First of all I am tired of buying more routers. The longest I ever had a consumer router was a linksys from 2000 to 2005. This was when my cable service was media one and they provided 1.5mbs service. Cable then went to ATT and then to Comcast. Comcast boosted speeds to 30mbs and then the linksys died. I then have had several DL links. I went trough 3 between 2005-2011. Then in 2011 something near my house got hit by lightning and my network fried everything with an eithernet port and an HDMI port in my house. I then picked up a Netgear which was suppose to be the end all be all. I got very good pings while gaming and had no problem running my many wired and wireless devices together. This includes several wired desktops, VOIP, spring Airave (voip), DTV, NAS, TV, several ps3s, xbox360, printer, two wifi thermostats, and two smart phones. Oh I also have a DVR system using Zoneminder with wired and IP cameras. After a year this thing randomly stopped working. It refused to connect to the cable modem through the WAN port. So I picked up a DLink gigabit router and instantly got 10ms higher ping on my wired desktop while gaming. I also ended up flashing to WWDRT. I went on vacation and came back only to find I could no longer login. The router has somehow corrupted my username and password in firmware and will require complete reflashing to fix. So, I am faced with getting another router to make my network work like it should.
A) I am looking at building a single core Atom PC with network cards and connecting to the cable modem and my switch running Smoothwall or something similar. This looks like a cheap and robust option for a router. Will give me a lot of control over my connection. I will also get the added benifit of having a low power 1.5ghz processor running the thing with about 2gb of ram. Downside is that all the parts have a year warranty and I am responsible for all the troubleshooting and replacing. This is not a big deal because my DVR Atom has been running 24/7 since the 2011 rebuild with only one or two reboots (I even had to go in and delete a year worth of events that were on it's 750gb hard drive which was not a big deal but it was a year worth of JPG motion alerts.) I also have my doubts that software routing will really fix my latency issue.
B) I am considering a TP-LINK TL-ER6120 router. It comes with a 5 year warranty, has the redundancy option which I will not use, and has a 500mhz processor with 128mb of ram. The advantage is that it is an actual packaged router that is purpose built and rack mountable. It also provides some lightning suppression protection. Everything that I have found online about it has been possitive. There is not many consumers going with the thing because it does not support wireless and is a bit more expensive than a dlink. However, the posts I have found have talked about how much better streaming video and multimedia is on the people's networks that they are running on. I guess people have had issues streaming 1080p to their TV, their router overheats, and the stream gets jacked up. I think I have seen this with my dlink. With this router it does not seem ot be an issue. I have also read where a few people have used these at small business to enable VPN tunneling to a home office. This feature I would use because my wife uses VPN which is absolutly horrible currently. Downside to this option is the slower processor speed, less ram, and propratary firmware.
Anyone have thoughts or opinions on either. Has anyone else used smoothwall for a gaming router? Also, I know I will need an AP to keep wireless support either way.
I suspect mostly you were unlucky but if you want somethings that never fails you go with commercial grade equipment. Most consumers are afraid to touch it because it tends to be complex but not more than running dd-wrt.
You can get used cisco stuff that will run for years yet. Some people "try" to sell stuff that is more than 10 yrs old. It still works but of course if too out of date.
Things in the 2600 series are very very cheap. Something like a 1841 or a 2800 series is a little more but can run all the current feature. I would avoid buying one that has built in wireless, most are old and it limits your selection.
The only key advantage to commercial gear is it is designed and tested for no downtime. It has study power supplies and component that are design for heat loads and long life.
I have both, I run a cisco to do my simple internet stuff most just NAT. I then have another router mostly to play with that runs dd-wrt. I really wish the cisco did not want so much money to run more than 2 SSLVPN clients. It is so much easier to find good troubleshooting stuff than running openvpn on dd-wrt
I really like the reviews of the TP link... it seems to have the faster processor and reliability of a commercial router without the extra configuration problems.
However, while researching smoothwall I found some good info on pfsense. It seems to have some really nice plugins that do a lot. I really like the active virus scannner. I have also read where people are able to set these up and game with very little tweaking. The guide on their site lists something around a 1ghz processor is recommended for a 25-50mb connection. This would explain why the consumer routers keep frying.