This Linux based open source firmware enhances the performance of your router and has been developed for certain routers as an alternate to the default stock firmware in your router. There are many restrictions on routers with default firmware, and DD-WRT allows users to access advanced settings so that you can control and manage your network better.
Knowing that there are many users who want more from their device, the BlueGadgetTooth team researched and compiled a list of the best DD-WRT routers so that you can avoid compatibility issues, and can narrow down your choices to the top picks of this year.
Why You Should Consider DD-WRT
Router manufacturers often simplify the product so it is extremely user friendly. Not everyone knows and understands the different technical aspects of a router. The routers you see in the market are created for non-technical users, who don’t have to bother with the nitty gritty details if all they want is fast speed internet without tinkering with the firmware.
However, there are a few people who want more out of their router. The routers available are simple to use, but because they have been simplified for the majority of users, their effectiveness is also restricted. The best router for DD-WRT utilises open source software which will allow you to lift the built-in restrictions so you can get more out of the router you purchased.
What is DD-WRT? I want to know more about it!
Ok, now you’ve heard about this firmware – here’s more. It is a LINUX based firmware that is designed to help enhance the features of wireless routers aka DD-WRT routers. Developed for certain models (there are too many routers in the market), this is an open source firmware that is constantly being worked upon and modified to become better. Your router has built in default firmware and the DD-WRT firmware allows you to modify your best DD-WRT router so that you can tap into the maximum capabilities your router can offer you, giving you more access to your Home Network and allowing you to control it better.
With the help of this custom firmware, you can transform your DD-WRT router into a powerful machine for the same price, instead of investing a lot more money to get a state of the art router available in the market. All it does is replace the existing default firmware with custom firmware to have access to extra functions and features.
5 Best DD-WRT Routers For 2018
1. Linksys WRT3200
2. Netgear R7000
3. Netgear R8000
4. Asus RT-AC88U
5. TP-Link Archer C9
How To Install DD-WRT
Flashing your router with firmware that is not your router’s default could lead to a messed up router that would useless if you do not follow the correct installation process.
Step One: Check if your device supports DD-WRT
Before doing anything, you should go to this site to check the router database to see if your router will support DD-WRT. https://www.dd-wrt.com/site/support/router-database
Even though many routers released in recent times can support DD-WRT, you should remember that DD-WRT can’t support all routers. You should research information on your router’s page to check out if you have to take any special steps to install DD-WRT on your router. You may either have to download a stable build or you may need to flash temporary firmware before installing DD-WRT.
Step Two: Installing DD-WRT
- Login to the admin page of your router. You should check out the admin address in your router’s manual if you are not sure of what it is. This page is usually http://192.168.1.1, but you can double check it in your manual if it doesn’t lead you there.
- Select Firmware Upgrade in the Admin section.
- Find your DD-WRT firmware after clicking on the ‘Select File’ tab.
- Upload your firmware to your router and give it some time to update. Do not switch off your router or unplug it until the update is completed.
Step Three: After Installation
Remember, installation instructions can differ from router to router and it is imperative you read the instructions prior to taking any steps to avoid bricking your router.
After DD-WRT has been installed in your router, connect to the internet via an Ethernet cable or wireless and go to the admin page (mentioned in step 1 in Step 2 process). If you access Wifi, you will need a new SSID network of DD-WRT. You may get prompted to enter login details – the default username is ‘root’ and password is ‘admin’. You should ideally change the password to something more personalised. Once you have logged into the page, you will be able to view the DD-WRT admin page. You are now ready to play with your new flashed router.
Why Should You Choose a DD-WRT Supported Router
It’s pretty simple. For those of you who want to convert your personal home router into a business class powered router for the price of a personal one can do so with the help of DD-WRT firmware. As many routers are now being sold with the DD-WRT firmware factory installed, it’s become easier to boost your wireless signal and much more. If you really want to get more for your investment, you should opt for a DD-WRT router.
