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:
- Open source firmware support
DD-Wrt, OpenWrt or Tomato...Well...Linux FTW :)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Reasonable price, sub $100
- 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.
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.