For the last several years I’ve been running Tomato on my home router. Specifically the Toastman variant. Then maybe a year ago I upgraded my old Buffalo router to a newer Asus RT-N16, which by all accounts is the best low/mid range router you can get if you’re looking to put a different set of firmware on it. Since my router is in the basement, however, I get really bad reception. So for the wifi in my house I was still using my old Buffalo connected with ethernet from my office on the 3rd floor.
Then Paul Irish added this question to SuperUser:
Based on that, mostly out of curiosity, I used Wifi Speed Test for Android to see what type of connection I was getting. It turns out the answer was about 4 Mbps. In other words - really bad.
Then I bought two things off NewEgg:
- Another ASUS RT-N16 to use as my new wifi endpoint
- A TP-LINK TL-SG1005D gigabit switch
Why a new switch? When we bought the house I wired several rooms for ethernet. However one thing I completely overlooked was that one of the switches I was using was a 10/100. So even though my Asus router was gigabit, the offices upstairs were getting no more than 100 Mbps. Stupid mistake, but easily remedied.
Once the new Asus router came, after flashing it with the latest Tomato Toastman build, I plugged it in right where the old Buffalo router was and ran the speed test again.
Still about 4 Mbps!
At this point I wanted to make sure it wasn’t my Samsung phone that was just slow. I booted up a spare Windows 8 box and my Macbook and installed iPerf on both.
This tool continually sends files of different sizes from the client computer to the server computer over your local network. The Windows box was hard-wired in, and I had the Macbook on the wifi. It showed several at ~10 Mbps and lots of dropped packets.
Then I tried moving the router to different spots in my house - nothing.
Then I tried switching channels, switching encryption protocols, playing with the antennas - nothing worked.
What did work for me is a small setting in Toastman that allows you to have it attempt to block out interference from non-wifi signals (cordless phones, microwaves, etc). This is called Interference Mitigation and I set it to Non-WLAN. Immediately my network speed improved significantly, and I can now get 150 Mbps connections and full internet speeds on my Macbook over wifi when tested on speedtest.net.