1. Linksys WRT3200
Best DD-WRT Router Overall (Editor's Choice)
With four antennas to really speed up your range and internet speed, parental control for those who want to restrict access for their young ones and best of all, users get to have access via the open source firmware to finally gain control of their dd-wrt router – what more could you want? This sleek, futuristic, mean looking machine comes highly recommended and these are just few of the many reasons why this remains our Editor’s choice as the best DD-WRT router to buy.
It has built quite a reputation for itself as being one of the top performers. The powerful monitoring software and the dual band feature ensures that it has good range and that no matter the size of your home, you will always enjoy fast speeds thanks to the four adjustable antennas.
The dual band feature handles four lanes of data traffic and its beamforming technology means that you will get every last megabyte that you pay for. At the very least. The AC1900 blew the competition straight out of the playing field when compared in a heavily congested Wifi environment. This DD-WRT router from Linksys outperformed more expensive models and even when you are a distance away, you still get good speeds. We tested this out in a home on the outskirts of the city, an area which also faced a lot of interference, especially in the 2.4GHz band, but it still delivered, even at a 150 feet away.
This can reach theoretical speeds up to 600 Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band and 1.3Gbps on the 5GHz band which is quite impressive in itself. What sets this router apart is the ease with which you can set up your router to broadcast the 2.4GHz, 5GHz or both or even none and utilise the wired feature to get the fastest speeds. It supports both IPv4 and IP6, so you know you’ve got the best with you. You can dig a little deeper and play around with the router and pick channel width to make your preferred activity the priority.
If you have any doubts on the speed, simply check the performance of your dd-wrt router with a direct link to Ookla’s speedtest.net website and you’ll get to know all the little details like your upload and download speeds, which server you are connected to and the ping.
We also tested this and connected a number of devices such as tablets, laptops, IPads and smartphones, all streaming HD video, Netflix, YouTube while files were transferred and it worked wonderfully. So if you’re looking to have a hardcore gaming session over the weekend or just want to cuddle up with friends and family and binge watch your favorite movies, this is the router you need. All you have to do is take advantage of the DD-WRT firmware to customize your router so that you enjoy enhanced speeds for gaming or just watching videos.
Linksys AC1900 DD-WRT Router Pros
- Super performance
- Multiple ports for great device connectivity
- Easy installation and set up
- 4 high performance Adjustable antennas for enhanced Wifi strength
- Users have parental control and can create guest networks for enhanced security for your Home network
- 512 MB RAM for improved data speeds
- Flexible connectivity with eSATA, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports
- Open source firmware that allows you to make adjustments to customize your router for your specific needs
Linksys AC1900 DD-WRT Router Cons
- Large size
- Conventional design that hasn’t changed in decades
2. Netgear Nighthawk R7000
Best (Value For Money)
Cool name aside, NIGHTHAWK from NETGEAR is our choice for Best value for money and is placed in the top 5 of best routers for DD-WRT because it offers impressive acceleration of WiFi speeds. Its high powered functionality combined with next gen design that gives enhanced wireless coverage is made better by the DD-WRT firmware that allows you to make modifications and adjustments which makes your Nighthawk one of the best DD-WRT router devices as of now.
There is lot that recommends the Nighthawk AC1900 – the guest network, parental control, remote access via the Netgear Genie App, secure cloud access and storage, High performance QoS and it is also compatible with Amazon Echo/ Alexa – welcome to the new age of technology and use your voice instead of your hands to command your machine to do your bidding!
The 1GHz dual core processor ensures that buffering and lagging in your gaming or streaming activities is a thing of the past. The beamforming feature enhances the performance even more, combined with three external antennas that increase your signal range and strength. It worked perfectly well even in a very large home so you know you can feel reassured that Wifi is always around you, no matter where you wish to work. We could receive a strong signal even in our back yard – so lounge away and take in the fresh air outside, you’re always connected.
