“But I have a good router already! My ISP gave me it, it must be the best!”
Man if I had a couple of bucks every time I’ve heard that, I’d be so rich by now. Fact of the matter is, it’s unfortunately far from the truth, and many ISP-provided routers truly suck.
I work with VoIP, and running a Voice call over the internet may be easy with Skype, and you may be OK with choppy calls, but when you’re running an enterprise-grade telephony system, you don’t have the same tolerance for bad quality. Same for Home users, you should not have to put up with daily restarts!
What does that have to do with you? Most probably everything! If you’re here it’s likely because you’re having issues with your internet, and either you think it’s related to your router, or I’ve referred you here from PressF1.
So let’s clear the air about a few routers:
The D-Link DSL-302G is quite possibly the worst router of all time. They should be all be burned in one great big bonfire and D-Link publicly mocked for them.
Dynalink have their overheating RTA1320 that gets so hot the plastic melts and changes from light cream to a rusty looking orange or brown. It’s not the best choice in router. NetComm have suggested it was just a small “batch” that they recalled which had overheating issues, and the firmware is decent, however where possible I avoid them.
Telecom have been giving away a 2Wire 2070-series Router and Thomson TG585v7 modems. They’ve got some of the worst web interfaces I’ve ever used, but at least they’re semi-reliable. Again though, they must be cheap routers if they mass-produce them and Telecom gives them away. $199 value? Whatever! Nobody in their right mind would spend $199 on them!
Orcon with their HomeHub / BizHub router which is a Siemens SX-763. Best mentioned so far, but again far from the quality that a router should be. It’s locked-down so you can’t change the USB port or VoIP settings (Though performing a factory reset with the button on the underside fixed that for me), it doesn’t overheat, but for a “VoIP router” it doesn’t handle a VoIP server running behind it well at all. Mediocre, but still better than the Telecom stuff I must say.
The Belkin N1 is overpriced and fails to deliver in so many ways. I’m not sure why, but around 60% of all the N1′s I’ve dealt with just seem to have packed up and died. Their ADSL performance / reliability was mediocre anyway. suffering from irregular reboots.
The Netgear DG834G has firmware issues, wireless isn’t reliable, average broadband performance and reliability, but to be honest it’s probably the most reliable router I’m recommending people avoid. They’ve got some other open-source stuff that doesn’t have ADSL Support which is actually really quite nice.
Linksys, yes I love Linksys stuff but man did they mess up badly with the WAG160N. That thing falls over almost as much as the Dynalinks. Sure, I’ve seen ADSL Sync speeds go up when compared with the likes of a Telecom Thomson TG585 by around 3m/bit, but that means nothing to me if it’s not going to function day in and day out reliably.
What’s the solution then? So many bad routers out there, most free, what can you do about it?
Well don’t take the free stuff that your ISP gives away. There’s a reason why it’s free, and that’s not because it’s a good, quality router!
Tell me what I SHOULD buy then? What are good routers?
If you’re a home user or small-business and want an all-in-one solution that “just works”:
If you’re a geek or a business, or perhaps you want a little more control over your router, maybe you give your internet connection a hammering, or if you want QoS (Quality of Service) to prioritize VoIP / Gaming above other traffic, then you want:
A Linksys AM300 in Halfbridge to a Linksys WRT54GL running Tomato Firmware
Please drop me a comment and say Hi, let me know if this has helped you or got you thinking in any way, or perhaps if you’ve got one of the routers then just say so. Always happy to hear from readers.