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Router Recommendation
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bsaxton77
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Jan 19, 2011, 01:03 AM
 
Ok, I am very frustrated with my wireless router and ready to replace it. It was $40 dlink-615. I have gone over one setting after another, but no matter what I do, the thing won't keep solid connections to my iPhones and (don't hate me) netbook or htpc setup.

If I had the money I would go for a Aiport Extreme. However, even refurbished they are over my budget. I'm willing to spend $80 or so.

Anyone have any recommendations for a new router?

I have 4 wired devices and 4 wireless devices (if that makes a difference).
     
ghporter
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Jan 19, 2011, 07:54 AM
 
Welcome to our forums! The D-Link 615 is definitely "low end." However, settings are almost certainly not responsible for your phones not keeping solid connections with the router. What's between your router and where you typically use your phones? What are your walls made of? Perhaps more importantly, how close are your neighbors and do they have any 2.4GHz devices (like B/G WiFi networks, cordless phones, baby monitors, wireless security cameras...)?

I've always had good experiences with Linksys products. Their venerable WRT54G line includes solid performers with fairly easy to use features and a fairly easy setup process. While there are a number of newer Linksys products on the market, getting a WRT54G (prefer a version 4 or earlier) is often a matter of simply looking at all the boxes on the shelf at Best Buy or other tech store-or shopping online.

I saved up my pennies and got an latest-gen Extreme expressly for its ability to operate simultaneous G and N networks, allowing me to use the fastest connection available on my laptops without slowing them down when I connected an iPhone. It was worth it, definitely.

First though, do a WiFi survey (Alt-Click the AirPort gadget on your Mac's menubar or use some Windows app on your netbook) to see what other WiFi networks are around you. If there's a channel conflict-a definite "can't keep a solid connection" culprit-you only need to change your own channel to something well away from your neighbors' channels. There are also methods to improve coverage from your wireless router, including simply putting it up on a high shelf. Seriously. It works great.

Again, welcome to our forums!

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
turtle777
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Jan 19, 2011, 09:43 AM
 
I've gone through 5 routers in the last 10 years. I have never been happy until I got the Airport Extreme. Well worth it. Almost never needs power cycling, which other routers needed sometimes on a weekly basis.

I'd say: save up the money and get the Airport Extreme.

-t
     
mduell
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Jan 19, 2011, 04:53 PM
 
I'm quite pleased with the Linksys WRT320N. Has the Ethernet ports you need (unlike the Airport Extreme), great range (better than the Airport Extremes in my experience), and fits your budget.

edit: apparently it's discontinued. Looks like E2000 is the replacement model.
     
P
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Jan 19, 2011, 06:19 PM
 
Note that the E2000 cannot have both the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz bands active at once - you have to pick one. The Airport Extreme enables both bands at once. If that is worth twice the price is up to you.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
mduell
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Jan 19, 2011, 08:18 PM
 
Correct, and if you need simultaneous dual band you can get the E3000, which is still considerably cheaper than the Airport Extreme. I suggested the E2000 to fit within his $80 budget.
     
bsaxton77  (op)
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Jan 19, 2011, 11:34 PM
 
The problem does not seem to be with signal strength. It seems to be something with connection, maybe with security. However, even when I reset to factory defaults I get issues.
     
P
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Jan 20, 2011, 09:06 AM
 
Looking in to it a little more (I'm reconsidering my home network as well), the E2000 seems to be a quite limited model. It can't act as a bridge and it doesn't support IPv6, both of which the Airport Express does. Those things could be solved by installing DD-WRT, of course, but it is still worth noting.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
ghporter
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Jan 20, 2011, 12:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by bsaxton77 View Post
The problem does not seem to be with signal strength. It seems to be something with connection, maybe with security. However, even when I reset to factory defaults I get issues.
If you turn off security and still have problems, it's certainly not an issue with security. What sort of symptoms do you get when you have your problems? Please give details-does the phone completely lose WiFi? Does it connect very slowly? Does it freeze up while connected? Something else? Signal strength by itself may not be an issue at all. But what about OTHER signals' strength? What do you learn from a site survey about other networks around you?