Sure – this dd-wrt router performs well, but just amazing are the speeds? The dual core 1GHz processor boosts your wireless performance and you can now receive Gigabit speeds as well. Choose from receiving speeds up to 600 Mbps with the 2.4GHz band or 1.3Gbps with the 5GHz band – optimized internet surfing is really just a click away. The high performance amplifiers and antennas and Beamforming focuses the Wifi signals to your devices so your mobile devices get speeds of up to 100% faster! Impressed?
The Nighthawk AC1900 DD-WRT router was designed specifically keeping gamers in mind. Not only that, with the amount of smartphone users increasing daily, they knew they would have to address that problem sooner or later – and sooner they did. Made to handle all your bandwidth activities, ranging from gaming to streaming HD, your online activities won’t be affected no matter how much bandwidth you utilise. In fact thanks to the DD-WRT firmware, you can prioritize your bandwidth to your particular activity like gaming so that your game doesn’t lag or suffer at all. Breeze through levels like a pro. Now you only have to worry how to pass those levels instead of worrying about the game lagging because of your connection.
Stream applications like Netflix, YouTube and more, the Nighthawk AC1900’s Dynamic QoS can handle all you can throw at it. In a gaming world where time is of the essence, your Nighthawk will be the difference between winning and losing.
Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 DD-WRT Router Pros
- Smart Connect which connects your device to the best 5GHz channel
- Secure Cloud Storage via Netgear ReadyCLOUD USB access
- Readyshare Vault for safeguarding important files and pictures
- Easy to monitor, connect and manage your home network with the Netgear Genie app
- Use voice commands to control your Netgear via Netgear Skill and using Amazon Alexa
- Access control for better security on home network
- Easy set up
- Dual band with fast speeds
Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 DD-WRT Router Pros
- May experience drops in initial stages
3. NETGEAR Nighthawk X6 R8000
High Performance Router For DD-WRT
Netgear continues to dazzle by being featured as our pick for the dd-wrt router with the highest performance. Built to connect all your devices via the Tri-band Wifi technology, each and every aspect of the Netgear X6 AC3200 is designed to enhance your maximum speed. The 3 Wifi radios can support three separate wireless networks and it has the potential to really knock everyone’s socks off – If you live in a world of technology where everything in your house is automated and running on wireless technology, this dd-wrt router is the one you need and want.
With many people now using multiple electronic devices and gadgets, it has become important to create a dd-wrt router that can handle the load and the amount of connected devices and the Netgear X6 does not disappoint. You have the choice to override the default settings of assigning different clients to the appropriate network by assigning the 2 5GHz networks with other SSIDs. This can be done because of the DD-WRT firmware installed in the router.
The Netgear X6 is the best DD-WRT router in terms of performance, because every feature is geared towards enhancing your wireless connectivity. This is also the most powerful and perhaps the most pricy router mentioned in this list. With many features similar to its predecessor, let’s see what sets it apart from the rest and check if it’s worth the hefty price tag.
Running on a dual core 1GHz processor, the Netgear X6 supports the latest Wifi standard which is IPv6. It has the potential to reach speeds up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz frequency and up to 1.Mbps on the 5GHz frequency. However, you have to remember that it has 2 access points for the 5GHz band instead of one like other routers, so in total; you actually receive the potential for 3.2GHz Mbps bandwidth.
The X6, with the help of Smart Connect managed to automatically assign the different devices to particular bandwidths, so that each device gets the maximum possible speed. Why this is great news is because you don’t want older devices to hog the faster bandwidth – using its own intelligence to determine which device can handle what.
The 6 external antennas ensure that even if you live in a sprawling mansion like the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, you’ll have Wifi connectivity no matter where you are. Because of the tri-band feature, beamforming technology and Dynamic QoS, your home network is now as reliable as it can possibly be.
We have no complaints at all about the Netgear X6; in fact, if you, for some strange reason have only a few devices that are connected to a wireless network in your home, this powerful machine is probably not the best dd-wrt router for you.
