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OpenWRT vs dd-wrt vs tomato- Which is the Best Router Firmware?

You can remarkably improve the performance of your Wi-Fi router by having effective third-party firmware. Often, the two most common custom router firmware include OpenWrt vs DD-WRT vs tomato. 

But there is also Tomato which is also effective, especially in enhancing the functionality of advanced features. 

Our article explores the fundamental features of OpenWRT vs dd-wrt vs tomato

What’s a Custom Firmware for Wi-Fi Routers?

Modern wi-fi router on a table

Figure 1: Modern wi-fi router on a table

They are a collection of programs with various customization options that enhance home network management and internet access. Also, the programs are similar to the original firmware preinstalled by the wireless router manufacturer.

But, third-party firmware comes with additional features that include: 

  • An improved user interface
  • Allowing parental control options/ real-time monitoring
  • Enabling internet connectivity and access via using a password
  • Facilitating bandwidth management
  • Boost the Wi-Fi signal 
  • Enable the installation of a Virtual Public Network (VPN)

Nonetheless, you must be wary that using a third-party firmware option may void the manufacturer’s warranty. Besides, it is capable of breaking down your router. 

As such, you need to use custom firmware options only when you have either of the following two scenarios;

  1. First, use it only if you encounter a technical hitch in which the wireless router has an issue that the factory firmware cannot handle. 
  2. Alternatively, use it if your original firmware version lacks the features you want.

DD-WRT vs Tomato vs OpenWRT

An Internet router in working mode

Figure 2: An Internet router in working mode

We’ll explore the respective features of each of the three 3rd party firmware options then you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

DD-WRT

The DresDren Wireless Router firmware is a Linux-based firmware that is the most popular open-source router firmware. No wonder most Wi-Fi router manufacturers have it preinstalled in their devices. 

Its primary selling points include the firmware’s extra features, such as compatibility with most Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) routers. Besides, it’s also compatible with an extensive range of embedded systems. 

Pros of DD-WRT

Its key upsides are as follows: 

  1. First, the open source firmware is compatible with most routers, including those with WLAN  and 802.11a/b/g/n. 
  2. Also, the program allows VPN integration while guaranteeing support for various hotspot systems. 
  3. DD-WRT firmware is easy to use, thanks to the support offered on DD-WRT forums. 
  4. Besides, it offers additional software features and facilitates elaborate customization. 
  5. In addition, it supports built-in OpenVPN and has Quality of Service (QoS) support that is easy to access. 

Cons of DD-WRT router firmware 

  1. The type of firmware features a complicated/non-user-friendly interface which may pose problems to some users. 
  2. It also doesn’t guarantee uniformity of common features across different routers.  Thus, modern routers may have more or lesser features than older ones. 

OpenWrt

Figure 3: Wireless router in isometric style illustration. 

The Open Wireless Router is also based on the Linux open-source system. Also, it’s the oldest router firmware project and arguably the best of the free versions of firmware. In addition, the contemporary OpenWRT combines the features of the LEDE firmware and the conventional version of OpenWRT. 

Thanks to its lack of non-free binary blobs, it’s the perfect firmware compared to DD-WRT. Binary blobs cause a computer system to perform some operations without the user’s know-how secretly. 

Prons of OpenWRT

  1. It features a built-in VPN and also guarantees QoS support. 
  2. Secondly, it offers an extensive range of customization options. 
  3. Also, it supports a wide range of hardware and has more router firmware options than DD-WRT.

Cons of OpenWRT

  1. It is not user-friendly and thus may pose a problem to first-time users. 
  2. Also, it supports relatively fewer routers than other firmware. 
  3. Thirdly, the program takes quite some time to launch.  

Tomato

Wireless router in isometric style illustration.

Figure 4: 3d modern wireless wi-fi black router with four antennas

If you’re dissatisfied with DD-WRT or OpenWrt, Tomato is the handy alternative. It’s a direct and no-nonsense firmware with a more improved user-friendly interface than the options above. 

Besides, the classic tomato firmware offers you the best means of improving your router’s speed. 

Pros of Tomato 

  1. Advanced Tomato facilitates real-time network monitoring faster than the other two options. 
  2. Secondly, it has a limited footprint compared to DD- Or OpenWRT. 
  3. Besides, its modern interface has an improved interface that is better than OpenWRT and DD-WRT. 
  4. In addition, it supports WakeOnLan and an Open virtual private network. 

Cons of Tomato

  1. Its router support is quite limited as compared to other firmware. 
  2. Also, It doesn’t receive constant and regular updates owing to its limited community of users.

Openwrt vs DD-WRT vs Tomato – Which One to Choose?

A Wireless Router on a wooden table

Figure 5: A Wireless Router on a wooden table

When choosing between the three firmware, consider the following properties: 

User Interface

Of the three, Tomato has the best user-friendly interface, followed by DD-WRT, and OpenWRT comes last. Therefore, given a choice of the three firmware, you should settle for Tomato or DD-WRT. 

Updates

The OpenWRT is the oldest firmware of the three. Thus, it is also the firmware that receives the most security updates, and you can expect it to have more constant updates than any rest. 

Hence, the winner regarding the frequency of the updates is OpenWRT. 

Setup

DD-WRT is easier to set up than OpenWRT, which is more suited to advanced users. However, when we introduce Tomato to the fold, it’s arguably the easiest to set up of the three. 

Compatibility

OpenWRT is compatible with any kind of router, meaning it’s the most powerful choice in firmware compatibility lists. DD-WRT is also compatible with a handful of routers but not a huge list like the OpenWRT. Lastly, Tomato comes last in terms of the compatibility rankings. 

Quality of service Support

Both OpenWRT and DD-WRT rank similarly in terms of quality of service support.

However, the Tomato firmware is not only compatible with a small list of routers but also lacks sufficient QoS support. Primarily, this is because of its relatively smaller community of users compared to other firmware. 

VPN Configuration

VPN configuration on DD-WRT is a breeze, but so is Tomato. Therefore, the two are excellent choices if your cardinal concern is the feasibility of VPN configuration. OpenWRT ranks last on this parameter.  

Conclusion

Above, we’ve explained the respective properties of each of the firmware. Thus, you’re enlightened as you choose the best firmware for your device. Also, talk to us if you have any queries. 

Hommer Zhao
Hi, I am Hommer, the founder of WellPCB. So far, we have more than 4,000 customers worldwide. If you have any questions, you can feel free to contact me. I really appreciate any help you can provide.

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