includes open-source firmware for optimal customization
  • Router includes a Smart Wi-Fi app to adjust settings and parental control

CONS

  • The router is too slow to work with a GB connection
  • Provides inconsistent speeds even when directly connecting to the device

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers seem overall pleased with the Linksys WRT3200ACM router. It’s very user-friendly and comes with easy-to-follow instructions for the setup. The router connects effortlessly with already installed cable modems.

Buyers also praise that you can customize your privacy settings to whitelist specific addresses. With that said, users reported issues with sustaining a stable connection and that customer support wasn’t helpful.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Linksys router offers several good-to-have features, making it easier for the user to get the best possible experience. It comes with Tri-Stream 160 technology, which increases the bandwidth from 80 MHz to 160 MHz. You can also expect a good range for use either at home or in the office.

Another outstanding feature is the MU-MIMO technology that enables the router to deliver its fast connection to multiple devices simultaneously. It remains unaffected by your home Wi-Fi usage, regardless of how heavy it is.

You can connect the router to a range of devices, including network printers, USB hard drives, and eSATA. If you’re tech-savvy, the open-source firmware allows you to customize your router with DD-WRT and OpenWRT. 

The unit is compatible with the free Smart Wi-Fi app that you can download on Android and iOS devices. From there, you can get updates about your home Wi-Fi, prioritize devices, set parental controls, among much more.

Bottom Line

The WRT3200ACM router from Linksys has lots to offer for the tech-savvy as well as those who simply want a fast connection. A standout feature is the app compatibility; it enables you to control everything from your device. 

However, it seems that the connection is inconsistent, suggesting it isn’t the most reliable router for serious users.

NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)

PROS

  • Easy-to-use parental controls
  • Includes several advanced technologies
  • Allows for six plug-in devices simultaneously
  • Provides up to 2500 square feet of wireless coverage
  • Streams videos and games with Amazon Drive Cloud back-up

CONS

  • The router is large
  • May Wi-Fi drop while using it

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are pleased with the performance of the Netgear Nighthawk router. They praise its fast Wi-Fi connection and its advanced smart features. However, it’s clear that if you aren’t tech-savvy, that you should research the router beforehand to make sure you get the most benefits from it. 

Another drawback that a few buyers mentioned were the drops in Wi-Fi; it seems that some got a faulty product, which provides an unsteady connection. 

Still, the potential of this router is superb, as long as you take your time to learn all its features. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you need a router that can cover a large area, we recommend the Nighthawk. With its 2500 square foot wireless coverage, it can easily reach every room in your house or a large chunk of the office.

The router comes with a powerful 1.7GHz Quad-core processor, providing you with wireless speeds of up to 7.2Gbps. What we appreciate is its Plex media server, which is among the fastest media streaming. Then save all your data in the Amazon Drive Cloud. 

Another standout point is the included technology; it offers Amazon Alexa Voice Controls, Beamforming+, four amplified antennas, and much more. You can also set up parental control, allowing you to manage internet access and filter websites.

Bottom Line

The Nighthawk router from Netgear is a monster of a router. It comes with an arsenal of advanced technologies, there to improve your user experience. With its four amplifying antennas, the Wi-Fi speed is uncanny. 

However, there are some issues with Wi-Fi dropping, and the router itself is huge, so you may have to upgrade the location.

Best for the Money:
ASUS RT-N66U

ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router

PROS

  • Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Easy setup with its ASUSWRT dashboard
  • Two built-in multi-functional USB ports for sharing
  • Expanded coverage with three detachable antennas
  • Dual-band transmissions for a stronger signal and faster connection

CONS

  • Has a weak power supply
  • Router overheats easily, decreasing its performance

What Recent Buyers Report

The Asus RT-N66U router does fairly well among recent buyers. Most praise its strong, reliable connection and its wide wireless coverage. The removable antennas make it easy to fit into tight corners when used in smaller spaces and homes.

Many also like the USB ports, enabling them to save their files and data. With that said, the power supply is rather weak, causing the unit to shut off spontaneously. You should also place the router in a well-ventilated area as it overheats quickly.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The strong, reliable connection offered by the Asus router is outstanding; it provides a 2.4GHz and 5GHz concurrent dual-band transmissions for strength and connection speeds up to 900Mbps. 

A great feature is the detachable amplifying antennas; you can attach them as needed for broader wireless coverage. However, if you prefer plugging your device in, the router offers gigabit Ethernet ports. 

You can share your files, printers, and 3G sharing through the two USB ports. Another fantastic feature is the VPN server function and access to router-connected USB storage devices. 

The router is effortless to set up and can serve multiple devices simultaneously.

Bottom Line

The Asus router is an affordable unit with a tonne of helpful features. Its dual-band connection provides outstanding speeds for streaming videos, games, and TV channels. When you need a wider wireless coverage, you can attach the antennas.

