Why do you bother with these overpriced routers?

I have desperately and unsuccessfully been looking for a new router with good specs and a reasonable price to run OpenWrt on, only to realize that literally any old system with a CPU from this century and a half way decent network card literally blows any Enterprise level router solution up to 500 - 600$ out of the water in pretty much all general areas. (Discounting special cases)

The only justification for these OpenWrt routers that I can think of is power consumption, and even that is no longer a factor with slightly more modern hardware.

I am legit wondering why the majority of this forum section isnt about finding the best low TDP parts to build an Openwrt router, instead of endorsing these overpriced, subpar commercial solutions with cheap parts, low performance and terrible price/value ratios.

You can get an old i3, ITX board, 80W PSU and some low ft RAM for under 120$. That's what I've done, actually.

With reduced voltages, some minor BIOS tweaks, running OpenWrt via RAM disk and ssh (no monitor) the system pulls 17 - 21 Watts off the wall. Like having a light on all day, its acceptable.

Why do we bother with these routers?


Probably because

  1. No one want’s to pay pretty much more than 100$ for the whole network equipment.
  2. Users usually want a little plastic box looking like a terminator with a lot of antennas and little red blinking led.

yeah plus more than 2 network ports and let's not forget - good wifi - and that's hard to get from a DYI x64 system

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This depends on use case.

Many routers are cheap, cheaper than any system you can build apart from something trash-picked. They are also small, low power and "good enough" to either handle given connection speed or just user's activities.

Even from a point of view of "advanced user" (which are a minority) why would i bother building something large, expensive and power hungry when i can buy small $30-50 box, flash openwrt and get all the functionality i need?

Once you get to certain point in terms of performance required and price - yes, it then makes a lot of sense to do what you are suggesting. But in practice it is very rare for home users to reach this point.

  1. No one want’s to pay pretty much more than 100$ for the whole network equipment.

But that's impossible. Most of the routers that are being recommended are priced around 150 - 200$ (not including accessories) and performance could be considered average relative to the requirements and expectations of most users here.

Do you understand the near inconceivable performance difference between this and used hardware priced in that same 200$ range? Compared to a fully fledged x64 system with 16GB RAM, a Dual Core at 3.5 - 4 GHZ, very similar power draw and probably cheaper overall price, it seems laughable that we even consider this a viable option.

It genuinely makes no sense at all.


The router doesn't have to be faster than the ISP. If it is you're wasting money and power. All in one routers have usable wifi and 5 ethernet ports and easy setup (it is all in one, so take it out of the box flash it and use it, there are no "accessories").

A watt-year is 8.76 kWh, which can be a significant cost over the life of the unit for each extra watt.


I agree with the power consumption argument, especially in times of inflation and rising gas prices.

Do most people actually know or actively measure what their routers are pulling?

Its usually im the 10 - 15 Watt range.

You can't operate any x64 system that low, not to my knowledge anyways.

i3 and Pentium are usually rated around 40 - 80 Watt TDP. But you can get it down to 25 Watts - ish with voltage reduction, underclocking and some mb tricks.

But I think in the grand scheme of things it still a superior solution, because people will buy all kinds of accessories to compensate for their router's poor performance.

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x64 is great when you need services like VPN,DNS filters & file severs etc
but most will still need wifi and most of us have more then 1 access points
so you end up with a router as they are often much cheaper then an access point
or is the old handed down old router

let face it if you just have a computer & maybe a phone there fine
and with ipv6 you don't even need all that NAT stuff it just routes & filters

I don’t care, I don’t use that cheap low grade tech! I am in the 19” world…
It is the forum users that pretty much set the standard in this forum when asking these hardware “I want the fastest 10Gbit machine in the world and it is allowed to cost max 100$, what do you suggest” questions.

Haha, I guess so.

I'm not Jeff Bezos, but I still try to save money where I can. An additional 5 Watt is worth the 400$ I saved in getting a router with a fraction of the performance.

I think the perfect solution that would combine the best of both worlds is a RaspberryPi or something similar.

I wanted to buy one but the Pi4 is like 130$ right now, which is ridiculous.

May I ask what setup you are using currently?

Most people here are serious network enthusiasts with insane enterprise level gear.

The core of the operational hw now is EdgeRouter4, EdgeSwitch ES-8-150 and EAP225v4 (used to have EAP245 but there are some driver issues with that 5GHz chip).
In the long run my d-link dgs-1210-10mp will replace the edgeswitch.

But usually this never goes above 20W total.

The only time x86 really stand out as far as I have noticed in this forum is when doing aes encryption work if the cpu have AES-NI.

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there are a lot cheaper solutions out there, gigabit capable, you just need to look for them.


I have had 1Gbit for the longest time now and honestly it is overrated af. It makes very little to no difference in real world scenarios. 500Mbit is the gold standard in my opinion. Thats what my router rig can do on OVPN.


Routers have multiple WiFi antennas. Finding a PCIe WiFi card with more than two antennas, plus a bracket that can support these antennas, is not that easy.


I agree, but it's been cheap, 30€/mo for the last 4 years, and they're only offering 1/1gbit and 10/10gbit.

If I'd want something slower, it'd still cost the same, with another ISP.

The better design is to put one or two commercial APs in appropriate locations for good reception in the places you actually use Wifi the most. Like the TP-Link Omadas. $60 each.

Definitely 100% the best overall investment for the average OpenWrt enthusiast is to buy some kind of ARM or x86 based device with SD card and 2 NICs, a POE smart switch with 8+ ports (or a non PoE switch and use the injectors that come with the APs), and 1 to 3 commercial APs. All together that system should cost say $250 to $300 and handle 1Gbps with traffic shaping and such, it should last 5 years at least if not 8-10.


In Europe? What country or provider might that be if you don't mind me asking? You guys have standardized 1Gbit over there? 30€ is like 34$, that's an insane deal my friend. I pay double for 1Gbit and a static IP.

I installed Pfsense last night and all of a sudden I can do 620Mbit on OpenVPN with 75% load on the i3. I wonder what the difference is between pfsense's and OpenWrt's implementation of OVPN.

Sweden, ISP is Bahnhof.
The subscription is currently $40, but I see they've dropped the 10/10gbit to $40 too, if you sign up for 24 mo, might as well try it.

Most (all?) *DSL is gone here, there's only fiber and cable, 4g and 5g.

I think my brother is paying $10 or so, for 250mbit fiber, but he's in a flat, we're in a house.
When they hook up a whole building, every one gets a connection, doesn't matter if they want one, or not, the fee is paid through the rent.

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Silly question, why is the dog food box in your avatar image labeled in German? :wink:

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tbh never realized it was in German, and I've only used that pic for 20 yrs :slight_smile:

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