Quick Review of DD-WRT "Kong Mod" Firmware for NETGEAR R8000 Nighthawk

Let me begin by saying we have some great developers working on NETGEAR firmware releases. I've been using Kong's and shibby's DD-WRT and Tomato builds for years on various NETGEAR models, and all have been fantastic. The latest flavor I've been using has been Kong's DD-WRT build for the NETGEAR R8000 Nighthawk, and I wanted to share my experience with it over the past few months.


Kong's builds have a distinct advantage in that they are very easy to install, and this build for the R8000 is no exception. Simply restore your r8000 to factory settings, use the .CHK file included in the archive to update the router, then perform another factory reset. That's all you have to do to get DD-WRT up and running on your r8000 with this build!


This build comes packed with all the extra goodies you'd expect from DD-WRT:

  • Advanced routing settings
  • IPv6
  • DDNS
  • USB
  • NAS
  • Hotspot
  • VPN
  • SIP
  • Privoxy
  • Lighttpd
  • VPN Passthrough
  • NAT/QoS
  • And more...

AC Specific Features

This build for the r8000 looks a little different than other builds, due to the three radios in the r8000 and the AC band. Users can customize each of the three bands and even enable/disable implicit and explicit beamforming,

VPN Support

One of the most important features to me in any open firmware build is the ability to use a personal VPN service such as PrivateInternetAccess. The DD-WRT Kong Mod build for the r8000 does equally as good of a job as shibby's Tomato builds. I've encountered some firmware builds in the past that have had issues with VPN providers, namely with retaining a connection (this is well documented in our forums) but I am happy to say that this build has none of those problems. With proper setup, I'm enjoying a consistent VPN connection at all times, unless the rare instance of the VPN servers themsleves going down takes place.


This is all anecdotal, of course, but I'm seeing incredible speeds from this router. My wired speeds are roughly the same as NETGEAR stock firmware or other open firmware builds, but the biggest difference is the speed when OpenVPN is enabled. I'm seeing speeds -- on 5 GHz wireless -- of over 30 Mbps (on a 60 Mbps connection). This is almost double what I have seen with other routers when running OpenVPN, such as the WNR3500L for example.


Given the potent mix of stability, reliability, features, and VPN support, I give this firmware build a solid two thumbs up, and a must try for any r8000 owner looking to come over to the open source side of things!


Download DD-WRT for NETGEAR R8000

Menne.0201's picture
is the language german on

is the language german on this mod ? 

tal69's picture



Thanks for your Article.  I think the potential for the r8000 is awesome.  However, it would seem that the main driver (Kong) to bringing DD-WRT to the r8000 has never received an r8000 to incentivize his future work on this device.  How can we get him several of these units to work on and prioritize his work for this device?

I have been using the Kong modded firmware for a couple of months and there are still some things needing some attention.  Hopefully someone here on these forums or someone from NetGear will find a way to get some r8000 hardware to Kong, and keep the devolopment efforts on this device going.

Do you have any inside track with NetGear?  I don't and unfortunately am also without unlimited funds.


The potential for DD-WRT on r8000 is awesome but I have experienced several issues:


1.  r8000 stays up for several days but eventually just dies unexpectedly.  Switch still works and WiFi SSIDS broadcast but unable to connect to WiFi and unable to get to management GUI interface.

2.  In GUI management interface second 5Ghz radio configuration is not able to change any of the settings.  

3.  VLAN inconsistencies for WAN port when device is set as AP (resolution use 1 of 4 LAN ports), but this could be fixed.


If there is anything you could do or write up to garner support it could only serve to help.  I would certainly be appreciative from a user perspective.

mikejakel's picture
can anyone confirm if this

can anyone confirm if this build allows dhcp reservation?  ive tried both ddwrt and kong mods before but neither would allow dhcp reservation. The spot was there but wouldnt allow me actually add them. 

cytan's picture
The only reason I brought the

The only reason I brought the r8000 was DD-WRT

appxp's picture
Great work.I will try it on

Great work.I will try it on my r8000.thanks.

h3ndr1anto's picture
Is it possible to use other

Is it possible to use other server than privateinternet access such like hidemyass ?


thefrog's picture
Will this build work on the

Will this build work on the R7900?

josiah's picture
I am curious if anyone has

I am curious if anyone has tried this build on a R7900?

mcauduro's picture
Hello, I need some help.

