Recommendation for a dual band dumb AP & Gb switch


I'm looking for recommendation for a dual band dumb AP & Gb switch. I'll buy one or more of these devices. Each one will be connected to my managed switch. My managed switch is connected to my dual NIC PC acting as a router.

Each OpenWRT device will cast 3 Vlans on the Wifi APs (main, IoT, guest), while the Ethernet ports will act as an unmanaged switch.

I'd rather go for the best price / features ratio so Wifi 5 will be fine ; I might replace the devices in a few years with better Wifi.

This is for a 2 floors house with a garden, so I might at least buy 2 devices.

Here are my answers to the classic questions:

  • How fast is your internet connection? 1G
  • Do you need Wi-Fi? Yes, dual band
  • Do you need Gigabit Ethernet? Yes, preferably at least 4 (2 bare minimum)
  • Do you need USB ports? No
  • How many family members/devices must the router support? 4 people and a lot of devices including IoT, but the routing is handled by my PC server
  • What other services do you want? None
  • Max price: $150 or 150€

Thanks !

Run routers, configured as APs.


I use an EA8500 and EA6350v3 as AP's and switches - one on each floor of our home connected with wired back-haul to an ER-X gateway connected to a modem. I picked them up used on ebay.

The ER-X manages VLANs for lan, IOT and guest similar to your plan. The AP's provide a WiFi SSID for each VLAN. I use the ER-X to provide DHCP for each VLAN.

On paper the 4x4 ipq8064 EA8500 is faster. In practice my WiFi clients are at most 2x2 anyway. Both the 4x4 EA8500 and the 2x2 EA6350v3 are Wave 2 WiFi5 and I get about the same WiFi speed on either with my clients. If they were needed for gateway router duty, the faster CPU on the EA8500 would clearly be the best option, but they are not, so it matters little.

Wave 2 WiFi 5 is worth it. I can relate that the 2x2 EA6350v3 performs a bit faster (and is a little less obtrusive visually) than a 3x3 Archer C7 (Wave 1) that it replaced.

In summary, the takeaways from all this for your situation I offer are:

  1. Unless you've got WiFi clients that are going to load up that gig ISP service of yours, just about any Wave 2 WiFi5 all in one router with gig ports should provide a fine AP and switch.
  2. Why spend $150 each? There is no need to buy new.
  3. Why spend $50 (current going rate of a used EA8500 off ebay, plus you need a usb to serial dongle to flash an EA8500 the first time) when you can spend $30 (current going rate for EA6350v3 on ebay) for each AP, without 2x2 clients knowing the difference?

There are plenty of other options I'm sure - these are just a couple I'm familiar with.

One caution. The EA6350v3's are a bit "special". The board-2.bin file on my EA6350v3 is replaced with one from a NoTengoBattery's build (I found this necessary to improve 2.4GHz performance from awful to very good, and it also improved 5GHz throughput a little). You need to set up the VLAN's on an EA6350v3 in the network file (don't save the config with LuCI!) and leave VLAN ID's of 1 and 2 alone, because those are reserved by the switch - there are plenty of posts on the forum about that. Or just use NoTengoBattery's builds - a little searching on the forum confirms they fix the VLAN configuration weirdness and get great reviews.

I find it a bit difficult to recommend the ea6350v3 at this point. On the one hand there's already the mt7621 based ea6350v4 on the market (as well as the broadcom based v1/ v2 before that), on the other hand the ea6350v3's bootloader limits kernel size to 3 MB, which ipq40xx is already approaching quickly (especially with the additional compression complications). Other ipq40xx devices avoid these issues (but are still plagued by the switch/ VLAN oddities), so if you can - avoid this particular one.

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The EA6350v3 is cheap, supported and can be configured to work very well, but yeah, that's good advice to find other options if extra care and feeding isn't the OP's cup of tea. I'd still take it any day over an Archer A7/C7.

I wasn't aware of the kernel size limitation. Oh well, at least its supported in snapshot and has already been migrated to the 5.10 kernel, so it seems unlikely I will lose EA6350v3 OpenWrt support anytime soon.

Oddly enough, the mt7621 based EA6350v4 is not supported by OpenWrt yet, but many other mt7621 options that would be decent wired AP/switch choices are.

If you don't want to spend $90 in a new Belkin RT3200, used Archer ac2600s can often be bought on ebay for $30-40.

Thanks a lot for the EA8500 and EA6350v3 recommendation and the warning about EA6350v3. I don't mind tinkering things a bit, but long time support by OpenWRT is a thing to me.

I don't need 1Gb on my WiFi devices. The devices that really need speed are connected on Cat6a RJ45 anyways. Strong signal in the whole property and stability is more important than speed for me. I have a little doubt about this and the EA6350vX which has only 2 antennas, so another reason to maybe not choose it.

I've identified the Belkin RT3200 as well. I can also buy a used AC2600 for 55€. I'll dig a little bit around those models.

Thank you all!

The Belkin RT3200 has a fast CPU and hardware encryption potential that make it very interesting as a gateway router (and of course WiFi6), but I've seen several reports that its WiFi range is only so-so. Something to keep in mind for AP use.

If you see a good Wave 2 (MU-MIMO) WiFi5 option with only two antennas, I don't think you'll be sorry you took a chance. In theory, more antennas can feed larger numbers of clients demanding high throughput simultaneously. In practice, more antennas mostly let vendors put bigger numbers on their router boxes for marketing.

If your clients only have two antennas (and especially if they don't support MIMO and your highest throughput devices are hardwired anyway), all those antennas are just making your home interior look ugly :wink:

Do you need .ax or is .ac enough? I am sticl rocking overclocked C7's which deliver 500Mbit/sec over 5GHz (2.4GHz is stiull buggy though). Plan is to replace them with AX3600 as soon as OpenWRT is mature enough to support AP functionality.

Thanks for the tip on RT3200, will definitively double-check the WiFi range reports which would be a no-no for me.

Understood for the antennas, thanks !

Thanks for the input ! .ac is enough but 2.4 GHz can't be buggy for me, I have lots of ESP8266 based devices so Archer C7 seems to be out for me.