The Best Tomato Routers for VPN Use

It is rare these days to find a powerful home networking device with stunning original firmware. Most of these home devices have been dumbed down to appeal to mass markets of users that don’t give a second thought to their online privacy. On the other hand, there is a large group of people who have had enough of the government spying on them and are tired of hearing about ISPs and other online entities abusing their power and eavesdropping on communications. For these types of people, the default firmware just doesn’t cut it.

If you fall into this category, you may want to consider using the Tomato firmware as an alternative replacement to your manufacturer’s default firmware. But to do that you need to know the best routers for Tomato. The following are some considerations regarding Tomato that you will want to keep in mind as well as information about the best routers for the Tomato firmware.

Preloaded Tomato Routers

You don’t actually have to install the Tomato firmware on your own if you don’t want to. One provider, Flash Routers, will even sell products that have already been flashed using Tomato. Not only do they give you a 3 month hardware warranty, but they will also give you support for the same amount of time. If you have any trouble configuring your new Tomato router in that time-frame, they will be able to help you out remotely. If you’re a money-conscious individual, just know that you can even save money with Flash Routers by purchasing models that have been refurbished.

Understanding Tomato Requirements

Not every router is capable of running the Tomato software, though. Unfortunately, your router needs to have the Broadcom chipset in order to flash it to Tomato, which makes it less versatile than DD-WRT. The routers that we have selected as the top Tomato routers don’t include all of the possible options at your disposal, but if you are purchasing a router with the Tomato firmware in mind, these will be your top choices. Also, consider that there is no single “best router” for Tomato. As they say, there are different strokes for different folks and these routers appeal to different users’ needs. But we did take performance metrics and router features into account when building this list.

The Asus RT-AC66U

The RT-AC66U has earned a place in the list thanks to its amazingly fast speeds and the fact that it supports 802.11AC – or just “wireless AC” for short, which is the leading Wi-Fi standard. It offers fantastic hardware, speed, and performance, and it also has the right chipset to support Tomato and DD-WRT. One of the great things about the Asus routers is that they usually provide more than adequate flash memory storage, so you won’t have to worry about a firmware upgrade being too large for your router’s memory.

Features and Specs:

  • 1750 Mbps aggregate maximum wireless speed potential (blazing fast!) – AC-1900 Mbps also available.
  • 600 MHz CPU
  • 3 external antennas that can be positioned
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 128 MB flash memory
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports

The only drawback to this model and the N66U is their processing power, which could impact performance if you have heavy network demands. This model is one of the most popular Asus models for good reason, and it has the capability of running DD-WRT as well.

ac66uac66u-backio

Features and Specs:

  • 1750 Mbps aggregate maximum wireless speed potential (blazing fast!) – AC-1900 Mbps also available.
  • 600 MHz CPU
  • 3 external antennas that can be positioned
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 128 MB flash memory
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports

Amazon: $142.84

FlashRouters: $299.95

Amazon-Buy-Buttonflashrouters

The Asus RT-N66U – Read Full Review

This model is the older brother of the AC66U, but it is a little cheaper due to the fact that it doesn’t support the latest Wi-Fi standard. Online you can find it for as low as $179 for unused hardware. Although this is smaller than the RT-N66U, it also has a 600 MHz processor, 256/128 of RAM/Flash and up to 1750 Mbps Wireless-N Dual Band. Pretty much all the features are the same (including 3 powerful external antennas and 2 USB 2.0), except that the N66U doesn’t support the latest AC standard, although this wouldn’t be a major issue for most users. If you don’t have an 802.11AC wireless card in your computers, you won’t notice any significant difference in the performance.

Asus2RT-N66U-Back

Features and Specs

  • N900 router with 900Mbps wireless throughput
  • 600 MHz CPU
  • 3 external antennas that can be positioned
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 128 MB flash memory
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports

As you can see, the biggest difference between the two models is the wireless standards they support. Again, you won’t notice any significant performance increases for single users between this model and its older brother (the AC66U) if you don’t have an 802.11AC wireless card in your computers.

Amazon: $108.52

FlashRouters: $249.95

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The Netgear Nighthawk R7000

This model costs about as much as the Asus RT-N66U at $249.99 on store shelves, and both FlashRouters and RouterSource offer pre-configured Tomato models. And this model is one of the most powerful Tomato-capable routers out there. It’s got an extremely fast processor to ensure that you don’t suffer any processing delay from VPN encryption overhead and it has a vast amount of flash memory like the previous two models. If that weren’t enough, it has an extremely high maximum wireless throughput, so you won’t have to worry about other connected wireless clients bogging down your Internet speeds. It also improves upon the last two devices because it offers a USB 3.0 port instead of only 2.0 ports – which would help speed up file transfers to NAS devices that use USB 3.0.

r7000_01r7000_02

Features and Specs:

  • Wireless AC (802.11AC) with 1900 Mbps max throughput
  • 1000 MHz (1 GHz) CPU
  • 3 external antennas that can be positioned
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 128 MB flash memory
  • 1 USB 3.0 & 1 USB 2.0

Right now the only drawback to using this router with Tomato is that you will need to manually flash the firmware yourself. If you really wanted to, you could buy a service from Flash Routers and they will have a tech perform the operation for you remotely and give you a year of tech support as well.

