Need advice, should i buy x86 or ARM based hardware?

Hi everyone,
Currently, I'm running Archer C7 V2, and it's been crashing once a week. I think it's just not enough to handle my needs.

So basically, I want to buy new hardware for my main router. But I have difficulty choosing which one to buy because I don't know the most supported architecture for OpenWRT.

Here are my two options:

  1. x86_64 system ( Industrial PC like Topton etc., )
  2. ARM-based system ( NanoPi R6S, etc.)

My requirements are

  • Have at least 2GB RAM.
  • Can handle SQM for ~300mbps bw u/d
  • Have at least 3x Ethernet Port ( with 2x 2.5Gbps )
  • Available to buy from Aliexpress ( i don't have access to eBay, so... yeah )
  • WiFi is optional because ill be using AP

Any input will be appreciated.
Thank You!

Given that you require only 300 Mbps for SQM, you don't really need the x86-class performance. But if it means that it is easier to satisfy your other requirements, go for it.

Regarding WiFi, if you do choose x86, please get 2x Alfa Networks AWUS036ACM. It has lower latency than commercial AP solutions. Or, if it is OK to wait a bit for it to be actually released to the public, 2x this adapter:

Does OpenWRT support/development/update on x86 equal to ARM?

For wifi part, since ill be using another AP/Router in Dumb AP, ill use that instead.

My plan for this was
Main Router --> Switch --> AP/Dumb AP

No, these two architectures are not on the equal footing. There are x86-specific bugs. But also there are enough happy users on both sides.

Regarding the update, here is one of the x86-specific issues: attended sysupgrade, with squashfs images, does not allow choosing any other version than currently installed. So, if you need to upgrade, you really have to use the Inspector to "hack" the field value that specifies the wanted version.

1 Like

I use auc (cli version of Attended Sysupgrade) so have never noticed that. I can easily move between branches on my x86 routers with such commands as auc -b SNAPSHOT and auc -b 22.03 -B 22.03.03.

Correct, the issue affects luci-app-attendedsysupgrade only.

In terms of performance, both ARMv8 and x86_64 (at least the kind of devices you pointed at) won't have any problems with 300 MBit/s and sqm/cake. Number of ethernet ports is probably easier to fulfill with x86_64 (there are many 4-port x86_64 router boxes).

Given that you just need to cover 300 MBit/s, Tips for getting cheap used x86-based firewall with full Gbit NAT (a PC Engines APU) if you are in the US might provide the cheapest way out (with plenty of headroom for the future).

I've been using OpenWrt on x86_64 for the last 15 months now (switched from an ivy-bridge mini-PC with two ports to a more purpose built 4-port baytrail-d box last summer), with regular sysupgrades (roughly every 2-6 weeks, following master snapshots myself) - and I'm very happy with my decision.

With 300 MBit/s and sqm/cake, you might still get along with mt7622bv (e.g. Belkin rt3200), filogic 830 and probably ipq8072a (e.g. Dynalink DL-WRX36)/ ipq8074a, which would give you internal wireless as well.

1 Like

Thank you for the input on this,
I rarely upgrade my system. I only do it if some major changes introduce. But knowing I can easily upgrade was helpful :smiley:

Looking at all the input, and for future-proofing and modularity, I might go with x86_64. Unfortunately, I lived in South East Asia, so getting the system on AliExpress was my only choice.

Currently, I'm looking at Topton devices. On paper, the specs got all that I need. And as well fit within my budget of ~$200

If you want to paralyze yourself with choices, read through this megathread on the Topton-like devices: The consensus (sort of) is that CWWK is probably the actual manufacturer of all these devices regardless of branding, and are pretty good people to deal with (search for "cwwk store" on aliexpress).

I bought one of the barebones Celeron N5105s with 4x 2.5 Gbe NICs for US$140 last November, added $40 in SSD and 8G RAM to complete the package. It's used for experiments only thus far (a PC-Engines APU2 Jaguar AMD x86 box with 22.03 is my main router). The N5105 has been quite solid running the SNAPSHOT builds, and since we only have a 300/15 ISP connection, I've relegated it to "dev-only" status, but if I ever get a faster connection, it's ready to go.

1 Like