How can I describe my problem better? (Meta)

My Nominees

RaspBerry Pi CM4 (CM4002000) + DFRobot routerboard

  • BCM2711 / RAM 2Gb / Flash 8Gb (or more) MicroSD card
  • size 78x72x35mm
  • power consumption idle 1.8W, max 3W
  • supported since OpenWrt 21.02
  • excellent I/O with built-in GbE NIC internal and 2nd GbE NIC via PCIe lane
  • 1,000,000 Raspberry Pi units sold each month
  • also available with built-in eMMC Flash (ie CM4002008); this is a bit harder to install though.

Access Point
Recent Mediatek/Filogic targets are rapidly being added lately - see i.e. My advice here would be to order one of the below and drive them with stock firmware for the moment and decide later on whether you want to switch to OpenWrt.

Ubiquiti UniFi U6+

  • MT7981A / RAM 256 MB / Flash 16 MB NOR + 4 GB eMMC
  • size Ø160 x 33 mm
  • power consumption around 5W
  • coverage 140 m2
  • Zero-wait DFS (planned)

Netgear WAX220

  • MT7986 / RAM 1024 MB / Flash 128 MB SPI-NAND
  • size 196 x 196 x 44.4 mm
  • power consumption ?
  • coverage 185 m2

Managed switch
Netgear GS316EP

  • PoE+ total budget 180W, up to 30W/port
  • fanless

Side note
Recommended Router services

  • adblock-lean (advertising protection)
  • luci-app-banip (spam/malware protection - select feeds like darklist, debl, feodo, firehol1, firehol2, greensnow, iblockspy, proxy, sslbl, threat, tor)
  • luci-app-nlbwmon (traffic monitoring)
  • luci-app-sqm (traffic shaping)

Optional Router services

  • fail2ban (Intrusion Detection/Prevention - when running inbound services like Apache)

ps1: GS-1900-24 does not have PoE - in case you do prefer Zyxel I would advice to check GS1900-24EP
ps2: the Pi-hole in your drawing might be redundant since similar service can be done directly on the router.

I'll assume the requirements are pretty well defined now and move on to questions about the recommendations.

Wow. This seems almost too good to be true. It checks off all the requirements on performance, reliability and functionality. I'm not even sure I could find a crappy router for less money.
It almost makes me think that a bunch of the "it depends" responses could be replaced with, "If you want to take full advantage of a 1Gbps WAN link just get this router."

It makes sense to start with the stock firmware and only upgrading if there's something that actually needs to be fixed.
I see that both of those support WiFi6 and PoE. I looked up the power consumption on the Netgear and an extra 10W doesn't make that much difference. The prices are similar too.
It's not clear to me that a slightly higher "coverage" actually translates to better network connections for users.
When it comes to choosing between these two, are they similar enough that I'm basically picking which one I think will look nicer or are there more serious considerations?

I should have included fanless as a nice to have or a requirement. I appreciate the lower maintenance that comes with fewer moving parts.
I don't have any brand loyalty so I don't care if it's ZYXEL or Netgear. Thanks for pointing out that the switch also needs to support PoE. Is there a reason to care about PoE vs PoE+?
For the switch, does it also make sense to also plan to use the stock firmware first and only install OpenWRT if there's some particular problem with it?
Is there any other particular reason to choose the Netgear over the ZYXEL, or vice versa?

Do I understand correctly that all these services, including Pi-hole, could potentially just be put on the router, since it's a general purpose computer?
Are these also light-weight enough that (given the specs of the router) I can basically ignore their performance impact?

Well...there is one catch - CM4 units are currently hard to get (larger supplies will arrive in December)

  • you can monitor to see if cm4002000 or cm4004000 pops up - or otherwise the eMMC version CM4002008
  • or check aliexpress (bit more expensive though)
  • when driven by stock firmware I would vote for Netgear WAX220 because of plenty configuration options; the Ubiquiti UniFi U6+ - in standalone mode - seems to be rather limited in this area
  • when driven by OpenWrt firmware I would choose the AP which looks nicest to you.

Yes (2x) - I currently have a RPi 4B (same cpu as CM4) with 100 Mbit ISP connection, about 20 connected devices and the same Services as in recommendation and this is mostly idling in cpu.

Thank you!

I just ordered:

(Your original link still has them in stock)

The total, including shipping, was $394.98. That only includes one AP so the price could still go up, in increments of $129.99, up to $914.94 (in the unlikely case that I actually end up needing 5 APs).

I should have all the pieces by next week and I'll post a follow up when I start putting that all together.

ps: the DFRobot routerboard is one piece of the Router - you separately need to order a Raspbery Pi CM4 as well (!)

This refers to some switches. PoE is working fine on a number of switches:

  • GS1900-8HP
  • GS1900-10HP
  • GS1900-24HP
  • D-Link DGS-1210-28MP
  • D-Link DGS-1210-10MP
  • TP-Link TL-SG2452P

just to name a few. IIRC PoE does not work on the GS1900-24EP.
Most of the switches can be found on the used market - sometimes for less than €50,-.
I have a GS1900-24HP as my main switch, along with a DGS-1210-28MP as backup and a GS1900-8HP for a separate WiFi AP.

Hmm. Bad on me for not double checking that.

Amazon has them in stock for $92.43

In a pinch, I've got a few RPi 4B I could cannibalize and one of them is running my Pi-hole right now


What are the advantages of OpenWRT on those switches?

Most of the benefits of OpenWRT seem to accrue in routers.

Or is this mostly that, on several switches, there's no particular disadvantage to using OpenWRT?

I may direct you to the Wiki page, answering this question:

Thanks.That page is a big part of why I'm asking.

The advantages sound nice but they pale a bit in the face of:

You can expect about 20Mbit/s routing performance with such a switch being used as a router. The CPU interface of the switch is really only meant for running the configuration web interface.

I was wondering if there were more specific advantages.

It sounds like the best us of OpenWRT is on the router itself.

This just means that a switch running OpenWrt is best used as a switch - and not as a replacement for the router. The reason is that quite some people tried to replace their router by a switch and were surprised by the bad routing performance.

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About the GS316EP switch:
According Support for RTL838x based managed switches - #766 by anon13997276 porting OpenWrt might be possible. One user started off in Support for RTL838x based managed switches - #2408 by noodles but got stuck
So who knows, possibly one day another user gets further in the process and then this device could get OpenWrt support as well.

Thanks for finding that.
It looks like the final answer (at least for the GS316EP) is, "It will probably work fine with the stock firmware so I don't need OpenWRT on it and, if I tried to install it anyway, it probably won't work."

I'm actually running OpenWRT on my GS316EP, complete with PoE, and it's mostly happy. I never got around to submitting the diffs upstream; firstly you end up needing a serial console to enable networking properly (bootcmd needs rtk network on or the switch is unreachable), secondly I failed to find the time to fight the image creation to put the checksum in the right place (though I figured out what's required).

BusyBox v1.36.0 (2023-04-28 13:29:38 UTC) built-in shell (ash)

  _______                     ________        __
 |       |.-----.-----.-----.|  |  |  |.----.|  |_
 |   -   ||  _  |  -__|     ||  |  |  ||   _||   _|
 |_______||   __|_____|__|__||________||__|  |____|
          |__| W I R E L E S S   F R E E D O M
 OpenWrt SNAPSHOT, r22658+2-2c530fcb97
root@study-sw:~# uptime
 18:43:12 up 76 days, 10:49,  load average: 0.02, 0.03, 0.00
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Preliminary tests are showing that this setup is working.
The switch works out of the box.

It's taken some fiddling to get OpenWRT installed on the DFRobot router.
The deciding change seemed to have been using the RPi Imager instead of Rufus or Etcher. I'm confused as to why that would make a difference but...

Next I'll work on the config and test that before moving on to testing the AP.

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