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5 Best DD-WRT Routers of 2017

Modern connected devices are incredibly advanced. Despite this, the routers provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are often not terribly good. Thankfully, with a flashed DD-WRT router, anybody can get much better performance for their home for a relatively small investment. Faster speeds and better coverage mean the ability to enjoy streaming, gaming, and other data-intensive tasks from anywhere in your home.

In addition, with DD-WRT you can also connect to your Virtual Private Network (VPN) with the router – meaning that every single device in your home is automatically protected by the VPN service.

Best DD-WRT Routers

What Is a DD-WRT Router?

DD-WRT is open source firmware that can be installed onto a router. That firmware replaces the default software provided by the manufacturer. In essence, this is like installing a different operating system on your computer. The advantage of DD-WRT is that it gives you much more flexibility over the control of the router, including the ability to install a VPN service directly onto it.

Anybody interested in getting a VPN for a DD-WRT router should check out our article here.

If you are reading this article, you probably already have some idea about  DD-WRT routers. For anybody who requires a more in-depth look at DD-WRT routers, our Definitive DD-WRT Guide is a must read!

Below is a carefully thought out selection of five of the best DD-WRT routers available on the market in 2017. Down in fifth place, we have included a superbly economical option for those who want to run a VPN on a router on a low budget (but still want great performance).

Best DD-WRT Routers

Asus RT-AC5300

(Amazon: $399.99, FlashRouters: $599.99)

Asus AC5300

The Asus RT-AC5300 is the Death Star of wireless routers. Although the AC88U is slightly better when it comes to technical specifications, the AC5300 wins every time when it comes to performance. This is in part thanks to the eight external antennas, which are set up in a four-transmit, four-receive (4T4R) configuration, and give it fantastic range. 4T4R also helps  to avoid interference between devices, thereby increasing transfer rates. The router also allows users to set up two real 5GHz networks.

In addition, the router is loaded with MU-MIMO technology (Multi User – Multiple Input Multiple Output), as well as specialized gaming technology to further reinforce the amazing wireless technology.

On the whole, if you’re looking to deck out your home or office with a router that will support your 4K video streaming, and endless wireless devices, then this Asus is the best DD-WRT router for you!

Asus RT-AC5300 Technical Specifications

CPU: 1400MHz dual-core
Ram: 256MB
Flash: 128MB
Antennas: 8 external
USB: USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Transfer Rates: 1000Mbps 2.4GHz, 2x 2167Mbps 5GHz

Amazon » FlashRouters »


WRT3200ACM

(Amazon: $248.99, FlashRouters: $499.99 – $349 sale price)

Four antennas give this router a fantastic range, and the router performs well on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels. Please remember that despite this being billed as a Tri-Stream router, that functionality is actually lost when it is flashed with DD-WRT – so that technology does not apply to DD-WRT. The same is true of MU-MIMO. MU-MIMO allows the router to communicate with multiple devices at the same time, increasing the speed of the WiFi network (by getting rid of interference between devices). However, not every VPN will necessarily be compatible.

Despite this, the WRT3200ACM is a fantastic router that performs at superb levels when flashed with DD-WRT. Due to its Marvell chipset, it is perfect for intensive tasks such as gaming, streaming, video calls, or max speed VPN use.

Linksys WRT3200ACM DD-WRT Technical Specifications

CPU: 1.8Ghz dual-core processor
Ram: 512MB
Flash: 256MB
Antennas: 4 external
USB: USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Transfer Rates: 600Mbps (max) 2.4GHz, 2600Mbps 5GHz

Amazon » FlashRouters »


Netgear R7000

(Amazon: $249.99, FlashRouters: $349.99)

Netgear R7000

The Netgear R7000 was last year’s winner, but because of a number of new releases it has dropped down to third place. However, this router is still an absolutely spectacular option.

The R7000 is capable of streaming videos, improving your online gaming, and much more. While it lacks the power and transfer rates of the above two, they all support DD-WRT MEGA builds so you can achieve the same level of functionality. If you are interested in running DD-WRT on your Netgear router, you should also visit MyOpenRouter, the open source Netgear community.

Netgear R7000 Technical Specifications

CPU: 1000MHz dual-core
Ram: 256MB
Flash: 128MB
Antennas: 3 external
USB: USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Transfer Rates: 600Mbps 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps 5GHz

Amazon » FlashRouters »


Asus RT-AC56U

(Amazon: $101.99, FlashRouters: $249.99)

Asus AC56U

The RT-AC56U is a very popular router for home use. Asus has achieved a slick design, allowing it to be tucked into a corner, without impacting its performance too much.

