How to find inexpensive routers to run DD-WRT

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.

inexpensive routers to run DD-WRT
The TP-Link TL-WR841n makes a good cheap DD-WRT router. It usually costs around $25.

For example, at the moment I’m writing this, a refurbished Linksys E1200 costs around $20. That’s a good price for an 802.11n-capable router, even if it only runs at 2.4 GHz. If you want something new, I’ve done very well with the TP-Link TL-WR841n, It usually sells for around $25 and occasionally goes on sale for less than $20. I have instructions for the TL-WR841n and DD-WRT if you need them. If you’re looking for the best cheap DD-WRT router, the TL-WR841n gets my vote.

If you really want dual-band capability, and I don’t blame you if you do, a refurbished Linksys E2500 costs around $40. And if you want it all, a refurbished Linksys EA6300 with dual-band, 802.11AC, gigabit and USB costs around $55. That’s about what you’ll pay for a non-refurbished dual-band 802.11n router. A lot of devices still don’t support 802.11ac, but hear me out. The best way to get 802.11n without bottlenecks inside your home network is to buy an 802.11ac router. Unfortunately most 802.11n routers don’t have gigabit wired networking built in.

If you’re willing to do some homework, you can score a bargain even if 2015 is a distant memory. Search Ebay for “refurbished router,” then scroll through the most recent date at DD-WRT’s beta download site to make sure the bargain you find is compatible.

In my experience, the routers’ power bricks are more prone to failure than the routers themselves. For all the stories I hear of routers failing after 18 months, I have decade-old routers that still work. Really–I still have Linksys WRT54G routers acting as secondary access points and repeaters. They’re ancient and obsolete by any standard but serving a good purpose in the roles I’ve relegated them to. Some of them are on their second power adapter. But the routers themselves work as well as they did in 2005, if not better because they’re running better firmware now.

After your router arrives and you get DD-WRT running on it, please come back and have a look at my recommended DD-WRT settings so you can secure it. Thanks!

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