$100-$200 router budget?

I'm stuck with what direction I want to go. I want something efficient that doesn't use too much energy.

  1. $100 OpenWRT Basic Router.

3-4 Ethernet ports, ability to run piece of cake at about 400-500mbps. Built in wifi is a plus. I don't want to run an additional switch, or external AP right off.

  1. $200 pfsense X86 Router

4 Ethernet ports, X86 processor that can handle 500-1000mbps. Similar requirements as above.

Thoughts on the direction I should go, and what routers I should be looking at? Won't have more than a few users at a time.

I was looking at the NanoPi R4S, but not enough Ethernet ports. NanoPi R5S I don't think has stable builds of OpenWRT yet, haven't been able to find SQM Cake numbers, although they'll be slower than R4S.

Without a need for an AP, a used WRT32X or 3200ACM will do this.

The NanoPi R5S CPU, while slower than the R4S, is ~50% faster than the R2S. The R2S will do around half a Gig Cake SQM, so the R5S will easily handle your Cake requirements too. Doesn't address your concern with stable builds, but time is likely to fix that soon enough.

But I think you had the right idea with a NanoPi R4S. You say you don't want an external AP right off, but why do you not want to hang an inexpensive used AP (something like a used Archer C7, or the MT7621AT based LinkSys EA6350v4) off a NanoPi R4S to add the Ethernet ports you require on what will effectively be a managed switch, and just not use the AP functionality until you need it, or replace with a higher end AP later?

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Used Sophos SG/XG-1xxx model with w appendix if you want built-in wireless on ebay. There may be newer models, I'm just not familiar with them.

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The RT3200 can do SQM but I do not know where it maxes out. It is <$100 and meets your port # critera as well as WiFi6.

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I just like simplicity. Don't want all the extra wires, power adapters, multi unit things.

Just want a simple router that can go everything I need for not a lot of dollars. The R5S would've been perfect, but I think the RT3200 looks perfect if I can figure out the sqm cake speeds.

The RT3200 is reported to shape at 500-600 Mbps with CAKE and full gig with fq_codel:
This is using irqbalance and activating packet steering and most likely software flow offload.

I agree, it sounds like the RT3200 would be about perfect for you. Probably a little more expensive than a used wrt32x or 3200acm, and definitely much larger than a NanoPi R5S. But it does what you need, and you get WiFi6 with it.


The RT3200 is for sale at $75 at walmart right now. Not bad. Looks like the way to go. Thanks!

Offload would bypass SQM to increase raw throughput but then you loose the shaping.

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Sometimes turning on software offload (not hardware offload) helps saves a few non-SQM CPU cycles that can go toward SQM. Not a lot of improvement, but maybe 5%-10% more SQM throughput is what I noticed on my ER-X when I was trying to get every last Mbps out of it.

Dell wyse 5070 extended with a J5005 scores 1206 in single thread rating. While I haven't verified it, I think it should manage sqm at 1 gbit speed.

You need a low profile nic, I use a i350 based one. Watch out for fakes. https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/comparison-intel-i350-t4-genuine-vs-fake.6917/

The cpu has a typical tdp of 10w, but it's quite old.

You should be able to fit all of these in your $200 budget

EDIT: I run openwrt

I understand the desire for consolidation of devices. However, in my experience, that is almost always the wrong move.

I suggest getting a separate router, switch and AP. Below are the devices that I use and they all run OpenWRT very well.

  • NanoPi R4S
  • Netgear GS108T
  • TP-Link Archer C7

I mean I can spend $75 and get a rt3200, that'll do SQM, have enough Ethernet ports, and will handle my wifi without a problem

Or I can do a R4S $60, buy a $20 switch, and then buy a $100 AP.

I can still add APs and switches to the RT3200, so I'm not really seeing an advantage going the messier second route.