Unfortunately, it overheats quickly, so many recommend that you place it in a well-ventilated spot.

Best DD-WRT Router Under $50:
ASUS RT-N12 N300

ASUS RT-N12 N300 WiFi Router 2T2R MIMO Technology, 4K HD Video Streaming, VoIP,Up to 300 Mbps,Black

PROS

  • An easy three-step setup through your devices
  • Powerful connection with throughput up to 300Mbps
  • Router supports up to four wireless network accounts
  • Enhanced signal strength with two amplifying antennas 
  • Quick to switch between router, repeater, and access point 

CONS

  • Tends to drop the signal
  • Inferior flash storage, less than 4 MB

What Recent Buyers Report

The Asus RT-N12 N300 router has a great wireless range and superb connection speeds. Recent buyers praise the affordable price and the frequent updates offered by Asus. 

It’s relatively uncomplicated to set up. One point worth noting is that a few buyers stated that the router is outdated and offers too little storage. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Asus RT-N12 router delivers an exceptional signal range thanks to its Advanced High Power technology. It comes with two detachable high-gain antennas, which increases its wireless range significantly without impacting the performance. 

A fantastic point is the easy three-step setup that you can do through your devices or PC. Once you’ve connected the router, open a browser, and it will take you to the setup page. From here, log into your network account, and you’re ready to surf. 

What we like about the router is that it allows you to set up and customize four wireless network accounts. Each includes privacy controls, restricting access to certain websites. You can also limit the bandwidth for each account. 

Bottom Line

If you want an affordable, reliable router, we recommend the Asus RT-N12. Thanks to the detachable antennas, you can increase the range as needed. It’s also easy to set up, even if you don’t have much experience. 

However, the lack of storage and drop in the signal may suggest it isn’t the best for serious users who stream lots of videos and games.

Best DD-WRT Router Under $100:
GL.iNET GL-AR300M

GL.iNET GL-AR300M (Shadow) Mini VPN Travel Router with 2dbi External Antenna, Wi-Fi Converter, Mobile Hotspot in Pocket, OpenWrt, Repeater Bridge, 300Mbps, 128MB Nand Flash, 128MB RAM, OpenVPN

PROS

  • Compact travel router 
  • Includes dual Ethernet ports
  • Considerable storage of 128MB RAM
  • Pre-installed Open Vpn and WireGuard
  • Can convert public networks to private connections

CONS

  • The router tends to drop out of the connection
  • Connecting to the VPN sometimes requires a force start

What Recent Buyers Report

The GL.iNet router does well among traveling buyers who praise its compact size and ability to create a secure hotspot quickly. Its included OpenVPN works excellent once you get it going but may require a force start. 

Still, considering the size, it has considerable storage, and you can power it through your laptop USB or power bank when working remotely. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The compactness of the unit makes it excellent for traveling, whether you’re in a hotel or on a long road trip. Because you can power it through your laptop or power bank, it enables you to work from anywhere. 

A great feature is the converter allowing you to create a private connection on a public network. Pre-installed are Open VPN and WireGuard, but it’s still compatible with over 30 other VPN service providers. Additionally, it comes with OpenWRT with an opportunity to install over 4000 software packages. 

You also have ample storage space with up to 128MB RAM, considering that it’s a travel router. There are even dual Ethernet ports as well as GPIOs available for hardware DIY.

Bottom Line

If you’re often on the road, the GL.iNet router is a superb travel companion. It allows you to surf securely using any network while also being highly customizable, thanks to its pre-installed OpenWRT. 

With that said, it isn’t perfect and tends to drop the connection spontaneously. It can also put up a fight when connecting to OpenVPN.

Why Did These Routers Make Our List?

While searching for the best DD-WRT router, there were a few features we looked for and compared. These include:

Wireless Range

Unless you want to sit up against the router while browsing, the range is a crucial component to consider. While looking, we tried to find products with the broadest range so that you can get a signal anywhere at home. 

However, keep in mind that the DD-WRT firmware doesn’t increase the range. Instead, it enables your router to reach its maximum capacity without compromising speed. 

Speed

Speed is often the factor most users consider when choosing a router. Still, it’s important to note that a DD-WRT firmware doesn’t increase the speed of a slow router. With that said, most routers with pre-installed DD-WRT have high-speed ratings. 

NETGEAR Nighthawk R9000-100NAS

Price

The price was a big determiner in which routers we chose to recommend. As we mentioned earlier, they’re available at different price points, but the more expensive options usually offer better speed, more storage, etc. 

However, we managed to find several options at great prices that still offer a considerable amount of features and benefits. 

Memory Bank

If the router doesn’t have a pre-installed DD-WRT firmware, it’s essential to consider the memory bank’s capacity. If it’s too small, it limits the type of DD-WRT that you can download and install. 

Benefits of Investing in a Quality DD-WRT Router

The benefits of investing in the best DD-WRT router are endless. Here are just a few reasons:

VPNs

A virtual private network, better known as VPN, is a must-have tool when working online. A VPN can do anything from simulating a different IP address to increase your security while browsing. 

Access Points

DD-WRT firmware can make any router an access point, extending a wireless signal significantly. It’s fantastic for use in SOHO setups and large offices with multiple floors. 

Easy Monitoring of Internet Traffic

The DD-WRT firmware will monitor, store, and log all your internet traffic. This can help you spot unwanted users or faulty equipment. Additionally, there’s an array of security features and configurations available that aren’t usually on a standard router. 

How Does DD-WRT Compare?

Below we highlight the differences between DD-WRT firmware:

DD-WRT Router Mode vs Gateway Mode

Router mode is when the unit connects multiple networks of the same type while controlling the traffic between them. Gateway mode, on the other hand, is a protocol converter that connects one network to a different network. 

DD-WRT vs OpenWrt

OpenWRT is one of the oldest open-source router projects, and it’s the firmware most similar to traditional routers. It’s a great option if you want free software. 

However, OpenWRT is much more complicated to operate than DD-WRT, and not all routers are compatible. 

DD-WRT Gateway vs Router

The gateway is like a door, a single point of access between one network to another. A router is a staircase, which helps to determine the shortest path between two or several networks of the same type.

How to Setup a DD-WRT Router

Now that we know about DD-WRT firmware, it’s time to learn how to set up a router like the Linksys WRT3200ACM. Here’s what you do:

How to Access DD-WRT Router

To access your DD-WRT router, you need to log into the web GUI. The first time you do this, you need the firmware’s default username and password. 

The username is “root” and the password is “admin.” 

After your first login, it will ask you to change the password. You can later use the username and your password to access the DD-WRT.

How to Flash DD-WRT

To flash DD-WRT, here’s what you do:

  1. Reset your router: Although this isn’t always needed, it’s best if you aren’t familiar with the unit. Hold the start button down for 30 seconds until the lights flash. However, be careful before resetting and research your current firmware.

  2. Login to the web GUI: Use the same username and password as above. 

  3. Upload the firmware: Select “Administration” followed by “Firmware Upgrade.” Next, click “Browse” then select the DD-WRT file you’ve downloaded and click “Upgrade.” Wait five minutes before selecting “Continue.” When it’s ready, you can access the DD-WRT web interface.

How to Use DD-WRT

Once you’re logged into the DD-WRT, it should show you settings and where to go next. If you’re tech-savvy, you can begin to customize from here. If not, then simply use the settings that came with the firmware. 

Conclusion

If you care about privacy, online safety, streaming speed, and customization, the best DD-WRT router is worth a try. 

DD-WRT firmware opens several opportunities for users, be it newbies or tech-savvy. With VPNs, better access points, high-capacity memory banks, and much more, there’s plenty to play around with. 

What’s great about this firmware is how customizable it is. You can create a space that’s exactly to your needs without worrying about unwanted users. 

People Also Ask

DD-WRT firmware isn’t an easy topic to master, and we all have loads of questions. So we’ve gathered a few of the most frequently asked questions and answered them below:

What Does DD-WRT Stand For?

DD-WRT stands for DresDen-Wireless RouTer. It’s registered under GPL, free software licenses, and it supports a large variety of routers. 

Can I Install DD-WRT on My Router?

Unfortunately, you can’t install DD-WRT on just any router. Your router must be able to support third-party firmware to run DD-WRT without issues. 

The best way to see if your router is compatible is by checking the manufacturer’s description. If you can’t find something in the manual, try doing a quick Google search on the name of your router.

How Do I Uninstall DD-WRT?

If you want to uninstall your DD-WRT, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Download the firmware: Go to the manufacturer’s website and download the proper firmware.

  2. Do a reset: Hold the reset button for 30 seconds. 

  3. Flash the firmware: Initiate the flashing and then leave your unit for 10 minutes or until it indicates success.
     
  4. Reset: Do another hard reset by holding the button for 30 seconds. 

  5. Login to the firmware: Open a browser and log in to your firmware. Get the details from the manufacturer. 

Is DD-WRT Worth it?

If you’re looking for more security, better connection, and a wider choice of features, a DD-WRT router is worth it. As we mentioned earlier, you don’t have to spend all your savings to get a decent one. 

How Safe is DD-WRT?

If you’re worried about hackers, DD-WRT firmware is safer. Because these routers have fewer weak points than general routers, it often isn’t worth it for attackers. So even if you have a weak DD-WRT unit, they’re likely to other places. 

Will DD-WRT Speed up My Router?

Installing a DD-WRT firmware won’t speed up your router, but it will help your unit reach its full potential in terms of speed. You’re more than likely to see an improvement in your signal once installing the firmware.