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
mduell
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Jan 20, 2011, 02:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Looking in to it a little more (I'm reconsidering my home network as well), the E2000 seems to be a quite limited model. It can't act as a bridge and it doesn't support IPv6, both of which the Airport Express does. Those things could be solved by installing DD-WRT, of course, but it is still worth noting.
Neither of which the OP asked for... OTOH he does have 4 wired devices.
     
ghporter
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Jan 20, 2011, 03:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Neither of which the OP asked for... OTOH he does have 4 wired devices.
True. He didn't ask for those features. But he didn't exclude them, either. He did say he would like an AP Extreme, which is why I think P provided that particular bit of input...

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
macforray
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Jan 20, 2011, 03:37 PM
 
I was never happy until I purchased the latest version of the Airport Extreme. I'm sure there are other good routers out there, and probably cheaper.
macforray
     
Dork.
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Jan 29, 2011, 10:53 PM
 
Bumpity-bump! I'm starting to look at Wireless-N routers, although I have a perfectly good "venerable" WRT54G. We're making more use of network storage, though, and could use the speed boost that N gives.

Would it make sense for me to buy a cheaper single-band Wireless-N router and stick it on the 5 MHz band for the bandwdth hogs that can support N, and leave my WRT54G running for the slower/older devices, as opposed to buying a more expensive dual-band router?

If so, based on the feedback in this thread I'm leaning toward the E2000....
Newegg.com - Linksys E2000
     
ghporter
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Jan 29, 2011, 10:58 PM
 
I finally replaced my WAP54G/BEFSR41 combination with an AirPort Extreme (and later added an Express for other reasons) so I could have N speeds without disenfranchising my iPhone and an older laptop. I haven't looked back.

Your plan, adding an E2000 to your network, is workable, but it'll take some management. You'll have to set it up so that ONLY ONE router runs your DHCP service, and you'll probably have to do a little dodging to make all your devices connect to the same subnet. Not at all difficult, but it's something that needs doing and must be done right.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Dork.
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Jan 30, 2011, 08:20 AM
 
I can handle it.

The biggest configuration issue is going to be to convince my wife that we need it.
     
Cold Warrior
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Jan 30, 2011, 11:54 AM
 
You'd be better off getting a single device that's dual-band multi-protocol. Your 54G will break down at some point given its age, and managing two of these consumer devices that both want to be routers and switches, but where one must be a switch without routing, can be annoying to administer and troubleshoot. Then even if that's worked out, now you have two physical layers in your TCP/IP stack (linksys 54G > linksys e2000 > clients), which is inefficient.

Plus P said the E2000 won't bridge, which means you'd wind up with double NAT and two subnets, all heinous problems on a LAN.

I'd get an airport extreme or just the E2000 and mothball the 54G, or get an airport express like glenn did and connect it to the 54G (but only if you had one or two low- to medium-traffic devices, otherwise you might come close to saturating the 54G's 100 Mb ethernet port [unless it has Gb]).
( Last edited by Cold Warrior; Jan 30, 2011 at 11:56 AM. Reason: addtl details)
     
Dork.
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Jan 30, 2011, 05:07 PM
 
I like the price of the single-band devices better, though, and the 54G is still working, so why replace it? I might go and find the manual of the E2000 and make sure that NAT and the DHCP server can be turned off, since NATing twice is inefficient, as you note. And since the 54G is just 10/100, I'd need to make sure I can plug it into the E2000 without slowing down the other wired network ports.

But if I had to run two networks, it wouldn't be the end of the world. There's plenty of room in 192.168 for all my stuff.

Edit: All the linksys/cisco manuals are here....
( Last edited by Dork.; Jan 30, 2011 at 05:18 PM. )
     
ghporter
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Jan 30, 2011, 05:18 PM
 
Since the E2000 won't bridge, it must be the "master" router in the setup, and since the WRT54G will bridge, it's secondary, providing only G WiFi and perhaps some wired ports (and you turn off its DHCP server). This is workable, and not too much of a problem. I can't really comment on the wired ports, except to note that most 10/100/1000 switches are advanced enough that slower wired devices won't pull the rest of the switch down in speed.

But as Cold Warrior points out, that 54G will eventually break down. The big decision is whether you want to bet on the longevity of the 54G and add another piece of hardware, knowing that you'll probably lose your G system sooner than later, or whether you want to bite the bullet and go for a whole new router that does simultaneous dual band operation.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
exca1ibur
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Jan 30, 2011, 06:07 PM
 
I went for the E3000 for just that reason a while back. dual band, 2 more antenna than the E2000, gigabit ethernet and USB local storage. So I can just plug in a USB drive and use as a Media Server, no computer needed and $50 cheaper than the Airport Extreme as well.
     
