I’m sure you know the basics of a wireless router by now, it’s a simple device that is your one stop device for all your wireless networking and connection needs. Whether your buying an old fashioned router, a newer dual band or even tri band router, they are vital towards your networking setup in getting your devices online.
If your a basic wireless user then checking out my buying guide here as it’s a great place to start. If like me, your an advanced user, and want to take full advantage of your wireless router then finding a router that supports DD-WRT capabilities is definitely something you should think about.
This post is designed for advanced users who want to learn about DD-WRT and the benefits this can bring to your home networking. First though, let’s take a look at what exactly DD-WRT actually is and my guide on 9 of the best DD-WRT wireless routers for 2017.
Best DD-WRT Wireless Routers 2017
|Router (Best First)||Image||Bands||Processor||Full Review||Check Price|
|ASUS RT-AC5300||Tri||1.4||Read Review|
|Linksys WRT-AC1900||Dual||1.0||Read Review|
|Netgear Nighthawk R7000||Dual||1.0||Read Review|
|ASUS RT-AC56U||Dual||1.0||Read Review|
|D-Link DIR-890L/R||Tri||1.2||Read Review|
|Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000||Tri||1.2||Read Review|
|ASUS RT-AC66U||Dual||1.0||Read Review|
|Netgear AC1750||Single||0.8||Read Review|
|TP-Link Archer C7||Dual||0.8||Read Review|
What is DD-WRT?
Glad you asked, DD-WRT is an open-source firmware installed on some types of wireless router that allows for maximizing router features and potential usage. Primarily used by tech-savvy users and networking professionals it allows for enhancing wireless router stability, privacy and network security, along with installing third party applications such as VPN, hot spot services and parental controls. DD-WRT allows users to customize their routers in new ways that were previously unavailable without purchasing high end commercial grade routers.
In order to take advantage of DD-WRT and join the revolution you need to purchase a router that has DD-WRT installed.
The firmware is open-source and contributors from across the globe provide advise and support on how to customize your routers, while maximizing functionality and security.
DD-WRT is reactive to bugs such as Heartbleed, a vulnerability discovered in OpenSSL 1.0.1 which allows an attacker to read random 64k blocks of memory of the service. Future bugs that are found are regularly updated by the local community for DD-WRT.
One of the most important features of DD-WRT is that it offers a wide variety of VPN and non-WPN features to meet the demands of modern day tech enthusiasts and security conscious users alike. Other features include setting up a hot spot service similar to hotels or cafes using your own router from home.
Here are some of the features you can implement with a DD-WRT router:
Be Careful! DD-WRT Is Tricky To Install
Flashing your new router with DD-WRT can be a frustrating and tricky process, especially if you don’t know what your doing. It will take a lot of search, trial and error and patience to flash your router correctly. If your not careful then you can quite easily ‘brick’ your router, effectively making it unusable which would void your warranty, aka no refunds. If in doubt, get one of your geeky mates to help out, it will definitely be worthwhile.
But here are a few reasons why you should flash your wireless router with DD-WRT if your router allows for it, or buy a new one using our list below.
Geo-Unblocking is a term that’s coined by internet users all over the world when they aren’t able to get their hands on the latest services such as Netflix USA or Hulu Plus. If your trying to watch these services on a Roku, Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV outside the United States, you may run into issues without using Smart DNS or VPN services.
Using a router flashed with DD-WRT will allow you to use a VPN service to change your IP address on all your devices without using a Smart DNS service which can slow your internet page loading times down. Services such as IPVanish, ExpressVPN and HideMyAss are some good VPN companies to checkout.
Now that you know the great benefits of using a DD-WRT router, here are 9 of the best dd-wrt wireless routers for 2017.
1. ASUS RT-AC5300 Router (2017 Editors Choice)
The ASUS AC5300 is an absolute beast and tops our list as the best dd-wrt router for 2017. This tri-band router offers speeds up to 5300Mbps across three frequencies (2.4, 2 x 5 Ghz) which will ensure your home networking setup is super fast. This router is definitely one of the fastest I’ve seen in the market over the last few years.
The router looks stealthy and with 8 high powered antennas the WiFi coverage will stretch to even the furthest room in the house guaranteed. Four of the antennas are devoted to transmitting and four are for receiving so if your a gamer, a film junkie or you just want the fastest browsing experience, the Asus RT-AC5300 certainly delivers.
The processor is one of the fastest in the market, with 1.4 GHz broadcom power under the shell. The router will easily handle upwards of 10-20 devices connected at one time.
Flashing the router with DD-WRT is straight forward (if done correctly, see my step-by-step tutorial below) and will bolster your network setup in no time at all.
A working relationship between Linksys and dd-wrt.com was formed in 2015 and now there is dd wrt support for most of the newer Linksys routers including the AC1900. Retailing at under $200 this is a more affordable and entry level wireless router featuring dual-band technology.
While not quite as sleek and attractive as our editors choice this router does pack quite a punch and offers a 1.2 GHz dual core processor, 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and a Linksys smart WiFI software with network map for all users. The processing speed is similar to the AC5300 but with only 4 antennas and no extra 5 GHz channel this router may be limited for advanced users.
Similar technologies to the AC5300 include beamforming for optimizing performance and reducing interference on your network, a USB 3.0 port allows you to connect an external hard drive to share files among other devices on the network and an easy to use admin console makes setup a breeze. The WRT-AC1900 also includes a unique eSATA port which can be used as USB for printers but also as an external SATA storage device for advanced users or businesses.
Flashing the router with dd-wrt is straight forward (if done correctly) and will have you up and running in under an hour.
Netgear came to the party with the Nighthawk AC1900 R7000 offering a router that comes in at under $200 and offers a powerful dual-core processor that runs at 1GHz which makes it the fastest 802.11ac router from Netgear and one of the fastest routers you can buy. The performance experienced on the 5GHz band was great and if your device supports this, I would recommend running on that frequency.
The router didn’t perform as well as the editors choice or the Linksys AC1900 on the 2.4GHz band. While basic users would hardly notice the difference, advanced users like myself definitely would. The router is sort of bulky, but offers a lot of features which it needs to incorporate such as the 4 antenna and that powerful processor.
The reason I placed the R7000 higher on the list than the R8000 which you’ll find below is that is is much more affordable for the average home user and easier to install. During my testing I found the R7000 offered more functionality for under $200 and was one of the best routers on the market.
The R700 offers Beamforwarding and built in high powered amplifiers which will improve your coverage so if your in a smaller home ensure your devices have 5 bars on your WiFi signal at all times. Larger homes, the coverage will be equally as acceptable. If your in a really large home then you should consider the Nighthawk R8000 (see below).
If your looking for remote access then the Netgear Genie remote access, Ready Cloud, OpenVPN and Kwilt apps that are built in to the router will ensure you can manage your network, access personal files and share photos stored on your connected storage devices from anywhere in the world.
One of the really cool features about the Nighthawk R7000 is the advanced upstream QoS (Quality of Service) for gaming consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation so your router will prioritize bandwidth to your game so other devices on the network don’t slow down. This is something I found happened when I used my Roku on some of the cheaper routers in the market.
If your limited on space or residing in a small apartment then your probably looking for a sleek and modern looking wireless router. If so then you’ll find the Asus AC1200 Gigabit router a perfect option. With dual-band capability and a price tag under $100 this router featuring 802.11ac wireless connectivity is perfect for data speeds of up to 867MBps.
The AC1200 is a 1Ghz powerhouse and features four Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back of the router, along with two USB ports (1x USB2.0, 1 x USB3.0) for connecting external hard drives to stream games, movies and music on all devices on your network. The USB2.0 port offers compatibility for connecting a printer too.
While the AC1200 doesn’t offer external antenna’s it is powered by a Broadcom chipset which gives the router enhanced Gigabit wireless speeds. ASUS AiRadar strengthens wireless connectivity using beamforming technology, high power amplification and ASUS RF fine-tuning which ensure extended coverage and enhanced stability.
Setting up the router is simple thanks to the ASUS WRT dashboard where you’ll find a range of features including SPI intrusion detection, DoS protection, parental controls, network service filters, URL and port filtering. ASUS AiCloud is also included which allows you to access ASUS cloud via iOS and Android devices to share files on the go from public and private cloud storage services.
The AC1200 offers VPN server capability so you can set this up through your router, and with enhanced features such as MPPE encryption your data transmission will remain secure. Lastly the router offers a large pipeline of up to 300,000 data sessions meaning it has around 20 times the network capacity of other routers in the market.
This is the best dlink router that supports dd-wrt configuration and it just so happens to look like a red space ship with ultra high powerful WiFi too, thanks to it’s 6 robust antennas. I compared a lot of d-link routers and the only one to make the grade for this dd-wrt review was the AC3200 DIR-890L/R wireless router.
