I'm new and very excited to be here. Just starting out with OpenWrt, and would appreciate any insight you all could provide. I'm starting with a TP-Link C7 in a couple of days to get a bit more familiar with OpenWrt. But what I think I want to do is use a spare Lenovo M72e Tiny tower I have and run OpenWrt x86 on it. The device only has a single Ethernet link, but does have a mini PCI slot (currently an 802.11 adapter). I will replace that with an Ethernet adapter. I'll have to mod the case to get the cable out, but I think it may be a pretty good OpenWrt platform. I can then use the C7 as an access point and managed switch.
The built-in NIC is a gigabit Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 06)(that's what my Linux reports). I'm looking at a "Syba Gigabit Ethernet Mini PCI Express PCI-E Network Controller Card 10/100/1000Mbps RJ45 LAN NIC Card RTL8168C chipset" on Amazon for $20 as the 2nd NIC. The PC is a dual core i3-3220T @ 2.8GHz, 8GB RAM, and SSD. Lenovo's are usually pretty Linux friendly, and I have a couple of these PCs running Manjaro/Arch and Ubuntu Server already.
My Internet is currently 100Mbps, so I'm thinking this may be a bit overkill for now, but it will allow me to grow on the same platform as needed. Am I missing anything (other than Intel NICs would be preferable). Thanks.
While I wouldn't quite recommend buying the archer c7 in 2021, as it's just a bit dated and overpriced for what it brings to the table, it's still a solid device with sufficient system specifications for quite a while to come. With a 100 MBit/s internet connection, there wouldn't really be any need to look for a faster device - it can route that easily and even do SQM on top - VPN (depending on the details) might stress it a bit too much, but the basics will be covered just well.
I don't see any problems with your x86_64 plans either (both ethernet cards should be supported by r8169 just fine), but in the end you'll have to give it a go - I guess you can expect around 17 watts idle power consumption (which isn't great, but considering the performance not bad either - likely overkill though).
Thanks for the reply. That's what I was expecting to hear, I'm just excited to play and experiment. I need to spend some time with the C7 (got it for $12 on ebay, C7 V2), and then decide what to do. I will be running a VPN so that might push me over. So many possibilities with OpenWrt, but I should learn to walk before I run, and spend money. I was going to get an Ubiquiti Dream Machine until all their nonsense started happening this year. So now it's OpenWrt with either a better router or go x86. Thanks again.
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