The 7 Best DD-WRT Routers to Buy in 2018

Get more power and control over your wireless network

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In a world dominated by wireless connectivity, choosing the right technology based on how you work is critical. And in many cases, a closed router platform that limits everything you can do on your network would suffice. But for those instances when you want to take advantage of open-source technology and desire enhanced customization and security, a DD-WRT-compatible router might be best.

An increasing number of routers today ship with DD-WRT, a technology based on the open-source Linux. With DD-WRT firmware installed on a router, you have access to a variety of features such as the ability to prioritize connections, maximize quality-of-service over the network, as well as the ability to use hardware not connected to your network. Importantly, DD-WRT routers also provide flexibility with OpenVPN, allowing you to create VPN connections in the home without too much hassle.

Ultimately, DD-WRT-compatible routers are all about giving you more control, power and flexibility. Want to know what our favorite picks are? Keep reading to find some of the best DD-WRT wireless router options available now.

Best Overall: Asus AC5300

If you don’t mind spending a pretty penny to get your hands on a DD-WRT-compatible router, the Asus AC5300 is a great option. The router comes with a slew of antennas all around to maximize signal quality and has four ports on the back for hardwiring computers, game consoles. It offers maximum throughput of up to 5.3Gbps, thanks to tri-band support, and can deliver coverage at up to 5,000 square feet, so it’s ideal for larger homes. Still, if your coverage isn’t where you’d like it to be, the AC5300 comes with an AiMesh feature that lets you connect multiple Asus routers to it to further expand your coverage.

Since older and slower devices can sometimes throttle your entire network, the AC5300 ships with a MU-MIMO feature that will deliver the fastest speed to each device, which ensures a better overall connection.

If you’re a gamer, you’ll be happy to know that the Asus AC5300 has built-in support for WTFast Gamers Private Network for accessing the “route-optimized services” to deliver stable and fast connectivity while you’re playing video games.

A feature called AiProtection on the AC5300 is powered by security company Trend Micro and will analyze your network to identify vulnerabilities and keep your data safe from hackers.

Best Budget: GL.iNet GL-MT300N

The GL.iNet GL-MT300N is the epitome of budget-friendly routing. The yellow brick-like device is actually a mini travel router that will deliver wireless connectivity wherever you may be going. And it’s also one of the cheapest options you can find. DD-WRT comes pre-installed and you’ll even find 16GB of storage on the device, so you can store some content while you’re on the go. And since it’s so small, you can pop it into a bag and bring it with you without fear of it taking up too much room.

One of the nice things about the GL.iNet GL-MT300N is that it can take a wired connection at a coffee shop or airport and convert it into a wireless connection for you. And although it doesn’t come with a built-in battery, the device can be plugged into laptops, power banks or other components, and siphon power to deliver connectivity.

Simply said, the GL.iNet GL-MT300N is the cheapest way to get access to DD-WRT, OpenVPN and even TOR.

Best for Backup: Netgear Nighthawk X4S

One of Netgear’s most advanced routers, the Nighthawk X4S allows access to 802.11ac wireless networks and delivers speeds that easily exceed 2.5Gbps. Interestingly, Netgear has designed its Nighthawk X4S to be about more than routing and offers the ability for you to plug in a variety of storage devices through the router’s two USB 3.0 ports and 1 eSATA port. It also comes with an app called ReadyShare Vault that will automatically back up your PC connections to the attached storage.

Although the Nighthawk X4S is fast, it works over two Wi-Fi bands, which means its top speeds will be slower than other tri-band options. However, the router ships with a Dynamic Quality of Service (QoS) feature that will prioritize bandwidth and ensure some of the latency-sensitive apps you care most about, such as video games and Netflix, are delivering the best experience.

