Choosing a custom firmware for your router is a formidable task. You need to take a lot of factors into account; the firmware’s compatibility with your router, the features that it comes packed with, and whether or not it’s reliable.
Once you’ve established the compatibility, you need to ensure that the third-party firmware that you’re about to install for your router is even worth it before you can move on to following the manufacturer’s instructions and installing it.
In this guide, we’ve detailed the three best custom firmware on the internet, along with their upsides and downsides, that you can get your hands on. So, without further ado, let’s hop straight into it!
DD-WRT vs. Tomato vs. OpenWRT – Everything that You Need to Know!
DD-WRT is currently the most reputable custom firmware out there. Being over a decade old, this firmware sure has gained its customers’ trust and established itself among enthusiasts.
Not only does the DD-WRT firmware supports more routers (even the low-priced ones) than any other third-party firmware, with the plethora of options available in its interface, you can configure almost everything to your liking.
Since it supports more routers than anyone else, its community is also larger than anyone else’s. This means that you’ll get solutions to any router related problem fairly quickly. You may also find help on issues regarding the routers not supported by DD-WRT.
Furthermore, it comes with a Wake-on-LAN feature, which allows you to remotely turn on your PC and perform the maintenance tasks that are deemed necessary.
When it comes to the security of your networks, it provides you with a robust firewall to make sure that your connections are fully secured. Also, you can easily configure its built-in Open VPN support according to your need.
Finally, to enhance its performance, DD-WRT comes with a pretty impressive QoS feature.
On the contrary, the complex interface of DD-WRT can be mind-boggling sometimes, especially if you are someone who prefers a simpler, more user-friendly interface. As a result, you would have a hard time navigating the interface and setting everything up.
Tomato, well-known for speeding up routers, is another one of the custom firmware that has been in the market for quite some time now.
With a very simple, direct, and easily understandable interface, it is very user friendly and is perfect for people who do not know a lot about networks.
Recently, the AdvancedTomato project has replaced the classic Tomato firmware by Shibby. As a result, we have found ourselves a more advanced GUI, which allows a real-time monitoring of critically important data.
Network management on AdvancedTomato is more convenient and visually satisfying. Just like DD-WRT, it has a built-in Open VPN and a QoS which you can configure according to your liking.
However, unlike DD-WRT, Tomato does not support a lot of routers, meaning that its benefits are limited to certain routers only. Also, its community is much smaller as compared to DD-WRT.
Other than that, there are some features of DD-WRT and OpenWRT that are not supported by the Tomato firmware.
OpenWRT is the oldest of the three open-source custom firmware under inspection in this blog post. Today’s OpenWRT is the union of the original OpenWRT and LEDE.
The interface of OpenWRT is even more intricate than that of DD-WRT so it offers you even greater customization, making it ideal for technical individuals. Furthermore, it has QoS Support and built-in VPN service just like DD-WRT and Tomato.
What makes it stand out, however, is that unlike both Tomato and DD-WRT, it doesn’t include non-free binary blobs.
There are only a few routers that OpenWRT supports since it requires the routers to have non-free drivers.
Also, due to its non-friendly and complex layout, not only the process of configuration is a bit time consuming, only those with some knowledge of third-party firmware can fully reap its benefits.
Whichever custom firmware you choose to go for is completely up to you. People who like to tinker and optimize their tech will be far better off with a third-party firmware than they would be with their manufacturer’s.
The custom firmware will be more likely to receive regular updates and there will be a lot more additional features like Open VPN client support and QoS that your manufacturer’s firmware may lack.
All in all, whether it’s streaming, browsing the internet, or any other purpose, you will see a significant boost in your router’s performance using a third-party firmware.