BlackVPN provides an excellent VPN service, so it comes as no surprise that their preconfigured routers are just as fantastic. While we wish they could provide more than two options, if you’re looking for a VPN router then they are a worthy contender.
Why Use a VPN Router?
Before we start this review, we’d like to highlight some of the great advantages that using a VPN Router can offer.
- Use the VPN with other devices that cannot install a VPN client: like your Smart TV, games console or streaming device (Roku, Apple TV, etc)
- Use the VPN on all your devices without needing to install or configure a VPN client. Faster, easier, foolproof.
- You can share your VPN connection without needing to share your VPN details. For example someone with AirBnB may want all guests to use the VPN in order to prevent copyright alerts for P2P downloads… by adding a VPN router and allowing guests to connect to it via WiFi or Ethernet they can protect their “normal” internet from any wrong doing by guests.
Pricing & Plans
Unlike other VPN providers and flashed router suppliers, BlackVPN only gives you the option of 2: Linksys E900 and the Asus RT-AC56U. Surprisingly their pricing is very reasonable compared to other providers and unflashed routers. The E9000 will add an additional €50 (approximately $57) to your bill. If you do want the AC56U, which we reviewed here and recommend more, then it will cost you €169 (roughly $191) on top of the VPN plan you choose.
Shipping is also entirely free worldwide, but if you do wish to have faster shipping then it will cost a slight €25 extra ($29). Of course, you will need to provide the full address and details for this.
Have a look at this superb video made by BlackVPN that explains all the great advantages that a BlackVPN Router offers.
You can read about all about BlackVPN in our official review of them here. So we will specifically focus on the BlackVPN routers review here.
BlackVPN routers run standard DD-WRT firmware with some additional scripts to make using your router easier. DD-WRT firmware helps give your router more functionality over the standard firmware that comes with your router. If you’re unaware of the advantage that DD-WRT can offer, have a gander at our Big DD-WRT Guide.
The BlackVPN scripts make it even easier to set up your VPN connection and manage its connection settings. For those more used to the DD-WRT backend, this is still accessible.
Here are some features which we definitely think are worth highlighting, and haven’t seen much elsewhere:
- Easiest VPN router to use with a point-and-click GUI. Very fast and easy to change the VPN location via a simple web page. Most other VPN routers require you to change config files or to change the domain name manually.
- Plug-and-Play. The VPN account is pre-installed so all customers need to do is plug the router into an internet connection and it will automatically connect to the VPN.
- The VPN Control Panel can be updated with a click of a button. When they add more VPN locations (Brazil is coming online soon) or add more features (SSL tunnels are coming to the routers soon too) then nobody is left behind by having an old version of the VPN Control Panel installed.
Security & Privacy
Like with the BlackVPN connections on your normal devices, the BlackVPN routers also employ an exceptional level of protection. To be specific, it uses an AES-256-CBC cipher and 4096-bit key. They also allow you to change between UDP and TCP protocols (both on port 443) should you need to do this.
Initially, we were slightly concerned as for a router you need to provide a shipping address. While it is possible to get an untraceable shipping address, this can be extremely difficult. When questioned about this, they informed us that they keep the information separate, so while they can help you with your VPN account and your router, the two items can’t be linked together and hence you can’t be tracked.
BlackVPN provides a range of support from Live Chat to Ticket based. We’ve tested all of these, and the friendly support staff was more than able to help us out with any questions that we had with regards to both the VPN service and the BlackVPN routers.
The most pleasant fact is that their knowledge base has a section dedicated to the BlackVPN routers. While it’s a bit sparsely populated, it does help with the setting up of the device as well as providing the user with some helpful optimization tips.
Ordering you router
Ordering the router is just as simple as ordering from Amazon. All you need to do is select which one you’d like, enter your payment information and then enter your shipping address. Depending on which shipping method you have chosen, you will receive it in 2 to 25 business days.
To prevent fraud, they will only ship to verified PayPal addresses.
The BlackVPN Router Firmware
The BlackVPN add-on to the DD-WRT firmware is very basic, but this doesn’t detract from it. You can change your VPN, WiFi and administrator settings from within this control panel. If you want to change more settings, you will need to navigate to the DD-WRT control panel, which is just a click away. As mentioned their website has some great tips for improving the performance of your router, but if you want full knowledge, you’ll want to head over to the DD-WRT forums.
Performance (Speed, DNS, and IP Test)
We tested the speeds on our RT-AC56U and found it to be in the same region as what we achieved on our computer, but of course with a few Mbit drop in speed. Of course, if you are connected through WiFi you will see a larger drop. Whether connected through Ethernet of WiFi we’ve also had enough speed to stream, browse and carry on P2P activities as per usual.
One of the big advantages of running VPN on your router is that it removes the possibility of a DNS leak, which we confirmed using ipleak.net as well. The other advantage is that it means that you are not vulnerable to the WebRTC leak issue.
Another big advantage worth mentioning is that your real IP address can never leak if the VPN connection drops or you change VPN locations. It’s like a foolproof “Kill Switch” that cuts all internet access when the VPN connection drops. Since this is done via Firewall rules on the router it is foolproof and there is no delay like a software “Kill Switch” on some VPN clients.
BlackVPN Routers Review Conclusion
- Great prices
- Superb support
- Easy handling of VPN on your router
We weren’t so sure about
- Shipping can take a long time
- Choice of only two routers
On the whole, we regard Black VPN highly, so it comes as no surprise that the routers they provide have also impressed us. We love that unlike other providers they have gone a step further and made using a VPN on your router even simpler. So if you think that a VPN router is something that you need, which we believe it is, then we’d recommend this as a good pick.