Best Router For Virgin Media
If your Virgin Media internet has become unreliable it could be the Virgin Media Hub. What is the best router for Virgin media to replace it?
6260 Is The Magic Number
Do Virgin provide the best router for Virgin Media’s own service? No, they don’t – so which is the best?
So, this article is based on my own experience. It may be that yours differs. I am a Virgin fibre customer and I’ve had really good service for the past year. That is to say, I’ve had no outages and never had to call their customer service team.
That was, until I renewed my contract for another 18 months. Then it all went to pot. My internet connection became ridiculously unreliable, dropping every couple of days. YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime were just unusable at times because it kept dropping out.
Turns out, it was actually the Virgin Media Hub 3 that was playing up. And there’s a way to fix it – though it will require you to buy a new router. It’s WELL worth it because I’ve had NO issues since using the new router, and I get a lot more features. Their own equipment is literally not the best router for Virgin Media.
So, Which Is The Best Router For Virgin Media?
Well, I can only tell you the router I’m using. And it’s not the heap of crap that Virgin give you.
However, you cannot just replace the VM Hub 3 with a new router. You will still need the VM Hub, but you place it into a different mode, so that all it does is act as a modem. As a modem the VM hub is rock solid. As a router, it’s pants.
What Is A Modem?
What am I talking about? It doesn’t matter too much if you don’t understand what I’m on about but I will explain briefly so you know I’m not leading you astray 🙂
Your connection from your house to Virgin Media goes across either a long piece of copper wire, or a long piece of fibre optic cable. In order to do that, you need a piece of equipment that will send the very specific signals that Virgin Media’s language across that wire or fibre.
It’s not wireless or ethernet, it’s a specific language / tune. The VM Hub 3.0 speaks that language and very few (if any) routers can do it. None will have the physical cable adapter on the back even. So, you still need the VM Hub. If the VM Hub itself is completely broken (ie, no lights on it at all) you’ll still need to contact Virgin for a replacement.
In my experience the R6260 is an excellent wireless router to use with Virgin Media. I switched mine out in November and it’s not skipped a beat since. Not once.
The WiFi is considerably stronger throughout my house. I get great speed on the 802.11ac WiFi from one end of my house to the other. No more stuttering on the Amazon FireTV. No more dropouts.
You can use the standard Netgear firmware to do this – though I switched to OpenWrt which gives me a lot more flexibility including letting me update one of my own domain names to let me access my computers from outside on the internet. (I run a Minecraft server for example). You can’t do that with the default Netgear but you can with OpenWrt.
If you switch the Virgin Media Hub 3 to Modem Mode you will then need to plug your Netgear router in to it using an Ethernet cable. You can ONLY connect your Netgear R6260 into the Virgin Media Hub when it’s in modem mode. If you try to plug any other Ethernet cables into the Hub it’ll get confused and likely break.
Fortunately, the R6260 will come with a nice yellow Ethernet cable. It’s not massively long but it’ll probably do. I actually moved my Netgear router into a bit of a better place within the house so I need a much longer cable.
Make sure you plug the yellow cable into the WAN port on the Netgear. You can plug the other end into any Ethernet port on the back of the VM Hub.
If you’re using the standard Netgear firmware you can download the Netgear Nighthawk app for your mobile phone (it’s available for Android and iPhone) which makes it really very easy to set up.
The R6260 is a really great price for a 866Mbps Wifi router and is available from Amazon here. To get the speed and reliability on Virgin (and not have to call their Tech Support lines again) the additional small cost for the R6260 has been completely worth it just for the stress reduction factor.
My Netgear R6260 running Openwrt
Attached below is a screenshot of my Netgear R6260 running Openwrt – which I would recommend. If you would like some assistance getting Openwrt on your Netgear R6260 please drop me a comment below. I can write a full article just about that if there’s people that would benefit from it.
Have a look at that Uptime – and Load Average… The router hasn’t been rebooted for over 30 days (and nor has the Virgin hub running in modem mode) and is still solid. And the Load Average is 0.03. That basically means the router is bored. It’s got so much more horsepower available than it’s currently using.
And yet, it’s currently streaming a YouTube video to my Amazon FireStick, as well as running the WiFi for the rest of the house and is connected to a server machine which is constantly talking to the internet. And if I run a speed test it’ll max out the broadband’s 100Mbps without even breaking a sweat.
Can’t rate the R6260 high enough, it’s been the best money (and it’s not even that much) that I’ve ever spent for my network.
Update for August 2021
I’ve now been using OpenWRT on this router for nearly 9 months. It’s still not skipped a beat, at all. And I’ve added a bunch of stuff to it that there’s absolutely no way I could’ve done with the Virgin router – such as using ZeroTier to link two disconnected LANs together so I can see all machines on both LANs from either location. Try that with a standard router and you’ll be disappointed.
Also, since I first wrote this article, OpenWRT has included the R6260 in the standard compatible devices list for the upcoming 21.02 release of their firmware – which makes installing and updating the R6260 even easier and trouble free. It honestly is the best possible router you can find for Virgin Media. I’ll go into more details into what I do with this router in another post later on.
Steve , Hi I recently removed my ea9500 Linksys router as my DL speed dropped to 21 meg – had virgin round ,they replaced the hub , cabling and did some work on the outside box . The hub I put back in router mode and the dl improved to 210 – normal speed . Re flashed the Linksys and put it back on the virgin hub but speeds were still awful . I am now on the basic hub3 – thats ok because I have a mesh wifi setup at home . So now to the nitty gritty , the file transfer speed is horrendous. 0.5 meg across the lan – whereas I used to get 15 – 25 meg with ease through hot plugs – Really sorry for the longwinded verbose text BTW So my question is – how’s your file transfer with this netgear router and have you experienced any slow down from router mode to modem mode .
