Choosing hardware for generic x86/64 OpenWrt image

I am considering setting up a gateway/router for my home network which has 15 wireless clients including smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, computers, a printer, and security cameras.

It will be connected to my Internet service provider using PPPoE.

I am considering the following setup:

Dell OptiPlex Micro 7500
Intel Core i7-7700T
Memory: 16GB DDR4-2400
SSD 256GB
Gigabit Ethernet Intel® i219-V Gigabit1 Ethernet LAN 10/100/1000
Ports: USB 3.1
Expansion: M.2 port

I am planning to add a WiFi M.2 adapter.

I am planning to use this image: OpenWRT 23.05.0-rc2 (generic-ext4-combined-efi.img.gz) for x86/64.

Is this setup appropriate? Can you please recommend a WiFi M.2 adapter?

Thanks.

The subscribed- and maximum attainable wan speed would be an important aspect.

Considering 1 GBit/s as ceiling, this device would be much faster than necessary, even with sqm/ cake and VPN in mind. Likewise you'd be hard pressed to fill up much more than 1 GB RAM (no point going less than 4 GB). The only thing that would require these specs would be 10+ GBit/s, running an IDS (not really ideal on OpenWrt) or reusing the hardware for server- or virtualization tasks (don't, it's a router, keep the attack surface as small as possible and single purpose). Just add a second PCIe ethernet card, you can use the M.2 slot for that.

...but if you get it for a reasonable price and keep its idle power consumption in sight and make that part of your calculations (this is 24/7 operations, it does show up prominently on the power bill, a new -purpose built- device might pay for itself within a year).

This is the only weakness of x86_64. Good WLAN cards are expensive, running hot and out-of-spec (10W on 3.3V!), not easy to identify and problematic (good pigtails, good antennas, 2+ ports necessary). The only winning move is not to play, just get a half-decent classic wifi router with OpenWrt configured as dumb-AP, it's going to be cheaper and will provide better results.

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Why not use the latest stable release?
https://firmware-selector.openwrt.org/?version=23.05.3&target=x86%2F64&id=generic

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Thanks for your reply.

My current internet connection is 100Mbps/100Mbps. I am running VPN clients (primarily WireGuard), AdGuard Home, iptables, and other software suitable for home network.

The dimensions of the Dell OptiPlex Micro 7500 are

Weight: Approximately 1.18 kg
Dimensions: 18.2 cm x 3.6 cm x 17.8 cm (Height x Width x Depth)

I can purchase it for around $150 USD used, given the configurations mentioned above.

I was hoping to find people's favorite M.2 WiFi adapter models for OpenWrt firmware.

Overkill, filogic 830 already would be.

For that price, I would go with a new n100 system with four onboard 2.5GBASE-T ports - or something filogic 820/ 830 or ipq8072a+ based.

Not because the optiplex were bad, but because you do get the 3+1 2.5GBASE-T ports and 5-8 watts idle power consumption with alderlake-n (and it should be 'good enough').

The favourite WLAN solution for x86, rockchip or RPi is a dedicated plastic AP running OpenWrt (or not), cheaper, faster, better - by a far margin on all accounts.

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Thanks! I will give further thought to choosing an AP for my home network.

Lenovo m920q is nice device for hg, add dual ten gig nic and it'll work like a charm.

For 100 MBit/s wan speed?!

Just to be clear, at your stated requirements something like

would already be a very comfortable solution (which would be good for quite a bit more than routing 100 MBit/s, it's already serious overkill, but you are looking for a high.end solution).

--
Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all discouraging x86_64 as a router (it just won't be a good AP, unless you spend serious money), on the contrary, I'm using that myself, but the above would provide a better all-in-one solution with good wireless support.

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Yes, why not? If we have slow internet connection then we can't use nice hw? Then if we have nice hw why not to use a lot of better firewall like pfsense/ opnsense?

