Top ten routers currently in use?


#1

Indeed, it may be time. I was trying to follow the thread of Favorite Devices to see if there was a general consensus on what's "good", but it was hard to come to any conclusions other than, "Boy, there sure are a lot of different devices available."

Is there a list of the top ten most popular hardware models? Has anyone ever considered something like Debian's "Popularity Contest"? That is, a package that, when installed, automatically votes in a poll once a week with machine statistics. That way there'd always be a current list of what hardware is being used and with what version of OpenWRT.


#2

Given the number of people posting about wanting to put OpenWrt on their WRT54GL or whatever... I'm not so sure what's in use is all that relevant. What matters is what's available today and how fast of internet can it handle...

The WRT32X is a lot of capacity for not much cost. Up from there I'd probably go dual LAN mini PC. Down from there I'd look at GL iNet devices.


#3

I see your point. But, I doubt there are many people using the WRT54GL with the latest firmware. A popularity contest would also determine the most common hardware being used for current versions of LEDE/OpenWRT.

Thanks for the WRT32X suggestion. I will look into it.


#4

I agree with that, any kind of popularity contest will inevitably be skewed by older devices - which aren't necessarily a good recommendation to buy today.

E.g. for a long time (and even until 1-2 years ago), the tl-wr841nd (ar71xx, 4 MB flash and 32 MB RAM, so basically in the same boat as your wnr2000v4) was very common and even recommended by many (despite the strongly repeated 4/32 warning ("but it worked fine in 15.05…")), because it was cheap (this mattered especially for larger deployments, like e.g. freifunk, who tend to buy devices in larger quantities; yes, they are now facing a pretty serious problem as well, even worse, because many of their participants have bought these below-spec devices until very recently or even just now…). For obvious reasons these devices with 4 MB flash or 32 MB devices can't be recommended anymore, even if the existing install base might be rather large.

Yes, it does matter which SOCs and devices are popular, but that list also needs to be cross checked against devices that are available for sale today - and whose hardware is good enough for the expected lifespan of that device and your actual needs in terms of performance and/ or budget.

Personally I'd condense the recommended set of readily available devices to (medium- to highend, non-exhaustive):

  • ipq40xx
    • AVM Fritz!Box 4040
    • ZyXEL NBG6617
  • ipq8065
    • Netgear Nighthawk r7800
    • ZyXEL NBG6817
      • or the older ipq8064 generation
        • Linksys EA8500
        • Netgear Nighthawk r7500v2
        • TP-Link Archer c2600
  • mvebu
    • Linksys WRT1200ACM
    • Linksys WRT1900AC/ WRT1900ACS
    • Linksys WRT3200ACM/ Linksys WRT32x
  • x86_64
    • there are quite a few low-power (<6-10 watts idle) devices with multiple ethernet cards on the market, mostly directly from asia; wlan is often more difficult here, meaning you usually need to outsource it to a dedicated AP (e.g. from the list above).

Both mvebu and x86_64 can be used for 1 GBit/s WAN speeds.

Additionally there are also cheaper options available:

  • mt7621
    • Xiaomi Mi Router 3g (mir3g)
    • ZBT WE1326
    • ZBT WG3526
  • ar71xx/ ath79
    • TP-Link Archer c7 (hardware revisions v2 and above)
    • … (for supported devices, as long as it comes with >8 MB flash and >64 MB RAM)
  • lantiq
    • BT Home Hub 5 Type A
    • … (for supported devices, as long as it comes with >8 MB flash and >64 MB RAM and good wlan (QCA/ Atheros))

Obviously there are many well supported devices matching or exceeding the minimum systems requirements beyond these - including different archs/ SOCs.

While you are right that these 16 MB RAM devices aren't fit for actual usage anymore, you'd be surprised how often support for these is still requested (or even demanded). Yes, even today, it's not uncommon to see support requests for these once or twice a day.


Support for ADB VV3220
Tp-link tl-wdr7400 V4.0 8MB 64MB need help identifying board
What's your favourite cheap LEDE/OpenWrt device?
Router with full OpenWrt support
AP Hardware for around 50 EUR / 60 USD
#5

The WRT32X has lots of power, but also some issues with the wireless drivers, and the development is stagnant... https://github.com/kaloz/mwlwifi/issues


#6

Which also can be said about mt76 and ath10k in terms of issues, others have mentioned that X works fine for them so it's not a clean cut.


#7

It certainly isn't, but I'd like to point out that there's a potentially unpatched RCE for mwlwifi in the wild atm.

Alleged Marvell reply (not sure if its genuine):

However there appear to be no recent firmware updates in the driver repo.


#8

It should also be mentioned that so far it's only confirmed for 88W8897 which isn't used in any of the WRT*-series to my knowledge.


#9

You can get some of this info through the download statistics: https://downloads.openwrt.org/stats/

Note that the numbers for wr1043nd are flawed because someone in Spain is trying to download it over and over.


#10

I'd imagine that many specific models use custom firmwares and doesn't rely on openwrt.org at all...
You have large communties in (eko.one.pl) .pl , (freifunk) .de and .es for instance.


#11

Precisely my thinking. I figured a popularity contest would narrow down the options and then I'd only have to research a handful of models.

But, it looks like your awesome post gives me exactly what I need: a short list of recommended hardware. I'm still curious which are the most popular ones, but that's not terribly important.

Yipes! Even if that doesn't affect any supported models, it does make me leary of Marvell hardware.

