Friday, June 18, 2010

About WZR-HP-G300NH and this blog

Have been looking for a new router to replace my old trusty WRT54G-TM(the T-Mobile version of WRT54GS v3) since early this year. My case might be somewhat unusual than others, as besides standard routing jobs, this router will also serve as a 24x7 Linux box, so open source firmware compatibility is a must.

To keep up with today's standards I made a checklist for my purchase:

  1. Open source firmware support
    DD-Wrt, OpenWrt or Tomato...Well...Linux FTW :)

  2. 11N Wireless+Gigabit LAN

    802.11N capable router is getting cheaper today and the performance boost over the old 802.11G is phenomenal. Its not hard to get at least 4-5MB/s even in a crowded apartment with tons of 2.4G AP around.

    For Gigabit LAN, one might think you need expensive cat6 cable to get it working, while in my test, I get ~60MB/s in real world file transferring, which I believe the speed is actually limited by the (slow) notebook hard drive. In Iperf theoretical test, I get around 900Mb/s throughput -- and its all on some old cat5e cables.

  3. USB ports for storage and printer
    More storage means more possibility. There're lots we can do with the USB ports, right now, I made it a samba file server and a wireless 11N printer sharing server.

  4. At least 4MB of flash ROM and 32MB of RAM
    This is not really a problem for today's 11N router expect a few(DIR-655 comes to mind). Anyway, Linux likes RAM, the more the merrier.

  5. Reasonable price, sub $100
And I finally laid eyes on the routers below:
  • Netgear WNR3500L
    Broadcom based router with a powerful 480MHz CPU, 8MB Flash/32MB RAM and USB port. Street price $90.

  • ASUS RT-N16
    Also Broadcom based and same processor as 3500L(BCM4718@480MHz, initial press release said 533MHz but the final product is downclocked to 480 due to overheating). 32MB Flash and 128MB RAM. Street price $90-$100.

  • TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND
    Atheros based solution with 3T3R antenna. 400MHz AR9132 CPU, 8MB ROM and 32MB RAM. Street price is $60-$70.

  • Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH
    Similar spec with the TP-Link WR1043ND except 32MB ROM and 64MB RAM. Street price is $80-$90.
Linksys routers are not on my list because they're seriously overpriced, for example, the WRT160NL, same CPU/ROM/RAM as the TP-Link WR1043ND but only 100Mb switch and Linksys wants $90 for that!


Anyway, I go for Atheros based solution mainly because of the ath9k opensource driver. Comparing to the proprietary Broadcom binary blob, its almost no-brainer for a long time OpenWrt user like me. Also, the Atheros based routers, namely the WZR-HP-G300NH and TL-WR1043ND, are using Realtek switch with Jumbo frame support, which is also a big plus.

Between TP-Link and Buffalo, I went for Buffalo for the extra 32MB RAM. Others might find the "HP"(High Power) to be useful as well.

The router was bought on March, shortly after the announcement of OpenWrt and DD-WRT support. Still, as of today, very few documents are available on the G300NH(and other Atheros based routers) so I decided to put this blog to record and share my work.

10 comments:

AleŇ° said...

Thanks for sharing your reasoning behind a new router selection. I am also looking for a new 11N Wireless+Gigabit LAN router to replace my trusty Asus 500g Premium and to complement great Guruplug (http://www.globalscaletechnologies.com/t-guruplugdetails.aspx).

I am nearly convinced to also pick Buffalow WZR-HP-G300NH, but I see that its Wifi works only in 2.4 GHz range and it lacks 5 GHz range. I suppose this was not a show stopper for you. How come? Do you know what are the real benefits with 5 GHz range?

leo.d said...

Depends on your needs. With GuruPlug, you can put everything on it thus might not need a Linux router.

In my case, its all about $$. There are other simultaneous N routers but all above $100(might be cheaper to get a non-simultaneous N router as AP). Also, from my readings, 5G band is cleaner but does not penetrate walls as well as 2.4G...so to each and its own. Speaking of G300NH, DD-WRT wireless performance is OK but not so great, I get only 5-6MB/s most of the time, while with stock firmware+Atheros wifi card, a whooping 15MB/s -- its like trading wireless performance for functions.

AleŇ° said...

Thanks for reply!

G300NH's wifi performance indeed doesn't sound very encouraging. I'll remove it from my list of future Wifi-N routers.

Currently, I am looking into newly announced WNDR37AV. It satisfies all your checkpoints, except no.5. It looks exactly the same as WNDR3700. Based on some unconfirmed information from different forums, Netgear has replaced Wifi interface, which caused many problems on WNDR3700.

http://www.wireless-router-net.com/wndr37av-wireless-router-for-video-and-gaming

leo.d said...

Yes, if price is not an issue, then go for the best dual-N router, maybe WNDR3700(the new 37AV) and WRT610N? Anyway, Atheros 3T3R does pretty good in terms of wifi performance. When on stock firmware, G300NH has the best wifi performance I've seen -- just not with open source -- but I heard the same for Broadcom. Well, everything looks good until you actually get one at hand...

Gregor said...

I dunno where else to ask for help, since dd-wrt forum went silent.

Last dd-wrt builds i tried from brainslayer made my connection to router going to 144mbits from 300mbits (N) after few minutes of usage.

I dont suppose you know if there is a solution for this? Or is there anyone (maybe you?) i could ask for more help? :O

Thank you!

Hapless Tech said...

Buffalo has done a very bad thing: They've built a device that promised the world and provided nothing but one headache after the next.

To top the list: An essential part of any Linux-ready router is the ability to reflash the device using TFTP should something go wrong. The TFTP in U-Boot 1.14 is completely crippled. You have a 1 in 73 (I counted) chance of a successful connect, and that doesn't guarantee a successful flash.

This router has had endless problems with its radio, and thanks to the bargain-bin realtech Hub (it is not a Switch - at least not in function) VLAN seldom if ever works.

DD-Wrt has lost interest in the device, and OpenWRT, while functional, is so poorly documented for Backfire, that even veteran White Russian users are fleeing from the latest offering tearing at their hair.

In short: Unless someone gives you one of these and there's no possible way to return it to the point of purchase, do yourself a favor and choose another device.

Anonymous said...

Hapless Tech ...

maybe just bad luck for you.

flash from web directly out of the box, no problem at all. even did it 5 times + in 1 night, back and forth with stock, user friendly, ddwrt, new build, suggest build...

all no problem.

TPLink WR1043ND said...

Hi there,

Just wanna share that the TP-Link WR1043ND is a great device for DD-WRT. It is literally dirt cheap, supports wireless N, has a gigabit switch and USB support.

Yes, it might have less memory but for most people, it is enough. :)

Anonymous said...

hello,

I just want to know if I could get information on the hardware of the WZR-HP-G300NH such as type of RAM, flash memory, Antennas... Thanks

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing !

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