Cheapest OpenVPN setup, WiFi not needed

I want to setup a simple VPN client box that will sit between my router and cable modem. I don't need Wi-Fi. I can't quite seem to source a really cheap router (less than $20?) that will do the trick, mostly because of the need for a slightly larger flash size (8 MB min, I think). Can anyone make a recommendation? Buying through Amazon Prime or from my local Micro Center (which often has really cheap stuff) would be ideal. Thanks!

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For VPN usage you really do want something with a bit more CPU power than 20 bucks will give you (at least twice that, if you're comfortable with ordering from china directly and the customs hassle, taxation fun and shipping times that entails).

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SLH, thanks for the advice. I know that CPU power is crucial here. O maybe there are some devices with a hardware crypto engine?

Let's say I were able to go up one price point, to say, sub $50. Any ideas?

What are the critical specs, i.e. just how fast should the CPU be? Are the major CPU architectures (Atheros, Broadcom, MediatTek, etc.) comparable at the same speeds? i.e. Is a 500 MHz Atheros about the same a 500 MHz Broadcom?

About how much RAM would I need?

Thanks again!

You are roughly an order on magnitude below the price point of hardware with crypto acceleration. But if you are happy with speeds like 10Mbps in the VPN tunnel you have lots of options including RPi under $50.

The low-end Atheros and Broadcom and MediaTek chips will all have a similar CPU core section, a single core MIPS machine. These are good for about 10 Mbps VPN speed. If that is acceptable you have quite a few choices. A VPN client doesn't use tons of RAM, there are people building custom builds to run VPN on 4/32 devices. I keep a couple of Netgear WNDR3400s around for wired purposes. This model has unsupported wifi chips but it does have 8/64 memory.

The cheapest route to high performance is a retired x86 (Core 2 etc) desktop with an extra network card. It's a good way to learn LEDE and run just about any application. The downside is that they are physically bulky and guzzle electricity.

You can consider Raspberry Pi, for example. Not really very cheap, but not very expensive either. You will need to use USB-to-RJ45 dongles, but the benefit is performance which you will not find in a traditional router.

dziny, savostyanov and others, I bought a Raspberry Pi today and I'm going to see what I can squeeze out of it. So MAYBE there's a cheaper route, but this will certainly be an educational route. Thanks for the tips.

For the price of raspberry pi one can get xiaomi router 3G. Also for raspberry pi you will need some conectors and if i remember correctly it has RJ45 sitting on USB bus. So not the best option for this kind of project.

I believe Micro Center is (or was) one of the few stocking Raspberry Pi Zero W units. That, running Raspbian, would be the cheapest alternative that I know of, assuming your bandwidth requirements are not high.

I ended up taking the Raspberry Pi route. (If memory serves, it's a Pi 3 B.) It's setup as an access point (in) and VPN client (out). It's connecting through a free VPN server. It's not perfect, but pretty darn reliable! I'm clocking data at about 14.5 MBPS, which is fast enough to stream video, so I'm happy!

There were cheaper, and probably better, devices, but I did it this way largely as a learning exercise. I wanted to get my feet we with a "real" Raspberry Pi project.

Thanks for everyone's help.