Test router similar to R7800

I am wanting a sandbox router to test on for my main router. My main router is a R7800 and i want a router that is similar but much cheaper to test LEDE firmware on. Any suggestions of routers with similar chipset that i can purchase? I would most likely go through amazon. I want to keep the cost around $50 USD. I had an eye on the R6100 but was not sure. Let me know what you guys think.

Not much choice if you want IPQ8065 SoC:

Little more choice if you can live with IPQ8064:

That is what i found too... was wondering if going to a different SoC would make learning and testing to be much different? Still new to open source router firmware but run other open source and have done so on other routers in the past. Would the R6100 be too far different? Mainly want to have a test bed to try things out on then implement them on the main router.

Actually i realized i have a raspberry pi 2 hanging around. Would that be a decent test bed? Was not sure if the architecture was too different to learn and test on.

It depends on what you actually want to test.

If all you're interested in is some higher level userland stuff (like developing luci, testing optional dæmons, etc.), you can pretty much use anything you like (including virtualization on x86). Once you go lower level, like userland code written in C, you really want at least the same endianess - and probably also the same architecture (especially mips has some special requirements in terms of code alignment, not to forget the hardfloat vs softfloat question; armhf, as used on the IPQ806x, is a tad more forgiving, but the same principles apply) - for this 'any' old device sharing the same architecture would do.

But if you want to test if your newly built firmware image will actually boot and work in a dummy environment, you're pretty much doomed to use exactly the same device you're using in production, as there are significant differences (and be it just the FDT, which is still evolving for the IPQ806x platform) even between roughly similar devices from different vendors (not that those would be significantly cheaper for the IPQ806x platform).

I would be testing more user level stuff like configuration and modules to see how they would work. I am not into the coding side yet.

If your test scenario doesn't involve routing or AP usage, the RPi2 running LEDE should be a decent approximation - it just sucks on the I/O (and networking) side with everything hanging of the poor USB 2.0 bus.

Ahh never thought of that. Kinda noobish when it comes to this part. Hence wanting a less expensive option to test on before using in the house. We have a quite a few system so testing AP and routing would be great. Any good ideas on an AC router that is similar in setup (ie configuration) to the R7800 around $50. I do not need all the same speed or features of my main router just the ability to test configurations and optional packages.

IPQ806x is using the armhf architecture, which is rather new in the router arena - this means it's mostly used in brand new and high(er) end devices, which in turn means you won't really find cheap devices yet (and for another 3-5 years to come, the old mips designs still fill that role). The new IPQ40xx platform (with devices starting around 90-100 EUR) might have closest resemblance to your IPQ8065 device (be aware support for it is just being added to the kernel 4.9 based development tree right now, you will have to wait a little longer (probably weeks, not months) before it actually becomes available for flashing.

...and we're back to the initial question of what you actually want to test, because LEDE is good at abstracting the actual hardware from the configuration - and many things could be tested on cheap/ old mips designs (or x86 virtualization) just as well - for others you do want to approximate the target platform as good as possible.

The main things i am looking for are testing configurations and setups for the following:

  1. Testing control of wifi security and settings
  2. Current and historical Bandwidth consumption and usage
  3. web site history per ip
  4. ad blocking dns setup
  5. More but not sure

Months ago i had a TP-Link router and ran Gargoyle but dont have that router any more and they do not support my current one. I got used to many of their feature set and was hoping to have some of those features but adding my own as i find new ones. That is what drew me to LEDE as it was based on what gargoyle was also based on.

None of that (at least not 1-4) really depends on the hardware architecture, you just need a device that has enough steam to cope with the workload (I suggest eliminating devices with less than 16 MB flash and less than 128 MB RAM from equation though; 8 MB flash at the very least). Other than the RPi2 (not good enough in the routing and wlan department), any supported router with the afforementioned minimum specs should do.

Sweet thanks for saving me money :smiling_imp:

2-3 years ago, I would have suggested to get a TP-Link TL-WDR3600 for around 45 EUR new from the stores (only 8 MB flash, but ticking pretty much all other boxes), but that's EOL for 2 years now and hasn't really found a 1:1 modern replacement. The TL-WR1043ND v4 might do, but only 2.4 GHz wlan isn't really anything I'd recommend with a good conscience (and RAM is also below the feel-good point).

Not an AC router, but the Netgear WNDR4300 ($59US @ Amazon) is my go-to test bed,

I found the R6100 for $40 ish on amazon. Was thinking that as it has good ram and flash. Any opinions?

Only 100 MBit/s ethernet ports feels very wrong (especially combined with 802.11ac wlan) these days, other than that it would be an interesting option.

I know the slow Ethernet seems strange but for the specs did not seem like a bad option as it had all even the ac

~20 bucks for a device without that restriction (like the Netgear WNDR4300) sounds like money well spent.

Too funny. After all this i found a WNDR4300 used for $15! Well that works. For that cost i cant complain about no AC. with a nice warranty too for used.