DD-WRT vs pfSense

Coby McKinley Profile image

Written by:

Updated August 10, 2022

If you’re shopping for the best router, you may wonder what network security you want, such as whether you’ll want DD-WRT vs pfSense. While most modern home routers come with preinstalled router software, some users want advanced features only found in open-source firewall software. You’ll typically find this in the leading OpenWRT routers. In addition to the typical settings and features of standard options, custom advanced firmware adds extra layers to stump router hackers.


  • DD-WRT is a software-based custom router firmware that enhances your firewall and the control of your network.
  • PfSense is a custom router firmware that utilizes a hardware-based firewall that you build yourself.
  • PfSense is more expensive due to higher hardware costs, but it can handle more tasks and features than DD-WRT.

So, deciding between DD-WRT and pfSense won’t maximize your wireless connections, but your connected devices will be much safer. However, you can decide between OpenWRT or MikroTik, if you choose. But, read on for all the details and differences between these router platforms.

Is pfSense or DD-WRT the Best Choice for a Custom Router

If you decide between DD-WRT and pfSense, you’ll need to understand the difference between a client router and a client bridge. Either a custom router setup is a compelling option for advanced users looking to manage an extensive network and go beyond basic settings.

Insider Tip

If you want a DD-WRT-compatible device, you can find a list of routers recommended by the community.

The main difference between pfSense and DD-WRT is the hardware necessary for each setup. Most consumer routers can use DD-WRT as long as your device is compatible. In contrast, you’ll need a dedicated pfSense box and an additional router for wireless internet. That said, neither choice in firewall devices requires a complicated network setup, even if you have a dozen devices on your internet connection.

If you’re considering a single-band vs. dual-band Wi-Fi extender, you still have the option to use pfSense, DD-WRT, or the default router firmware.

Network Security

DD-WRT and pfSense are excellent choices for your home or office network security. While standard routers utilize built-in firmware, DD-WRT and pfSense give users more control over their network activity. In addition, you can set up a captive portal for guests to log into and even create a VPN. Lastly, you can install 3rd-party applications to add live network logging and network-wide ad-blocking with either option you choose.

Feature Set

One of the main advantages of pfSense is the number of plugins you can add to your networking setup. The pfSense development community regularly adds and refines features to make your network more efficient. That said, DD-WRT is a good option, and many people like the ability to use cheap hardware to get similar results to a pfSense system.

Cheap Option

Do not use cheap home hardware and expect a pfSense system to excel. For a solid pfSense setup, you want suitable hardware with a quad-core CPU, network cards, and enough RAM to handle live firewall logs. In addition, you’ll need additional routers as access points if you want Wi-Fi. DD-WRT is not as versatile, but it is cheaper if you already have old networking equipment.


Do not overload your pfSense with too many additional packages. Your internet speed will suffer if your hardware platform cannot handle the load.


Is the DD-WRT project dead?

The DD-WRT project is still maintained by the original creator and other active developers. The updates are not as frequent as in the beginning because pfSense and other firmware support a larger community for developers and hobbyists.

Is it possible to set up a router to be a VPN server?

It is possible to set up a standard router as a VPN. That said, it will need plenty of hardware to support the demands of networking, 3rd-party packages, and storing data.

Do I need DD-WRT for VPN?

Unless your default router firmware supports VPN for your connected devices, you will need a custom firmware. The custom firmware allows for 3rd-party applications like advanced parental control, VPN services, and set up a captive portal.

STAT: According to a 2021 report from the Pew Research Center, 79% of suburban Americans have broadband internet service. (source)

Coby McKinley Profile image