Today, most common router manufacturers power their devices with their default firmware (a permanent software built into a routers Read Only Memory) giving general functionality to the routers. At times these firmware can prove to be quite insufficient for users’ to configure various options one of the most common being able to setup VPN services on routers.

 

What is Tomato Router Software?

 

Tomato is an open source HyperWRT-based, Linux powered firmware designed for routers with Broadcom Chipsets. Amongst its long list of benefits, the Tomato router firmware employs Ajax (a set of Web Development techniques), that allows web pages to load easier & faster without reloading the page again and again. Tomato router tech has been immensely appreciated by developers with two very prominent mods Tomato by Shibby and Advanced Tomato famed for their ease of use.

 

8 Reasons to Use Tomato Router Firmware

 

Usually, I would summarize the 5 reasons to use Tomato compatible routers but it’s just better to hear from the experts:

 

 

Just in case we have non-tech savvy users with us here are some top features made easy for you to understand the added advantage of using a Tomato based router:

  1. Advanced QoS (Quality of Service) Bandwidth Controls

A great option for streaming fans to configure bandwidth to be allocated to various app and websites like Netflix, HBO Now, YouTube etc.

     2. Traffic stats by user or IP Address

A great feature especially for office settings allowing the administrator to get detailed statistics for all users/devices connected to the Tomato router.

     3. OpenVPN, PPTP, & L2TP VPN Configuration

A brilliant feature for home & office based VPN users allowing easy configuration instead of using VPN software. This allows protecting all your online devices without having to install complicated or faulty VPN apps on them directly. Especially good for older devices that don’t have VPN functionality.

     4. Advanced USB Support

Tomato router software also opens up access to what devices you want to attach to the router like printers, 4G MIFI devices, network hard drives etc.

      5. User-friendly Ajax-based Interface

The Ajax based interface automatically speeds up web browsing and reduces load times for heavy webpages with lots of media and Adobe flash elements.

      6. Dynamic DNS service setup

Just in case you wish to setup a SmartDNS service to unblock VoD services or other websites without slowing down your internet as with the case of VPN, Tomato router firmware offers you the exclusive option to do so.

      7. Bandwidth Statistics

Another exclusive option especially for work settings, where the administrator(s) can observe detailed bandwidth usage statistics by user and for the entire network.

      8. Integrated BitTorrent

Yes, there is a built in BitTorrent client in the Tomato router software allows you to manage bandwidth, torrents and other amazing features to speed up downloads. There is also a Tor client so you can route traffic through different nodes rather than broadcasting your real information over the internet.

To learn more and read about other numerous benefits of Tomato router software you can also check out the official Tomato,Advanced Tomato, and Tomato by Shibby pages.

 

7 Best Tomato Router Models for Your Home & Work

 

The Tomato firmware is compatible with a huge list of router brands including ASUS, NetGear, LinkSys, HP, D-Link, Huawei, Tenda, ZTE, and others. Due to the versatility of the Best Tomato router software, it is an excellent choice to have in both home & work settings.

Below is my summary of the 3 best Tomato routers you should consider, plus a list of 4 other Tomato router options to check out if you are looking for something extreme:

 

Top Best Tomato Router : ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900

 

The most popular Tomato compatible router, the Asus RT-N66U is an older design from the manufacturer. It is however popular due to its relentless compatibility with all Tomato firmware versions. The RT-N66U is compatible with both Tomato by Shibby & Advanced Tomato mods, allowing you a choice of firmware on it.

 

best tomato router

Although the RT-N66U is a dual band router, there is no modem built into it so you will have to connect it to the ISP’s modem with a cable. Over the 5GHz band the RT-N66U offers great range and speed but do remember speed is limit to a max 450Mbps on the router. Also the router only offers 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n support for data transmission, so if you wish for the faster 802.11ac standard then probably go with a newer model.

