I wish to buy a new wireless router, which supports OpenWrt very well. I will describe my requirements and I hope you can suggest a good router which can meet these requirements and at the same time, be future proof so that it can support upgrades for some time.
Multiple LAN ports supporting Gigabit ethernet
Wireless 2.4 GHz/5 GHz support. It should support at least AC750 standard.
Should have at least 1 USB port (Support for additional port would be even better).
128 MB RAM/ 128 MB Flash (Not sure what is optimal for my usage)
What I plan to use it for?
Internet access for work (laptop connected via ethernet)
Connecting PS4/TV to internet via wireless LAN
VPN client, to connect to work VPN
Running BitTorrent client
File server support (Ext HDD connected to USB port)
Support for 4G/LTE dongle or USB tethering with Android phone (to serve as fallback internet connection)
There might be more uses as I like to tinker a bit...
Internet connection setup
Currently, I have ADSL broadband connection and I use a modem. I will bridge the modem and dial in from the router (using PPPoE). Even if I move to fiber broadband, this setup will continue.
I was looking at ASUS RT-AC58U but I think it is plagued by several issues/crashes.
By future proof, I mean I should be able to update and have at least security fixes and newer software packages. I will not have fiber broadband with speeds in excess of 200 Mbps in the next 2-3 years.
I am also looking at this router as more of a learning tool and for home use.
in this case you could probably get by with a MT? or ipq4x ( for your specified budget ) for a while and then repurpose it as an AP later if you need more grunt ( so you'd have a seperate device as the edge router).
when learning, having two devices can be extremely helpful if not downright prudent.
Sorry, I'm bit of a noob here, but what do you mean by MT/ipq4x? Is it a chipset/hardware name? Also would 128 MB RAM/128 MB Flash be good enough for my needs? I might be installing a lot of packages as I like to tinker with software. As you can see, I don't need cutting edge latest hardware (with blazing speeds). Just a router with good specs to play around and learn OpenWrt.
Can you suggest a router model which plays well with OpenWrt? It is clear that I should buy a router with Qualcomm/Mediatek chipset for max compatibility. But if there is a favorite OpenWrt router in my budget, I would like to know.
someone else will help with exact model names... i have no first hand experience with those models so it's not appropriate for me to throw names out. are you willing to import? availability in your country may be an issue / have a big impact on what you can use in that bracket...
I see some devices in this list ---> https://openwrt.org/toh/views/toh_available_16128 which are available in my country and within my budget, but I'm not sure how much RAM/Flash is required for my needs. Some guidance on that would help me make the right decision.
If you're willing to settle for older and cheaper hardware. I highly recommend the TP-link WDR series.
WDR3500 does not have gigabit ethernet, the rest of them do. All of them cover the rest of your requirements except for flash (I don't see why you need 128 MB flash if you can have USB). Openwrt version 20 will have images for all of them on the new ath79 kernel branch.
I tried to check if I could get my hands on the Linksys EA6350 but its End Of Life and thus not available. Isn't it necessary to have large amount of flash memory, for the OS and packages? Can the packages be installed on HDD connected to USB?
Unfortunately, the TP-Link WDR series is not available in my country. But the TP-Link Archer series is. So, I think I can look at devices with lower flash memory (say 16 MB) as long as the router has at least 1 USB port (and hopefully, OpenWrt supports connecting a USB hub to such a port). Correct? This makes things a bit easier.
RockPro64 as main router, running OpenWrt/Linux/*BSD + a PCIe NIC connected to a IPQ4-based device (EA6350v3 or EA8300 as an example) that'll act as AP and a separate switch if needed. That's the most sane setup given your requirements however VLAN support might be a wonky on the IPQ4 devices AFAIK. Trying to shoehorn stuff like bittorrent onto a route with 512Mb of RAM (at best) will not be a great/reliable experience.
You might get away with 512Mbyte however due to the design of Bittorrent it needs to cache pieces otherwise it'll trash i/o very quickly and larger torrent can eat quite a bit of memory just to load. I also assume that you'll need something like SMB to access the files which also can eat quite a bit of memory (there's a WIP kernel module which is more lightweight however) so it all adds up in the end. Even if you find a MIPS box with lets say 256Mb you'll get very poor performance as the SoC is slow and bittorrent can be quite intensive especially if you use encryption within the client and/or VPN.
Ok, I get it. I wont be using BitTorrent over VPN. But I need VPN to work well (open internal webpages and download/upload files) as I use it for work. I hope that VPN connection is sustainable with lower amounts of RAM (128 MB).
What about used Linksys EA8500? It have powerfull IPQ8064 SOC, 512 MB RAM, 128 MB flash, AC2600 wireless and cost only near 50 USD on ebay.
I'm planning to replace my old TP-LINK TL-WR941ND (with 16MB FLASH and 64 MB RAM patch) by this router, and want to consult according it.