Best "newcomer routers" - 2024

TL;DR: Recommended routers are in the next message.

I am looking for a router that I can recommend to people who want to try OpenWrt. They hear us say, "OpenWrt is the greatest. Just install it!" They are intrigued, but not yet convinced. They want an inexpensive, no-hassle, can't fail device for their first foray into Open Source software. Critical characteristics below. (NB These have been somewhat edited from the original criteria, but retain the same spirit.)

  1. Supports official STABLE OpenWrt 23.05.x. No snapshot builds
  2. Clear one-step installation instructions, without warnings, in the Table of Hardware. Provide link to Device Page
  3. Mass market device with case, power supply, and "standard" network connections: a WAN port, one or more LAN ports, Wi-Fi. No assembly required
  4. Price point below US$100 or equivalent in your currency. It must be available today (Amazon, eBay, etc.) not promised at some indeterminate date. Provide link to source
  5. Able to handle 300mbps with SQM enabled. Provide link to citation or personal experience

A perfect entry would say something like this:

I have installed OpenWrt on a FooBar 123 router. It works fine after I installed the OpenWrt 23.05.x "factory firmware". I use it to connect to my 350/50mbps ISP connection, and the SQM is set to 325/45 with good results. I got it for $45 from Amazon/eBay. You can see the Table of Hardware entry at:

I am looking for personal recommendations, not a debate. See also the considerations below. Posts that get off-topic or that are significantly different from the criteria above will be removed.

Many thanks!

Other considerations:

  • A clear one-step installation procedure in the Table of Hardware page without any warnings at the top is essential. If the ToH entry isn't clean and definitive, the router is not suitable for newcomers.
  • Devices with lower specs are acceptable. For example TP-Link Archer C7 and Netgear WNDR3800 can't handle 300mbps with SQM. But they are reliable, inexpensive devices that are rock solid with OpenWrt. It's OK to recommend them if you mention the speeds you've achieved with SQM enabled.
  • Please don't recommend devices like:
    • Linksys E8450/Belkin RT3200 - This is a wonderful router, but has a confusing "pre-installer"
    • Xiaomi A4 - has a zillion warnings on the ToH
    • Raspberry Pi - only one Ethernet port; much assembly required...
    • Expensive routers that are significantly more than the $100 threshold
  • Please don't recommend lots of additional packages. The target audience simply wants to see if OpenWrt works at all, how much work it is to install, and how much it interrupts their life (or their family's life).

After considerable discussion, a couple winners seem to be coming to the fore. They're not as cheap as I originally had hoped, but that's life.

The following routers meet (or are close to) the criteria, and links to their recommendations:

Honorable mentions: These seem to be good routers, but don't meet all the criteria for newcomers:

  • Netgear WAX206 - Looks easy to flash; similar power as Linksys E8450; may be available under US$100 on eBay
  • Cudy WR3000 - Two-step install process is confusing for newcomers; reported to max out at 360-380Mbps with SQM; under $60 and otherwise looks interesting
  • TP-Link AX23 - £53.99 on Amazon UK, likely can only support SQM at 100Mbps; nice link to the Device Page instructions - Thanks @hecatae for the recommendation
  • Linksys E8450/Belkin RT3200 - lots of power, highly-regarded, but has a confusing two-step install process for newcomers. No longer recommended for newcomers. This topic describes difficulties with flashing/recovering/bricking

If you know of other routers that meet (or almost meet) all five criteria in the original post, please add a new post describing the device. If you want to argue with the criteria, please start a new topic.

Thanks for all the good information!


One last note: Why am I being so strict on these rules? You may not remember your first experience with OpenWrt, but I was terrified that I would brick the router, or that it wouldn't work, or that I wouldn't be able to configure it. I only had one router (back in the day when routers were expensive), and it was serving my whole family...

So... I'm looking for a cheap device (well under $US100) that a technically inclined person could, as a lark, install OpenWrt to see if it's as good as we say... If it works, they'll leave it in place. If not, they can back out and put the router back on eBay


I received a lot of comments (some relevant), but since they didn't contain a recommendation for a router that met all the criteria, I removed them. But let me respond to some of those comments here:

This question is moot - just encourage people to ask in the Forum...

I am asking in the forum. And the responses that came in only provided a couple recommendations that meet the criteria, with lots that didn't meet the requirements. I've been working on OpenWrt/LEDE/CeroWrt for over a decade. It took me several hours to verify the various claims: how could a newcomer make sense of the information?

It is essential to include easy recovery from a failed firmware install.

I intentionally did not include that as a criterion. If we can't be 100% certain that newcomers can install a stable (official) version of the firmware on a supported router - first time, every time - then this is a clear sign that the firmware / router combination is not suitable for newcomers.

There are lots of Wi-Fi standards for different countries...

Yes. Please recommend any router that you can personally assure works fine and meets the criteria.

But what about expandability, or the future?

The target audience for these recommendations is a person who just uses their ISP's modem, and wonders why their network stinks out loud. They never imagined that their router even has software, or firmware, or anything that could be changed. (It just seems to be magic, and poorly-functioning magic at that.)

We are introducing a new concept: that a "normal person" can take control of their network to make things better, more secure, etc. And it doesn't require them to purchase a shiny (more expensive) new router or higher speed internet. In our heart of hearts, we know that OpenWrt will work great.

But... newcomers only want to spend a little time and a few bucks to make the initial experiment. The solution we suggest has to be relatively cheap, and work absolutely correctly the first time.

Furthermore, these people are likely to be running whatever crappy insecure firmware the router came with when they bought it years ago. At least if they're running 23.05.x, we know it's quite secure out of the box.

For the same reason, they mostly don't know about Wifi5, Wifi6, Wifi7, etc. They won't notice if the initial OpenWrt install doesn't have those buzzwords. I have softened requirement, since most of the recommended routers support at least Wifi6.

Once they see that it works, they''ll be "sucked into the OpenWrt ecosystem" and any questions they ask will be way more easily answered.

Finally, PM me with questions on these criteria, or why I included a device or not. But please don't post about any new devices that don't meet all the criteria. Thanks again for the attention to this important question.


The results so far are disappointing... I was hoping that the broad knowledge of the OpenWrt community could identify several router models that could provide a great introduction for newcomers.

Lots of recommendations came in. I know many of those devices are terrific, but only two of them meet all the criteria - they're listed here.

Model For Newcomers... ToH link
Netgear R7800 ~$129 on Amazon; $50-100 on eBay ToH
Netgear XR500 ~$129 on Amazon, $50-100 on eBay Same as R7800

Many responses were for devices that don't meet one or more of the criteria. (See the original post...) Those posts have been removed because they are off-topic.

Model Reason to reject
WAX206 Price above $100 ($197)
GL-MT300 (Mango) Only one Ethernet port
Archer C6 Has warnings in the Table of Hardware (ToH)
Dynalink DL-WRX36 Warnings in ToH, complicated installation
Mercusys MR90X Difficult install
Linksys E8450 or Belkin RT3200 Complicated installation (special installer)
GL-MT6000 Price above $100 ($159); also requires SNAPSHOT
Asus AX4200 Two-step (but simple) install; Price above $100?
GL-MT3000 Good installation; $109 on Amazon; no SQM information
Zyxel WSM20 Slightly tricky install: requires two installers

My question: Is it true that we don't have any other sub-$100 routers that will "just work" with OpenWrt? To repeat the characteristics: (NB These have been somewhat edited from the original criteria, but retain the same spirit.)

  1. Supports official STABLE OpenWrt 23.05.x. No snapshot builds
  2. Clear installation instructions without warnings in the Table of Hardware. Provide link to Device Page
  3. Mass market device with case, power supply, and "standard" network connections: a WAN port, one or more LAN ports, Wi-Fi. No assembly required
  4. Price point below US$100 or equivalent in your currency. It must be available today (Amazon, eBay, etc.) not promised at some indeterminate date. Provide link to source
  5. Able to handle 300mbps with SQM enabled. Provide link to citation or personal experience

If you know of a router not listed here (or if I misunderstood your earlier response), please post information about a router that hits the important points (#1-6 above). Thanks.


Not in my opinion,
Not one that wont leave them wanting in just a couple years and your 2 picks don't meet your own criteria unless used.

Got 2 dishonorable mentions from you, now it needs counseling.

I answered this more fully in my update to an earlier message, but the short answer is that we can provide an alternative to the marketing blitz that says, "Not fast enough? Just shovel a few hundred more dollars to your current router vendor." All we need to do is provide comparable/better performance to their current network to prove our point.

