I am looking for simple hardware, ideally under $100, that I will use simply as a remote device to be a VPN server. Therefore it will be neither a router nor even an Access Point, but a simple client of a wifi network, and run an ssh server. I want to run the latest OpenWrt on it. Performance is not a particular concern (say 50 Mb upload/download)
Please recommend brands from non authoritarian/spyware-legally-mandated countries.
WiFi and VPN each need a fair amount of CPU. You want both concurrently - a WiFi client VPN server - so I suggest making performance more of a concern.
A Belkin RT3200 would work and fit within your budget. They can be found on Walmart and ebay for ~$75. It has some nice features: a mid GHz speed dual core ARM A53 CPU; hardware encryption for OpenVPN available on the CPU; WiFi6. Be aware the USB2 port (no USB3) could limit file transfer speed to/from a USB drive plugged into it, even over WiFi, if you plan to use it for NAS.
I'd say 99% of current 22.03 supported hw should match your requirements.
If you want something specific under 100$ buy a netgear r6220
If OP's 50 Mbps VPN requirement is with OpenVPN, I would not agree. Wireguard perhaps.
then we need more details related to vpn tech from OP @SharkScout
Yes, planning on wireguard. The 50 Mbps requirement is a loose one away. If I reach 25 Mbps/30Mbps, that's ok as well.
In that case, then as maurer says, just about anything qca9563 or better (99% of supported OpenWrt hardware) will meet your performance requirements. Just stay away from ~500 Mhz SoC hardware, most of which have too little flash or ram to run current OpenWrt stable versions well anyway.
If you're looking for something with any exploitable components not made in an authoritarian or spyware country, you will be looking a long time I expect. Rule out ARM for ARM Trustzone, Intel for their ME, AMD for their Secure Technology, and any other CPU with an exploit (are there any without?). Now start ruling out countries of manufacture....might not be anything left.
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