Good OpenWRT option for public WiFi

I'm looking for a good router that I can run OpenWRT on, basically I'm going to be assisting a friend with a new coffee shop and need to get something that has pretty good WiFi as it'll be providing the public WiFi and captive portal for his shop. I am looking to buy a couple devices, probably 1 or 2 to use as WAPs and then another to act as the main router, firewall, and captive portal host. I'm just wanting to make sure I get something decent, my personal router is a PC Engines custom build so I don't have a lot of experience picking OpenWRT devices.

EDIT: Here's some extra information. I'm in the US, no high demand use like gaming etc. It's really just designed for like students doing HW, etc, very basic WiFi usage but they want it to be decent and not a bottleneck. Usually maybe 20 people at peak times, probably not more than that. Budget isn't THAT much of a concern. They've historically(in other locations) had rather expensive setups(fortinet) that they hardly ever used the features of and just don't want the cost. They really just want something decent that's more cost effective than the previous fortinet hardware they've used.

The PC Engines build can also install OpenWrt, but of course now it's not that price competitive, you can get any mini PC with at least dual NIC which is way better than APU series.

Then you can get some routers or AP to flash OpenWrt, depends on your country there will be different options.

If you can provide more information, people could assist you better. Do you believe people will do gaming in the coffee shop? what is your budget? how many users you can imagine being connected at peak hours? If your budget allows it , you can go for something beefy like the Asus RT-AC88U and depending on the location where it would be placed you might not even need a WAP. The ASUS RT-AX59U might be better suited for wifi and it's less expensive. The NETGEAR R7800 (expensive) might be pretty good too. A netgear's budget friendly option might be the R6700 probably to start with if you believe the coffee shop might have a slow start and don't want to risk too much on a more expensive device. I must say these are just my best effort choices based on the information you gave us.

I have updated my post with an EDIT that gives more information. Apologies for the somewhat sparse initial stuff...I tend to often leave out info when asking questions. My bad.

Ok, So the choices I gave you are supported up to the latest version of openwrt (I've checked then in the hardware list of supported devices). There are also plenty of other supported devices in that list to mention but lets say if all of the options I gave you, can do the job on the clients side now you should decide what are you planning to do on the server side for you own admin affairs. If you are interested in installing packages then you have to worry about disk space. The AX59U has 256MB and I dont have knowledge of devices having more flash memory from the official supported list. Are you planning to connect the device directly to the internet right? What is your planned topology?
I've just came across the Turris CZ.NIC Omnia and it looks pretty interesting!
BTW I have not tested the devices I have named!!!

It would be worth opening an issue at as there is a lot of experience there with this sort of thing.

I would probably recommend a GL-inet MT3000 as it is has miles more than enough power for the job and has great wireless coverage, yet is not expensive.

And yes, I have used it extensively for the purpose.

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Here's another suggestion from another post:

Oh wow, that thing is cool. I'll definitely check out openNDS but this hardware looks really promising.

Looks like GL-MT stuff is one of the recommendations there too. That HW looks really promising.

I don't quite agree with it since the speed dropping significantly when you are away from it for more than 5-6m (I own it and tested at home), so unless the shop is really small like hotel room I won't recommend it.

OK, then for AP, Zyxel NWA50AX (or the PRO) should be cheap enough to fit the bill (just need to beware of flashing OpenWrt during the first time), the Netgear WAX220 also seems to be a good choice though there is report saying Apple devices might drop connection after a long use (which I don't think it would be a problem in coffee shop??)

sorry mate it should not be based on what looks cool, it should be based on whats going to accomplish the job well... if wired devices any decent wifi6 ipq6018 based device will handle the load, if not wired a mesh system like 80211S / Batman would do the job nicely.

define cheap before you shoot yourself in the foot also.... good APs that will do what you want can be pricey, and in this day and age, wifi6 should be the minimal you deploy. not to derail you, but a couple of wallys DR6018-V4 would also do quite well.

OK the price of WAX220 seems raised a bit, I will take this off from list.

But for Zyxel, both PRO and non PRO version are Mediatek based WiFi 6 ceiling mount which is not like DR6018-V4 you suggested (IPQ based solution might lack some kind of acceleration in OpenWrt purely open sourced implementation), and $70/$85 do you think it's pricey??

no, i think its cheap compared to the DR6018-V4, but id be more concerned about its performance, where i wouldnt be on the DR6018-V4.. I also have to consider things like will you use any management system / or captive portal...? or just hand out the wifi passwords to anyone? Surely our perspectives differ on how this should be done as you have a cost concern, where my first concern would be performance, can it do the job, and how will i manage it, not the price im paying. as for firmware, im sure the DR6018-V4 has not only better performance and coverage then the mediatek option but can also be managed, and most likely has the features you need from a firmware point of view. Honestly, its not my cafe... so its up to you, i just put forth my thoughts and opinions.

My first reply to OP already mentioned using x86 as routing core, so you can run captive portal or other tools there, and the 2 I suggested were only meant for being wireless AP only. Even being used as routing platform, the MT7986 (the one inside WAX220) is very strong, should be better than IPQ60xx without acceleration. Of course if you are trying to argue that using closed firmware with acceleration + blah blah blah.....then there is no point to discuss here because OP is asking for OpenWrt solution here.

I read a few comments with regard to this but as far as I can tell it was a problem only on an early release of the oem firmware. I have not seen this at all (and I have rolled out many). On the contrary, the ax technology actually results in a greater range than "older" technology, the improvement being not only directed radiated power but directional receive sensitivity.

Better operational range should be achieved by any ax radio properly implemented.

A final decision will no doubt consider not only performance but also available budget for the project.

I think the OP commented after seeing the specs and the price and not after seeing the plastic case....

I am sure that is true, but to be realistic, in a coffee shop, wifi6 is not even needed.
A typical coffee shop with 20 users can be adequately managed on an MT7628 with 16/128 at a very low price.

Wired is always best, but a mesh will work very well.
Batman though is a complete overkill as it is designed more for community wisp-like situations with multiple upstream links.

An AP only has to support wireless. Sure wifi6 if you can afford it but really it is not an absolute requirement. After the majority of mobile devices you will find "out in the wild" do not even support it yet.

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No issues with the WAX220, performance wise they are probably great, my issue is with the Zyxels, and their performance. as for the firmware on the DR6018-V4, its not closed, there is an opensource WRT based alternative, and yes i know its not listed in the table of hardware, but it does exist.

root@c44bd1a02169:~# cat /etc/board.json 
	"model": {
		"id": "wallys,dr6018-v4",
		"name": "Wallys DR6018"

Who cares. This is for a public wifi venue, not a gaming system.

An x86 solution will be overkill performance wise, expensive to purchase and expensive to run (power wise).

Why do you think you need an x86 to run a captive portal?
Some of the commercially available subscription type captive portal solutions do come on an x86 platform, but that is just a marketing thing - big is better? Justificstion for high prices?

You are correct, but I am replying to someone that insisting a "better performing system" and that's why I was doing that comparison.