The AC3200 is a perfect home router or small business router, thanks to it’s capability in both processing speeds (1GHz processor) and extensive WiFI coverage across 3 bands (1 x 2.4 and 2 x 5GHz). Whether you’ve got a smartphone, laptop, tablet, Smart TV or game console, you can easily connect all your devices (and the rest of the family too) at the same time. With Tr-Band technology you can achieve speeds of up to 3.2Gbps.
Some of the features that make this router a contender for best wireless router is the advanced AC SmartBeam technology that is similar to Beamforwarding but D-Link’s own take on that industry which will track your connected devices for enhanced Wi-Fi speed and range. Smarter bandwidth capability will distribute traffic using band steering technology for improved coverage on both 2.4 and 5Ghz bands.
Controlling your home network is a breeze thanks for the D-Link admin control panel where you can monitor and trace internet traffic, create guest hotspots, enable parental controls and block unwanted or nuisance devices on your network.
Effectively the bigger brother of the Nighthawk R7000 that was reviewed earlier, the X6 is definitely not for everyone but if your looking for a tri-band router that supports lots of 802.11ac clients, this router is definitely the best in the market, currently.
The Nighthawk X6 is definitely not the fastest router in our testing with a processor of only 1Ghz but it still packs quite a punch. Benchmarked against the Linksys WRT1900AC the Nighthawk X6 struggles, so if power is what your after then the Linksys should be your best choice.
If your looking for a router that looks stealthy, modern and robust then you should consider the X6. With 6 bulky antennas the router was perfect for supporting many devices on the 5GHz band, as well as on the 2.4GHz legacy band. If your looking for a dd-wrt router for a couple of devices then the X6 is definitely not required, save your money and buy something smaller.
The Nighthawk X6 delivers throughput of up to 1.3Gbps with 3×3 clients on each of it’s 5GHz bands and it supports 256 QAM encoding on the 2.4GHz band to deliver up to 600Mbps with 3×3 clients that support 256 QAM. Whether you’ll ever achieve speeds like this, of course is highly unlikely.
Asthetically the X6 should be number one in my top 9 dd-wrt routers as it looks like a fighter jet and with dual-color LED’s reporting connectivity and connections it’s definitely a sleek looking piece of kit sitting on your kitchen unit or beside the TV cabinet. If your not one for christmas lights then there’s a nice switch to toggle them on/off.
If your looking for a good Gogabit router that supports dual-band and offers great performance on the 5GHz frequency band and combines lots of features for small businesses and home users then considering the Asus RT-AC66U is a good idea.
Starting with the negatives, on my testing the ASUS router was running rather hot which may put a lot of users off from the start. Now there’s no issues with a hot router but it’s totally unneeded when there are silent routers in the marketplace. The other negative is that the RT-AC66U is quite pricey for what you actually get in terms of specifications. Now that I’ve got the two downsides out of the way, let’s look at why you may want to purchase this dd-wrt router.
The router offers very fast Wi-Fi on the 5GHz frequency band with both N and AC clients. It actually is one of the fest 802.11ac routers available in the market too. Initially the RT-AC66U suffered from a bad firmware which caused the device to struggle with performance but since an update to version 220.127.116.11.246+ the device is back to normal.
The router features a bunch of cloud-based storage features called AiCloud which allows you access and manage your files remotely.
As for looks the RT-AC66U looks exactly the same as the RT-66U which makes sense given the only difference being the AC support. The router is simple and looks more like a black box than a high performance piece of networking equipment. Combining two USB 2.0 ports, a WPS button and four LAN ports the router is fairly mainstream. The three back mounted antenna’s offer no enhanced WiFi features compared to some of the competitors on this list.
Setting up the device was fairly standard using the 192.168.1.1 IP address and within 10 minutes I was up and running. Like all the routers featured here the admin console offers a range of parental controls and a network map for viewing currently connecting devices including USB connections (although this should be obvious right?)
This is the updated version of Netgear’s first AC1750 router but with a second generation Broadcom processor and USB3.0 port. This dual-band router was first introduced in early 2014 so is fairly dated in terms of technology and processing power (0.8GHz) and only 256MB RAM.
With a price tag under $75 this is a good dd-wrt router with WDS, client bridge and AP modes as standard. On the back of the router you’ll find a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port which allows you to use a storage device or printer across your home network.
Negatives about the AC1750 R6300V2 include the inability to adjust transmit power and the fact it lacks external antennas which limit wireless coverage in larger homes and businesses.
