Newb with a few questions for those in the know

Hi all, new here. I have a few questions regarding hardware, so I'll just number them to make things easier. I am something of a networking newbie, so your answers may need to be on the simple side for now.

  1. What's the best wifi router that I can get for $250, that will run Openwrt? I need it to have more the 4 ethernet ports. I'm using up all 4 ports now on my Linksys EA 6500, and I need another one because I just made a file server. I would like it to have good wifi range and performance if possible. Also I don't want to use the command line, I only want to use a GUI of some kind to control the router. Web based iirc

  2. Just out of curiosity, what's the best wifi router that a consumer should buy? I'm imagining some $1,500 monstrosity that's huge and everyone in your neighborhood could see on their network. Just curious what the top dog is these days.

  3. I was looking at the list of supported devices, and I saw that some of the routers on the list have 512Mb of ram. Is that really necessary for a router? Will it actually result in faster speeds? Seems like there might be some other bottleneck with the rest of the computers on the network, not being able to make full use of a super powerful router.


  1. Maybe you should consider using more specified products for different tasks.
    One beefy router which is only for routing and two or three wifi access points for wifi and some switching devices.

Please consider these questions:

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Thank you for the link! Here's the answers:

*I have basic charter spectrum. IIRC they advertise 70mbps, but I frequently see 100mbps. I've seen it go as high as 110 when downloading.

  • I need wifi. I am not sure whether I need 2.4, or 5.0 Ghz or both. I don't want to fall behind times and suffer the consequences, so maybe it's best if we just say I need both.

  • I need Gigabit ethernet, as I would like to attach multiple devices via ethernet cable. 5 right now, but perhaps a few more later on.

  • Yes I need at least 1 USB port. And I want it to be 3.0 for faster transfer speeds.

  • For now it only needs to support 2 people. But that number may increase in the future.

  • I need a VPN, but I currently pay a monthly subscription for one. I've heard there's some kind of VPN that can be installed on a router, but I don't know much about that. If it's somehow better, yes I would like to have that eventually. I will have a file server attached to the router via ethernet cable.

  • My price range is $250 or less.

100 Mbps ISP doesn't require super high performance hardware. The MT7621 chip is built for that speed class.

Practically no router has more than 4 LAN ports. When you need more wired connections add an external switch.

You still have to pay someone to run their server at the far end of a VPN, where your Internet access comes out at a different place. You can implement your end either on the endpoint PC or phone, or in a router. In the router provides "whole house" VPN with no additional software on the endpoints. However PCs and phones have much more CPU power than mid-line routers, so the encryption speed of running on a router is an issue.

I think I found one, but I want to check with you guys and make sure it's actually on the list of supported devices. This is because the model number in the link is slightly longer than the one on the device list. So would I be able to install OpenWRT on this router?

It's supported, but also rather old by now - and a rather exotic chipset (for OpenWrt). I would not buy this device in 2021, not for that price, nor at all.

Well how about these?

Basically the same device, same story.

Dang. Can I get your recommendation?

Same device, different brands.

The Belkin has been as low as $80, but it was in Jan.
There's an additional $10 off with code WLC2BELKIN, if you buy from Belkin.

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So it's definitely not worth the $229 that it's being sold for as a new netgear. So which one is? Can I get a recommendation please? I have around $250 to spend, want to get the best router for my money.

you got one (two actually) yesterday.

That didn't really come across as a recommendation. The other guy said he wouldn't buy it because it's old and the chip is "exotic", and then you basically said "here's two of the same thing but cheaper". I don't see where anyone gave an actual recommendation.

So to clarify, are you saying that both of those you linked are great routers with good wifi performance, and that you yourself would have no problems buying them?

They're great routers, and I'd buy them (esp the Belkin, at $90), but I can't say anything about the wifi performance.

You'd have to read the device specific threads, like

Note, the device is still in openwrt beta.

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Would you say that to OpenWRT development runs a few years behind the latest router designs? Or do they have something out for the new hot thing pretty quickly? I realize software development can take quite some time in some instances, so it wouldn't surprise me if they run a couple years behind the router releases.

I ask this because I'm considering the TP Link AX-6000, but it's not on the list. It won awards for customer satisfaction (jd power)

Problem is if there're no open source drivers published for the radios, and to some extent CPUs, there's no way for the open source community to support the hardware (not only openwrt, but Linux in general).

Different companies have different approaches, Broadcom for instance doesn't share much with the Linux world, while Qualcomm do, Realtek does too, but RTs drivers are garbage, and their HW should be avoided.

So when a new device comes out, the community have to figure out if

  • there's a person willing to take the device apart, and in worst case, do some PCB soldering.
    This usually voids warranty, so you will most probably not find anyone willing to tinker with a $500 device.
  • the CPU's supported (if not, it's a dead end)
  • the radio's supported (if not, wifi won't work, or be crippled)
  • how to get a 3rd party FW onto the device (figure out boot loader, sw checks, signing, etc)

Once those are answered, you still need to figure out the device specific details, usually by trial and error.

So yes, the open source community will always run behind the manufacturers.

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What are you guys' thoughts on the Linksys WRT3200 ACM? Apparently there were some driver issues in the beginning and people would lose wifi functionality. Anyone know if this has been fixed?

5 year old device, with possible wifi issues.

Will be overpriced due to high age & low stock.

Lowest have been around $100, on Amazon, according to CCC, now it's $230ish.

I wouldn't buy it.

Grab , while you wait for the AX3200 devices to reach stable.
(they're not going to be a lot faster than the C2600 though).

Is that one known for having the same (or better) wifi range as the WRT3200 ACM?

That's the main thing that made me want it, other than the fact that it meets all my requirements. Everyone seemed real impressed with the range. Which has been a small problem for me, with my old Linksys EA-6500