With speeds that could potentially reach up to 3.2Gbps, this DD-WRT router is built for speed, performance and a lag-free experience. The 3 dedicated Wifi bands ensure that your Wifi speeds are optimized for all your devices. If you somehow feel that the wifi speeds are not enough (I don’t see that happening) then you have the option to get Gigabit wired. Even the dual core 1GHz processor boosts your wireless performance. Did we miss anything?
When you’re up against the best in the gaming world, you don’t want to lose because of a laggy connection. Make time be on your side and go for the Netgear X6 which is the gamers choice, outperforming others in terms of speed and performance, especially if you take advantage of the DD-WRT firmware and adjust your router to work for optimum results while gaming or any other specific activity. Even if gaming is not your thing, you can stream all the HD videos you want. In fact, make it the more, the merrier. That’s what we did to really put it to the test. Imagine 20 devices connected, all doing their own thing.
And did it live up to the hype? Yes, it did. There’s so much going for it that no matter where you are in your home, or even a slight distance away, you’re always connected.
Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 DD-WRT Router Pros
- Stronger reliable Wifi connectivity through Beamforming
- Dual core 1GHz processor
- Speeds up to 3.2Gbps
- Easy to monitor, connect and manage your home network with the Netgear Genie app
- Netgear Genie App for ease of access
- Many media-streaming features
Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 DD-WRT Router Cons
- Too much for people with fewer internet needs
4. ASUS RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100
Gaming is serious business and when you’ve spent the night coordinating attacks and just about barely managing to stay alive in the game, the last thing you need is a laggy connection that could put all your hard efforts in vain. Well, understanding a gamer’s life and their very real problems led ASUS to create the AC88U router for DD-WRT which in our eyes is excellence beyond par for gamers. We do have to admit, that having the DD-WRT firmware installed in the router enables gamers to really enhance and optimize their DD-WRT router for a great gaming experience.
Why the ASUS AC88U is considered to be the best DD-WRT router for gaming is something we will reveal in depth, but to give you a sneak peek – here’s why. No matter which band you’re on, you won’t be left behind. The 5GHz band can reach up to speeds of 2.1Gbps and the 2.4GHz can reach speeds up to 1Gbps. If that’s not enough, the range on this machine is awesome. You can sit anywhere and play to your heart’s content instead of gluing yourself to the router.
For gamers who like to connect to the LAN, there are 8 gigabit LAN ports for gamers to get the true gaming experience – with fast speeds and high performance internet. As anyone will tell you, when you’re gaming, there are chances malware can get in without you noticing. The AC88U will keep your network protected from any malicious sites and parents can heave a sigh of relief with knowing that this DD-WRT router offers parental control.
With so many features designed and built to protect the gamer within, it comes as no surprise that the AS88U came on top when being considered for the best DD-WRT router for gaming.
As mentioned, this router comes packed with many goodies to ensure you have a seamless online gaming session. The inbuilt game accelerator ensures minimal packet loss and also delivers a low ping time. This is also the age of gaming, and what fun way to really test it out than to play Wolfenstein with seven buddies, all connected to the same router. The result? We were surprised to experience no glitches, hitches, no lags or dropped connections.
In fact, now I had nothing to blame on when my health kept falling to 0. Guess I really can’t play that well – and all this time I thought it was my connection. What also makes this great for gamers is the GPN (Gamers Private Network). It automatically performs certain route optimizations and determines the best route for game packets when playing MMORPGs as it delivers a low ping time and also low packet loss which, as any gamer will tell you is a big deal. Every little counts.
Even though we tested the network, we also tested the coverage and continued the online battle all positioned far from each other. This DD-WRT router did not disappoint. The four antenna model, combined with the AiRadar beamforming, made sure that we had a strong wifi signal and a large coverage as well.
Not every device is the same or has the same capabilities. Understanding that, this router also has MU-MIMO, which allows multiple devices to get connected at a speed that is suitable for the client without making the network lag or affect it adversely.
