Although routers are manufactured and shipped with a set CPU clock speed, this frequency can be increased without overheating the device. This process is known as overclocking, and it's a popular way to boost a router's performance at little cost. Overclocking a router to its maximum safe frequency can increase speed by as much as 25 percent.

Benefits

There are multiple advantages to overclocking your router, including quicker responses from websites and speedier downloads. Overclocking also offers lower latency, or lag time; this benefit is a boon to online gamers. The risks associated with the process are fairly low, and users don't need any advanced technical knowledge to accomplish the task. Done correctly, overclocking a router is an effective and low-cost way to get better performance from a relatively inexpensive device.

Upgrade Firmware

The first step in the overclocking process involves installing third-party firmware. One of the best-known products in this category is DD-WRT, a free Linux-based product compatible with more than 200 different devices. Other firmware alternatives include OpenWRT, Tomato and Gargoyle. These products are generally free or low-cost and provide your router with functionality and improved performance not normally found in a consumer-grade device. Before installing, consult the website of the firmware's manufacturer to make sure your specific router is supported.

Prepare the Router

In order to overclock your router, you'll first have to enable SSH access on it. On most routers, this setting can be changed by logging in to the device and using the administration interface. In addition to making sure SSH is enabled, you'll also have the ability to create an SSH password. Once SSH is set up, you'll need to download a program to let your access your router using SSH. A popular free program for Windows users is PuTTY; Mac and Linux users can use the built-in Terminal applications on their computers.

Overclocking Commands

To complete the overclocking process, you'll have to use either PuTTY or Terminal to connect to your router. You'll need to enter the IP address of their router and make sure you select “SSH” as the connection type. When prompted for a username and password, use “root” and the password you created when you enabled SSH access on your router. Once you're logged in, type the following commands; in this example, the clock frequency is being set to 240 MHz:

nvram set clkfreq=240 nvram commit reboot

After the router reboots, the CPU clock frequency will be set to 240 and an increase in speed should be perceptible.

Considerations

If instructions are followed correctly, overclocking your router should cause no harm to the device. The maximum safe speed is generally agreed to be 250 MHz; sticking to that clock speed will reduce your chances of problems. However, even minor errors in the overclocking process can cause your router to be “bricked,” or permanently damaged. Before making any modifications to your device, keep in mind that doing so is likely to void your router's warranty.