Why do you bother with these overpriced routers?

Probably, but you still need an AQM to initiate these drops not way too late as a FIFO does.
I would expect that NIC buffers will scale to larger sizes than required for a mere millisecond, as that is what happened at lower speeds as well.

Sure, but his contention didn't address the installation of OpenWrt itself, but the expertise and time needed to troubleshoot a built router after that process had been completed. Clearly disregarding the fact that anyone running OpenWrt would have to do these things anyhow, no matter the device that is being used.

I agree that newcomers might not know how to build or set this up, but my argument was that the majority would.

Please present representative statistics when making claims like "majority", "minority" and the like, or "vast majority", thanks.

In most decision systems that are based on relativ proportions of choices, great care is taken to get as veridical an estimate as possible on the count of these choices, and only after that is done, one starts talking about majorities/minorities. What I am trying to say, please do not try to sell your subjective opinion (to which you are entitled) as hard fact, at least not without presenting substantiating evidence.

Well, OpenWrt for me is a lot about freedom and choice, so why would/should I pretend I knew better what other users want/desire/should want?

Again, citation needed...

Really, I understand and accept your position as valid, but I am not willing to not also accept other positions as well.

Based on what robust estimate of preferences and capabilities in the community here?


I'm very sympathetic to the OP's original point. A lot of people who are on the OpenWrt forum would benefit from choosing a wired only router with ARM or x86 processor, a couple GB of RAM and an SD card install, a separate inexpensive smart switch, and a couple APs.

I actually think we should be encouraging people to rethink in this direction away from all-in-wonder type devices. It's particularly the case as soon as there's a roadblock to making things work with the all-in-one, like RAM limitations, etc.

Another HUGE point in favor of this route is that AP placement is critical as these are radio transceivers and for those it's like buying houses...location...location...location. An AP attached to a ceiling in a clear room is going to be doing a way better job than one in the corner of a different room next to the cable inlet hole behind a couch.

I wouldn't go so far as to say we should shun those who choose all-in-ones, I just think the default suggestion should be "probably shy away from all in ones, head more towards wired components"


Another reason I favor that approach - frankly (and largely due to closed-source drivers and poorly documented hardware), OpenWRT is awful for wireless management, particularly in a mesh. There's simply too many very good, works-right-out-of-the-box solutions (Orbi, Eero, Google Mesh) that can act as pure APs to NOT let them do what they are good at without tomfoolery and keep OpenWRT where it counts/matters...on the router.

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It's interesting to track psychology. It started with this thread:

And then perhaps the thought process is along the lines: I've come to this conclusion so why hasn't everyone else. Or perhaps - subconsciously - help me me feel better about the track I'm going down by agreeing with me. I'm not sure.

Majority features here too:

In any case, I started myself down the route of thinking about a custom build or RPi4 but am glad someone named 'Neggles?' on the OpenWrt IRC talked me out of it on the basis that I had to buy so many different parts to make it work. And then there's WiFi to think about. And on my sub 100Mbit/s connection my RT3200 does just fine.

So I think custom build is no magic bullet.

The cool thing about OpenWrt is choice and variety. So who cares about this 'majority' concept anyway.

Individuality and choice trumps vague notions about appealing to a majority.


CPU, Board, RAM, PSU and Network Card?
Also, those who install advanced open source software like OpenWrt, will either already have parts like that lying around at home or know exactly where and how to get them cheap and fast. This is not a good argument.

A lot of people apparently agree with the question posed in this thread, because there seems to be no qualified justification for a consumer grade router anymore.

It used to be that power consumption was the main reason why that market existed, but even that no longer stands true.

Look at professional data centers, businesses, universities and enthusiasts. You don't see consumer grade routers with a switch anymore.

It's true, I came here looking for a router, because like everyone else I was blinded by the notion that it's simply what you do, because everyone does. After looking deeper into the issue I realized there is not a single aspect of these overpriced, cheaply procuced devices that triumphs over a custom build. It's all empty marketing, which is always the case at the consumer level, networking is apparently no exception.

Just adding to this thread that lower end devices are also great for adding DDNS to a network in which you can't or don't need to replace the router or securing industrial control and building automation devices with an SSH tunnel.