With the ASUS AS88U, you can get speeds up to 80% faster. Imagine gaming with speeds theoretically reaching 2.1Gbps on the 5GHz band or 1Gbps on the 2.4Ghz? The 8 Gigabit LAN ports will ensure a happy gaming session and the 1.4 GHz dual core processor will give you super fast transfer speeds of data.
As mentioned, this is the best DD-WRT router for gaming, so we would suggest buying this router if you’re a heavy gamer. It has been super optimized so that gamers can get the best experience. The best part of owning this router is that you can tweak the firmware to your heart’s content until you get the desired result as per your needs.
Asus RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100 Router Pros
- Intuitive ASUS router app allows you to remotely control and manage your network
- Inbuilt game accelerator for smooth gaming
- 4x4 antennas equipped with AiRadar beamforming for wide coverage
- AiProtection for network security, in addition to parental controls
- 8 gigabit LAN ports for stronger connectivity, up to 2Gbps network speeds
- MU-MIMO technology for MU-MINO compatible clients
Asus RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100 Router Cons
- Overkill for simple uses
5. TP-Link AC1900 Wireless Wi-FI Router - DD-WRT
Not everyone has deep pockets to spend on a router. When you think about it, you need it for basically accessing the internet wirelessly. If your needs are few, you don’t have to lighten your bank account by a couple of hundreds. In fact, even if you want a good router but are looking to get a DD-WRT router because you want to adjust it to suit your internet needs, well, the TP-Link AC1900 wireless router is the thing for you.
For those who are looking to get the best router for DD-WRT on a budget, this works wonders without putting you in debt. TP-Link has often been associated with low cost routers that give you a good deal for the money you put down. Even though TP-Link has upped its game from the low cost routers it has been creating in the past, the top of the line TP-Link AC1900 is still great value for money.
No matter what your work or entertainment needs, you’ll never find a lag in your internet connection. You will still get a high performance connected home network with the Gigabit wired connections, gigabit Wifi, and more. With a fairly simple set up process and a 24/7 live tech support, this is a good deal for those wanting to get something good for a decent price.
This sleek white and silver piece of equipment is meant to be placed on a flat surface like a table or desk and can’t be wall mounted.
This was one DD-WRT router we tested over a longer period of time. We connected a few wired devices as well as a whole load of wireless gadgets like smartphones, laptops, an IPad, Chromecast and more. Basically, you get the gist of things – we wanted to load it up and see how it functioned with the load. The great thing is that the TP-Link AC1900 managed to deliver.
There were no problems with rebooting or having to restart the router, which we faced in many other routers we tested over time and during our entire test period we faced no lags or dropped connections. One thing should be noted however, it couldn’t compare to the other routers mentioned in this list when it came to range tests. We could still get a signal at a distance of nearly 50 feet, but we did notice a drop in performance. So perhaps, this is good for small to medium sized homes.
Don’t get us wrong – the speeds were still great for gaming, streaming videos and the like, but keeping the cost in mind, it does deliver – but to a certain extent.
The dual band networks of 2.4GHz and 5 GHz can reach speeds of up to 600 Mbps and 1.3Gbps. There are many features that enhance performance such as the 3 detachable antennas which maximize wireless coverage and beamforming technology that helps wireless devices to get a stronger connection. You can easily do whatever you wish to do, without sacrificing on speeds and performance with the TP-Link AC1900.
That being said, you can game all you wish, get glued to your laptops or TV for some marathon movie sessions and more – As it is backward compatible with a/b/g/n devices – you know you don’t have to worry about getting your devices to work – a problem which you may face with newer models. Even though you aren’t burning a hole n your pocket – don’t be fooled, this router has, time and again, been give high recommendations for its performance and coverage.
TP-Link AC1900 DD-WRT Router Pros
- Affordable price
- Fast performance for data transfers
- Swift interface
TP-Link AC1900 DD-WRT Router Cons
- Parental controls may cause a few hitches
- Small file transfers may cause a few hitches
When Was DD-WRT Introduced?
