If you need an inexpensive DD-WRT compatible router, TP-Link is probably your best choice. But there are some big differences when you compare the TL-WR840n vs the TL-WR841n.
If you have a router and want to run DD-WRT on it, but can’t find the router in the router database, you may have learned the hard way that the router database is a couple of years out of date.
But not all hope is lost. Here’s how to find a build, if one exists.
I see people asking about the difference between the TP-Link TL-WR841N and TL-WR841ND (sometimes they just ask TP-Link TL-WR841N vs TL-WR841ND). Since nobody else seems to have answered, I’ll take the question.
Here’s how to decode TP-Link model numbers. This is true of the 841 series, which is my go-to for the moment when I need a capable yet inexpensive router, but also other TP-Link models.
“TL” stands for TP-Link. “WR” stands for wireless router. The numbers tell you where the model stands in the product line. Beefier routers have larger numbers. “N” stands for the type of networking, which, in this case, is 802.11N. “D” stands for detachable antennae.
If you don’t need to be able to detach the antennae to replace them with bigger, longer-range models, you can save some money by buying the N-model. Otherwise, the TL-WR841N and TL-WR841ND are functionally identical. They both use the same DD-WRT build.
I’ve been using and recommending DD-WRT for years, but it’s getting harder to find inexpensive routers to run DD-WRT. Many inexpensive routers now use non-Broadcom chipsets that DD-WRT and other third-party firmware don’t support well, or at all.
But there’s still a way to get inexpensive, compatible routers that isn’t likely to change any time soon.
My neighbor asked me for advice on setting up wi-fi in his new house. I realized it’s been a while since I’ve written about wi-fi, and it’s never been cheaper or easier to blanket your house and yard with a good signal.
Blanketing your house and yard while remaining secure, though, is still important.
I’ve said before how to eliminate wifi dead spots, but perhaps I didn’t give it the focus it deserves. I think almost everyone has wifi dead spots in their house that they would like to eliminate. It turns out you can do it, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either.
The idea is to supplement your existing router with one or two additional access points. Read more
The TP-Link TL-WR841N (and the similar TL-WR841ND) is a lower-mid range router that routinely sells in the $20-$25 range. Although many people consider it an off-brand, TP-Link has had a following in the enthusiast community for a couple of years. I’ve been prone to recommend them because they have a better track record than many of the bigger-name brands of continuing to release firmware upgrades that fix security vulnerabilities. If you’re going to buy a router and leave it stock, you’re better off with a TP-Link than anything else.
There’s an addition on the back of our house, probably added in the 1970s or 80s, where the wi-fi reception is exceptionally poor. Something about the walls makes it tricky, and I also suspect we get some interference from the neighbors behind us.
My project to fix that began with a TP-Link TL-WR841N router. It’s inexpensive–frequently available for around $20–has a good enough reputation for reliability, and if you dig deeply enough, you can find a DD-WRT build for it. There are fancier routers available, with more antennas and gigabit ports, but this one would take care of my immediate needs while I wait for 802.11ac. I don’t have any 802.11ac-enabled equipment yet, so I’ll wait for the price to come down before adopting it.
I covered the upgrade process yesterday.
If you want a nice router or access point, you can do a lot worse than upgrading a TP-Link TL-WR841N to DD-WRT. The TL-WR841N is inexpensive and reliable, and DD-WRT runs well on it once you get the right build.
You can configure it to be a router, an access point, or a repeater, based on what you need. It usually costs $25 and sometimes you can find one on sale for $20 or even $15, so it’s a huge bargain. Even if you want 802.11ac speeds, a TL-WR841N makes a fantastic secondary access point to improve your connectivity.