Good, easy to flash, cheap and fast wifi5 routers are quickly disappearing from the market (e.g. the r7800 is no longer in production, the higher priced (QoS for gamers)/ newer (but hardware-side basically identical) xr500 seems to have just left production as well). For the most part, the devices meeting your sqm performance requirements have been replaced by their wifi6 successors - because there is no commercial market for high-end wifi5 devices (and their prices) anymore; wifi6 has entered the low-cost market and wifi7 has its foot on the doorstep. Even the first generation of wifi6 devices (e.g. mt7622bv+mt7915) is getting replaced by the (cost- and feature) optimized second wave (e.g. filogic 820/ 830). What you end up with, are either cheap low-end devices (e.g. mt7621a+mt7915DBDC) which have no chance of meeting your performance requirements - or devices that are simply too new for your 23.05.2 support requirement (and yes, also exceed your price cap and often the ease-of-flashing one as well).

Why are contemporary devices often harder to flash? Basically for three reasons:

  • they may be too new for someone to have figured out the details of the OEM upgrade process
  • regulatory bodies on both sides of the Atlantic are insisting on the regdom being hard-locked - and the easiest way to ensure that, is by locking down the whole firmware (including signed firmwares and secure boot)
  • vendors are expected to foot the bill for failed 3rd party firmware installations and have to deal with fraudulent RMA attempts (see just the last 24h for such a case, of someone force-flashing the wrong firmware of another device to their unsupported router, but expecting a warranty replacement from the seller/ vendor nevertheless)

Thanks all, for the reasoned responses to my request. Apparently, this is a much more difficult question than I expected.

@elbertmai brings up the reason for my request. As a member of the Bufferbloat team, I respond frequently on various boards about the cause of intermittent high latency/lag [recent example.] I give some broad advice, and generally throw in "Oh, or maybe get an OpenWrt router..." My hope and expectation has been that there would be plenty of routers that would suffice to run SQM at modest speeds.

So I posted this request to find routers that could serve people who sincerely hope that OpenWrt can solve their lag problems, but who don't want to invest much time or money into the problem (because they're only intrigued, and not convinced that it'll work.)

My conclusions from all your considered comments:

  • There are no slam-dunk devices out there that we can blithely recommend

  • I used to recommend the IQrouter. At $139, it was a bit pricier than my requirement. But I knew for certain that it was easy to set up, would work up to 300mbps, and had commercial support. But Evenroute has gone out of business.

  • Many older devices (R7800, XR500, Archer C7) can support SQM, perhaps at lower speeds

  • The situation is not going to get any better as vendors lock down the hardware

  • This situation stinks - I'm going to keep looking for a better recommendation for people who are complaining about bad latency

Now that you know more about my reasoning, I'm still open to hearing about other devices that fit these requirements. Thanks again.


Btw., the most you may expect from the r7800/ xr500 with sqm/cake would be around 180 MBit/s, less if PPPoE or similar things are involved.

The GL.Inet GL-MT6000 is probably most promising (I have no personal experiences with it, GL.Inet or filogic 820/ 830 in general though), but it's obviously outside of your price range.

The OpenWrt One should come close as well (claiming to meet all of your strict requirements, aside from not being available yet), but the 1+1 ethernet ports are a deterrence for many normal users (including myself, I've made the experience that less than 1+3 or better 1+4 ports on the router does severely limit my options).

Things like the NanoPi r2s/ r4s or a four-port x86_64 system (e.g. alderlake-n/ n100) solve the sqm/cake vs performance issue easily, but obviously lack the wireless capabilites (but maybe the existing/ old router (with its OEM firmware) can be used as dumb-AP, in the worst case in a double-NAT setup).

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While I would still recommend both Netgear R7800 or XR500 as well supported stable OpenWrt routers, ath10k and ARMv7 are not the latest technology anymore. 802.11ac WiFi 5 should be enough for most needs today, but you will at the same time not benefit from 11ax WiFi 6 capabilities like BSS coloring to reduce interference in overlapping channel scenarios.

ath10k devices for over 100 USD would be too expensive for me if you could get 11ax devices for the same price.

GL-MT3000 could be seen as mid end small form factor 2x2 WiFi successor with dual core ARMv8 SoC. GL-MT6000 MT7986 quad core could be the higher end successor. GL-MT6000 is already supported by current 23.05-Snapshot images and will be included in the next 23.05 stable release.

Or get the 11ax predecessors with MT7622 and MT7915: Linksys E8450 or Netgear WAX206.