Last and by no means least is this dual band wireless AC Gigabit router with a price of around $90. If your looking for an AC router that offers some of the best performance around then this isn’t the router for you. If your looking for an AC router with limited performance and speed at an affordable price, the C7 is definitely for you.
The router is fairly large but has nothing on the ASUS RT-AC5300 coming in at 9.6 by 6.4 by 1.3 inches. Housed in shiny black plastic it definitely tries to be something it just quite isn’t, a Netgear Nighthawk. It reminds me of a cheap version of the router I ranked in number 3 position, the AC1900 R7000.
WiFi coverage on the device is reasonable thanks to the three detachable 5dBi antennas, which happen to be quite thick making it feel reliable. On testing the wireless coverage this router struggled on the 2.4 GHz band within my small apartment but was very good on the 5GHz band, if your devices can support it.
The rear panel offers two USB2.0 ports but no sign of a USB3.0 port so you may want to take note of that if your planning to connect an external storage device. Four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a WAN port are pretty standard and allow the usual connection speeds. A WPS button and bright LED’s complete the setup on this ordinary wireless router.
Other DD-WRT Supported Routers
Above I’ve reviewed 9 of the best dd-wrt wireless routers that I recommend you checkout. There are ofcourse many more wireless routers on the market that are supported by dd-wrt and allow you to convert your home router into a more sophisticated piece of kit.
You can checkout a full list of supported routers here, there’s quite a lot. The guide will help you find particular instructions for your model and revision – i.e. the numbers on the back panel of the router. If you can’t find a revision number it’s safe to say your number is 1.0.
Flashing Router With DD-WRT
The first and most important factor before diving in is to ensure your using a dd-wrt friendly router and that your aware of the disclaimers that come with dd-wrt. Changing your router’s firmware can result in unintentional consequences such as ‘bricking’ which will ensure your device never works again. It’s highly likely this will void your warranty (if you still have one) and unlikely a manufacturer will assist you in fixing or replacing your device if you’ve bricked it.
Before proceeding, ensure you know what your doing as I won’t be liable for anything that might go wrong. If your unsure, buy a cheap test router such as the ASUS RT-AC5300 to play with first.
If you can’t find advice on your router via the dd-wrt official wiki page, checkout their forums or the router database to see if anyone has completed the process for certain models/revisions as well as any workarounds they might have found.
Once you’ve found a suitable router you’ll want to do the following:
- Do a hard reset on your router by following a 30/30/30 procedure (see below)
- Connect via Ethernet when updating firmware (Wireless = Big Nono)
- Use Internet Explorer or Google Chrome.
The 30/30/30 Procedure
Completing The Firmware Upgrade
After you’ve hard reset the router, wait for the lights to return to normal and then connect your router via Ethernet to your laptop. I recommend you use Internet Explorer 9 or 11 or Google Chrome as your browser (I’ve had issue with Safari) and proceed to visit your router’s default gateway.
If your unsure of your routers default gateway check for a sticker on the back of the router or go to Command Prompt and type ‘ipconfig’
Now navigate to the default gateway in your web browser. You’ll be asked to login. Use the fault username and password printed on the back of your router, this is usually admin/password or admin/admin unless you’ve changed this. If you don’t know it, try resetting your router (make sure you know your Internet Provider setup to reconfigure the internet though).
Next you’ll want to look for something along the lines of router upgrade or firmware update. You’ll probably find this in the Maintenance or Advanced section. I’ve got a Netgear WNR2000 for this test and it was located on the left hand menu.
Browse for your firmware that you downloaded from dd-wrt.com and then click ‘Upload’ and then wait for the firmware to update, install and then the router to reboot. You’ll see the router lights flash a few times – don’t panic, this is perfectly normal.
After 5-10 minutes, or when the router looks normal again (some routers have a countdown timer too) you can see if your router is on your network (use the ipconfig command above).
Now you should do another factory reset to complete the process. Use the 30/30/30 method I mentioned earlier before logging into the router. This final hard reset will prevent any issues that might arise from installing the firmware.
If your flash went correctly then the DD-WRT’s IP address is 192.168.1.1 and the username is ‘root‘ and the password is, ‘admin‘ and you should be able to login now. If you had a bad flash or you’ve bricked your router then you’ll need to try and recover it (good luck).
You’ll now be able to see your new admin console, looks like dd-wrt right?
Now you can start exploring the world of dd-wrt and open source addons for your router.