Router to handle CAKE SQM on 400/20 plan

Continuing the discussion from Making CAKE play nice with Zoom:

Now that I'm going to be moving to a new much faster cable plan providing 400 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up, @moeller0 thinks my trusty ol' Netgear WNDR3800 can't handle the [SQM] load. So, thinking about what my requirements are in rough priority order:

  1. Well supported by OpenWrt (preferably no soldering required, but that is negotiable depending on the rest)
  2. Good wifi stack for acting as a home AP, preferably works with @dtaht's Make WiFi Fast Project -- I presume this means based on the ath10k driver, correct? I live in medium-sized apartment building in NYC, so the airwaves are jammed with all sorts of wifi stuff... Plus DFS covers much of the 5G spectrum
  3. Can handle shaping at least a 400/20 WAN connection. Is this CPU-bound? How much would RAM factor into this?
  4. Expansion??
  5. Available for purchase in the USA at a reasonable price (doesn't have to be ultra-cheap, maybe ~$100)

Anyone else have any thoughts, ideas, or recommendations to contribute?

I'm forgetting which at the moment, but one or two other radio types work with the Make-Wifi-Fast stuff.

Does the WDNR3800 have ath9k/10k radios? If so, another way to go is getting a small separate box like the Zotac, or other PC boxes to be a separate router box, and use your Netgear as the dumb AP. That would be over your purchase price, but you would have more routing/SQM'ing horsepower than you need now, and beyond, up to 1Gbit. Search for x86 threads on here. I'm doing this currently, Zotac box and my ol' TP-link C7, though I have even less bandwidth than you do.

And in the same range of computing power to handle 1Gbit, you could get a Pi 4, and an external ethernet dongle, for maybe be half of your budget... See threads here that dlakelan has started on the Pi 4 for more about that.

The WDNR3800 comes with AR9220+AR9223 wireless, so both ath9k/ 802.11n, which isn't really viable these days (one would want 802.11ac capabilities).

Ah, there goes the $100 budget... :roll_eyes: Still, the RPI 4 and some affordable (second hand?) but newer router, able to do the MWF stuff, is probably the best bang for buck, with a lot of power for future expansion.

I would probably start with re-using the wndr3800 as AP, while not 802.11ac, with its airtime fairness it does pretty well even under saturating loads.
For the primary router, at 400/20 a raspberry pi4B will do, and at that speed it might be okay to just go for a pi with a managed switch instead of an USB3 ethernet adapter... and use VLAN trickery to use the pi's single ethernet port for both WAN and LAN (then again, getting an USB ethernet dongle in addition to the managed will not be too expensive and certainly more versatile).

Why not use the WNDR3800 as the AP as well as a managed switch?

Sure, also an option, especially when on a tight budget. Not sure if swconfig allows all the required settings, but it probably will. Also no idea how this is going to look with the comming DSA switch model.

It is past time to say goodbye to the WNDR3800. Keep it simple, replace it with a more capable all in one ipq806x device and enjoy the benefits of 802.11ac. Except for the few clients you may have that only connect at 2.4 GHz, you will never look back-especially given the crowded WiFi spectrum in your location.

A base routing device with AP's connected by wired back haul is a great option for a large multi-story home, but more complicated than necessary for your apartment in my opinion. And saving the WNDR3800 to stay stuck with 2.4GHz? Don't do it. Seriously, thank it for its many years of faithful service and say goodbye to it. But really, I don't have a strong opinion on the matter :wink:

My go to for a "new" router is always used on ebay. A used 1.4 GHz ipq8064 EA8500 can be had shipped for ~$50. That would be my budget pick. You will probably have to open the EA8500 case to flash it with OpenWrt the first time with a USB dongle (another $5 if you don't already have one, and you will eventually have one anyway since you are flashing third party firmware). A used 1.7 GHz ipq8065 R7800 will cost closer to $110-$120 shipped. Only you can decide if the modest speed improvement and future head room is worth it. Either should make good use of your 400/20 plan.

Mmmh, the (Netgear) wndr3800 is a dual band device that already uses both 2.4 and 5 GHz simultaneously, so not as ancient as you might think. Sure the max speeds are lower than with more recent radios, but as I said thanks to airtime fairness it operates pretty well even with saturating loads...

Personally moving from 802.11n to 802.11ac was a much bigger step up for me, than 802.11g to 802.11n previously. The performance difference is really significant[0], even more so in terms of performance over the range.

[0] comparing a TL-WDR4300, which is slightly newer than the WNDR3800, to IPQ40xx. With the TL-WDR4300 I had to resort to 2.4 GHz over the indoor range (as the 5 GBit/s signal was barely there/ slower then the 2.4 GHz signal), with ipq40xx I easily achieve 25-30 MByte/s through multiple walls and floors. It's really a significant difference over 802.11n silicon (even more comparing against draft-n hardware).

Yes, I see the same thing with my WNDR3800 -- the signal on the 5GHz band is abysmal. I'm glad to hear that you are having a better experience with 802.11ac!

@slh and @moeller0 - thank you for ending my evening on a bright spot! I did a quick search on the WNDR3800 before adding my $0.02 earlier and concluded (incorrectly) it was a 2.4 GHz only device. I've obviously learned from the replies since that I was mistaken and it is actually a dual band, but perhaps handicapped a bit on 5 GHz due to not supporting the 802.11ac standard. Lest it be concluded I knew that already, for the record I did not. And I've at least kept up with this forum enough to know either of you have forgotten more than I'll ever know about routers and firmware, which made the situation especially entertaining (for me at least). So thank you for that ... LOL.

@jnahmias - as a cheap skate, and with a dose of blind luck on my misunderstanding thrown in, I still stand by my rather opinionated opinion to trash your WNDR3800 and replace it with an ipq806x device!

I finally got my new cable modem and my line reprovisioned. Here's a preliminary speed test report with SQM OFF:

Looks to me like the AQM built into DOCSIS 3.1 definitely addresses much of the bufferbloat issues!

With CAKE turned on and speeds set to 180,000 down & 20,000 up: