Unsure about Hardware Choice

Hi there,

i want to take the opportunity that my new FTTH (soon™) provider won't provide a fritzbox to finally get into openWRT and set up my network properly.
I did a lot of reading, but of course that's a lot to take in, especially without context and experience :wink:
So i just wanted some reassurance that i'm not completely on the wrong track.

My setup is rather small currently - my main PC in the living room (where the modem/router is also located) connected via ethernet, another pc connected via ethernet in the basement and i'd like to have a wifi AP at both locations. WiFi-wise i'm more concerned about coverage and reliability than speed - maybe besides the Smart-TV, that is in the same room as my main PC and router though.
I'd like to future-proof the setup in regards to smart home and stuff, so my currently planed hardware might be a bit overkill:

I was thinking about two Archer C6 (v3.2 should still be the v3 series, right?), one also providing ethernet-switch functionality for the basement. Setting up roaming with those should be no problem i guess?
As those probably won't have enough processing power for anything but the most basic routing, i figure i'd need some kind of main router still.

For that i was first thinking about a raspi4, but seeing their current prices and reading in the forums i came to like the idea of buying a topton mini-pc from aliexpress.
I've narrowed it down to two options:

with the j6412 and either 8 or 16gb ram

with N5105 and i226-V, also 8 or 16gb ram.

Additionally, i might be able to get my hands on a APU2C4 for a good price - but that would be much less powerful than those two, i'm just not sure if that really would matter?

The first one also has Wifi - so that might spare me one C6, if it is decent enough...i haven't found too many reports about that though. What i dislike about that in regards to future-proofing is that it only has Gigabit ports. My fibre will be 500/100mbit at first, with the option to upgrade to gigabit in a year or two (depending on their capacity), so gigabit will probably be enough for quite a while - maybe i'm too much caught up in the whole future-proofing thought here?

The second one has 2.5g Ports, and 4 of them, so that would spare me a separate switch in the living room - as it doesn't have wifi, i would need a C6 there anyway though.

I'm leaning towards the first option, but i'm thankful for food for thought from more experienced users :wink:

I don't really have a set plan on what additional stuff to run on the main router/server, but i could imagine things like a wireguard vpn, a Home Assistant Server, maybe a nextcloud instance, maybe even a matrix homeserver or an email-server in the future. I guess with both models i will have ample CPU-Power to facilitate all of that - or am i underestimating the requirements here?

So, enough of a wall of text, if i forgot something i'll add it upon request :wink:
For now i'm grateful for any input if that would be a good way to go or if i'm completely on the wrong track.

I'd get https://www.ebay.de/itm/385359235385 + https://www.ebay.de/itm/122513425301
Make sure you get a version with a riser, and the quad core GX-415GA CPU.

the wifi in the boxes you link to at AX, is probably from intel, it's useless as AP.

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Doesn't look too bad either, indeed - the idle-powerdraw is 4.5w according to fujitsu - is that realistic or will it be much higher under routing-duty?

idling, it could be, depending on the definition of idling :wink:

I use a couple of Archer C6 v3.2 routers. They’re good for the price and work well with OpenWRT except for a crash/reboot loop which seems to be caused by HW accelerated NAT (See Archer C6 on 22.03.2 crashes every ~3 days).

The dual core is easily up to WiFi routing but as you have guessed routing gigabit SQM would need a much more powerful solution

I really wouldn’t worry about gigabit ports. Anything with 10G ports is going to be very expensive, and if/when you need them then a proper managed switch is probably in order. Unless you really think you already have multiple devices regularly saturating their 1G links and being constrained by a 1G bottleneck elsewhere then I wouldn’t bother.

The main future proofing is in the cabling that you use. Decent CAT6 is worth it now, as you don’t want to rip up your house to get 10G if you need it in 5-10 years. The rest of the hardware will be cheap and easy to replace in future.

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Atually, 10GbE is a lot heaper than 2.5GbE, since you can get used server gear on eBay, while 2.5 is a consumer product, and there's no company surplus available.


My comparison was to 1GbE, which is really cheap, and there aren't many devices a home user is likely to have which can go faster.

That's fair, my statement was regarding the price of 10GbE equipment in general, but I see your point.

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I won't recommend anything, but I can give you some more info to make your indecision harder. :grin:

I've got an APU2e4 ("production" house router, 4G ram, 128G msata, OpenWrt 22.03.2) and also one of those N5105 4x I226 boxes (barebones US$140, add 1x8G ram and WD550 250G nvme, "experimental" router, OpenWrt SNAPSHOT builds updated every week). My primary switch is a Zyxel with 8x 1Gbe, 2x 2.5Gbe and 2x SFP+ 10G. Wireless comes from a TP-Link wifi 6 AP.

I don't yet have long-term numbers for power usage on the APU (just never got a round tuit), but the N5105 is sitting on a 9.1 w average over about six weeks. That's with two ports active all the time, adding more cables adds about 1 watt per.

The APU is running SQM with cake tuned to A+ on bufferbloat, adblock with about 400k addresses (on top of dnsmasq), some firewall rules with sets that have 400-600 addresses. The memory use on the APU with all that almost never exceeds 100M (no typo, it sits at 88M used 3.8G free all the time). Disk use is about 135M with a bunch of extra packages installed.