Hello, I need some help.

I flashed the DDWRT firmware, but I want to revert to stock to perfom some tests.

Anyone knows if I can use the netgear ZIP file or shall I decompress and use the CHK ?

I'm doing some tests and at the moment the last build of Kong is doing very well...

toested's picture
Can you revert back to stock

Can you revert back to stock firmware pretty easily, if needed?

thefrog's picture
Does the R8000 build work on

Does the r8000 build work on the R7900? Anyone???? Please help!

PbLarry's picture
In case no one has tried the

In case no one has tried the R7900 yet, I'm about to try it on a new one. It should work. the only difference is a missing USB 2.0 port. Memory, processors annd other hardware appear to be the same (at least on the netgear site)

chrispx46's picture
I reverted back to stock

I reverted back to stock firmware after installing DD-WRT firmware for Netgear r8000 based on revision 28514 and uploaded 12-28-2015 by unzipping the .chk file first without any problems. I can't imagine this firmware version would be any different. Tomorrow I'll probably try Kong's latest release.

codezero's picture
Have you tried Kongs new

Have you tried Kongs new version that was posted? is it any better than the 28514?

ZenInsight's picture
I need vlan tagging and

I need vlan tagging and multiple subnets (at least 2) plus an ssh server.  Do I want DDWRT or Tomato for the r8000? And does this cause any issues with the multi ghz wifi device sorting (keeps slower devices on different connection as to not affect faster devices).

spikerdog's picture
I also have a Nighthawk 7900.

I also have a Nighthawk 7900.  The difference is the R7900 doesn't have the USB 2.0 port the r8000 has, and the 2.4 Ghz range is slightly slower.  Will this build work on the Nighthawk 7900?

bijloosm's picture
Dear all,

Dear all,


I have a Night Hawk r8000. I originally installed the Tathagata build v3_0-r28514 std 12_28_15, last year. While I was able to configure this build to run all three antennas of the night hawk with good stability and function, this build could not run OPEN VPN with my Express VPN account and this is essential for me in China.

I recently switched to the most recent Kong build from August 2016, v3.0-r30350M kongac (08/04/16) as per a friend's recommendations. This works very well with Express VPN configurations for OPEN VPN. Really good VPN stability. However, when I try to activate the 5 GHz antenna, the 2.4 GHz antenna no longer works. And there is no controls/interface present to configure the third antenna (5GHz). I only have a wl0 and wl1 to control the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz respectively. So unfortnately, in order to be able to have OPEN VPN, I presently run the 2.4 GHz only.

This seems to be a huge waste of the Night Hawk's capabilities. In addition, because I have no control over the 3rd antenna, I have no idea what it could potentially do. Could it inadvertently be available as an unprotected wifi connection for neighbours and surrounding envionment to leech on since I can't password protect it? Since I live in China, and have had my fair share of internet frustrations with slow internet speeds, internet bandwidth pirating is formost on my mind and I am worried about this third antenna just being left uncontrolled by this build. Perhaps I have blundered in the installation. I have performed a complete mapping and analysis of my network (using Who's on my wifi software for Mac) on the two antennas that the Kong build provides controls for and nothing unusual there. But the third antenna worries me.

The bottom line is that if I want control over the three antenna's, I need to sacrifice the OPEN VPN. Running the Kong build for OPEN VPN functionality sacrifices the two high speed antenna's.

Any suggestions out there on how I could resolve the antenna functionality issues while still maintaining the OPEN VPN?


Best regards,


gizbug's picture
Does KONG support CTF ?

Does KONG support CTF ?

dc3hawaii's picture
will this work for R7900

will this work for R7900 router? the 7900 is also an X6 Router

nkyadav's picture
No,  You'll need to find the

No,  You'll need to find the one for that router.

miasea90's picture
Is there any update on

Is there any update on whether this works on the r7900?

fmiranda's picture
The problem with dd-wrt Kong

The problem with dd-wrt Kong is that it does not support CTF - that said if you have a Gigabit Internet ISP you will be stuck with speeds up to 400Mbps. I read that Tomato does support CTF and it will make your r8000 achieve ~940Mbps