Not at all, but it can become (over-)optimizing at the wrong end, especially if wireless and ease of use suffer as a consequence.

There is a chance that my internet speed could be upgraded to 500Mbps at no additional charge within the next 6-9 months.

Can you please comment on suitability of this hardware for OpenWrt?

MediaTek MT7916AN M.2 $38

And this high gain antenna? $35

Again, I will not recommend any PCIe/ M.2 card to be used on x86_64 for AP uses, as they will be beaten by a 15 buck dedicated AP by a far margin (e.g. even something like dap-x1860/ covr-x1860 or wsm20).

  • you need two slots for two WLAN cards (one for 2.4 GHz, one for 5 GHz - xor a DBDC one, which however puts you back to 2x2 levels, such as the aforementioned entry level APs)
  • it is quite unlikely that your optiplex can provide 10 watts over its 3.3V M.2 pin (that is beyond specs)
  • it is even less likely that it can cope with the additional heat
  • antennas and pigtails need to be of decent quality (not a given!)
  • antenna placement matters for Mu-MIMO to work
  • it is going to be more expensive than a dedicated AP, for less capabilities

Again, x86_64 does make sense - and around 500 MBit/s is the threshold where it starts to beat modern plastic routers (in the sense of filogix 830/ gl-mt6000 and friends, but the aforementioned would still be a decent contender for this),

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Dell OptiPlex Micro 7500 (mentioned above) $150 used.
TP-Link AX23 $60 brand new on Amazon. Unsure which version. v1 is supported for OpenWrt. The unit will be used in AP mode.

I am looking for 1Gbps or 2.5Gbps M.2 Ethernet adapter that is supported on OpenWrt.

Please comment on this hardware setup.

https://openwrt.org/toh/tp-link/archer_ax23_v1

Given the unknown hardware revision issue on TP Link device, I would never bet on it unless I can view it in store by myself. And the price is simply too high for this platform, a few more dollars more you can get Cudy WR3000 router as AP, or if Zyxel NWA50AX as ceiling AP.

And there are lots of mini PCs with dual ports that you don't have to add extra ports, even the NanoPi R4S (4GB) would do a great job with your dedicated WiFi AP.

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I once ran into a similar issue with another piece of hardware of a different revision.

I can return the TP-Link Archer 23 within the 30-day change-of-mind return period offered by Amazon.

Cudy and Zyxel are not marketed in our country. They will need to be imported and returned to the seller to claim the warranty, plus they require additional plug adapters. I have the Flint 2 (GL-MT6000) in mind, which is mentioned above, and I can purchase it locally.

Do you think $150 a Dell desktop micro (35x18x35cm) and 1.18kg in weight +$60 AP (assuming it is v1 and supported) + $25 1Gbps M.2 adapter is an expensive setup?

Don't know where you are, since you quote price in USD I assumed you were in US.

M.2 NIC + Dell desktop is already $185, there should be some dual NIC Celeron N5105/N100 mini PC that fits the bill?

I recommend an inexpensive firewall appliance such as the Moginsock 2.5GbE.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0C6D3P14X

I use one for my 1 Gb Fiber Ethernet connection. It's a lot more powerful than I need, but it has lots of room for expansion. Among other things, I use it as a Wireguard server. It runs Wireguard bidirectional continously at 2.5 Gb/s. My current connection is just 1 Gb/s, but I am definitely ready for a speed upgrade. Other units by the same company, at about double the cost, have multiple 10 Gb/s connections.

The unit also runs standard linux distributions like Ubuntu from a flash drive, which makes it easy to upgrade OpenWRT when it is time to do that. It even supports a 4K monitor, everything builtin. The Intel N100 is a very powerful processor.

Of course there is no wireless supported. You will also need one or more access points to support wireless devices.

then again, an used ARK-1223 J1900 is ~$45 on eBay.
if you need more ports, there's the Dell Edge E42W 620 using an Atom C3558, with six ports (plus two SFP+), ~$70 on eBay.