5 Best Tomato Routers for VPN

Most routers are designed with the general population in mind and so the advanced settings in it are limited. However, there are many people (just like yourself) who want to do more with them and get the best performance. Tomato is an open source project very similar to DD-WRT with some minor and major differences.
At the end of this post we’ll consider different areas of running Tomato routers, comparisons with other router firmware, how to go about flashing it, and also recommending some VPNs to use.

Flashed Tomato Router Providers

As with DD-WRT your primary go to place if you’re looking to buy a preflased Tomato Router will be FlashRouters. With FlashRouters you also receive a 90 day hardware guarantee as well as 3 months of support so if you’re having any problems with your brand new Tomato router then they will be able to help you out – unlike if you we’re doing the whole process on your own. For some models it is also possible to save $50 by purchasing a refurbished model.


Tomato firmware is limited to Broadcom chipped routers so the number of router possibilities are not as excessive as with DD-WRT. While this list can in no way be considered definitive, these routers come highly recommended, and are very good, solid choices. Given the differences and capabilities, we have decided against putting them in order of preference, in favour of letting you choose which features (e.g. price, performance, speed) are important to you.

The Tomato firmware has a lot of forks and while we prefer Shibby, TomatoUSB is also a very good option. Once you decided on your router we’d recommend exploring the possibilities and options and finding out which one is best for you.

Prices quoted are from Amazon/FlashRouters on 27/04/2015 respectively. While the routers from Amazon are somewhat cheaper (especially with higher end models), you avoid the risk of bricking it and get quality support too.

Netgear Nighthawk R7000

(Amazon: $249.99 , FlashRouters: $Coming Soon )



– Up to 1900 Mbps Wireless-AC Dual Band
– 1 GHz processor
– 3 Powerful External Antennas
– Ram/Flash: 256/128
– 1 USB 3.0 & 1 USB 2.0

The Nighthawk is the daddy of all Tomato routers! It’s powerful processor gives you the maximum capabilities for VPN encryption and decryption thereby giving you the best speeds possible. It’s flash size also means that you can install a plethora of Tomato firmware from TomatoUSB to Shibby to anything else you may prefer. It also allows a fantastic 1900 Mbps transfer speeds and is one of the few routers out there that provides USB 3.0. If you have the money to spare we would fully recommend this router in order to give you the fastest/ most capable Tomato router.

For the moment if you’re planning on getting the R7000 (or R8000) you will have to do the flashing yourself. That is unless you purchase the FlashRouters support package in which case they will help you do this remotely as well  as give you 1 year of technical support with up to 3 remote desktop solution sessions.

Get the best Tomato VPN Router Today!

Amazon »

Asus RT-AC66U

(Amazon: $199.99 , FlashRouters: $299.95)



– Up to 1750 Mbps Wireless-AC Dual Band
– 600 MHz processor
– 3 Powerful External Antennas
– RAM/Flash: 256/128
– 2 USB 2.0

Similarly to the Nighthawk, the RT-AC66U by Asus has a great flash size meaning it can also handle the largest and most optimized Tomato builds. On the downside it has a significantly slower CPU, meaning the VPN speeds will be lower. As a cheaper alternative to the Nighthawk it is a great and it is by far the most popular Asus AC Model. We’ve previously reviewed the AC66U (albeit running DD-WRT) that we received from FlashRouters and found it, and the support provided by FlashRouters absolutely superb.

Amazon »   FlashRouters »

Asus RT-N66U

(Amazon: $179.99 , FlashRouters: $249.95)



– Up to 1750 Mbps Wireless-N Dual Band
– 600 MHz processor
– 3 Powerful External Antennas
– RAM/Flash: 256/128
– 2 USB 2.0

This is the smaller and earlier brother of the above mentioned AC66U, so there isn’t a lot much else to say. The only difference between the two is that this one doesn’t support the newer AC standard but this shouldn’t concern too many people. We use both of these routers in our work environment and are completely satisfied with their capabilities.

Amazon »   FlashRouters »

Asus RT-N16

(Amazon: $114.99 , FlashRouters: $179.95)



– Up to 300 Mbps Wireless-N Single Band
– 480 MHz processor
– 3 Powerful External Antennas
– RAM/Flash: 128/32
– 2 USB 2.0

The Asus RT-N16 is one of the most popular small routers available on the market. It’s cheap price, 2 USB ports and 3 powerful antennas means it can truly perform. Upgrading this router to Tomato makes at even more amazing piece of kit and allows it to perfectly function as a small home networking centre piece.

