A few days after installing my new Netgear WNR3500L router, I noticed two problems with DD-WRT build 13527 (documented here). In summary, I found that DD-WRT reboots every 20-90 minutes under heavy 802.11n traffic on the WNR3500L. Rather than waste days or weeks experimenting with different builds of DD-WRT, I decided to fix several problems at once by adding a second wireless access point (AP). By placing a dedicated 802.11n AP upstairs, wireless coverage would improve, the WNR3500L would (in theory) stop randomly rebooting, and my 802.11g devices would no longer create throughput bottlenecks.
Since the WNR3500L had made no use of its gigabit switch during 802.11n transfers, I settled for a simple router, the Buffalo WHR-HP-G300N:
Buffalo WHR-HP-G300N, Fresh out of its retail box
I’ve been running DD-WRT on a trusty Linksys WRT54G v2.0 since 2006. Back then, DD-WRT hadn’t achieved the dominant position it holds today, but beta release by beta release it’s turned my router into a powerhouse that I can’t do without.
However, the famous WRT54G is starting to show its age: gigabit Ethernet is now standard, as is 802.11n, and 8MB of RAM is quite limiting. I upgraded the wired portion of my home network with a gigabit switch over four years ago, seeing that there were no decent (read: DD-WRT capable) gigabit routers when I needed the speed. Now that 802.11n is finally “official” according to the IEEE, I started shopping for a modern router. With a few simple requirements in mind—under $100, DD-WRT support, gigabit and 802.11n—I ended up with a shiny new Netgear WNR3500L:
Netgear WNR3500L installed in my basement
This review takes a look at real-world 802.11n performance in my home using the Netgear WNR3500L loaded with DD-WRT v24, build 13527. Continue reading