I actually went that route with an edgerouter and unifi lite 6, and although it worked, I didn't really like having to setup the unifi stuff and also the switch stuff. Simplicity is nice sometimes, especially being in a smaller apartment.

Meanwhile I'll wait for technology to get a little faster and better and buy my end game network equipment when I have my house.

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If a single device meets you needs then it's all good!

Multiple APs from the same vendor that support wifi roaming standards can probably make a difference when multiple APs are required to get wifi coverage - but for a single AP, it's probably not worth it.

And regarding sqm. I was a bit obsessed with it until I forgot to enable it after a reinstall. Turned out, in my case, I didn't even miss it.

Get an asus rt-ax86, and run the stock firmware. If you do need sqm or want openwrt, just get a small r4s or similar.

EDIT: edgerouter x runs openwrt well. It can manage sqm up to around 150-200 Mbit. This may be interesting
2 Gbps WAN/LAN NAT Routing on ramips MT7621 devices not sure it supports sqm though

If I decide to just go all out on a X86 OpenWRT device, would the N6005 be up to the task?

1gbps SQM Cake

This is like saying whether SQM would still work after plugging the ethernet cable from one port to another. It does not grant comparability.

Traffic shaping algorithms require a great amount of processing power to shape traffic. If the CPU can only handle 150 - 200 Mbps throughput with SQM, you can't benefit this change from the linked thread anyway.

I don't understand your first comment?

And the second comment confirmed that sqm do work, but not at the rates enabled by the linked patch (which nobody claimed)

Perhaps this one https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/odroid-h3-plus ?

I don't know if it will be sufficient for gbit sqm, but probably.

More options https://www.servethehome.com/a-6x-2-5gbe-intel-pentium-n6005-fanless-opnsense-pfsense-firewall-option/

The RT3200 you are going with will be absolutely perfect for a smaller apartment. If it has a downside, it is somewhat slower long range WiFi performance due to internal antennas - no downside at all for a smaller apartment.

I used an ER-X as my gateway for years with a slower ISP plan. OpenWrt does work very well on an ER-X (better than stock in my opinion), but only with slower (~100-200 Mbps) ISP service if SQM is needed. I found the ER-X could shape ~100 Mbps with CAKE and ~200 Mbps with fq_codel (download only, and irqbalance active) - on a good day. For reasons I never got to the bottom of, fq_codel on my ER-X topped out around ~10 Mbps on upload, but higher (~20 Mbps is the fastest upload ISP service I had) with CAKE on upload (full ~20 Mbps line rate).

The MT7621AT SoC in the ER-X is inexpensive (and this is a good thing!) and it can route a full Gig with hardware offload and comfortably a bit over half a Gig with software offload - not bad at all. You have to admire the 2C/4T MT7621AT for what it can do at such low cost. But it just doesn't have the CPU speed for side projects like SQM and VPN. And if taxed with WiFi duty too (obviously not an issue for an ER-X), SQM and VPN performance will suffer accordingly.

If centrally located and with beam forming enabled (see wiki) the range is the same as my old R7800 with its 4 external antenna set on 5 GHz

I noticed the new ODROID H3 and H3+ as well... They look interesting. Don't have any specific tests to offer, but I'd guess it's safe to say that even the H3, with the N5105, should be able to handle 1gbit and SQM.

Cant find it now... but I saw an article with their H2 Net Card (x4 2.5Gb ports) attached, and all 6 2.5Gb ports being run at speed, taking something like 75% cpu. Aha, found it... https://www.cnx-software.com/2021/01/15/h2-net-card-adds-four-2-5-gbe-ports-to-odroid-h2-h2-sbcs/ And that's with the earlier, now extinct, J4115 powered H2+.

Here's an article comparing relative CPU between the H2 and H3's... a fair bump up in power, as well as price. The H3+, with all the needed parts, ends up pretty much at the high end of the budget.

We really need someone to try one out, but sounds like there might be more than enough horsepower to do 2 2.5Gb with SQM, and not choke?

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