Introduced in 2005, DD-WRT has been gaining popularity as it becomes the go-to router firmware choice out of all the third party firmware projects available. The name was taken in part from the Linksys WRT54G model, the uber popular home DD-WRT router model during the years of 2002 - 2004, for which it was originally designed, (also may have been derived from the word Wireless RouTer) and the DD prefix comes from Dresden – the place where the DD-WRT founder and his development team lived.
As of now, the popularity of the DD-WRT firmware has grown so much in popularity that many companies have now made DD-WRT routers with factory installed custom versions of the DD-WRT technology available to ship. As of January 2016, Linksys has started offering the DD-WRT router units as well.
Benefits of DD-WRT Router As Compared To a Stock Firmware
Being non-proprietary firmware means that the DD-WRT can enhance your router’s capabilities instead of being limited to the few functions it is programmed to handle.
Let’s list out the benefits of the best DD-WRT routers:
- Increases your wireless spectrum
- Advanced QoS controls
- Built in IPv6 support
- Editable iptables firewall
- Enables you to expand your home network via WDS wireless bridging & a second wireless router
- Built in DNS caching
- Great DD-WRT and VPN capabilities, allowing devices to connect over VPN instead of to it
- NAT support
- VLAN support
- Can create Wifi hotspots
While many of these features may be available on a router with stock firmware, they are harder to bypass to control them. That means that with stock firmware, you’re more or less stuck with that you have. When upgraded to DD-WRT router, you can actually get better Internet speeds, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that?
Well, now it’s a little clearer on what DD-WRT is and how it is beneficial for you, let’ take a closer look at our top 5 picks for the best DD-WRT router devices. There’s something for everyone – whether you’re on the lookout for one that beats everything else in terms of performance or one that ensures your wallet is not lightened a whole lot.
What are some of the Advantages of DD-WRT Router?
This is a marketing game when you really delve into it. Manufacturers can offer access to the firmware in the routers they sell, but they prefer to simply many features that the average user would like access to. This is even though their hardware is perfectly capable of handling any tools and utilities users may need.
Why? This is because in the end, it’s all about the profit when it comes to the manufacturers. Their thinking would be – why offer this software on their router when people will pay more to have the same access on their routers?
Fortunately, when you get a DD-WRT router, you can access and upgrade all those features and much, much more than will enhance your router to deliver more. As technology advances, so do the number of tech savvy people and even laymen who just want more from their stock router. Some of the reasons why it is advantageous to purchase a DD-WRT router are mentioned below.
Additional security and an extra layer of encryption are needed in today’s world, especially if you have concerns on the security of your home network. With so much malware floating around the internet, it has become more important than ever to protect the security of your private data and a VPN helps to do just that. With a DD-WRT router, you can connect to VPNs with ease, giving you peace of mind on the protective measure. Standard routers often offer this feature at a higher price tag, often setting people back half a grand more than the average router.
A DD-WRT router helps you to get a higher powered router for the cost of a standard one. Also, it offers advanced quality of service controls
You get to customize your DD-WRT router to have certain features or optimization for your own specific needs. Each individual is different, so your internet needs would be unique as well. You could be an avid gamer or love catching up on all your shows you missed during the week – with a DD-WRT router you can tweak the firmware to enhance your router’s capabilities.
We were pleasantly surprised on how much of a difference was there between a DD-WRT router and a router with stock firmware. Just like you have options on the market in terms for high performance or budget routers, with a DD-WRT router, you up your game considerably without really having to shell out double the costs. When you think about the advantages and the benefits of owning a DD-WRT router, it’s a no brainer that going down the DD-WRT path is the way to go.
All in all, we hope that this list of best routers for DD-WRT helps you in making a decision before you purchase your router. Keeping up with technology can be a fast game, especially if you don’t want to be left behind, getting slow speeds or laggy connections while everyone else around you is going at breakneck speed.
With the demands of today’s online world, it is more important to be connected – and what better way than to be connected with your own customized router – tweaked to be exactly the way you want it to be instead of having to settle with whatever you get from your ISP.