Dork.
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Jan 31, 2011, 09:31 AM
 
All interesting points. I'll think about it for a bit longer. But I'm inclined to keep my 54G running, since if it's made it this long then it's probably not going to die anytime soon.

On another related topic, I have wifi-box running on my 54G(which shows its age, since wifi-box hasn't been updated since 2004.) Are the new Linksys/Cisco units just as hackable? I see from this thread that DD-WRT is still around, although I thought there were license issues with that back in the day. Are they fixed yet?

One of the reviews of the E2000 on Newegg referenced a firmware package called "Tomato". Anyone use that?
     
Dork.
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Feb 19, 2011, 05:36 PM
 
Follow-up: I decided to go with the E3000 after all. Not sure if I'm going to Tomato up, though.
For now, I still need networks with separate SSID's on the two frequencies because I'm too lazy to change the security on all the devices using my 2.4 GHz network (it's WEP right now), and the E3000 is telling me it doesn't want to use WEP on the Wireless-N network.

In the meantime, does anyone know why Time Machine is so freakin' slow?
     
ghporter
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Feb 19, 2011, 06:24 PM
 
WEP won't work on N in most cases simply because, since it's poo, it's not supported by the N standard.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Dork.
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Feb 19, 2011, 06:37 PM
 
I understand that, but changing from WEP means I have to go and find all the doohickeys in my house that are on the network and change them over. Isn't it amazing how many doohickeys have IP addresses and wireless connectivity now?
     
ghporter
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Feb 19, 2011, 06:46 PM
 
I have a USB flash stick that I use to change passwords with. I put the password on it in plain text and simply copy/paste in every device that needs it. Of course not all devices have USB connections, but it sure handles most of them, and quite quickly and easily.

And WEP is poo because it is UNsecure. The opposite of secure. It makes you LESS secure than not using any encryption. It probably kicks puppies when nobody's looking, too. Seriously, WEP is less than useless because users think they have something protecting them when in fact it is now trivial to break a data stream with WEP encryption in real time. WPA and WPA2 use solid encryption that has not been broken. The only effective exploits against WPA have been against the key generation algorithm, and then only with very short, very bad passwords (real words of less than 8 characters, etc.). A 25 character WPA key is effectively impervious to any non-governmental attack, and WPA2 features improvements in TKIP that make it significantly more robust than that. And both are built into new G and N devices, requiring only your providing a password.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Dork.
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Feb 19, 2011, 07:10 PM
 
You are correct, of course.

When I worked at a Big, Public company, we had special re-usable inter-office mail envelopes that tied shut with that little string that went around the two cardboard fasteners. There was a grid of boxes on the front for the addressee: you were supposed to cross your name out and write the next name the next time you had to send something.

The procedure to deal with company confidential (NOT classified!) information in these envelopes was to put tape over the little string wrapped around the fasteners. Could you easily take the tape off, open the envelope, read the contents, and put everything back to make it look like it was never opened? Sure you could! All the tape did was keep honest people out.

Just like WEP.
     
ort888
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Mar 16, 2011, 12:59 PM
 
Sup y'all. I'm also in need of a new router and am fairly ignorant in this area. So here are some (dumb) questions.

My current router (An older cheap Linksys G router) is starting to die constantly. At least once every other day I have to go downstairs and unplug it. It's super annoying. It happens more when I'm transferring huge files back and forth, making that more of a pain as well.

So I want a new router. I would just get the Airport Extreme, but it's a bit spendy considering how much the competition is.

I have a Black 2008 Intel Macbook, an iMac G5 (with Airport Extreme card), 2 iPhone 3GSs, an iPad 2, a TiVo with a wireless G adaptor on it, and friends with random PC laptops connected to my network.

Here's my questions...

1. Can I just buy a $50 N router and connect all that stuff or will the things that are G not work? Is a N network backwards compatible and or compatible with all of my current stuff?

2. Is the Airport Extreme as easy to setup that as it appears to be? I've always hated dinking around with the PC centric interfaces on cheap routers.

3. The fact that the Airport Extreme only has 3 Ethernet ports is somewhat annoying. I'm 99% sure that I can run a splitter off of one of those ports and hook up as much stuff as I want... am I correct in this thinking or is there a complication I'm not thinking of?

