We recently had our home broadband connection upgraded to a lightning fast 152 Mbps. Which I believe is the fastest available in the UK at this time. One problem though. My trusty old TL-WR841N wireless N router only supports 10/100 Mbps on its WAN/LAN ports creating a bottle neck. I know from tests when connecting directly to the modem I can regularly achieve down streams of 140+ Mbps.
Time to upgrade to a shiny new gigabit router. With the new 802.11ac wireless standard on the horizon now seems to be the ideal time to pick up a cheap dual band wireless N router. I managed to bag a TL-WDR4300 for £49.99 from my local Maplin store. This bad boy supports simultaneous 2.4GHz @ 300Mbps and 5GHz @ 450Mbps connections. Full gigabit ports. Over 800 Mbps WAN to LAN throughput and even includes 2 USB ports for sharing printers and media devices.
Which leaves me now with one redundant router. What do with it? Sell it on EBay? Give it away? Throw it? How about super charging it!!!! I’ve been aware for a while now of a number of open source firmware’s for Linux based routers. One of the best and most widely used is DD-WRT. DD-WRT adds a whole host of features to your router that only tend to be available on high end devices. Such as VPN pass-through, advanced QoS (Quality of Service), various wireless modes and much more.
To my suprise the TL-WR841N appears on the supported devices list. Upgrading the router is a simple process. All that is required is two firmware files from the DD-WRT website. One to flash the factory firmware to DD-WRT and the second the flash the DD-WRT firmware for your router. This can all be done through the routers web based GUI.
One thing about DD-WRT that got my attention was the ability to configure it as a “Repeater Bridge” allowing you to expand your network using a second wireless router. I have computers in different rooms throughout the house some which struggle to get a good signal so adding a wireless extension would be ideal.
Further to my surprise it turns out, my new router, the TL-WDR4300 is also supported. So with that now upgraded and acting as my primary router downstairs and my old TL-WR841N router upstairs in the spare room I now have a wireless link between the two. With the range being much better than that of any USB adaptor I also have a much better signal to boot.
So for those looking to upgrade to a new router or just wanting to get more out of their existing device I can thoroughly recommend DD-WRT as an excellent alternative to the stock firmware.