Amazon: $189.99

FlashRouters: $349.95

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The Asus RT-N16

Because Asus uses the right Broadcom chipsets in many of their devices and because they offer quality products, it only makes sense that another Asus router would make the list. Although its price has gone up, it offers greater functionality. This router has a powerful CPU that can support speeds of up to 300Mbps. It supports all-in-1 printer server and FTP files sharing. The RT-N16 has a sleek design and it supports operating frequency of 2.4 GHz and it has an interface of 5 Gigabit ports: (1 x WAN / 4 x LAN). This is an incredibly fast router that facilitates downloads using the Revolutionary Download Master.

Features and Specs:

  • Maximum 300 Mbps wireless throughput with Wireless-N
  • 480 MHz CPU
  • 3 antennas
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 32 MB flash
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports

Yet another reason this router made the list is because of its popularity. Within the consumer space, this router offers great value regarding the performance you get for your money. The real drawback is its inability to support 802.11AC, but if you have older devices, again, that fact isn’t relevant anyway.

Amazon: $73.30

FlashRouters: $179.95

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The Linksys E1200

While this router has been discontinued, it is still possible to find units online for an incredibly low price. The E1200 is light it is the cheapest Tomato router that you can get an even Flashrouters is still offering support for it. That means that if you don’t want to flash the router on your own, you can request Flashrouters to do it for you. Be warned, though. While this is a great router for its price, it lacks the advanced features that the other routers on this list provide. However, it will still provide wireless-N capabilities, ensuring that single hosts with wireless-N won’t become bottlenecked. However, it only has a maximum wireless throughput of 300 Mbps.

Features and Specs:

  • The cheapest Tomato-capable router on the list
  • 300 Mbps maximum wireless throughput
  • Wireless-N and previous standards
  • 300 MHz CPU
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 8 MB flash memory

Really this model excels at providing you with the absolute basics while still providing a decent wireless speed without breaking the bank. You will be limited to the total number of active wireless hosts you can connect, and your maximum throughput will suffer due to the 300 Mbps theoretical maximum data rate. To be honest, it’s a cheap barebones system, but it made the list because you shouldn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for a router that is capable of running Tomato.

Amazon: $44.96

FlashRouters: $89.95

Amazon-Buy-Buttonflashrouters

NETGEAR (R8000-100NAS) Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router

Netgear brings another top quality router that provides fantastic WiFi speeds that will allow you to stream without interruptions. It works with Amazon Alexa so you can manage it with voice commands. The router has six antennas that offer high performance and its powerful amplifiers will ensure that your entire home is covered. The Nighthawk X6 AC3200 is a powerful router that features a 1GHz dual-core processor and three offload processors. You can expect impressive performance overall thanks to the fact that the latest WiFi technology (IEEE 802.11ac) is available. You can get combined wireless speeds of up to 3200 Mbps. It should be noted that the most recent firmware of this model makes things slightly more difficult when you try to flash Tomato. However, it is is still a great option to try.
  • 3200 Mbps aggregate maximum wireless speed potential
  • 1.0GHz Dual Core Processor with 3 Offload Processors
  • 6 high-end antennas

Amazon: $240

FlashRouters: $249.95

Amazon-Buy-Buttonflashrouters

Why Upgrade to Tomato?

You’ll find that most of the default manufacturer firmware is inadequate for advanced purposes on most routers. The fact is that most OEM firmware lacks advanced features that will provide you with the security that has become crucial in our technology-dependent world. By upgrading to Tomato, you can get all of these features for free and run software at the same level as business-class solutions. Tomato offers many features, but some of the most useful include the following:

  • Quality of Service Features: Allows you to give certain traffic priority over other types of traffic and reserve bandwidth for certain applications.
  • Network Storage: Allows you to plug NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices into your router’s USB port to give everyone on your network a place to backup, store, and share their files.
  • Wireless Features: Though it is dependent on hardware, there are features that will allow you to boost the range of your wireless network.
  • VPN Features: Allows you to make your router the endpoint for your VPN connection, so everyone who connects to your network can enjoy the added security benefits of anonymity and encryption.
  • Printer Sharing Features: Helps you share printers with all of the hosts that connect to your network.

Options for Using Tomato Software

To take advantage of the Tomato software, you need to have a router capable of running the software and you also need the actual firmware. You have a few options to go about putting that firmware on your router. Firstly, you could choose to perform he upgrade yourself. This will give you the option to select different versions of Tomato and try them out on your own. Other options include:

  • Purchase one directly from the manufacturer and request that they install the Tomato software.
  • Purchase a router that already has the Tomato software on it like Flash Routers provides.

VPN Caveats on Tomato

One of the best features about the Tomato firmware is the ability to open up your VPN connections to all users and devices on your network. You’ll find that all of the different versions of Tomato will support PPTP, but there is one problem. PPTP isn’t the most secure VPN technology, and for that reason it is much safer to take advantage of OpenVPN. Fortunately, all of the leading VPN providers will offer guides that show their users how to configure their service to work with a Tomato router, but again, many of these guides only work with PPTP.

Tomato’s Competition

As a consumer, you are blessed because there are several firmware producers that are competing for your attention, and they provide their firmware free of charge. Though Tomato is some truly fantastic software – especially when compared with the poor excuses for firmware the manufacturers create – it isn’t as widely supported as its competition. While Tomato does have its merits, it isn’t as popular as DD-WRT because it doesn’t support as many different devices.

However, if you select the right model of router, Tomato will help you transform your home networking device into a business-class router that will drastically enhance your security. Because of Tomato’s ease of use and the guides that VPN services create, it is one of the simplest ways to unblock websites, provide strong encryption, and create anonymity for every user on your entire network.

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