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Best $50-ish Router?

Old 11-30-11, 01:31 AM
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Best $50-ish Router?

Well, it seems like my beloved Linksys WRT-54GL is slowly dying. So it's time for a new router. But which one? I've been looking at several sites tonight, and find the selection somewhat disappointing (I've been looking to buy locally instead of online, although I guess now I'm open to that too).

What I'd really like in a new router is:

a) N, obviously.
b) a guest network for visitors
c) QoS for VoIP adapter
d) DDNS support for OpenDNS

I'd also like simultaneous dual-band support, but it looks like that only comes in the $80-$150 price range.

Most every place carries the new Cisco Linksys models (E1200, E2500, etc.), but those seem slightly spendy and the reviews seem kind of lukewarm.

It looks like every retailer in the US has the Netgear N300 on sale this week. I've been happy with Netgear stuff in the past, but I've looked through the N300 owner's manual online (the full one, not the "Getting Started" guide) and can't find anything about QoS (the product page on the Netgear site says it has "Jitter-free voice and gaming: Automatic Quality of Service (QoS) for reliable Internet connections", but the manual doesn't mention it at all. The manual also implies (but does not expressly say) that the N300 doesn't support "mixed mode" (both N and G at the same time). Doesn't EVERY router support mixed mode?

The D-Link DIR-655 gets pretty decent reviews at Amazon, and includes gigabit and USB ports, which is pretty impressive for $59.99. But every D-Link product I've bought in the past few years has been junk (especially routers), so I'm a bit wary. Has anyone heard anything about D-Link's build quality as of late?

One model I'm really looking at is the Buffalo AirStation High Power N300 Wireless Router & AP WHR-HP-G300N (link). I've never owned a Buffalo product, but I know they have a pretty good reputation. Plus, the linked model comes with DD-WRT pre-installed (I've never used DD-WRT, but I've been running Tomato on the WRT-54GL since the day I bought it). I don't think the Buffalo router comes with a guest network, but I think it's pretty easy to set one up in DD-WRT, although I don't know if you need two radios for that, or if just one will do. Help?

Any suggestions? I know I could look at customer reviews at Amazon or Best Buy, but I'd prefer personal recommendations from people I trust (like Jay G.) over random Internet people.

Thanks, folks!
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Old 11-30-11, 11:38 AM
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Re: Best $50-ish Router?

I've heard that the Linksys E3000s are much better than Linksys' earlier Dual-band Ns and they have DD-WRT support too. I haven't tried them though. They've been all over the internet for <$100 recently. You could get refurbed ones for $59 last week off Newegg. I don't have personal experience with them though.
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Old 11-30-11, 11:49 AM
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Re: Best $50-ish Router?

Originally Posted by Mordred View Post
I've heard that the Linksys E3000s are much better than Linksys' earlier Dual-band Ns and they have DD-WRT support too. I haven't tried them though. They've been all over the internet for <$100 recently. You could get refurbed ones for $59 last week off Newegg. I don't have personal experience with them though.
i think i have an E3000 but its made by Cisco. got it as a refurb for cheap and havent had a problem with it. i mainly wanted it for the gigabit ethernet (my previous Linksys 54 only had 100 baseT)
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Old 11-30-11, 11:51 AM
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Re: Best $50-ish Router?

With DD-WRT you should be able to setup your regular network + guest network with no issue, similarly it should have QoS support but I haven't personally messed with QoS on it.

This is a refurbished Linksys/Cisco E2000, it apparently supports DD-WRT so it should cover all bases, the only negative is it can't operate in 2.4 and 5 modes at the same time.

http://www.amazon.com/Advanced-Dual-.../dp/B003VY83GU There are probably better deals though, check slickdeals or techbargains, or some deal site out there -- as long as it supports DD-WRT or Tomato (assuming, haven't used) you should be fine.

Edit: Whats the deal with Linksys these days, for a while they were Cisco's "home" line, now they seem to just put Cisco on everything.
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Old 11-30-11, 11:53 AM
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Re: Best $50-ish Router?

I have an E3000 too, but i'm just using the stock firmware. I've been pretty happy with it.
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Old 11-30-11, 02:26 PM
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Re: Best $50-ish Router?

When the radio in my 8-year-old WRT54g died a few months ago, I replaced it with an E2500 (didn't need gigabit ports or network HD capabilities), and I have been very happy with it.
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Old 12-02-11, 02:05 PM
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Re: Best $50-ish Router?

Thanks for the help, folks! I went to Best Buy and bought one of the Netgear N300 jobs, but I had a client call me as I was driving home. I went to their site (to set up a new email address and remove a virus from an employee's computer) and mentioned to the owner that my router was dying and that I'd just bought a new one. She just happened to have Office Depot's website open ordering office supplies, so she offered to buy me an E2500 in lieu of payment. So I got one of those for "free".

Of course, the firmware kind of sucks compared to Tomato, and I seem to have trouble getting any kind of local DNS working. But it's SO MUCH FASTER in copying files locally over Wi-Fi that I don't mind so much (6-8MB/s vs. 76KB/s on the dying router). Any why is it that the built-in DDNS client on the router only supports DynDNS and some other site I've never heard of? No NO-IP? WTH?!? Oh well - can't have everything!

Thanks again!
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