For a long time, I used a Linux machine with iptables firewall. I had this for many years, but when the need for wireless arrived, the choice fell on Linksys WRT54G, which also took over the firewall parts. It was later replaced with a Netgear WNR3500L since it had integrated Gigabit-switch.
Unfortunately, in a couple of years, most people have acquired wireless at home and the 2Ghz-band was becoming very noisy with all neighborÕs stuff. It didn't make it better that every ISP sends their combined modem and access point (which also often is really bad ones)
I realized that it was time to use the 5GHz band, since my PC already had support for this. I've also realized that I wanted to run OpenWRT, and the hardware from Broadcom does not play well with opensource unfortunally. So the choice fell on a TP-Link WDR3600. This really does its job well and works completely trouble-free with OpenWRT.
Why not DD-WRT?
DD-WRT felt phenomenal when it came. All of a sudden you had features that you never thought possible with cheap sub-$100 routers. You could fine-tune the parameters to improve the reliability significantly. But after a few years, I thought the whole project felt a bit weird. It never came new releases, only new "builds" that seem to be the complete jungle which builds that were stable or not. No changelogs, no security updates. The whole project seems to be a * one-man-show *, but at the same time some kind of commercial facade? No one really knows.
Why not OpenWRT?
OpenWRT is a fantastic project. It is much more than just an alternative firmware; it is a complete solution for embedded systems. But it is still "only" a Linux distribution to be fair, even if LuCI is a very nice interface. It also lacks some proprietary optimizations and features that only a manufacturer can have full knowledge of (due to NDA agreements, and so on...) There is also no what if continuous updates and security fixes. You simply have to nicely wait for a new release.
On weekdays, I work with IT-security and networking equipment. It ranges from stuff sitting in a closet somewhere to half a meter high gear in noisy datacenters. These usually have very specific functions or exceptional performance, and their exceptionally high price tags. But this affects. What can you use at home, but without paying hundreds of dollars for hardware and licenses?
I can recommend the Latvian manufacturer Mikrotik with it's RouterOS and Routerboard. They made previously only a little more pricey pure router modules, but has now begun to use the same type of Atheros/Qualcomm chipsets such as TP-Link and others. It's Linux-based of course.
- Has support for everything you would expect from a entry-line enterprise router.
- They have different types of hardware depending on performance requirements ($40 to $2000).
- They develop on their own hardware for their software, hence very reliable.
- They have the opportunity to use the hardware support (NAT and forwarding in hardware)
- They release new software continuously, and it is almost ridiculously easy to upgrade.
- They have a proper CLI which is actually really good and useful (and colorful). Some big-player vendors should actually be ashamed.
- It is good quality radio design, construction and components.
- Web interface is great to.
- Larger models support encryption in hardware, providing lovely VPN performance.
- Licensed - But new hardware includes one standard license, and they are not that pricey.
- Their switches do not support IGMP snooping (Not quite sure this)
- No "cluster" support - However, failover with standard VRRP is available.
- Some of the cheap models (home-ones) have limited flash-storage - Not possible to use all functions/packages.
I myself have now this gear for the moment, on different physical locations.
- RB260GS - Switch _ (SWOS, not RouterOS) _
- RB wAP AC 802.11ac + 802.11n - AP + Firewall
- RB922UAGS-5HPacD - 802.11ac - AP + Firewall
- RB912UAG-2HPnD - 802.11n (2x2) - Used as repeater
- RB hAP - 2.4Ghz 802.11n (2x2) - At my parents place
Wireless performance is great to (2x2 11ac-40Mhz)