Looking for hardware recommendations, one device as router, one device as wireless AP


I'll explain my needs/situation first.

  1. Speed. 50 Megabits down, 20 Megabits up. Fiber to the node (aka, fiber to a node near the street, then copper to my home, yes it's terrible but nothing I can do)
  2. Devices. 1 Philips hue bridge (wired), 1 Chromecast (802.11ac), 1 laptop (wired), 2 desktops (wired), NAS (wired), 4 smartphones (802.11ac), xbox 360 (wired), Wii U (wired), nintendo switch (802.11ac), TV (wired), going to add a raspberry pi for kodi (wired). Multiple VoIP phones
  3. WAN use. I do fully saturate the connection sometimes but it's only 6.25/2.5 megabyte up/down... so not much
  4. LAN use. Highest use is NAS which saturates gigabit switches (I'm happy with gigabit, the drives can barely go any faster than gigabit anyways)
  5. All cabling is CAT6 or CAT6e, house is plasterboard so wi-fi goes through pretty good

So my main problem is wi-fi sucks because I'm just using my ISP-provided hardware (Technicolor TG800vac) but the modem chip seems pretty good (Broadcom BCM63138) and the Wi-Fi also sucks because it's terribly positioned in the corner of the house (can't move the port right now).

I currently have two unmanaged switches, one in a bedroom for the laptop + hue bridge, one in the living room for the gaming consoles, TV, chromecast when wired and soon raspberry pi will be added.

I was thinking of using my ISP hardware (TG800vac) in bridge mode for use as a modem (VDSL2), bridging that to an OpenWRT router (EA6350?), then running an OpenWRT Wi-Fi AP (maybe EA8300, E8500, R7500 or R7800?) in the bedroom that has the unmanaged switch, as the bedroom is centrally positioned.

Or I could buy two EA6350, use one as router and both as AP, positioning one out in the living room would cover the house from both corners (that doesn't have MU-MIMO but I only have one device with it anyways, one phone).

Planning on running the VoIP phones off the modem, I think I can still do that in bridge mode? Not sure. This sounds good to me, don't know if I'm missing anything. Any thoughts/recommendations?

I've been recommending the wired router, separate AP structure a lot here. These days a managed switch, RasPi 4 as router, and whatever you have/want as AP is a good strategy. The Pi4 has gigE and lots of processor power, it can't be bricked, its cheap, and if you suddenly get 200Mbps or more, it'll eat it up. Several people on the forum have tried this and reported success.

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If you're looking at EA6350s make certain that they're v3 which is the only version so far supported by OpenWrt AFAIK.

EA8500s also apparently become more difficult to flash if they've been upgraded to the latest OEM firmware, but if you can buy new there's a good chance they still have earlier firmware without the headaches.

Thanks pythonic, the EA6350s I'm looking at are 100% the V3. I did see the EA8500 update stuff, annoying.

Do you think IPQ4018/IPQ4019 is sufficient for my use or would IPQ8065/IPQ8066 be better?

This will not work unless your ISP has made provisions for this use case.
Connect the VoIP phones to the router, and consider setting up SQM.

Likely more than sufficient, unless you want to saturate your line using OpenVPN:

The EA6350v3 has PLENTY of horsepower for 50/20 as a router and to provide SQM on your WAN. As cheap as they go used (~$25 shipped) you could break off the antennas (don't - it will haunt you) and simply call it an excellent small footprint router. I would look elsewhere for long range wifi coverage though. I use an EA6350v3 in an open floor plan first floor as a wifi AP and switch for a VOIP box and Roku, and it's wifi range is fine for that; but I would not employ it as my upstairs AP that needs to push wifi through/around multiple walls/corners. I use an EA8500 for the upstairs AP and switch for NAS - it's spectacular. Both are wired with CAT5E to an Edgerouter X, fed at the moment by a bridged bonded VDSL2 modem. The Edgerouter X (also running OpenWrt) tames my horrendous ISP buffer bloat with layer CAKE.

Thanks mpa and eginnc for the helpful advice. Sorry for confusing people, the phones are actually analog (RJ11) and the ISP hardware (TG800VAC) functions as an ATA as well, it won't work for that in bridge mode.

So my options are 1. Buy VoIP phones so I can put ISP hardware in bridge mode or 2. Double NAT like as described here under "Running the TG799vac as the router with a second router behind it (Double NAT)"

I do have some bufferbloat I would like to resolve with OpenWRT luci-app-qos (normal ping to google 30ms, when saturating link it's 75-100ms).

You can also buy an Analog Telephone Converter (ATA), use the VoIP service, and keep your POTS infrastructure.

Thanks eduperez, sadly the ISP I'm with (Telstra) does not provide the VoIP settings to use your own stuff :expressionless: changing providers and using my own ATA would be easiest without messing around with double NAT I think

Hah! There is another soul in the world that can't say goodbye to their landline LOL!

We've used a refurb Ooma Telo picked up on amazon for years with a cordless phone base plugged in and three more handset extensions sprinkled around the house. The Telo is plugged into the EA6350v3. Currently we're on 40/2 bonded VDSL2 and have never had call quality issues. We pay the $5/month FCC access fees and that's it for our landline.

If I were starting over, I might look at the OBi200 on amazon for $42 shipped, but the Ooma has been simple and flawless. Once your phone number is free of your ISP and needs only an internet connection and router to plug into - makes it real easy to switch ISP's.

Worth mentioning is that the NIC is has no documentation (https://lists.denx.de/pipermail/u-boot/2020-January/396726.html) and 64-bit support isn't quite there yet.

Good to hear the EA6350 is working for you :partying_face:

My current plan is, switch phone providers (use ATA), use TG800VAC as bridged modem, an EA6350 as router and R7800 as AP centrally located. While I could actually buy two used EA6350 for the cost of one used R7800, I don't know if I want to mess around with making sure the roaming works properly between multiple APs. My house isn't very big, walls are plasterboard, so surely one R7800 would provide enough coverage.

Thank you for the advice everyone :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

I've decided I'm going to use two EA6350, one as router, both as Wi-Fi AP. They'll be located at opposite ends of my house to provide full coverage. This is cheaper and one end of the house is a mostly open floor plan, so that EA6350 will provide Wi-Fi with an open line of sight, a lot better than centrally located for that area which would be going through two walls.

Looking at other ISPs... I can get 100/20 instead of 50/20 for the same price once my current plan ends very soon, I'm only with Telstra because they offered me a really cheap sign-up offer (Telstra is well-known to be a rip-off at retail prices).

The EA6350 should surely be powerful enough to handle 100/20 with SQM?

No worries. Surely it is. I was getting ~135 Mbps with CAKE through a Trendnet 824 (same QCA 9558 720 MHz single core MIPS SoC as Archer C7 v2) back when I had a faster ISP, and ~185 Mbps CAKE SQM with my dual core MT7621 880MHz MIPS Edgerouter. The EA6350 is a faster IPQ4018 ARM, quad core, and same clock rate range. Search for Jeff's thread on performance bench marking. If memory serves, he was getting low 200's for SQM with his IPQ4019 - essentially same speed as the IPQ4018.

I like the EA6350V3 aesthetics - it doesn't look like an alien spaceship robot in our great room, and we don't need ground breaking range in that location either. With a small amount of patience and confirming V3 with Seller's first, I picked up a couple EA6350V3 on ebay for $25 each shipped. If cost is an object, and when is it not....

I also recently picked up an EA8500 (IPQ8064) on ebay for $45 shipped. I did have to carefully open the case to flash it with a USB to serial dongle (the HiLetgo CP2102 USB 2.0 to TTL Converter includes wires and is another $6 on amazon). It's a small step down from the R7800 (IPQ8065), but still a solid wifi router with a good bump in performance over the EA6350v3.

As I said before, I think the EA6350V3 has plenty of horsepower for your current use. I mention an EA8500 can be had at the right price plus a little flashing adventure only in the event it was cost that drove your decision to future proof a bit less on the unit destined to be your combined router/AP unit.

Thanks for the advice eginnc. I've already purchased two EA6350 and am waiting for them to arrive.