Buying a new router this week Linksys WRT3200ACM vs Netgear R7800-100NAR

I need to buy a new router in the next week and would like to run OpenWRT/LEDE on it. From browsing the forum it looks like the WRT3200ACM and R7800 are both good candidates. I'd like to get some feedback based on my specific requirements before making my choice:

  1. I'll be buying a new router via Amazon, so if only a specific older hardware rev or version works with OpenWRT/LEDE, that would eliminate it as a choice - is that a worry with either of these models? I'm open to other suggested models but it needs to be something I can easily buy off-the-shelf.

  2. I need reliable WiFi without frequent drops or router crashes. I'm less worried about wired Ethernet or other features. Is one of these two better on that score? I've seen some posts saying the Linksys had WiFi issues in the past for some users.

  3. I'd like a relatively easy firmware install and need a GUI. I'd prefer not to compile from source and would like the firmware to already include a GUI to make things easy on me. I know there are a couple of GUIs available for OpenWRT/LEDE but apparently not all builds include a GUI(?). I really want to buy the router, install firmware, configure, and forget about it. I'm not planning on spending a lot off time playing with features or experimenting with the router itself. Other than firmware updates as needed, I don't want to mess with the router any more than necessary.

FWIW, I'm currently running an old Asus RT-N16 router with Tomato firmware. It's been great but it's time to upgrade to something newer.

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If it's in the "stable" builds section, it will have the GUI pre-installed.

The downloadable "snapshot" builds don't have a GUI installed. It is relatively straightforward to add it in, but requires command-line "bootstrapping" (a couple of commands, assuming you've got Internet connectivity).

For "community" builds, you'll have to check with whoever build the image, but generally they include the GUI.

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Having a GUI included is not the only difference between snapshots and release version of OpenWrt:

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There are currently issues flashing the WRT3200ACM with OpenWrt/LEDE due to the recent change to Winbond by Linksys.

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As R7800 user I could say that on 17.01 is rock stable. Runs several hundreds days without problems, wifi is very strong and stable. Flashing easy as a cake :wink: and even if something will go wrong, there is recovery mode, so You can't brick it without hammer (or lightning) :wink: .
In fact I use it as router, AP and mail/web/database server, all-in-one (esata port rocks :wink: but sadly without power :frowning: )
As You could see in developers threads, it's possible to use NSS (2x700MHz) cores for network offloading, so if everything goes fine this beast will be even more powerful.


Another option would be the ZyXEL NBG6817, which is basically the same hardware (4 GB eMMC flash, but no eSATA) as the r7800; you can often find it a bit cheaper than the r7800.


I believe the R7800 is far more mature in terms of stability and usability. The only problem I've had with it is latency spikes (discussed by others here: [SOLVED] Router (Netgear R7800) introduced latency spikes >100ms). It's not really been noticeable for me, but I suppose this has to do with the fact that I don't use that many latency critical apps/services.


These two options are in the $200 range, consider the possibility of

and a separate AP, perhaps:

Performance of the router will generally be SUBSTANTIALLY better with x86, and cost premium is only a few tens of dollars. You can place the AP in a better location than you usually would with the all-in-one. It's just a thought.

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In short you're asking about two different SoCs and radios.

WRT3200ACM uses a Marvell Armada 385 SoC which is less powerful than the IPQ8065 in the R7800 but not by a huge margin. I honestly doubt you'll notice a difference in the end. What you should have in mind is that Marvell SoC(s) are by quite a bit more popular in the open source community and therefore have more mature support (including upstream). While there has been quite a bit of work put into the IPQ****-platform lately it's not as mature however that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll notice the shortcomings in terms of platform support. I do know however that there has been (not sure if it's been resolved yet) issues with ethernet on the IPQ806* which you might want to look into.

In terms of radio performance it's a mixed bag, I have a few WRT3200ACMs and they all work great without any issues at all however as with everything else some are running into issues. Keep in mind that in my case I can only vouch for AP mode, WDS supposedly works too now (quite nifty in some cases but might not be something that you'll ever use) but it's not something I've tested.

ath10k which is the driver that IPQ8***-devices normally uses for radios has been around for a longer period of time compared to the mwlwifi driver however quite a bit seems to be very chipset specific meaning that some runs a lot better than others despite being the same driver. In all fairness I don't have any specific experience with QCA9984 which the R7800 or the Zyxel uses however I do have with QCA9986 which is a cut down version and I can say for sure that it performs much worse than the mwlwifi driver and crashes easily. That said, it may boil down to limited memory (it's a TP-Link C59 with 128Mb of ram) as ath10k seems to be a bit memory hungry. Neither are and/or will ever be rock solid in all kinds of environments but given the overall feedback I'd say they're equally good or bad depending on your viewpoint.

Regarding flash, you'll have a hard time pushing above 32mbyte so flash size isn't really going to be much of an issue irregardless of what you go for. I'm sure someone is going to object but you have to consider the compatibility of the hardware itself and what you're going to use it for. As a router running OpenWrt even if you add a lot of network related software you'll probably end up with an image below 16mbyte, if you want use external HDDs bump that to ~30mbyte-ish if you want both Samba4, Minidlna (ReadyDLNA) with a recent version of ffmpeg, filesystem and partition utilities. Your limiting factor is however by far the amount of RAM, 512Mb isn't huge if you start to run services and you can pretty much forget about running IDS etc on that amount which limits the selection of software and therefore also the needed amount of storage. Also, if you want to attach storage, you'd want to use eSATA instead of USB3 for sure so keep that in mind.

If you really want IDS, anti-virus scanning etc x86 is pretty much the way to go and OpenWrt might not be the best software for accomplishing that. Getting a dual setup as dlakelan suggested is most likely the best route for less headaches. However you probably want to get something newer than J1***-series CPUs but that's another story....

In short, both will probably be fine however I would personally lean towards the WRT3200ACM because it has more mature support even though it's a bit slower.

However, given that you seem to live in US/NA I'd say that you should give the Espressobin + a MT7621 wifi module a consideration as you get a very good bang for the buck ratio and quite a bit more ram too which may be worth it depending on what you want to use it for.

Keep in mind that MT7612E only supports 5Ghz so you could potentially use your old router as a simple AP for 2.4Ghz if needed at all (I don't run 2.4Ghz at all just fine). It's slower in theory (linkspeed) however the driver is pretty much open source and is being actively development so in theory that should be the best option in the long run in terms of support. Regarding overall wifi speed very few clients have more than 2 antennas so link speed is going to be below what 4x4 provides and while there are some other advantages they are more or less negligible in home user environments.

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Thanks for all the feedback so far, it's very helpful! To summarize what you've said so far:

  1. Will it run OpenWRT/LEDE on a new off-the-shelf product? R7800: yes, WRT3200ACM: no at present (used to work, will probably work again in the future, but doesn't right now)

  2. Is the WiFi reliable? R7800: Multiple yes answers with caveat of possible minor latency issue; WRT3200ACM: has more mature support but is slower and some users report a variety of WiFi issues that might or might not affect me.

  3. Can I get a GUI without extra installation effort? Yes in either case as long as I install a stable build

When I posted, I expected WRT3200ACM to be the recommendation but it looks like it's leaning toward the R7800, so I'm really glad I asked now. :slight_smile:

Some of the comments suggested my usage would make the difference. Devices that use the router include a Sony 4k tv with Netflix and Prime streaming needs, plus a variety of Android smart phone users, a couple of desktop and laptop computers mostly running Redhat Fedora GNU/Linux. It's a small house and my old Asus RT-N16 has a strong enough signal for most uses anywhere in the house but it's not quite up to the 4k streaming on the tv (I think that's more of a bandwidth limitation of the older router than a signal strength issue though).

R7800 has great coverage and I am even running it at a low power output.

Well, I worked around this issue by making some tweaks, but it requires building your own firmware. So not all is lost.

You'll most likely get an old version if you get a refurbed one which is quite cheap off Amazon if that's your concern.

Also, don't expect ath10k to be better because it does have issues aswell. Android and iOS devices are the most troublesome ones in terms of clients and "odd" behavior in general. As far as the TV goes 4k is probably a bit of a stretch if you want to use wifi irregardless of router.

That said, neither does really work that well with a current stable release and you also seem to have some weird irq issue on the R7800 (seems to be specific to that device?).

In an ideal world yes, but on a performance per dollar perspective, the J1800/J1900 is still going to give you better results than any of the off the shelf all-in-one routers.

The espressobin + AP is a definite possibility and cheaper than x86, as long as you're talking say 200mbps or lower you can probably do traffic shaping no problem on one of those, probably even higher speeds.

I just wanted to chip in my two cents:

I'm running a (old version) WRT3200ACM here without any problems. It runs super stable, current uptime is 82 days. Wifi is stable and doesn't give me any issues. Its performance is good enough to connect a nfs filesystem. Right now, my router causes zero maintenance (maybe I should do an update at least for security reasons, but everything works so nicely at the moment).

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A good resource for researching routers is SmallNetBuilder...

Good for wireless performance, but remember that very often hardware NAT, network, and/or crypto acceleration isn't available in 3rd-party firmware, so the "router throughput" numbers are often not consistent with non-vendor firmware.

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My vote gos for the wrt3200acm. I have one and run about 20 devices of it's wifi and it runs fine. I do run a snapshot tho with the latest wifi drivers, which are not in the 17.1.4 build. My kids do a lot of gaming to and pings are good. Sqm runs grate on a 200 meg connection. BTW because the 3200acm says that you can use openwrt on the box if you flash it and you don't like it then you can just send it back to were ever you get it from with out flashing back to stok.

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In my case there're 8 devices with Android 4.2 to 7.1 and there are no issues in gaming or streaming (Netflix on XBOX also playing well on wifi). Maybe it's a luck, but problems were on my old TP-Link WDR3600 (lagging, disconnecting etc.).

So, based on the advice here, I picked up the Netgear R7800. Found a factory refurb on Amazon for a good price. Need to figure out the installation process for OpenWRT/LEDE now. Based on past experiences with Tomato on my ASUS, I understand the general idea, download the image, put it on flash drive, and then do some kind of reboot on the router. The ASUS was easy because the reboot/firmware load link was right in the factory firmware. I'm not seeing anything so obvious on the Netgear and I can't seem to find the specific instructions for the R7800 anywhere. I found this page where I was able to download the firmware image:

And the page has the hopeful text "Searching for installation instructions, bootlogs, other info? See link to Device Page below" - unfortunately, there is no Device Page listed that I can see. :slight_smile: Anyone have the link, or if the process is easy enough, just drop the steps into a reply maybe.

Should be able to flash through the stock R7800 GUI.