Cake can gobble all available CPU with about 260-270 Mbps downloads and 10 Mbps up (nominal cable plan is 250Gbps, but I see 300 without cake and above numbers with). Normally, CPU is 2-3% on all cores, zooms up like this when you load 100 web pages or run "speed" tests; for example, here's htop on the APU during a bufferbloat test.

Edit: WD ssd model was wrong, it's an SN550...

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Check out the odroid h3, you can add 4 more nics with an add on board. As per above I too am kicking around one of the N5105 4x i226 boxes (cwwk, aliexpress), seems solid enough.

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Never thought about that, but sounds plausible ^^
For the most part 100/1000 is plenty for my needs, the only devices that really need 100+ mbit are in the living room close to the planned location of the main router.
The cables i have in the walls (down to the basement) unfortunately are only cat 5 for 100mbit anyway (installed by the previous owner), so >1gbit will be a bigger undertaking as a whole anyway.

Just to be sure: that is only for a lot of small connections? Or does this also apply for singular big downloads like for example from steam? That would disqualify the APU for me :poop:

So my takeaway till now: i'm not far off, the Archer C6 is a good choice (if i can get an earlier model than 3.2 - or maybe a cronjob to reboot the device every night would suffice till a proper solution is found?), the S920 would be a cheaper option if i can get a good deal on one and the wifi on the chinesiumboxes isn't worth it. Sounds promising, thank you to all that commented up to now :slight_smile:

As long as you keep your router to routing tasks (and don't overload it with server features), RAM shouldn't be an issue - while I wouldn't buy less than 2 GB RAM just out of principle, you'd be hard pressed to fill that up.

# free 
              total        used        free      shared  buff/cache   available
Mem:        3924444       75176     3661308        3104      187960     3770240
Swap:             0           0           0

# df -h /rom / 
Filesystem                Size      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/root                18.3M     18.3M         0 100% /rom
overlayfs:/overlay      899.9M    144.2M    755.7M  16% /

The AMD Jaguar cores are getting a bit old, they're -in form of the pcengines APUs- hard at the limit with 1 GBit/s plain routing - and won't do that with sqm.

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That htop was snapped during the bufferbloat test, so probably a bunch of little packets over a single TCP connection. Download speeds aren't affected much, if at all, just CPU goes to 75-80% for the duration. Not sure what it would look like with your planned 1Gbps connection, but I'd suspect that with FTTH or something with better latency, you probably don't even need SQM to get rid of bufferbloat.

I just turned off the SQM and ran bufferbloat again (mid-afternoon here, so neighbors are all at work). CPUs for download were much lower, hovered around 20% and for upload they show <10%. Latency went way up: with my A+ runs, I see +1 or 2ms for both directions, but with almost identical throughput.

On the other hand, the APU2 can route iperf3 at full 1Gb speed between two hosts on different LAN ports, so it's easily capable of that. But, if I had 1G to the home, I'd probably promote my Celeron to be the gateway device instead of the APU.

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If it’s decent quality CAT 5 with short runs (which is likely in a house) then that should be fine for 1GbE. It’s worth investing in at least a basic cable tester though. You’d be amazed at how many home runs have poor contact on one or more pins when they get terminated, but it never gets noticed because they fall back to 100MbE

Definitely don’t go for an earlier model. The v3.2 is where they introduced the dual core CPU and moved to 16 flash making it much more future proof than earlier versions. A lot of users have reported zero issues with the C6 v3 with no need to reboot the device, just don’t enable HW accelerated NAT. As you aren’t planning to use the device for routing this shouldn’t be a problem for you at all.


Can't judge the quality, but the longest run is about 10m i'd say. Didn't know the termination matters so much (makes sense if you think about it though), so i might check/redo the sockets - thanks for the info!

Good to know. And yeah i finally also read the rest of the thread with the hardware acceleration, so that should be fine for me :slight_smile:

I found that the cable I had installed at home was done really badly, of four sockets two were wired wrongly and one had a bad contact!

A 10 metre run of CAT 5 should have no issues, even if it's not CAT 5e (which it probably is if it is less than 20 years old, or at least CAT5 which meets the 5e spec) 10m is a lot less than the permitted 100m run, and still a lot less than the 30m run at which conservative installers might say you needed CAT-6. If everything is well terminated and the cables are solid core then 10G is probably fine too (up to 45m) unless the cable runs right next to a mains cable or other big source of noise.

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I don't think that should be the case (at least not for more than a few cm of lenght).
From a quick search, it seems there aren't really any cable testers that test signal quality (at least not at below 100€) - so probably just a matter of re-doing the connection in the sockets?

I've installed 24 or so ethernet outlets in my house, didn't use any test tool except for a cable tester, which will show you if you've wired the outlets correctly.
All of them work flawlessly, of course :wink:


I have one similar to the one in the link from @frollic - it's really useful for identifying dud/miswired patch cables and sockets. The full signal quality testers are good if you do this for a living, but probably not worth the cost for a few cables in a house.

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That's the important part :smiley:
So i guess i'll be doing some crimping in the near future :laughing: