DD-WRT made its debut in 2005 and, immediately, made a huge splash. The open-source router firmware is Linux-based and enduringly popular. Why? Well, it'll let you set up a VPN directly on your router. This is pretty handy, especially if you have a lot of devices you want to protect or gadgets that don't have corresponding VPN apps.
DD-WRT is also a great pick for folks who want to get more out of their hardware - in terms of performance and versatility. Built with not-quite-so-technical users in mind, DD-WRT supports a wide range of devices, making it an increasingly popular choice among the denizens of the net.
The easiest way to achieve all this is to buy a pre-configured VPN router. However, you can install DD-WRT on any compatible router yourself and save a huge chunk of money. But that begs the question: which VPN service should you pick?
Along with the rest of the TechRadar team, I'm constantly putting the best VPNs to the test, comparing their speeds, security features, and pricing. We use these services all the time in our everyday lives, too, so you know you're getting real reviews from experienced users. So, with that in mind, let's dive into my shortlist of the 5 best router VPNs.
The three best VPNs in 2024
Need a quick answer? No problem. Here are my top 3 router VPNs today:
1. ExpressVPN - the #1 best router VPN
ExpressVPN - our favorite VPN overall as well - comes with a range of preconfigured VPN routers, clear tutorials and its very own VPN-built router Aircove. Delivering great privacy and unblocking skills as well, it comes with a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee and three months extra free.
3. NordVPN - super secure router VPN
NordVPN holds a fantastic reputation - and for good reason. It offers some extra security perks compared to its competitors, while delivering reliable connections and great streaming unblocking. The provider even offers a selection of preconfigured VPN routers, so no need to sweat!
Best router VPNs of 2024
Why you can trust TechRadar
Check out how my shortlisted services compare, as I dive into their security features and recent test results, and discuss everything I liked and didn't like about each router VPN.
The best VPN overall
Best all-round router VPN
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | IP addresses: 30,000 | Maximum devices supported: 5
ExpressVPN offers a range of preconfigured VPN routers, but also has a very detailed and clear tutorial for when it comes to setting up on your DD-WRT router. The provider has even launched its very own VPN-built router ExpressVPN Aircove recently. The first of its kind to be powered by Wi-Fi 6 technology, it delivers fast and secure connections while eliminating long and daunting configurations.
Aircove makes, in fact, connecting to the VPN and protecting all the devices in your home an easy task. There’s also an option to select which devices you want to connect through the VPN connection, and which ones through the ‘regular’ internet, so you can pick and choose while using the same router.
A really interesting feature is MediaStreamer, which allows you to unblock Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services from devices that don’t support the VPN, without needing to direct traffic through a VPN tunnel. Should you run into trouble during the process, ExpressVPN also boasts some impressive technical support including live chat with a response promised within minutes ‘day or night’.
In performance terms, this VPN is pretty good overall, with consistent speeds over both short and longer distances. Server coverage is also impressive with over 2000 servers across 148 locations in 94 countries, and you get P2P support. There is no logging of traffic data or your online activity.
It’s safe to say ExpressVPN costs more than most VPNs, but not by much. There is no free trial to test either, but all plans are covered by a 100% money-back guarantee for the first 30 days. Of all the plans, the 1-year subscription is the most reasonable option. The packages available are:
The best value router VPN
Best router VPN for balance of performance and price
Number of servers: 1,300+ | Server locations: 75 | IP addresses: 40,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 10
You can buy a router with IPVanish’s VPN pre-installed on it or manually set up on your existing router. The provider has a great knowledgebase detailing the router setup procedure, and there are over a dozen manufacturers supported.
In terms of performance, this VPN actually improved our download speeds, particularly on short hops compared to rivals. And on the security front, IPVanish supports OpenVPN and PPTP for DD-WRT firmware, along with 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryption. The company makes it clear that there's no logging of your internet activity, too.
The pricing page is the only fly in the ointment here. The official prices are a tad more expensive than your average VPN, with no option of a free trial to test things out. However, whichever subscription plan you pick, there’s a 7-day money-back guarantee, so that provides something of a safety net if you’re somehow not satisfied with it.
As ever, the annual plan is the best value for money, and with our TechRadar Pro special offer, it’s considerably cheaper than it normally would be. The packages available are:
The best of the rest
Most secure router VPN
Number of servers: 5,600+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6
The good news here is that there are tutorials which explain how to connect your DD-WRT firmware-toting router to NordVPN using the L2TP and PPTP protocols, as well as via OpenVPN. The provider also offers a selection of preconfigured VPN routers if you want to take the easy (and pricey) way out.
Performance-wise, Nord more than delivers with above-average speeds, even on long-distance connections. On the security front, NordVPN has a few nifty tricks up its sleeve including CyberSec for blocking ads, suspicious websites and malware, DoubleVPN for encrypting internet traffic twice, and Onion over VPN for a private browsing experience.
On top of that, the provider maintains a ‘no logs’ policy, which is obviously good news. NordVPN has a three-day trial, although rather oddly the company doesn't advertise it on the front page of its site (find it here). This is a welcome option for testing as the monthly billing is quite expensive. The highly affordable limited 3-year plan offers the best money-for-value. The packages available are: