Good Mid-range router in 2020, ~100$

Hi all,

I'm looking for a new router to replace my ~6-year old Buffalo WZR-600DHP. I recently upgraded my internet speed, and the Wifi isn't enough anymore.

One particular requirement I have is that I recently started getting into smart home stuff, so I have a lot of devices connected to my Wifi network (around 20 at the moment). I've noticed a slow down due to this. Seems like MU-MIMO might be the answer to this, but it's not supported on OpenWRT?

So I'm looking for a good, not too expensive router that'll work with many devices. So far, I've looked at the Archer A9 (not conclusive if it'll work on OpenWRT), GL.iNet Convexa B (looks cool, but shipping to Canada is pricey).

Here are my answers to the questions in the FAQ

  • How fast is your internet connection? 120Mbps

  • Do you need Wi-Fi? Yes. I mostly use wifi; I only have one device on Ethernet at the moment

  • Do you need Gigabit Ethernet? Yes, but 4 ports is enough (plus the upstream one)

  • Do you need USB ports? How many? USB 2.0 or 3.0? Not really

  • How many family members/devices must the router support? We're a family of 6, but as I said we have 20+ devices connected to WiFi

  • What other services do you want? VPN and Adblock. I have a home server for everything else.

  • Finally, please define your price range. As said in the title, around 100$


I use Xiaomi 4A Gigabit. Flashing openwrt is not as simple as take a firmware and upload, but does not need any hardware mod.

For my experience achieve 400Mbit/s in wireless (AC 80Mhz client), 100Mbit/s without cpu bound under VPN (Wireguard, throthled from client side with 100M ethernet).

Very cost efficient from my opignon.

That is not a huge barrier. Iterating on the previous answer: A MT7621-based device should be fine for that speed. (Personally, I'm using a Netgear R6220 and I'm very happy with it.) Alternatively, an IPQ-based device should give even more headroom, and as far as I know, the problems with IPQ devices have been fixed with the most recent 19.07.5 release.

Of course, there's always "something better", but personally, I believe that investing into an uncertain future demand is a bit silly. "Just fine" right now will do just fine right now.

Here's a quick tip: I recently found that the only 2.4G Wifi devices I have are the ones I want to put on a separate IOT network anyway. The devices on my "main network" are all capable of 5G Wifi. So I put all the IOT devices on the 2.4G Wifi interface, and my main devices on the 5G Wifi interface. This way, my IOT devices are neatly separated in their own firewall zone, and it also saved me from a more complicated setup with multiple Wifi networks on one Wifi interface.

Yeah, that's a good point that actually occurred to me right after posting this: I'll probably re-purpose my current router to be the IOT router; on different channels so there's no interference at all. I'll probably still bridge the networks (so discovery still works well); I think my bottleneck is time-based multiplexing between clients, not a bandwidth issue.

Be careful with that Aliexpress listing as it includes two different models. The 100 Mb model (do not buy, it's MT7628 chip) is $17.92; the gigabit model is $30.81.

A MT7621 device will be fine if by VPN, you mean "Wireguard." However, you'll need more CPU to utilize more of your 120 Mbps ISP connection with OpenVPN. A used e-bay Linksys EA8500 (ipq8064) plus a $10 USB serial dongle to flash it will be more capable and should fit well within your budget. Plenty of flash and RAM memory too. It's not a subtle router though - 4 antennas bumps it up in size. It's not going to "disappear" in the living room LOL.

At the time of this post,
The Netgear R6850 using MediaTek MT7621AT 880 MHz, 2 cores is on sale at for $99.00
Since it uses MT7621AT, hardware flow offloading is supported by OpenWrt.

Linksys EA7300_V2 is in current and I was able to pick one up re-certified for ~$40USD.

The Cudy WR1300 is currently on Amazon for ~$30USD w/ free US shipping. There is a downloadable build and it looks like patch submission is in the works:

The Cudy WR1300 looks to be an easier flash than the Xiaomi and does not have the shipping issues.

Thank you. Yes, by VPN I mean Wireguard, more specifically tunnelling some traffic back home when I'm out travelling (which isn't often these days, but it'll come back). I'm limited by my 10Mbps upload speed for this anyway; I don't think I need an extremely fast processor for this.

Thanks. That seems like a pretty good value, I think I'll go with that.

However, I can't find it in the table of hardware; there's only an entry for R6800. Is the R6850 substantially different?

If you're in CA

Thanks! The reviews seem pretty bad for this one, though.

I'm primarily interested in good WiFi performance with many devices, the Netgear one that got suggested seems like a better choice for this.

Buy an EAP225 and connect it to the existing router. At your speed the cpu you have is probably fine.

I tend to take reviews with a grain of salt for several reasons:

  • All the devices are running MediaTek cpu's and radios, the main distinction between them is the firmware. Firmware which you will be replacing with OpenWrt.

  • It is usually not clear that poor reviews have trouble shoot channel congestion etc.

  • Some less than ethical companies pay for good reviews on their products and even less ethical companies smear the competition - kinda like US politics :lying_face:.

Netgear/Xiaomi devices need a special app to load OpenWrt.

I would post in the WR1300 thread to see if any one running OpenWrt has performance issues.

You can get an used Archer C2600 for $50 on eBay.

Thanks, I know about the paid reviews, but I read these reviews (on Amazon) and they seemed genuine (lots of details pointing to similar issues), so I'm inclined to believe them.

Xiaomi seems like it's kind of a pain to load OpenWrt on, so I'll probably steer clear of them. The wiki pages for Netgear devices seemed to imply that it's as simple as just uploading the firmware image through the web interface? That was the process on my current Buffalo router, so I'm fine with this.

The Cudy you recommended seems like it uses a pretty old, customized version of OpenWRT; not sure about current support as it's not in the table of hardware. The wifi speed on the Netgear is faster as well. I think the Cudy router could be pretty good for 50$, but I'm ready to spend double that, so I'd prefer getting something better if I can.

The R6800 - AC1900 has more RAM-256 MiB with MT7615N WiFi
R6850 - AC2000 with 128 MiB and MT7603E and MT7615 WiFi.

Perhaps developers familiar with the different WiFi hardware could assist you.

Thanks for these links, just ordered it on Amazon. 128MiB is enough for me, that's what my current router has and it's showing 55% free at the moment.

Just a reminder, the R6850 uses Development Snapshot builds, so you will likely need to install LuCi manually.

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You can have 100 devices connected without it being a problem even for old 11b wifi networks. It's only a problem if all those devices make actual significant use of the network at the same time. Most IOT devices (should, barring bugs) never make significant use of the network. So I wouldn't presume that your problems have to do with having 20 devices connected.