What are the hardware guidelines for openwrt?

So I have tried using openwrt(my hardware is gl-inet b1300, build 21.02.1) to solve bufferbloat before and it has worked well until my isp increased their download/upload speed ratio. My speeds are usually sub 800/18mbps but eventually after a year or two I might move to a place with gigabit fiber so I will for sure need an x86 hardware. After reading the installation guide for x86, I noticed that there is specific recommendations for hardware except to use SSDs.
Since my technical skills are only to the level of following youtube tutorials, I decided to opt for used pc(dell optiplex, mini pcs like hp t620+, etc) and just write it to the drive because I have zero pc-building skill nor experience, and shopping for parts alone is a different ball game. From this tutorial, which talks about nanopi r2s, I learned that having an average cpu mark of about 3000 will suffice to do sqm on gigabit connection (based on the author's experience). I know that power is an issue but I think I am desperate enough to ignore that factor when it comes to hardware selection.
I bought two mini pcs from amazon with a cpu of J4125 and both did well while running sqm and adblock. I did forget to get a screenshot of the load so I'm not sure how taxed the mini pcs were but if my recollection is right then it did not even went past the .30 max load. After knowing they work well, I returned both mini pcs cause I just wanted to and honestly I had to spend days trying to overwrite openwrt because both had windows 100% cpu usage that I could not fix at all despite the updates I installed. So finally here are my questions:

  1. Right now the only features I am concerned about are sqm and adblock, but I will be a computer science student soon and eventually will have more knowledge about networking. So how much more "power" do I need when it comes to hardware if I am planning to tinker more with openwrt and use a bunch of features and packages?
  2. Aside from the average cpu mark of 3000 from cpubenchmark.net, what other metric should I be concerned about?(Socket, Clock speed,Turbo Speed,Cores,Threads,Single Thread Rating)
  3. Once I install an additional ethernet on the pc(with windows present), will it automatically activate once openwrt is installed or do I need to install a package?
  4. I know that for the drive I should use SSDs. Capacity-wise, is 256gb already an overkill or the answer depends on what packages are installed?
  5. Since the packages uses the SSD for storage, what is the function of the RAM then? How much RAM is needed and is 8gb of ram an overkill?

ipq40xx is not fast enough to cope with that, not by far (even less with sqm in mind).

This is slightly orthogonal to your question, but with x86_84 (or RPi4/ NanoPi r2s/ r2c/ r4s) the first extension you might want to look at, would be a(n L2- smart-)managed switch with enough free ports to have fun with - allowing you to segment your LAN side further (guest, IoT, servers, etc.). There are interesting OpenWrt supported devices in the realtek target, ranging from 8-28 ports (and soon up to 52 ports). Take a look at the used markets and you may be lucky to find nice devices under/ around 50 EUR/ USD.

I assume that your wireless needs continue to be served well by your gl-inet b1300, at least until you want to upgrade to 802.11ax.

  • 64 bit
  • at least dual-core
  • idle power consumption
  • low noise (fans)
  • at least two network cards

In terms of performance, anything since baytrail-d or haswell (more because of its idle power consumption than performance) should do, unless you're looking far beyond >>1 GBit/s. The AMD Embedded G series ("Jaguar") would be a bit below the bar (just barely o.k. without SQM, not sufficient with SQM), as in the PC Engines APU series. Again, emphasize the idle power consumption, that will be the predominant CPU state of your router and a few watts more or less make a real monetary difference in running costs here (electricity), less is more (and dedicated graphics very bad, at least +30 watts compared to CPU graphics).

The main performance requirements are:

  • WAN speeds (already covered by the above)
    • PPPoE needs more performance than plain ethernet/ dhcp
  • SQM (also covered by the above up to ~1 GBit/s)
  • VPN uses (this might exceed the base suggestions above, depending on your expectations)
  • support for >>1 GBit/s ports pushes beyond the specification envelope above and explodes the budget.

The most common network drivers (Intel e1000/ e1000e (e1000e only preinstalled on x86_64 images) and Realtek r8168/ r8169) are preinstalled, less common ones might need manual driver installations - so given a choice, keep it simple (e1000/ e1000e/ r8169); drivers for USB ethernet are not preinstalled (and for mechanical robustness, I would prefer internal (onboard or PCIe-) cards).

In terms of OpenWrt usage, the main storage doesn't matter much (even less on x86, where everything will be cached in RAM anyways), HDD, SSD, sdhc card, USB stick, everything above a few hundred MB is plenty (so literally anything you can buy these days), you don't need an SSD. Resist the temptation to overload your router with non-routing features, that easily leads to security issues and reliability concerns. Those are better offloaded to a dedicated RPi or similar.

Anything above 1 GB RAM is plenty - for practical intents and purposes (and given a choice) I wouldn't really recommend to go with less than 2 GB - but that's far more than you're going to use. Again, don't use your router as general purpose server or hypervisor/ docker host - while you can (technically do that), it hurts security/ reliability (and those uses would make your system requirements explode).


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