Amazon »   FlashRouters »

Cisco Linksys E1200

(Amazon: $59.99 , FlashRouters: $89.95)



-The Economy Tomato VPN Choice
-Up to 300 Mbps Wireless-N Single Band
-300 MHz Atheros processor
-RAM/Flash: 32/8

The Cisco Linksys E1200 is a great little economy model for those that have a more sensitive wallet and only need the router for a few devices. This router is minimal in every aspect of it’s specification but with Tomato firmware it can still perform adequately. You can find our review of the E1200 here. If you’re looking for a cheap dual-band router then we’d recommend looking at it’s bigger brother the E2500.

Amazon »   FlashRouters »

Tomato Routers

Advantages of Tomato

While default router firmware has been improving, installing Tomato on your router gives it the full functionality of a business grade router, without the cost. A full list of all the many advantages would be too long for this article, but some of the most useful are:

  • Advanced Quality of Service (QoS) controls – lets you change bandwidth allocation settings for different networks, and usually provides UPnP media streaming
  • Network storage (NAS) – external hard disks and USB flash drives can be plugged into Tomato flashed routers that are equipped with USB ports for use as network drives
  • Network printers – printers can also be plugged into a USB port for access from anywhere on the network
  • Overclocking – you can speed up the processor in order to get a little bit more juice from your router
  • Adjust antenna power – to increase wireless range
  • VPN – A Tomato can route the signals from all connected devices through a VPN service. This is particularly useful when you want to connect devices such games consoles, Kindle Fire tablets, mobile phones, AppleTV, Roku etc. that do not have built-in VPN clients.

Flashing your own router

‘Flashing’ is the process of changing or upgrading the firmware (built in programming) of a hardware device. Not all routers can be flashed with Tomato, and as mentioned only select Broadcom ones can support Tomato. As mentioned there are a number of different Tomato forks out there so Google is your best friend to find out if you’re proposed router supports this – of course all of the ones mentioned above do.
There are a number of ways to ways to get a flashed router:

  • Buy one in which the manufacture has installed Tomato as the default firmware i.e. Linksys, Netgear
  • Buy a compatible router and flash Tomato onto it yourself. While not too complicated, this can be a bit tricky and requires some technical know-how. Also, while unlikely if you follow the instructions carefully, it is possible to brick your router so that it will no longer function, so is performed entirely at your own risk. You will, additionally likely void your manufacturers warrantee. On the other hand, it is the cheapest option!
  • Buy a router from one of the companies mentioned at the beginning (i.e. FlashRouters)

Configuring VPN on Tomato

Pretty much all builds and forks of Tomato support VPN using the PPTP protocol. However, this is not very secure and it is generally better to use OpenVPN. Most forks and builds will have a VPN version but where possible we’d recommend using an All-in-One build.
Many VPN providers supply setup guides for Tomato routers, although some only provide support for PPTP. If you’re looking for the best VPN options for your Tomato router then we’d recommend having a look at the following list.

Tomato vs Other Platfroms

Tomato is an alternative Linux based firmware package for routers, most notably the Linksys WRT54G/GL/GS, Buffalo WHR-G54S/WHR-HP-G54 and other Broadcom-based routers. Like DD-WRT, it can be used to flash a compatible router, allowing it to be used as a VPN gateway, as well as providing similar functionality to a DD-WRT flashed router.

Many people prefer Tomato’s interface and excellent real-time network monitoring capabilities, but DD-WRT has better community support as well as being more universally recognised.


A Tomato router is a fantastic way to take control of your wireless network and give you business grade functionality for a fraction of the cost. Most importantly as far as we at are concerned, is the fact that it is the easiest way to connect all the internet enabled devices in your home to your favourite VPN service, shielding your internet use from prying eyes and allowing you to spoof your location so you can access services normally denied you based on you geographic location.

Peter Selmeczy I am an engineer by trade and tech geek by night, who's passionate about sharing his knowledge with the people. Find me on Google+.

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4 responses to “5 Best Tomato Routers for VPN

    1. Hi Ron,

      Changing to Tomato from stock firmware should not affect coverage. In fact, due to the fact that you increase the transmission power of the signal in Tomato, it can actually increase the range (although whether this is good idea is another matter).

    1. Hi Angel
      Speeds will depend on so many factors (router, VPN provider, your normal speeds, location, etc) that it wouldn’t be very useful if we did include it. I’d recommend looking at this article.

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