Cheers Steve , look forward to your reply
I’ve not had any noticeable slow down through the Netgear, although I’ve not done any quantitative tests to be fair. I do throw some fairly reasonable sized files around occasionally as I run a ProxMox homelab file server for media and I’m not sure 0.5megabits would be enough to watch some of the movies I have stored on that!
I’m assuming by “hot-plugs” you mean those that plug in to the mains and make a LAN using your existing 240V electrical ring? I’ve known some of these have significant performance issues if they cross circuit breakers (ie, if they go from downstairs to upstairs and they’re separate ring mains). But if it worked previously and nothing’s changed on your mains circuits it’s possibly not those.
My Netgear is connected directly by Gigabit Ethernet to the ProxMox server, and to various clients via 5Ghz wi-fi. The Netgear which runs OpenWrt doesn’t seem to suffer any problems at all. It runs a bunch of stuff, including an iSCSI target to the USB3 port and barely breaks a sweat. It’s a fairly low-end router but runs everything I throw at it with relative ease. It’s got a 4 core processor in it too.
I’ve not used the Hub3 in router mode for probably a year now and wouldn’t want to go back. The Netgear with OpenWrt is too flexible and powerful.
For the moderator. Can someone help a confused silver surfer? You may have seen my earlier comments. Is it possible for someone to contact me via email? I can then supply my mobile number if allowed. I am becoming increasingly confused on switching my hub3 to the R6260. One site says the opposite to yours, connect in the router mode & do not switch to modem only. See what I mean. Stay safe & well all. Cheers Ken.
Unfortunately I can’t offer consulting via e-mail, it would be very difficult for me to diagnose without being there as I couldn’t see what’s actually going on. However, there’s a couple of things to bear in mind, depending on your usage.
You /can/ use the R6260 with the Hub3 in router mode still, but you gain none of the benefits really since you’re still relying then on Virgin’s dodgy old firmware to do a layer of routing for you. Also, if anyone on your network plays any online games, you’re going to experience what’s called ‘double NAT’ problems. You get headaches doing it in router mode, with none of the benefit.
If you put your VM Hub into modem mode, the ONLY ethernet cable that must be plugged in must be the cable which goes to your R6260’s WAN (I think it’s blue, I’m not near mine at the moment) port. You connect the Hive to 1 of the R6260 LAN ports (yellow). You will need to configure the R6260 to use a dynamic IP address from the ISP. Page 20 of the R6260 user manual available at https://www.downloads.netgear.com/files/GDC/R6260/R6260_UM_EN.pdf#page=20&zoom=100,86,610 will tell you to do that correctly.
You do not want any of the PPPoE settings – you want the DHCP settings. I’d advise setting the DNS settings to be manually assigned and use 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11 instead of getting them dynamically (since they’ll then be Virgin’s crappy DNS too).
Hope that helps but do leave another comment if you get stuck after that.
All the best,
P.S. I know it’s a headache, but even using the stock Netgear firmware as you are, the results are very likely to be worth it. The VM Hub 3 is rubbish, though it is still one of the better routers available from most ISPs. I still don’t understand why they supply substandard routers and wonder why people’s broadband acts up though.
Hi Steve. Can you help please. I am trying to set up my R6260 with my Hub3 (following your instructions above) when the hub is in Modem mode. When I plug in the new router I lose internet connection. The light on the hub goes red. Where am I going wrong?
Hi. Hope this is ok to ask. Have been trying to set up my Netgear R6260 but I am meeting issues. From the Hub3 we also run our central heating Hive. If I move this to the new router it all drops & I lose signal. Any ideas? Thank you.
I also use Hive on my setup – but if you switch your VMHub to modem mode you will lose the use of the Ethernet ports in the VMHub (as well as the WiFi of course). You will need to plugin the Hive hub into your Netgear instead. But it does rely of course on your Netgear being setup correctly first. I’ll address that bit in my next answer 🙂
Can you share how you get it to run OpenWrt? Thanks
I’ve just done a new entry which covers other ISPs as well, but included getting OpenWRT on the R6260 and configuring it. You can see that at Fix Slow Broadband When Uploading Photos / Videos. EE, Vodafone, Virgin, Sky Do NOT Want You To Know This
Give me a yell if anything is unclear in there, I’ve written it from my experience but it’s possible I’ve missed something!
All the best,
Great feedback, I’m currently experiencing some cut out issues. Ringing VM gets me know where.
I’ve been considering using my up as a modem for some time but didn’t really know enough about other routers to really push through with a purchase.
This has made my mind up.
Great article thanks.
Thanks for the feedback and your kind words!
I’m still using the Netgear R6260 with the VM in hub mode and haven’t looked back. It’s properly supported in OpenWrt 21.02 (although they’re still in release candidate stage, but it’s more stable than the snapshot builds). Best thing I ever did.
Thanks again and all the best,
Very good feedback based on personal experience but will this mean I can still use my Virgin Media landline (which uses VoIP technology) with my Hub 4 in modem mode?
This is a good question and unfortunately at the moment I don’t have an answer. I’ll see what I can find out though! My initial reaction is that I suspect you should be able to because the VOIP side of things would be handled as a separate ‘channel’ since there’s nothing in the router settings to do with the VOIP. I’ll try plugging a phone into my hub and see if it works, although I’m on a Hub 3, not 4.
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