The company has also included two USB modules in the router, thereby enabling you to connect your hard drive for efficient sharing between family and colleagues. If you’re looking for a low price router with plenty of punch, then this is an excellent solution. Read our definitive DD-WRT guide to find out just how much can be done with this DD-WRT router (and any other DD-WRT router, for that matter).

Asus RT-AC56U Technical Specifications

CPU: 800MHz dual-core
Ram: 256MB
Flash: 128MB
Antennas: 3 internal
USB: USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Transfer Rates: 300Mbps 2.4GHz, 867Mbps 5GHz

Amazon » FlashRouters »


Linksys WRT1200AC

(Amazon: $99, FlashRouters: $299 – $199 in the sale)

The Linksys WRT1200AC is a superb router, although perhaps just a little too pricey for what you get. Despite this, it is a popular router that has been proven to provide both good range for its spec and fantastic performance (again for its spec). The great news is that FlashRouters provides this router pre-flashed for use with a huge number of different VPNs. As such, this is a quick and easy option that delivers more than enough power for most people’s needs.

Where this router really performs is due to its inclusion of both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. This allows a hard drive to be connected directly to the router via a gigabit connection, and allows it to be used as a fast network storage server (without having to buy a NAS server).

Linksys WRT1200AC Technical Specifications

CPU: 1.3GHz dual-core processor
Ram: 256MB DDR3 system memory
Flash: 128MB
Antennas: 2 external
USB: USB 2.0, USB 3.0
Transfer Rates: 400Mbps 2.4GHz, 867Mbps 5GHz

Amazon » FlashRouters »


Advantages of DD-WRT Routers

While default router firmware has been improving, installing DD-WRT on your router gives it the full functionality of a business-grade router at a fraction of the cost. These are some of the most useful advantages of a DD-WRT router:

  • Advanced Quality of Service (QoS) controls – Permits you to change bandwidth allocation settings for different networks, and can provide Universal Plug and Play media streaming.
  • Network storage (NAS) – External hard disks and USB flash drives can be plugged into DD-WRT flashed routers that are equipped with USB ports.
  • Network printers – Printers can be connected to a USB port.
  • Domain Name System (DNS) caching – Speeds up hostname lookup and improves connection speeds to specific websites.
  • Wireless bridging – Turns the router into a WiFi repeater to extend the range of your WiFi signal.
  • Advanced performance graphs – DD-WRT lets you analyze your network performance and bandwidth use with detailed charts and statistics.
  • Kai Daemon – Provides network tunneling for PC, Xbox, and other consoles, to the open source Xlink Kai gaming platform.
  • Adjustable antenna power – To increase wireless range.
  • VPN – DD-WRT can route all connected devices through a VPN service. This is particularly useful for connecting devices that don’t allow a VPN to be installed on them directly. This applies to games consoles, Kindle Fire tablets, mobile phones, AppleTV, and Roku. With a DD-WRT router, all devices are protected with encryption and attached to a remote Internet Protocol (IP) address.

Flashed DD-WRT Router Providers

It is possible for anybody to flash a router with DD-WRT. However, the process is quite tricky and could lead to problems:

  • Even though there is a DD-WRT routers database page, it can sometimes be out of date. For this reason, finding the correct stable build can be an issue.
  • Flashing a router can and should be easy. However, at times it can be problematic and could result in a ‘bricked’ router that can’t be used at all.
  • For people who are unfamiliar with coding and programming, certain settings might be a bit too tricky.

The good news is that, if you are uncomfortable with setting up DD-WRT yourself, it is possible to buy a router pre-flashed. FlashRouters.com will even help consumers to customize their router’s settings. If you have any special requirements, it is therefore worth talking to FlashRouters about them at the time of purchase. That way your router will arrive set up perfectly for your needs!

If you are happy to install the VPN onto the router yourself, and are confident that you will be able to use the DD-WRT software to configure it, buying the router on Amazon can save you some money. For anybody else, we strongly suggest either of the following online router shops:

FlashRouters is probably the best online flashed-router retailer. The firm provides fantastic support, a massive selection of routers, and a high level of expertise. It also provides a modest hardware and satisfaction guarantee. They also have an individual support plan, so if you already own a DD-WRT router but need some help setting it up, you can pay them to provide some help. In addition, we have managed to agree on an exclusive special offer for BestVPN.com readers – $15 Off Any Router Costing $199+ – simply use the code: BESTVPN.

SabaiOS is another reasonable option. The firm offers a much smaller selection of routers. However, they have longer guarantees and can also provide Tomato and SabaiOS flashed routers. If this is what you need, then SabaiOS is a great option.

