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The Test - Separate Up and Downlink

I next ran each firmware in downlink and uplink only. Figure 5 shows a download throughput comparison of the three firmwares and Figure 6 the upload.

Linksys WRT54GL download throughput comparison
Click to enlarge image

Figure 5: Linksys WRT54GL download throughput comparison

The good news is that Tomato appears to improve up and downlink throughput by around 14%. But remember that Tomato didn't fix the battle between up and downlink when both are running.

On the other hand, while DD-WRT makes simultaneous up and downlink play nice, it appears to do it at the expense of throughput, with a reduction of about 34% in both directions.

Linksys WRT54GL upload throughput comparison
Click to enlarge image

Figure 6: Linksys WRT54GL upload throughput comparison

The Test - Maximum Simultaneous Connections

The last test I ran was the maximum simultaneous connection check. Unfortunately, I have little good news to report. Figure 7 shows the test run with factory firmware. I was able to get only 48 maximum connections to run, and that took the maximum of three tries that the test allows.

Note the high variation in throughput in Figure 7, which, along with the high variance in completed timing records (file transfers), indicates unequal bandwidth sharing among the sessions.

Maximum simultaneous connection test - Linksys 4.30.12 firmware
Click to enlarge image

Figure 7: Maximum simultaneous connection test - Linksys 4.30.12 firmware

Figure 8 shows the DD-WRT results. You see much lower variation among the sessions, which indicates good bandwidth allocation. But this better behavior didn't significantly boost the maximum number of sessions, which increased to only 60 maximum simultaneous connections.

Maximum simultaneous connection test - DD-WRT v23sp2 firmware
Click to enlarge image

Figure 8: Maximum simultaneous connection test - DD-WRT v23sp2 firmware

Finally, Figure 9 shows the Tomato results, which have a high variation that doesn't bode well for a high maximum connection number. In fact, I was able to get only 16 maximum connections to run, and that, only after multiple unsuccessful tries.

Maximum simultaneous connection test - Tomato 1.19 firmware
Click to enlarge image

Figure 9: Maximum simultaneous connection test - Tomato 1.19 firmware

Conclusion

In case you haven't been keeping score, I've pulled the results into Table 1.

Firmware Simultaneous Up/Dn Throughput
(Mbps)
Dn Throughput
(Mbps)
Up Throughput
(Mbps)
Max. Simultaneous Connections
Linksys 4.30.12 28.2 50.2 47.2
48
DD-WRT v23sp2 31.0 31.6 30.4 60
Tomato 1.19 19.1 57.4 53.7 16
Winner DD-WRT Tomato Tomato DD-WRT
Table 1: Test result summary

The bottom line is that while both DD-WRT and Tomato improve the WRT54GL's routing performance, neither one improves performance in all four of the tests performed. But if I had to choose, I would load up DD-WRT if I were having routing problems.

While it only provides a modest improvement in maximum simultaneous connections, the fact that it seems to keep sessions from battling one another should make for more stable routing performance.

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