Apart from the 4 gigabit Ethernet ports, the RT-N66U offers two USB port to connect a printer to use for the network, a 4G Modem for faster connectivity, a network hard drive or USB drive to share media to the network. The router has a slim sleek design so it won’t stick out and its three antennas can be removed in case you don’t need them.

The router supports FTP, HHTP, BitTorrent, P2P clients, and NZB but will not download files from websites that require authentication according to various user reviews on CNet. The advanced settings on the router are quite detailed if you don’t install the Tomato firmware. You can configure VPN, prioritize QoS packets, use the customizable firewall and also get support for IPv6 connections. CNet’s overall ranting of the RT-N66U is as follows:

There are however some issues the range on RT-N66U, when you go out as far as 25 meters data transmission speeds start to decline. This has been observed both for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio bands. You can check out different deals for the RT-N66U online with prices starting from $85.99 on Amazon.

 

2nd Best Tomato RouterTenda W1801R/W1800R Wireless AC1750

 

The W1801R (aka W1800R) is a vintage router design from networking tech pioneer Tenda. Do not fall for its tiny physical appearance because the W1081R is a beast and one of the best tomato compatible routers available to use at home. Powered by a very reliable 600MHz CPU the router is a dual band (2.4GHz & 5GHz) device compatible with both Shibby & Advanced Tomato mods.

 

best tomato router tenda

 

As the image above indicates the W1801R is a brilliant choice for users who wish for media sharing over the home network using the built in DLNA feature. Tenda’s W1801R is also a brilliant choice for home users who wish to stream high definition videos & live TV, and game online. Two USB ports also offer the ability to attach hard drives, and printers to share over the network. When tested over a 15 meter range by nikktech, the maximum wireless average speed was recorded between 60 Mbps & 75 Mbps.

In addition to the dual band capability, the W1801R can cater 802.11 a/b/g and n compatible devices, so no matter old or new tech your devices get data transmissions indiscriminately. Assisted by its three powerful antennas the W1801R is ideal for large homes with settings of 5 users or more. The maximum speed has been recorded togo up to a max1300 Mbps, which is quite brilliant for home users.

The built in Tenda firmware is ridiculous and is the big turnoff about the device, hence the need for Tomato router software on the W1801R. Since the device uses an American chipset it reverts to the default US configuration, limiting number of wireless channels you can use to 11. You can setup VPN much easily, share network devices, and get more functionality with the Tomato firmware on the W1801R.

The Tenda W1801R is a superb option for home users and those with a smaller budget for a quality router. Because of its price, the W1081R is a brilliant substitute for pricey router models costing you between $60 and $100 (depending where you buy from).

 

3rd Best Tomato Router: NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 – R7000

 

The R7000 Nighthawk is a legend for Tomato router firmware users. It is an older Tomato compatible router make, but this little thing can show you the meaning of speed. Powered by a ‘dual core 1000 MHz processor in addition to 128GB of flash memory storage space and 256MB of DDR RAM. This is a truly powerful router for small office settings and up to 1000 sq. feet home settings (affirmed by various home user reviews on Amazon & other websites).

best tomato router netgear

 

In 2014, the NightHawkR7000 was the fastest 802.11ac router available from the manufacturer until the release of the R8000 NightHawk model came out. Have no doubts, the R7000 is an expensive piece of tech,but it is way more powerful delivering more than its monetary value of around $150-$200listed on Amazon. Compatible with both Shibby &Advanced Tomato mods, it was the first Tomato router tested with my VPN service over my home network.

The R7000 official supports Tomato router software, it also official offers support for OpenVPN and Apple’s Time Machine back-up tech. The R7000 is a huge device but this is necessary for the additional functionality and its 3 excellent antennas that Ron Wesley would say are “bloody brilliant!”Another brilliant fact about the R7000 is that it is pre configured (already setup to automatically pair to your existing network), with the default username & password listed on the device.

The R7000 is now driven by the NetGear Genie UI, which makes setup &configuration so very easy even with a Tomato router software update. But, when rebooted with the Tomato firmware the R7000 lets you write your own review for the router. You will love the ability to manage speed for different apps, port forwarding features, VPN setup & management, DLNA, remote access and much more.