Configuring VPN on DD-WRT

A VPN on a router can provide fantastic speeds for streaming on all your devices.

All DD-WRT routers support VPN using the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP). Unfortunately, that protocol is out of date and can not be considered secure.

OpenVPN, on the other hand, is the best VPN encryption available. It is available on all the routers that we have chosen for this list. Please bear in mind, however, that not every DD-WRT router will allow you to run a VPN on secure OpenVPN encryption.

For anybody who needs them, guides are available on the DD-WRT website for setting up PPTP and OpenVPN.

Lastly, it is worth remembering that some VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN and ibVPN, sell routers flashed with DD-WRT and preconfigured to their VPN service. FlashRouters also sells routers pre-flashed for those two VPNs (and many others).

Top DD-WRT Routers: Conclusion

In this article, we have suggested five routers that can be purchased pre-flashed and pre-configured with DD-WRT. For people who want to buy their router not only pre-flashed with DD-WRT, but also pre-configured to a particular VPN service, SabaiOS or FlashRouters are the best options.

For anybody else, it will be cheaper to buy the DD-WRT router from Amazon (but that will involve having to install the VPN on it yourself). An even cheaper option is to buy any of the above routers with their default firmware and to flash it with DD-WRT yourself.

There are over 2,000 devices that support DD-WRT. As such, this list is simply our opinion of what the five best DD-WRT routers (in terms of performance and price) are at this time this. This list is in no way all-encompassing, so if you spot a router that interests you but would like our seal of approval, please don’t hesitate to leave us a message below. We will help to make sure it is suitable for the VPN you intend to use.

Title image credit: Casezy idea/Shutterstock.com


Ray Walsh I am a freelance journalist and blogger from England. I am highly interested in politics and in particular the subject of IR. I am an advocate for freedom of speech, equality, and personal privacy. On a more personal level I like to stay active, love snowboarding, swimming and cycling, enjoy seafood, and love to listen to trap music.

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37 responses to “5 Best DD-WRT Routers of 2017

    1. Hi Livingston,

      That is way outside the remit of this article! After a quick look around the web, the only thing I have been able to find is this.

  1. Nice article, thanks. Just decided my 6 year old router was ready for an upgrade, this was the first result. Great place to start, short to the point facts an a limited collection to start researching.

    1. Ha! I am a sucker for those kind of worries. That kind of thinking trapped me into owning a dumb flip-phone through 2014. No joke – serious pain. Even my mom – in her ’70s – told me to catch up with the times and a painfully younger colleague simply gave me her iPod out of pity (and to think even that was outdated). So my router is now about nine years old and having trouble keeping on. But maybe I should wait for the eight-cores?

  2. hi can you help a total novice , what I need to know doe’s bt hub 5 support dd-wrt and if it does how do I go about finding it .oh I have infinity .The reason is I have a android box and I want to secure viewing

    1. Hi michael,

      The official list of DD-WRT- supported devices is available here. Your BT Home Hub 5 is not on the list, but as it is also your modem, flashing it with DD-WRT would be a very bad idea anyway (as you need the BT-specific firmware in it to connect you to the internet). What you can do is plug a DD-WRT router into your Home Hub, and connect your devices to that instead.

  3. Hi,

    I have a few questions.

    1. My router does not support OpenVPN, however it supports IPSec, L2TP and PPTP. Are any of these suitably secure?

    2. My router supports both VPN clients and VPN servers. I understand the client option is appropriate if I want to secure my connection whilst I am in the house, and that the server option is appropriate if I want to connect to my home network whilst I am elsewhere. If I set up my router as a VPN server, will I be able to connect to a shared disk that is attached to my router via a USB?

    3. One of the advantages of running a VPN on a computer is that it will notify you when the connection drops out. As such, you can stop what you’re doing to prevent a leak and also use a kill-switch. What happens if the connection drops out when you’re connected to a VPN via your router? Don’t you end up flashing your IP around the internet without knowing?

    1. Hi Alex,

      1. Please PPTP vs L2TP vs OpenVPN vs SSTP vs IKEv2 for a full discussion on this topic. TL:DR – L2TP/IPSec is more than secure enough for most purposes, but is unlikely to stop the NSA. PPTP should be avoided at all costs.

      2. Yes (probably).

      3. This can be a problem, although some routers allow you to specify that all traffic must be routed through the VPN (in effect making a firewall-based kill switch). If using DD-WRT it is possible to create a kill switch.

