Router Research Help Needed

Hi everybody

Ok, I have a feeling that this is an old question, so please don’t troll me to death here, I am new to this site.

I have been trying to do research on routers, seems like a no brainer, but the info I am finding is contradicting and at times vague. So with that said, I am trying to weigh the Pros and Cons of Building vs. Buying a router. With that said, what would be the ups and downs of either option, and what would best suit my needs? My needs being a Router that would have solid internet connection performance, and also would offer the best network map connection, as in let’s say I am Game Streaming from my gaming PC to my SteamOS box.

If building a router would be the better option, which I think may be the answer I will get, What hardware and OS should I use to give me the functionality I need.

What I would need from my router is solid data throughput with little to no slowdown when at full load. That would have built in Load Balancing for network usage and internet usage, That it can even take multiple internet connections and assign them load sets, as well as being able to do Wifi A, B, G, N, and AC.

As for the OS I was thinking of pfSense, but if there would be a better option, please let me know.

If you need more info from me, please ask.

Thanks for your time.

Firstly bear in mind that PfSense is a router software and that's about it. When building a custom router you are only building a router.

These pre-built all in one devices are much better in terms of setup. A store bought thing (as I assume you mentioned wireless you are looking at all in things) are routers, switches and wireless AP all at the same time (or if you have DSL then sometimes also a modem). They are cheap, easy to setup and good for the general consumer.

However there draw backs... hmmm well.. their price forces them into using cheaper and not that fast an embedded processor, which again for general users is fine. They do buckle under heavy loads and not potentially hitting their maximum potential. They are also heavily limited in terms of software functionality and capability (as I shall explain in a bit)

Custom built routers are much faster as you can go overkill with the hardware. They are not as easy to setup, although pfsense's setup wizard will get you going. As they are a router you shall also require other devices such as a switch and a wireless access point. A switch because you will be limited physically to how many ports you can build into a custom router. An wireless access point because wireless is VERY limited within pfsense.

Pfsense is great if you which to run caching servers, live antivirus and firewalls, QOS blah blah blah... etc Which are things rarely seen on routers.

However if you are experiencing issues (as you mention with in home streaming) and you are using LAN not WLAN, you could just get a dedicated gigabit switch and see if that aids.

To really wrap it all up, with a custom router you will end up with dedicated and separate devices for all of your network (which is great when it comes to upgrading say just the wireless).

Ok with that said, what Router OS should I go with, if I want to have a unit that can do web caching, wifi A, B, G, N, and AC, and VPN; as well as Live AV and Firewall, and network Load Balancing on the internet and the Switch end?

As well what Hardware and Software would you recommend for me to use in this build?

As I have never put wireless into an actual custom built router, I do not know which OS's actually play nice with it. Your other requirements are commonly found across the board.

network Load Balancing on the internet and the Switch end?

Do you mean preventing a user over saturating the link? or literal load balancing of two WAN connections? or link aggregation and distributing load between two links on the LAN?

PfSense is most probs your best bet as it has quite good documentation and is relatively easy to work with.

As for hardware, most of the time you can get away with using an older PC. However if you plan on using live AV make sure your using something a little beefier to aid that (I'd recommend staying away from single core stuff) and if you are planning on using caching make sure your disk solution is something of speed (at least as fast or faster than you download) otherwise cached content will take longer to be delivered to the requesting computer.


What I mean by load balancing on both ends is all that you listed.

"Do you mean preventing a user over saturating the link? or literal load balancing of two WAN connections? or link aggregation and distributing load between two links on the LAN?"

I am looking to do all of this so that my online gaming and my network usage, as well as network streaming does not cause obscured levels of lag or delay. I am looking to keep everything as fast and stably responsive as can be.

That would be QoS and Packet prioritisation not load balancing. Yes pfsense does this.

I am also looking to do Load Balancing on top of all this though so as to keep a stable overhead of bandwidth availability for my Internet connection, using multiple internet access point, meaning multiple modems.

Yes Pfsense does this also.

Then my last question is how do I setup pfSense to use a 802.11 AC Network card at full AC signal and bandwidth, or do I need an external AP?

You require an external AP, pfsense is very poor with doing anything with wireless cards and even then I believe it still doesn't have support N cards.

What External AP would you recommend than?