NetGear’s R7000 is embedded with the Broadcom BCM4709 Wi-Fi chip allowing it to use the manufacturer’s proprietary TurboQAM technology. This simple means that the R7000 allows the opportunity to enjoy a faster connection for all WIFI transfer standards (802.11ac/n) and irrespective of radio bands (2.4 GHz or 5GHz). TurboQAM allows all 2.4 GHz transmissions to achieve 200 Mbps transfer instead of 150Mbps, which means it will work lightning fast even with older mobile devices & USB network dongles.

Although I have listed it third, it is my recommended Tomato compatible router especially because of my great experience with the device. My previous house was over 1800 sq. feet and had 7 users connected through 12 devices, for which I would usually get an average speed of 24 MBPS over the 22 meter distance to my room with a wall in between (my broadband connection was 30MBPS).

 

4th Best Tomato Router: ASUS RT-AC3200 Wireless-AC3200

 

  1. Price: Between $150 &$180
  2. Bands: Dual (2.4GHz & 5GHz channels) with 802.11ac/n WIFI protocol compatibility
  3. USB Ports: Two USB 3.0 ports
  4. Other amazing Features
  5. Broadcom Turbo QAM technology for 33% better speed
  6. Dual Core 1GHz CPU with 128MB RAM
  7. Beam Forming+ WIFI range extender technology
  8. Built-in Multistage A.I. Protection tech from Trends Micro
  9. Built-in ASUSWRT user interface

 

 

best tomato wireless router

 

    5th Best Tomato Router: Netgear R8000

 

  1. Price: Between $259&$400
  2. Bands: Tri (one 2.4GHz &two 5GHz channels) with 802.11ac WIFI protocol compatibility
  3. USB Ports: One USB 2.0 & one USB 3.0 port
  4. RAM/ROM: 256MB/128MB
  5. Other amazing Features
  6. Dual Core 1GHz CPU
  7. BeamForming+ range extender technology
  8. NetGear Genie UI

 

netgear r800 tomato router

 

    6th Best Tomato Router: D-Link DIR-868L

 

  1. Price: Between $100&$190
  2. Bands: Dual (2.4GHz &5GHz channels) with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WIFI protocol compatibility
  3. USB Ports: One USB 3.0 port
  4. RAM/ROM: 256MB/128MB
  5. Other amazing Features
  6. Dual Core 1GHz CPU
  7. BeamForming+ range extender technology
  8. Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) support
  9. VPN support built in

 

best tomato router d link

 

    7th Best Tomato Router: Linksys EA6900

 

  1. Price: Between $120 & $150
  2. Bands: Dual (2.4GHz & 5GHz channels) with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WIFI protocol compatibility
  3. USB Ports: One USB 2.0 & One USB 3.0 port
  4. RAM/ROM: 256MB/128MB
  5. Other amazing Features
  6. Dual Core 800MHz CPU
  7. BeamForming+ range extender technology
  8. DLNAcertified
  9. Broadcom TurboQAM tech built in
  10. Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) support
  11. Known for overheating issues, glitch in cloud feature, unstable 5Ghz reception and very expensive

 

In a Nutshell

 

I have tried my best to keep the summaries as easy to understand as possible for the layman reader. I hope you get a better idea of using a particular router brand and model, plus how effective it can be for your home network. If you liked my best Tomato router list, give us a shout out below, and if you feel I missed a good option do let me know and I will have it published ASAP.

Remember to share and subscribe, I will see you soon with cooler tech reviews & blogs.

 

Ameer Abbas

Ameer Abbas is a senior editor and a most viewed writer on Quora in Internet Privacy, Cyber Security, VPN and Torrents. He has continued work as a privacy advocate with Best VPN Provider and is working towards becoming an established privacy & security author online. Ameer takes a keen interest in technology, geo-political affairs and international cyber laws. Ameer loves outdoor sports including cricket, swimming, athletics, and football.
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