Is the Linksys WRT54G obsolete? Depending on how many devices you have and how fast your upstream connection is, it may be.
Remember, when the Linksys WRT54G came out way back in 2002, it was pretty unusual for a household to have much more than a desktop and a laptop, and not all game consoles had network adapters standard. Plus, upstream connections were slow by today’s standards. I had a 768-kilobit uplink. Yes, 3/4 of a megabit. Netflix didn’t get into video streaming until 2007. Audio streaming existed in 2002 but wasn’t commonplace yet. Smartphones were seven years away from becoming commonplace too.
The WRT54G was a device for a different time.
Indeed, its specs are pretty anemic by today’s standards. The most recent incarnations have a 240 MHz CPU, 8 megabytes of RAM, and a couple of megabytes of flash memory. My Asus RT-AC66U router has a 600 MHz CPU, 256 MB of RAM, and 128 MB of flash. With my 60-megabit Internet connection, a WRT54G can’t keep up. My Internet connection is faster with the Asus. But sometimes I have 14 devices on it. That may sound ridiculous but think about it. That’s less than four devices per family member.
With Internet speeds increasing beyond 100 megabits, sometimes even to 1 gigabit, the Linksys WRT54G is obsolete in those cases. You’re wasting money on the faster Internet speeds.
On the other hand, for someone who lives alone, has a laptop and a smartphone and maybe a tablet, and has the least expensive Internet connection the local provider offers, a WRT54G probably can do fine as a primary router, even. It’s not the most secure option, but it’s workable.
I like to still use them as access points. They’re limited to a 54-megabit 802.11g connection on the 2.4 GHz band, but when you load DD-WRT on them and position them in the dead spots in your house, they eliminate your dead spots. They’re more than adequate for that. You can use one as a switch, too.
So why do people still buy them? Because they work. I’ve had other brands of routers conk out after two years, and there are still WRT54Gs out there that are 15 years old and still work. Not a lot of computer equipment lasts that long.
I certainly admire longevity and durability, but I can’t recommend the WRT54G as a primary router anymore. Here’s what I look for in a router. A good choice if you have modest needs is a TP-Link WR-841N. It’s reliable and inexpensive, and has enough power to handle higher-speed connections with several devices. It’s a lot less expensive than buying a new WRT54G. I’d put the new router on the main Internet connection and use a WRT54G as an access point.