I was looking for a VPN wireless router so I can remotey access my home PC, NAS, and printer when I'm away.
But when searching, I found lots of cheap routers use PPTP, L2TP, IPSec Pass-Through.
So, the dumb question is, are these pass-through routers that support the PPTP tunneling standards REAL VPN routers that can do what I described? Or do I need something else?
I only need a few VPN clients.
It’s only a VPN router if its supports a VPN client and/or server. Support for PPTP, L2TP, IPSec Pass-Through only means your router will work properly w/ those protocols. But by itself it doesn’t mean it’s providing a VPN client or server of its own. For that, it should state so explicitly.
If it does provide a VPN client and/or server, the implementation in most devices is usually based on the same Linux code, so there really isn't any substantial differences, at least in terms of the core functionality. The differences tend to be in performance and robustness. Obviously a $20-30 router w/ VPN capability is not going to being able to handle the same number of users w/ the same efficiency as a $500-100 Cisco VPN appliance. But for the home user, the budget devices are plenty good enough.
I think I at least know better what to ask.
Still not sure if it's easier to install DD-WRT on a router or OpenVPN Server on a NAS?
I'm guessing OpenVPN is better since I won't need to install 3rd party firmware that will void the routers warrenty.
A lot depends on your objectives. For all I know, the OpenVPN server provided by your NAS only allows access to THAT one device! And if your objective is to use it for accessing ALL your local devices (i.e., local gateway), that might force your hand. You might even want to use it to route back to the Internet (making it a valuable tool for protecting your open wifi communications on the road). So at least in terms of functionality, you have to be more precise in terms of what you want this to accomplish and what would best meet those needs.
In terms of voiding warranties, nothing says you have to commit your $100 super-duper, dual-band, Linksys router to these duties. You could just as well use an old DD-WRT router and configure it as VPN appliance (or else buy a $20-30 DD-WRT compatible router). Of course, you could buy a standalone VPN client/server appliance instead. Zyxel makes quite a few, and are quite popular, but rarely less than $150 for the entry models. That makes a second DD-WRT router look like a good investment (should the NAS prove not up to the task).
It even depends on whether you're looking to learn something in more depth, and thus willing to experiment, or just want something that works and move on.