4. Do you think Apple is going to refresh the Airport Basestation anytime soon? I'd hate to see a new one come out right after I buy mine. Is there anything coming in the world of wireless networking in the next few years I need to consider?

5. How hard is it to connect a USB hard drive to a basestation? It's pretty easy right?

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ibook_steve
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Mar 16, 2011, 01:11 PM
 
1. $50 decent N router? Where? Sure you could connect everything.

2. On an Airport Extreme, you can set up separate networks for B/G devices and N devices, but I'm sure on any router you can set it up to allow all protocols to connect.

3. Yes, as long as you don't use only the 5 GHz frequency. Only N can connect to 5 GHz. B/G/N can all connect to 2.4 GHz.

4. AE is easy as pie.

5. Of couse you can connect a switch to an ethernet port to expand it.

6. No clue. The current one hasn't been updated since the ethernet ports went to Gigabit ethernet (couple of years at least). Unless Apple wants to go aluminum, it will probably stay the same until whatever the next wireless standard is comes out.

7. Others might know.

8. USB-A male cable? Meet USB-A female port. Not difficult at all. Just connect up and set up sharing in Airport Utility.

I have not found an easier to use and set up router than the AE. The upfront cost is worth it. And for your friends who drop by, you can set up a separate guest network so they can't get to your machines. To quote an already (hopefully) dying meme, "Winning!"

Steve
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ort888
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Mar 16, 2011, 01:51 PM
 
My edits screwed up the numbering of the questions, but THANKS!

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mduell
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Mar 16, 2011, 04:35 PM
 
The $50 routers don't have gigE or USB.

Airport Utility is either super easy (finds, connects, "just works") or a complete pain in the ass (can't find it, can't connect, gets errors). My experience is 50/50.
     
mvip
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Mar 16, 2011, 05:24 PM
 
I'm not a big fan of Apple's routers. If you want something in the $50-range, I suggest looking at Linksys' (now Cisco) wrt54g-routers. They're rock solid, and I've put up a few of them at various locations.

While this probably is far beyond the scope of this thread, the nice thing with the WRT-routers is that you can run ddwrt on them, which turns your $50 router into a very powerful piece of hardware.
     
mduell
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Mar 16, 2011, 06:39 PM
 
WRT54G is 100BT, 802.11g, and no USB. Not really good at the $50 point these days.
     
ghporter
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Mar 16, 2011, 09:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
The $50 routers don't have gigE or USB.

Airport Utility is either super easy (finds, connects, "just works") or a complete pain in the ass (can't find it, can't connect, gets errors). My experience is 50/50.
I found out the hard way that messing with IPv6 settings can cause "just not working" with AU. But as long as it can find the device, the AirPort Utility kicks booty-way more flexibility and finer grained control of the device than the typical consumer-level router's web interface.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
mduell
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Mar 17, 2011, 12:51 PM
 
What flexibility/fine grained control do you find in AU that isn't in the WRT54G web interface?
     
ghporter
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Mar 17, 2011, 08:29 PM
 
Perhaps I'm actually happy about the hardware's capabilities rather than AirPort Utilitiy's. But the AirPort Extreme has plenty of features that are accessed and configured through the utility. Automatic channel selection vs. default channel 6 or 7 in the WRT54G's setup. A completely separate guest network which can be switched on or off (though this may lump together with other simultaneous dual-band features). Supporting USB drives and/or printers is great too, and all of this is set up through the utility.

Linksys' web interface is (or at least was) extremely similar among their wireless routers, access points and wired routers. But various settings would change from one screen to another through updates. And I frequently needed to drill down a couple of layers to do things like see what DHCP clients were connected. Sure, it's a couple of levels deep in the AirPort Utility, but it's grouped logically with logs and statistics, and it gives you plenty of detail without a lot of fuss. And I never saw anything like the Wireless Clients tracking tool in Linksys' configuration system, either.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
scaught
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Mar 18, 2011, 10:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
So I want a new router. I would just get the Airport Extreme, but it's a bit spendy considering how much the competition is.
I just got a refurbed one from Apple for $129. It's been solid so far.
     
ort888
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Mar 18, 2011, 04:42 PM
 
Hmmm...

$129 + Tax ($139) for a refurb

or

$168 + no tax new From Amazon

Choices... choices...

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