Home Network Upgrade: Router and Wi-Fi

Back in May I blocked about the State of the Home Network. Soon after that I upgraded my router to Netgear R7000 and Wi-Fi access point to Asus RT-AC68U as seen in the updated picture.

Home Network

Netgear R7000 with DD-WRT

There are lot of reviews (SmallNetBuilder, SmallNetBuilder Ranking, Engadget, Trusted Reviews) online so I’m not going to repeat what they say. Note that most reviews online are using the default firmware that comes with the router.

I installed DD-WRT and I haven’t looked back since. Instead of using official DD-WRT build I installed Kong’s build. His builds are really popular because he also has R7000 and he tests the build himself. There is lot of information in the DD-WRT forum and especially in the Broadcom SoC based Hardware sub forum where you can find the change log and Kong R7000 Configuration Best Practices or Working Solutions.

The router has been rock solid and even with QOS enabled and downloads using 90% of the available bandwidth the router CPU usage stays between 20-30%. Only real minus for it is the size. I have a small cabinet which connects each room to the router and it was a bit difficult to fit the router in there.

Asus RT-AC68U

As with R7000 there are lot of reviews for RT-AC68U: SmallNetBuilder, SmallNetBuilder Ranking, Engadget, Trusted Reviews.

I’m using it as an Access Point which means almost all the services (e.g. firewall, DHCP etc.) have been disabled. I didn’t need any extra features so I’m using stock firmware. That being said I did check that it is possible to install DD-WRT into it just in case I change my mind.

The range is really good. I can walk 20-30 meters from my house and I still have a signal. I’m using same SSID for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz which means the device is responsible of choosing the best connection. This seems to work really well with almost every device. We have one Samsung Galaxy tablet which only uses 2.4 Ghz connection no matter what. The strange thing is that we have another identical Galaxy tablet that has no problems connecting to 5 GHz. Reseting the tablet might fix the issue as I didn’t see anything wrong with the settings.

If you are using IPTV or other multicast services you might want to enable IGMP Snooping:

IGMP Snooping

From Wikipedia: A switch will, by default, flood multicast traffic to all the ports in a broadcast domain. Multicast can cause unnecessary load on host devices by requiring them to process packets they have not solicited.

So if your wireless devices are dropping from the network or connection is slow you might want to see if this setting helps you.

Conclusion

I’ve been happy running this setup for few months without any problems. Online gaming, Netflix, downloads etc. all work as expected. I don’t have to reboot the routers or check the logs because everything just works. The routers I chose are a bit pricey but I figured I’ll spend few extra bucks for the piece of mind. So far it has paid off and I can recommend these routers to anyone.