Lenovo M72e Tiny with mini PCI ethernet for OpenWrt


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).

1 Like

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.

This topic was automatically closed 10 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.