  4. Dear All,
    Firstly i am a complete novice and need some information please.
    I live in France and my house router is a live box, i seem to understand that these are impossible to deceive with a new VPN, what i am trying to do is, purchase a router with DD-WRT installed and a UK VPN so that i can stream Amazon prime and catch up TV on my Sky+ box.
    My Live box is hard wired in a down stairs room and my TV and PS3 are in a different room so these have to be served using wi-fi. Is there someone out there reading this who can advise me on what router to purchase,I guess from the UK so it has a UK VPN? and then how to attach it to my live box and finally for my SKY+ box and PS3 to be able to stream UK based programs. I thank you all in advance, please remember laymans terms as i am not a geek. Also if the VPN or the router works with the installed VPN do i need to subscribe to a VPN provider as well?

    1. Hi Damian,

      – I know of no reason why you can’t use a VPN with your LiveBox router.
      – A VPN router is indeed an ideal way to connect your TV and PS3 so they appear to be in the UK
      – You need a VPN company that runs VPN servers located in the UK. It need not be a UK company (in fact, on privacy grounds I strongly recommend avoiding UK VPN companies like the plague).
      – It’s a little pricey, but the recently reviewed ExpressVPN Router would match your needs perfectly and works with all major UK services (although I have not tested it with Sky+). You can always take advantage of ExpessVPN’s no quibble 30-day money back guarantee to test that it works for the services you wish to access using its software VPN client.

  5. Hi, i live in France and i just install HMA VPN on my laptop. Now i want to use it with my playstation 3 and 4 but online PSN don’t work with a virtual router like Connectivity 2016.
    Do you have any advice about witch kind of router i have to buy and be sur that i can play online without NAT trouble or anything else ?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Sebastien,

      The main you need to worry about when choosing a VPN router is processing power. VPN connections (and especially OpenVPN) need a beefy processor/generous memory in order to not slow down your internet connection. The recently reviewed ExpressVPN Linksys WRT1200AC Router is an excellent option.

  6. Hi, I’m looking for a DD-WRT router that I can use to access netflix in mexico. Do I need a VPN service or will the router alone take care of this?

    1. Hi Rob,

      – You can setup a DD-WRT router to act as a VPN sever that you can then “dial-into”. If your router is geographically located in the US, this is a great solution for accessing Netflix. You do not need a VPN service for this.
      – If you are based in Mexico, on the other hand, then you will need to pay for a VPN service that runs VPN servers located in the US.

  7. i have a netgear ex6200 which is running ddwrt. it is the cheapest most powerful consumer device i could find that does a suitable task for what you want it to do. it preformed even better when changing the stock antennas. in canada they are often on sale within the 100$ range. it has 700mw power output. 800mhz dual core. 128megs ram. small flash of 8mb. has usb and 4 and also 5th gigabit port for wan lan. i have used it now for about a year. other products might be faster or better. i know mine works well for me and it was a good costeffective value in my application. its 2.4ghz and 5ghz. works with everything i have with out issue.

  8. Can these routers function as l2tp vpn servers? Apple removed pptp from ios 10 so I need a different kind of vpn server at home. Thanks!

    1. Hi Ikomarad,

      Yes, all DD-WRT routers can function as PPTP servers. Do note, however, that PPTP is very insecure, so I recommend using OpenVPN instead.

      1. The poster originally asked if l2tp is possible, not pptp, which is not an option anymore for him since it has been removed from ios 10

        1. Hi gizero,

          Oops! You are absolutely right! My bad. It is possible to setup L2TP VPN on a DD-WRT router, although no encryption will be used as IPSec is not supported. I do not think is possible to configure a DD-WRT router as an L2TP VPN server.

  9. Trendnet TEW-828DRU for $200 really should be on this list. It’s nearly identical specs to ASUS 88u for ~$100 less.

    It looks to me like the value AC router to run DD-WRT this year.

  10. With regards the Asus RT-AC5300, it is not listed in the DD-WRT router database. Can you confirm this is supported?

  11. This article has clearly inaccurate information. Especially regarding the RT-AC88U(AC3100).
    1) It has 128MB flash, not 256MB.
    2) It has 2 USB ports total, not 3. One USB 2.0, and one USB 3.0.
    3) It has 4 Gigabit LAN ports, not 8.

    1. Hi Ez

      Yep sorry we made a small mistake and points 1 and 2 are correct. However, it does have 8 Gigabit LAN ports.

      Thanks
      Peter

  12. I am confused. Your article in your newsletter was entitled “5 best DD-WRT VPN PROVIDERS”, but that is not what the article is about – it’s about ROUTERS.

    What about the vpn providers that work with DD-WRT ?

    Thank you

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