I am considering getting 5-6 wireless routers, configured to work as bridge and Access Point modes, to expand my Wi-Fi coverage across my house and several neighbors. I am considering these 2 models:
- TL-WR740N v4 global: 4MiB flash / 32MiB RAM / 1 antenna / 150mbps (1x1:1)
- TL-WR842N v4 China: 2MiB flash / 8MiB RAM (?) / 2 antennas / 300mbps (2x2:2)
I do not favor the 842N because of it is hard-to-use Chinese web interface, while the 740N has English and can even install OpenWrt -- although I highly doubt the real advantage of OpenWrt if they are merely used as dumb Access Points. The advantage of the 842N is its double throughput compared to that of the 740N. I don't know how in the world can it operate with a tiny 8MiB of RAM, and if it is going to affect performance or not. I only have 5 clients per Access Point at maximum.
My Internet connection speed is capped at 50mbps only. The sole purpose of the wireless network is for mobile clients to access the Internet. The ability to copy/share large files between them is never planned. Is there any real benefit if I go with the 842N? I live in the country where 2.4Ghz interference is close to zero.
Which one should I go with? Do not recommend me other models, because these 2 flooded my local 2nd hand market for as cheap as $3. As long as they work, I don't care -- I see no point investing in $30-40 alternatives.
With a device that has sufficient resources for operation with current and future OpenWrt.
2flash 8RAM -> completely insufficient. Will not work at all.
4flash 32RAM -> although some users report that they got such devices working with current OpenWrt, I wouldn't hold my breath for those being updatable in the future due to low flash.
4/32 devices were a PITA back in 2013 when I started with OpenWrt, and the situation has NOT improved during the past 6 years, but got even worse.
Devices with sufficient resources (8flash/64MB at minimum) for your usecase can be had for as low as $20.
https://openwrt.org/toh/tp-link/tl-wr740n -> see the big warning at the top of the page.
If I use them merely as dumb Access Point, does OpenWrt have any advantages over the stock firmware? My main router already runs OpenWrt for VPN and SMB, so their is no need to run any software or service on these auxiliary devices.
Yes and no.
The great thing about OpenWrt compared to stock... especially on low end / task specific setups is being able to turn off things you don't want or need.
Most oem firmware will run many services and protocols... the resource saving considerations are secondary to the much improved security of minimal + up to date services.
On a well supported device... in anything beyond a basic home scenario... it is worth running OpenWrt.... and if any advanced wireless options are desired than it is almost a necessity to run openwrt / similar.
However... in some situations when it comes to bleeding edge devices or ones that are not so well supported ( marvel for example )... then the wifi throughput gain will far exceed any performance sacrifices from excessive OEM bloat ( but your still stuck with it's default services / vulnerabilities and means to enable or disable them )....
If you're using them just as AP or bridges then there isn't advantage for being with OpenWRT or stock firmware.
The real improvement will be there if you invest in little bit expensive devices with dualband support. Like
TL-WDR4300 or Archer C20. This happens because 5GHz offer better performance but have weak indoor coverage. With 5 APs you can get radio interference between channels and this to make 2.4GHz channels to be slow and unrealible.
Both devices you’ve identified are inadequate, due to flash and RAM size both. Anything with less than16 MB of flash and 128 MB of RAM is unwise at this time for purchase.
OEM firmware for consumer devices is generally unpatched for security, which is a problem even with AP use. There have been significant 802.11 security vulnerabilities recently.
For wireless repeater use, WDS interoperability is often poor on OEM firmware. OEM firmware generally doesn’t support other point-to-point or mesh capabilities, such as 802.11s, batman, OLSR, GRE, or the like. OEM firmware may have problems with VLANs and multiple SSIDs,
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