Old router flashed with original Tomato and is the only router controlling my home network. Devices: 3 wire connected Linux boxes, 2 wifi laptops, network printer, Roku, 2 TVs, 2 mobile phones. The WRT54GL has run fine for ten years, but I'm beginning to experience problems: Some dropped laptop connections, frequent "No Data..." notifications on my Galaxy mobile phone, and significantly less than expected bandwidth speeds from my internet provider (Comcast). Some of these issues may not be due to the old router, but maybe this is time to update. I'm looking for a middle ground router (not a cheapie, but not overkill either) that I can put OpenWrt on. Would like to do the replacement with minimal hassle. Looking at Linksys WRT1900ACS and Asus RT-AC68U. Would appreciate comments on these or other suggestions.
It really depends on your needs (mostly your WAN speed, now and expected increases over the next ~3 years) and which services you might want beyond normal routing (e.g. VPN, SQM, etc.). In general, the Linksys WRT1900ACS would be an option (depending on your WAN speeds maybe not the cheapest one) - the Asus RT-AC68U would not be an option for running OpenWrt (Broadcom BCM4360 wlan, which is not supported).
 only very basic support in b43, 54 MBit/s at most (no support for HT rates).
Depending on where you are, Comcast will be offering 250-1000 Mpbs plans, and AT&T is now offering 1000 Mbps symmetric in some areas as well (at ~$70/month, as I recall). If you think that you'll be looking at gigabit speeds in the next couple years, you might want to look at some of the high-end ARM routers, or go for a compact x86 box, a managed switch, and one or more APs (either a dedicated AP, or just a decent all-in-one wireless router configured as an AP). I personally use Archer C7s that I pick up on the used market for $40 or less for APs, at least for the next several years until something meaningfully better comes out in 802.11 schemes that is widely adopted by phones and laptops.
The high-end ARM units can reasonably handle gigabit downlinks with SQM (delay/quality management). I don't know that they've been pushed by 1 Gpbs symmetric in real-life settings by many yet. I would guess that would put you into the x86-class devices.
Long, but worth a read for opinions (and there are lots of opinions there):
My WAN download speed is "up to 100 mb/s" per Comcast, but I actually get about half that. I tried several things including updating my modem to a currently recommended one, but no difference. My current speed is adequate to stream video etc, so I've stopped fighting it, but am annoyed that I'm not getting the speed I'm paying for. However, WAN speed is not my primary issue. Dropped connections to my wife's laptop and my Galaxy phone are the biggies.
If you can pick up a used Archer C7 v2 off Craigslist or Facebook for $40 or less, that would do a good job at those rates.
@jeff thx for the info, but I don't think I'll need that level of speed. Maybe 15 years ago I was spending a lot of time doing things under the hood with Linux, but lately I've gotten lazy and just want fewer hassles. I want a modern replacement router to flash with OpenWRT and will be happy if my dropped connection issues end. A few years ago, I built a tower running generic Mint and headless server box running Debian stable...it was fun and they run well, but they should last a long time and I don't have the urge to build another
@jeff: just checked out the "non-cheapie" favorites link in your first post. Good link, thx. I was partial to Linksys because of my long experience with the WRT54GL/Tomato, but current Linksys routers seem to be labeled with wifi issues...something I want to avoid. My present system is "mostly" wired but going more and more to wifi. It sounds like the Netgear 7800 is popular & recommended. Maybe more than I need now, but should be good for a while. What do you think?
Most likely because the CPU in your ancient router is too slow. As soon as you upgrade you will likely get improved speed and stability.
I'd suggest a refurbished WRT32X off Amazon, they're about $100. Wifi issues with current firmware have been pretty well debugged.
For ~100 MBit/s (and actually up to ~twice that and slightly more), I'd go with ipq40xx (as in e.g. ZyXEL NBG6617, which is newer and faster (better wlan) than the archer c7 - but costs roughly the same). Obviously Netgear r7800 or ZyXEL NBG6817 (both very similar) would also be good choices, but probably (quite) a bit overkill for your stated needs (as would be a wrt1900acs).
Even during its high time, the wrt-54gl was maxing out around 16-22 MBit/s at most, so it's no wonder that you don't even get close to 100 MBit/s with that device.
OK, I'm seeing some good suggestions...I have some Amazon credit, so I may go to the Netgear r7800. A little off topic, but I've read that USB 3.0 can interfere with 2.4Ghz, but all the newer routers have 3.0...has that issue been resolved? In any case, I have a separate debian server for backup and other task...I'll only need to use the router for routing functions, and probably VPN.
USB 3.0 vs 2.4 GHz wlan is a systemic issue (both working on the same frequencies), there is no solution to this aside from shielding it as well as possible and keeping it as far away from the antennas as possible - or not using it (at least not in USB 3.x mode).
I run Debian on my multi purpose router (OpenWrt on my APs) I'd suggest to use systemd-nspawn and run your routing on the server in a separate systemd container. Buy a Cisco sg350 or a zyxel gs1900-24e switch, and a tp-link EAP 225v3 for wifi. It'll run circles around anything else.
+1 for the wrt1900ac I love mine. I all so have the wrt3200acm. Wifi runs fine. I put my wrt54g in the bin about 7 years ago!
I think that having a "spare" router is always a good idea, so, for me, an inexpensive, used Archer C7 (not worth it for the price new!) would be on my list. I'd have considered the less-expensive NBG6617, but it appears that, at least in the US, it's been discontinued. If a cheap Archer C7 were available, it would not only give you good service for the 200 Mbps line, but also time to wait for Amazon or another vendor to put the NBG6817 on offer for the $150 that it occasionally hits (price history and price alerts), or similarly for the Netgear pieces, or see what comes out from CES, or ....
I also had a Linksys WRT54GL until it started failing a few years ago. When it came time replace it, I started off buying some of the early Linksys 802.11ac WRT routers. OpenWrt support for those routers at that time was pretty terrible, because apparently Linksys had just recently moved over to using certain chipsets that were very incompatible with drivers that were available to OpenWrt. I tried a couple different Linksys models, and ended up having to return them to the store.
After poring through the table of hardware, I decided to give the Netgear R8000 a try, mainly because it happened to be on sale at that time. It seems that the R8000 and R7800 both behave quite well with OpenWrt loaded onto them. Take a look at the comments I made in the "What's your favorite enthusiast LEDE/OpenWrt device?" thread that @jeff started.
If the R8000 is overkill for you, the R7800 might be a good alternative. Costco sells an R7900 model, but I have no idea what sort of compatibility those things have with OpenWrt.
P.S.: I haven't really noticed any problems with USB interfering with 2.4 GHz. I am using both USB ports on my R8000, with a thumb drive plugged into the USB 3.0 port and a UPS plugged into the USB 2.0. Don't seem to be getting any interference on the 2.4 GHz radio. YMMV.
At that time yes, today the wifi works reasonably well and the WRT32x is probably the best thing going for OpenWrt in the all-in-one space from a speed, price, and compatibility point of view.
I've pretty much settled on the Netgear 7800. It's probably Overkill but it should do the job for some time. Thanks for all the help on this subject.
If you can get the Zyxel NBG6817, it is almost identical to the Netgear 7800 but usually cheaper. I have one and it is rock solid with OpenWrt.
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