How to identify (search for) a powerful wifi router with the ath10k driver?

I have internet speeds that can get up to 500Mbps and soon 1Gbps will be available in my area. I'm currently getting wifi from a TP-Link wdr4300 (ath9k driver), but it isn't powerful enough to get me much over 90Mbps on wifi. I am wondering if I got a more powerful wifi router, whether I could do significantly better than the 90Mbps.

The criteria I'm looking for:

  1. dual-core with plenty ram (so as to handle the speeds)
  2. as open a driver as possible that has received bufferbloat work. I can't find any ath9k routers that are powerful enough, so based on my reading my best guess is ath10k is my best choice?
  3. good build quality (I'm willing to spend some money for quality and reliable performance). I like the Linksys WRT models but find their wifi performance to be unreliable and slow, and they don't use the ath10k driver so I'm hoping that ath10k router will perform better.

Running these filters (CPU cores: 2; WLAN 5.0GHz: a/n/ac; WLAN Hardware: Atheros) on the LEDE website gave me a list of hopefuls, but the reported target on most of them is "ipq806x". What is this? Is this an indication of ath10k? The Netgear R7800 has this target and in the comments it says "ath10k".

Any recommendations? Would the Linksys EA8500 or the Netgear R7800 give me what I'm looking for?

The ZyXEL NBG6817 would be another option. The Linksys EA8500 uses a slighty older SoC (ipq8064) at a slightly lower clockspeed, which wouldn't make it my first choice anymore, the Netgear r7800 and ZyXEL NBG are both using the newer ipq8065 SoC and slightly higher clock speeds.

Between the Netgear and ZyXEL, is one or the other easier to install LEDE on or is there anything that differentiates them with respect to LEDE?

Both are rather similar in terms of their hardware, the r7800 has a larger userbase and using LEDE on it is better documented - but the nbg6817 works just as well.

The R7800 definitely uses the IPQ8065, in fact it was the first one.

Indeed, both the Netgear r7800 and ZyXEL NBG are using the newer ipq8065 SoC, I mistyped it before, fixed now.

Guys, forgive my ignorance of this driver stuff, but is the ipq806x ath10k? (ipq806x is what's shown on the LEDE page That is, is it the best driver choice for openness and bufferbloat work?

Also, do you foresee being able to do better than 90Mbps with 5Ghz channel-bonding on 802.11n (not ac) wireless card laptop?

I get 30-34 MB/s which is 240-272 Mbps 1 floor below the R7800 (10-12ft) on my Dell Latitude E6230 with a 3x3 Intel 6300 N adapter.

Contrary to IPQ40xx or IPQ8074, the IPQ806x SoC doesn't have internal wireless cards, which means the radios are connected via PCIe instead (on most newer devices directly onboard, not unchangeably). Accordingly vendors could also choose different wlan cards instead of ath10k (and some did so in the past), but the afforementioned routers use ath10k radios.

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I've heard that newer EA8500 come with locked firmware and no heads on serial connecter, making it hard to recommend. Even older EA8500 can be user-upgraded to latest (locked) firmware, so buying second-hand is a gamble as well unless you can confirm current firmware version.


definitely sounds like the Netgear R7800 or ZyXEL NBG6817 is the choice I have to make. Anything the Zyxel has over the Netgear? Seems like the Netgear is getting all the attention which means I should probably get that one.

The most open wireless driver is mt76, which has minimal firmware. However, the mt7621 platform (which is where you'll mostly find mt76 wireless) currently suffers from a bug that makes the router reboot randomly when you use SQM.

If you're interested in the openness of current wireless driver you should check out Felix Fietkau's presentation.

R7800 is great, works well with SQM (using cake), is easy to flash and also has an easy TFTP recovery mode in u-boot, which makes it really easy to unbrick the device in case some experimental settings brick the device. (Easiness of flashing & unbricking/recovery is often overlooked when selecting a device, but in the long run is is important for anyone who is regularly flashing/tweaking the device.)

If you select R7800, you might get some hints from my community build:

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Hi, i went from tp-link wdr4900 v1 to tp-link c2600 v1.1 and the wifi speed went crazy with ath10k: from around 100 Mbit/s i enjoy around 300 Mbit/s on my Thinkpad13 and around 200 Mbit/s on my older T430.

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