Best for Mobile App Users: Linksys WRT AC3200

The WRT AC3200 has what the Linksys calls, “Tri-Stream 160” technology that can offer speeds up to 2.6Gbps. The big advantage to the WRT3200, however, might come in the form of a Dynamic Frequency Selection certification, which allows it to send signals over airspace not typically crowded by other wireless products. That results in a cleaner connection between device and router and should reduce the amount of lag and poor connectivity issues you could face. You’ll also find MU-MIMO support, which means the router will dole out connections individually to each device to ensure some of your older products don’t slow down your newer and faster hardware.

On the rear, you’ll find a variety of ports, including eSATA, USB and LAN. That all translates to the ability to connect external storage and other, hardwired products with ease. There’s even a Wi-Fi app for your smartphone of choice that lets you see who and what is connecting to your network and unclog it if (and when) things get out of hand. You can even connect to that app regardless of whether you’re on the network.

Best for Green Shoppers: TRENDnet AC1900

TRENDnet might not have the most well-known brand, but its AC1900 router supports DD-WRT. And according to customers, it works quite well. The TRENDnet AC1900 has what the company calls GREENnet technology, which reduces its power consumption by 50 percent compared to previous models.

Unlike some tri-band models, the AC1900 doesn’t have a slew of antennas jutting out from its box. Instead, the device is designed to fit into any area in the house without detracting from your interior design with unsightly antennas. Because of that, however, you shouldn’t expect the kinds of speeds you’d get in higher-end options. The AC1900 can deliver speeds up to 1.3Gbps over 802.11ac and just 600Mbps over 802.11n.

Still, if you can live with the slower speeds and want to take advantage of the AC1900’s price tag, you’ll find a USB 3.0 port and USB 2.0 port for adding external storage. The LAN ports on the back are also Gigabit-compatible, so you should be able to derive solid speed.

You’ll be able to set up both a secure network and guest network with the AC1900 to keep others away from your sensitive files. The router also comes with parental controls for blocking specific websites from loading on any device that connects to your network. If your kids connect to the Web on other networks that aren’t protected, however, you won’t be able to control what they see.

Best for Extending Your Network: Buffalo AirStation N300

Another budget-friendly option, the Buffalo AirStation N300 won’t blow your socks off with its speed. In fact, the AirStation N300 connects over a single band via 802.11n, which means it can only offer speeds up to 300Mbps. For certain houses, that might suffice, but if you’re looking for the very best wireless performance, it might fall short.

Still, for the price, you get a variety of features in the Buffalo AirStation N300, including four LAN ports. You can also set up VLANs on your network, so you can have some devices on one network and others on another. There’s also a wireless bridge mode available in the AirStation that will effectively turn your router into an extender to expand your wireless network’s coverage around the house.

On the security side, the Buffalo AirStation N300 should perform well. It comes with multi-level encryption options to keep your data safe when transferred over the network​ and supports a feature called RADIUS authentication for wireless security over servers. If you want a firewall, the AirStation N300 offers it.

Best for the Smart Home: Linksys AC5400

The Linksys AC5400 is one of the most capable — and expensive — routers on the market, but it also comes with some features you won’t find elsewhere. The AC5400 has thick antennas on either side, along with thinner antennas in the back. You’ll also find eight Gigabit ports on the back to expand your home network, and thanks to its tri-band support, the ability to take advantage of 5.3Gbps connections.

A roaming feature built into the AC5400 is designed to work with range extenders, so you can automatically connect to the strongest signal in whatever room you’re in. And since the device supports MU-MIMO, all of your devices around the house will be able to take advantage of their maximum speeds. With help from the router’s Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app on your smartphone or tablet, it's easy to see what’s connecting to your network and decide whether it should continue or get booted off.

Perhaps the coolest feature of the router is that it works with Amazon Alexa, allowing you to control your smart home products, turn on speakers, lights and more. And since it has a three-year warranty, you should be able to take advantage of all of its features for a few years without much worry.

Want more?

Find additional tips and recommendations around what to look for when selecting a new router with our ultimate router buying guide.