I bought a simple D-Link 600 router a couple of weeks ago – you can easily pick them up at your local outlet for $30 or less. I specifically chose that model because I wanted to install DD-WRT on it – you can check the availability for your router on the DD-WRT Hardware Database. DD-WRT is custom firmware for routers, which basicly installs a stripped-down linux system running a web interface which allows you to configure a lot of additional services and settings on your device. Some of my personal favorites:
- Boosting Wifi TX Power: DD-WRT allows you to change the Wifi TX Power. The default for my router was 71 milliWatt, but I found I could easily crank it up to 128 without
overheating the router hardware. This results in a stronger signal and less dropped packets on my wifi connection.
- Added security: The ability to filter out certain cookies, ActiveX scripts and advertisements at router-level (thus protecting every machine behind it) is extremely handy.
- Easy Port Forwarding: We’ve all been there, forwarding ports for our favorite games/P2P services/ … DD-WRT offers a clean overview of the rules you installed (with no maximum amount of rules), and even shows the current UPnP rules which were setup up by applications on the network.
- QoS: By using some filters, you can make sure that your big downloads do not interrupt with streaming movies or online gaming.
- OpenVPN: On the router itself – no more fiddling around on the clients.
- Detailed overview of bandwidth usage: Even real-time graphs!
- Detailed logging
- Another linux box to log into: Always nice, no? :)
And much, much more. A lot of this functionality is usually only available in high-end router hardware, but thanks to the power of Linux and open-source, is now freely available for users all over the world. Heartily recommended!