so I'm looking at making an x86 based router. I have a m720q with 8gb ram, 128 nvme SSD, and an i5. similar to this build here. I'm going to add an sfp+ Mellanox connect x3 and id like to add a m.2 Wi-Fi ax card. After some googling I found this. it looks perfect but I'm a bit confused about "Soft AP mode (limited number of clients)" what dose this mean? will it be supported in openwrt? Or should I look at other options. If so what?
I'm a noob to all of this so any help will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Do yourself a favour and outsource the AP duties to a dedicated 'plastic' wireless router or AP (ideally running OpenWrt), that will end up both considerably cheaper and usually provides better rf capabilities (good antennas, spaced and oriented properly, not big chunk of metal (case) in the way).
The wlan card you've been looking at is ath11k based, which is still very 'new' for OpenWrt (and the only feedback based on the ipq807x target is still kind of problematic) - and your particular card will face even more fun times ahead (DBDC, wifi6e). If you'd continue this road nevertheless, be prepared to spend basic infrastructure development and low-level debugging before you may get it to work. Not saying that this would be a bad choice, long term, but the short- to medium term would be very bumpy.
Ok perhaps this isnt the best for a beginner i do have some wifi routers that i could use as aps but thay have custom firmware from the isp and honistly its a bit meh. Perhaps when wifi 6e is better supported? I might still drop that card(or a different one) in in the future with some of these just to experiment and mess about. Im also guessing that soft ap mode means openwrt would handle all of the wpa3, wifi routing and other wifi stuff insted of the card?
The best supported wifi 6 chip right now is the MT7915. I have seen these on mini-PCIe cards but haven't looked for M.2.
WiFi 6 only makes sense if the users are within a few meters of the router. At longer range the modulation has to drop back to older slower rates anyway. Also don't try to run a whole house off of a laptop card.
6e would be worth it if you have lots of neighbors and the regular 5 GHz band is full.
So i looked and mini pcie would probably be best but the amount of adapters id need just wouldnt fit in the tiny case. As for spaceing most of the users are going to be within about 10 meters or so as i only have a small apartment. When i do have a bigger place i will be running multiple APs but for now this looked like a fun project with some use. I do also have alot of neighbours where i live the 2.4 and 5 ghz bands arent full but there is still lots of traffic.
6E + DIY = Expensive.
6E M2 cards are out @ $350 for just 6Ghz not including 2.4 / 5 Ghz
I switched from AC to AX a while back and picked up a NWA210AX for $225 and they're down to $160 now but, it's been a good experience even though I prefer to put a card in and run my own antenna setup as I had before on AC.
AX/E AP's are out though too but, still a bit high on pricing. The lowest I've seen so far is ~$750 but, it's still early for supplies to ramp up with countries just now releasing 6ghz spectrum to be used.