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@richb-hanover-priv GL-MT3000

  1. Supports official STABLE OpenWrt 23.05.x.

  1. Clear installation instructions without warnings in the Table of Hardware.

  1. Mass market device with:
  • case: yes
  • power supply: USB-C wall wart with universal US+EU+UK plug
  • WAN port: 1
  • LAN ports: 1
  • Wi-Fi: WiFi 6 on 2.4 and 5 GHz
  • No assembly required: yes
  1. Price point below US$100 or equivalent in your currency. It must be available today (Amazon, eBay, etc.) not promised at some indeterminate date.

5-8 days:
US: $78.90
EU: €103,90

No specific availability stated:
Global store:

12 days:
Amazon US: $109.80

2 days:
Amazon DE: $119.73

  1. Able to handle 300mbps with SQM enabled. Provide link to citation or personal experience

Reading the ToH states

There are some models, which have broken NANDs. when flashing the Kernel, some (mostly one) blocks are skipped. As a result, the start of the root-partition (called “ubi” in this model) comes later.
Result: Bootloop of the device

So this doesn't exactly sound like "easy installation" to me. The only way to resolve this in a user-friendly way would be to have a dedicated installer just like for the Belkin RT3200/Linksys E8450 (which was disqualified for that reason). Hence, as the situation with those two Netgear devices is worse they should be disqualified as well then.

And it's a pretty outdated device, Wi-Fi 4/5 only.


I bet MT7981 is able to shape even more with fq_codel/simple.tos

300 Mbps is for cake.

I have ample experience with R7800/XR500 bad blocks are very rarely seen on R7800 but early batches of the XR500 were affected in a small but noticeable number.
So to be honest I would not buy a second hand XR500, but I would buy an R7800 if the price is right.
True it is a bit long in the tooth but the NSS build prolongs its usefulness although that is not an official build so does not qualify :frowning:
It is still my main/family router but might be replaced by a GL-MT6000 if the kinks are ironed out.

I also have a DL-WRX36 (as Dumb-AP) very cheap and very powerful, I needed not more than 20 minutes to setup OpenWrt on it but indeed you need to carefully follow the procedure so perhaps not for the average user who does not know the difference between WAN and LAN.

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There are many interesting recommendations listed here, but none meet all the criteria. I'm changing my approach. If you recommend a router, please copy/paste the criteria from the original post, provide the requested links, and indicate any criteria that it doesn't meet, along with any reasons it might not matter. Thanks

Copy/Paste the criteria from the original post and add in your information


GL-MT3000 is getting very close to the EUR 100 bar:


@richb-hanover-priv Updated GL-MT3000 post: Best "newcomer router" - 2024 - #42 by qunvureze


WOW! That GL-MT3000 entry is terrific. Thank you!


I just want to say grate thread. I am still on my r7800 and have bin looking for a good simple to flash AP to replace it. I could not find a good router so went with a x86 box. To get a new comer to try out OpenWrt is a hard sell at the moment. I never know what router to point them to.

For two reasons:

  • we're seeing very many of those requests ("but it's OpenWrt underneath") every day, detracting from supporting genuine OpenWrt issues
    • really, it's not once every fortnight, it's well over half a dozen times per day, every day
    • most of the time, the user won't even acknowledge the fact, but only (has to) admits after half a dozen of posts into the thread
  • It's Not OpenWrt At All.
    • most of the time (~always) we're talking about a semi-proprietary butchered up and old kernel, with proprietary == non-mac80211 drivers, that means we're talking about a very different way to configure them (which implies rather significant changes to netifd and hostapd) and nothing remotely similar to real OpenWrt.
    • pretty much every OEM wants their own pretty webinterface, most of them transplant something very different into it, combined with their own (often 'nvram based') configuration system, as a result you end up with a very, very convoluted system of which some aspects are (still) controlled by uci configs, some by some weird vendor dæmon, some with configuration files, etc.
    • all of these OEM firmwares are using older OpenWrt versions as their base, versions that are long EOL for vanilla OpenWrt
    • quite often we're talking about SOCs and devices that have no vanilla OpenWrt support at all, so there is no experience to base advice on
    • at the end of it, you might have helped the individual user with their problem, but your findings usually do nothing for OpenWrt at all (as nothing of that applies)
    • we really don't know what the OEM has done, which of the aspects above differ - even finding that out takes significant effort (if they even provide sources in the first place), this is not the place for that
    • the vendor is selling their stuff and profitting from it, it's their job to do their own user support