Nifty. So, if I'm reading it right, the most popular routers for individuals flashing firmware at home would be:

  1. tl-wr1043nd v1 (at least in Spain)
  2. Archer C7 v2
  3. 96328avng
  4. Archer C7 v5
  5. Tl-wr740n
  6. Archer C7 v2, again
  7. Dir 600 a1
  8. tl-wr1043nd v1, again
  9. D-team NeWiFi d2
  10. miwifi mini
  11. tl-wdr4300 v1
  12. Mir3g

Are any of the above no longer recommended?

Thank you, everyone, for all the help!


#12

If that reply is genuine, I am never buying Marvell products again. They literally blame the problem on the open source model of software development and then trumpet proprietary software and DRM. Yeesh. :face_vomiting:


#13

It's genuine. https://www.marvell.com/documents/pub6kqag6uk6ubau75ep/


#14

Because any other manufacturer is flawless...?
Most of your x86 boxes have some kind of vuln without patching of some kind, any older phone etc


#15

Hard to recommend most of those, especially for new purchases. I don't know the Chinese junk value-priced units too well, but the ones from major manufactures listed there are either or both under-resourced or over-priced by today's standards.

Edit: "96328avng" took me a bit to find, it's apparently an Actiontec GT784WNV -- ADSL modem, 16/64, 320 MHz, single core Broadcom SoC.

Download numbers are perhaps misleading. It's hardly an unbiased measure as you need to:

  • Know that alternate firmware exists at all
  • Want to flash new firmware
  • Know about OpenWrt and choose OpenWrt

There also seems to be a large contingency of people who think that flashing new firmware will somehow magically make their "ancient" router all good. Even if they could have bought a new device that probably outperforms what they have for US$20-40.

A couple notes on @slh's great list:

  • ZyXEL NBD6617 is no longer available through Amazon US, or any of its third-party merchants
  • Travel/mini/micro routers fall into a special class (as do 4G WWAN devices, which I have no personal experience). Most of the standbys are woefully under-resourced. Good, current options from personal experience include
    • 2.4 GHz only -- GL.iNet AR300M(-Lite) ar71xx / ath79
      (There is also the GL-MT300N-V2 and the forthcoming VixMini, both on the MT7628NN SoC, neither of which do I own.)
    • 2.4 and 5 GHz -- GL.iNet AR750S ar71xx

I don't know if it was slh's intent, but I interpret his use of ">" to imply that a minimum of 16 MB of flash and a minimum of 128 MB of RAM is required. If that wasn't his intent, I apologize. In either case, I would suggest those minimums, especially with Kernel 4.19 in the near future (no, I don't have a date).


#16

Note that there is a difference in "old widely-spread devices currently unavailable due to end-of-life" and "devices currently sold".

slh gave a pretty good list of current popular mainstream medium/highend routers.

Ps.
And that "top device" tl-wr1043nd v1 is just somebody's misuse of our download server. Read the thread about that.


#17

This was ultimately my point in saying that what's popular is not necessarily what's a good idea to buy. In the mid 1980's it might have been pretty popular to still be driving an old 1970's Plymouth Valiant, but if you wanted a safe car to tote your kids around in you'd buy a Volvo. In the period from 1970 to 1990 car safety technology surged ahead a lot and even a few years earlier meant much worse technology.

In computer technology, surging ahead has been the norm for about 60 years, with exponential growth in speed and space. Doubling every 1.5 years or so means forget about buying anything more than maybe 2 years old.

I've posted a similar thing just yesterday I think but the best way to think about a router is as an additional cost of your internet service amortized over the lifetime of the hardware, which is 3 to 6 years. If you think about it this way, you're probably paying something like 40-100 dollars monthly for your ISP service, and even spending $300 to get say 6 years of service out of an x86 machine is only around $4 a month more or between 4 and 10% increase in cost. Now, if having a good fast router which is able to shape your bandwidth using SQM and improve your performance means that you can do things like save money by switching to IPTV services or share the bandwidth between yourself and 3 roomates, or keep from upgrading to the higher speed tier and spending $20/mo more or whatever, it's probably worth going pretty high in the performance curve. Spending more to save money over the longer haul is a good thing... Of course not everyone has access to the up-front cash. Still, if you can find a way to swing the up-front cash, getting a high end device that is well supported is a good plan.


#18

An even cheaper ipq4018 based replacement of the nbg6617 could be the Linksys EA6350 v3, the problem there is just that hardware revisions v1 and v2 are not supported (and never will!), which makes it a gamble to order. I do not recommend the ASUS RT-AC58U (also ipq4018 based) because it's a bit harder to flash and it's marginal RAM (128 MB RAM is borderline for two ath10k radios).

Yes, I meant to recommend at least those figures (as the bare minimum of 8 MB flash or 64 MB RAM, while still viable, shouldn't be recommended or bought new anymore, personally I'd only consider >=32 MB flash && >=256 MB RAM myself, but that's another story).


#19

Fwiw I've been running on an Archer C7 v2 since Sept 2015. It's rock-solid. I also like the GL-AR150 and GL-AR300M and used one for almost a year now at my weekend home (at one point it had 240 days of uptime before I upgraded to 18.06.1).


#20

The Archer c7 (h/w rev v2-v5) is a solid device, but at the end of its life cycle (single core mips 74Kc) - and by now overpriced for what it can offer (TP-Link Archer c7 v5 starting at ~80 EUR (in germany) vs. ~75 EUR for a AVM Fritz!Box 4040 or a ZyXEL NBG6617, the Linksys EA6350v3 even starts around ~55 EUR, which have significantly newer/ better wlan and provide more performance (especially under load --> quadcore); prices for used devices aren't much better either).

If you already own an archer c7 (>=v2), it'll do a good job for a few more years to come - but I wouldn't recommend buying one today.