I've done both and these lower end devices with OpenWrt on them are enterprise grade stable with almost 100% uptime.

So with this understanding of the fact that PC can be used as a router - try it practically, play around with it and see it advantages and disadvantages over time before claiming it is "the ultimate way".

I've used PCs as routers for a few times.

First one was pentium-100 with openbsd. Back in times of 128-256Kb ADSL plans. It worked much better than what ADSL modem could do and back then there were not much alternatives.

Then mikrotik ROS was released. Since HW was impossible to get where i live i bought the OS itself and installed it on old PC. Worked fine for a while but gave me pretty good understanding of disadvantages too. Size. Fans (=>noise, maintenance). Lack of specialized HW built in (storage, wifi).

Later i've built mITX system once atom CPUs happened, atom D525 it was IIRC, and used it as a router with plain linux for a while (why install openwrt or pfsense on x86 when general purpose linux offers more flexibilty?). The main reason for that was my hate for outdated customized linux which is used as firmware for out of the box routers, along with all the security issues that come with it. Later it was replaced with one of those Chinese passive "mini PC" once those became available.

Nowadays i use out of the box router with openwrt. Why? It offers everything i need in a small box without fans or any extra HW. I live in an apartment (so one AP is enough), i have 100Mb (both ways) internet, and while more is theoretically available i do not need it. I need a few wired ports + decent wifi, both of which should be capable of those 100Mb. So while i could use mini PC as router + a switch + AP why would i do it? It would cost more, take more space and use more power (even though i do not care about power, it is dirt cheap here). For my needs simple cheap MT7621 based router does everything i need with performance to spare, and thanks to openwrt i do not have to use annoying stock FW.

This routers basically are specialized devices built for a certain use case. Because of that they are very efficient in multiple ways, but also limited. As long as you fit within said use case they are great, but if you do not then you indeed need something custom. Saying that they are universally bad or expensive is wrong though. In fact they are much cheaper than PC+managed switch+AP in most sensible cases.


Up front cost yes. But buying something underpowered and then upgrading it 3 times in 10 years as speeds grow rapidly could easily get more expensive lifetime cost than buying a component system. It just depends a lot on how your speed is now, and in the reasonable future. I'm guessing OP is from an area where speeds have gone up rapidly in the last 5 years. Even 5 years ago people were talking about 20-40Mbps systems and now they're considering gigabit or 10Gbps. So as you say, it's all about what niche you're in. If you live in nowhereseville rural area where you don't expect to get more than 20/1 Mbps ADSL any time soon... you have a different situation than someone who currently has 600/10 DOCSIS and likely 1Gbps symmetric fiber in the next 2-3 years.

Horses for courses... it's just that dramatically more people are on the track where component systems actually make sense now than they were 5-10 years ago.


Yes, this is very interesting question which does not only apply to routers.

Basically do you want to try and guess future, buying something expensive and presumably good for next X years, or do you want to buy something "good enough" now and upgrade as needed. Over time i came to conclusion that second approach suits me better. They both result in ~same amount of money spent over time, but upgrading more often means i can be more flexible and adapt to technologies changing better.

I could get "1Gb" PON connection right now if i wanted to, but the question would be - why? As was already mentioned here i do not see a reason for now, once i do i'll upgrade and would probably have to get something with sfp/sfp+ anyway for appropriate transceiver because boxes provider offers are just horrible and horribly overpriced.

PCs ran 24/7 for years tend to have limited life too, especially consumer grade hardware in imperfect "living space" conditions. Would not expect something to last for a decade, not without replacing parts at least, ~3-5 years would be more realistic...

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do people even know the difference between high end router and midrange router?
i find that i cant go back to lower end router after using high end one
why do i choose to use high end router even though my broadband speed is only 100mbps?
a high end wifi 5 router is still superior to a midrange wifi 6 router because wifi quality is not about bandwidth but processor speed
a softrouter to a high end AP via ethernet would not be smooth as electronic circuit

You mean the difference in Chinese parts between a 100$ router and a 400$ router? Not much, I imagine.

The astronomical difference in performance between a 120$ build and a 500$ router is what you should be concerned about.

This was unhelpful...

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Over 75% of the parts used in consumer grade hardware as a whole, not just routers, are manufactured in China and Taiwan, that is a fact.

Domestic corporations leverage cheap labor and ineffective or non-existent human rights legislation in these countries to lower production cost.

I think this is terrible btw and these companies should be forced to manufacture their products in the U.S. It would automatically improve the quality of the parts and ensure fair compensation for the people assembling them.


Enthusiast is kind of a unique branch.

But the rest in that list has never ever had consumer grade equipment. At least during the last 20-30years.
There it is business class level with 19” rack mounted firewall, router, switches (and servers and access points if needed).

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I disagree, lol.

There are still companies to this day with well over 200 employees, who use Windows XP.

The sheer inconceivable level of studpidity and wrecklessness when it comes to networking and server equipment is the single most common reason why respectable and known businesses are routinely compromised. Leaks, ransom and moles are a direct result of inadequate, cheap or incorrectly configured networking equipment and maintenance.

This is a very USian view on things. I am not trying to defend China* here by the way, but it is not that for a non-Chinese, non-US person either choice is all that attractive**. The argument about quality is something I do not share, you can produce high-quality products everywhere, and the same holds for low-quality products as well, just being manufactured in XXX does not guarantee high quality by itself.

*) China and Taiwan are clearly not the same entity and work by different rules, I do not think manufacturing in both countries is all that similar.
**) I am in no way impying the US are anywhere close to China in most dimensions here, but from a foreign perspective manufacturing clearly should be happening in the respective foreign country.

But this is pretty much a digression and a completely different line of argument than that that started this thread, no?

With lots of different twigs, like people optimizing for raw performance, for low energy consumption, or for performance/power.

As router OS? Hard to believe that this is a sizable fraction of companies with >= 200 employees...
For workstation use there is occasionally decent justification, like expensive but still useful legacy software that somehow requires XP, or where an OS upgrade would require additional investment in additional software/hardware updates. But again, that seems not to support your assertion that consumer routers/switches* have been used extensively in the past?

Glad you have this figured out as well as what kind of routers we all should be using. :wink: Ever heard of Zero-Day exploits? Just asking....

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Of course one can produce high quality parts at a reasonable cost anywhere, but the obvious reason why chip/hardware manufacturers and any other major industry assemble their products in China is because they intend to achieve the opposite.

There are many Chinese and Taiwanese companies who manufacture quality hardware in an attempt to dispel that stigma. Asrock for example or Donghe.

However, the general rule of thumb still holds true. The vast majority of routers, chips and computer hardware in general is manufactured in China or Taiwan to drastically lower cost and increase profit margins. That is why the quality and longevity of those parts is usually subpar and consumers are forced to replace them or buy accessories compensate for lack of performance.

That is why the quality and longevity of those parts is usually subpar and consumers are forced to replace them or buy accessories compensate for lack of performance. Supporting this model of corporate greed, and human rights violations by purchasing a phone or router for the benefit of saving 50$ has more negavtive aspects than just a bad product.

That is not correct, this move is motivated by minimizing costs, some reduction in quality might be tolerated, but is not the primary goal. This is getting a bit off-topic though.

Heard of TMSC? They happen to produce some of the most modern and performant semi-conductors on the planet with customers including, Apple, AMD, and even Intel. As I said Taiwan is not China and not differentiating these somewhat devaluates your argument. Also I doubt that Taiwanese manufacturers aiming for high quality do so motivated by fear of a reputation for low-quality.

Yes, welcome to late-stage capitalism... not something we are going to change by all OpenWrt users switching to boutique routers manufactured in their respective home-countries.

There are plenty of low-quality products produced elsewhere. Also this has little bearing on this thread, as quite a number of your despised cheapish all-in-one routers work quite well for their owners for a long time. Few people I know personally change their internet access speed all that often, hence their performance requirements are a pretty static target, that can often be squelched by economically attractive plastic routers, that than will be operated for a long time (if the performance is sufficient for the task now, it will be so in a year, unless the task or the requirements what to perform change). Only accessories I have heard of are mostly WiFI mesh solutions that are add-ons even if people would start out with a juniper MX-960 as their home router, to pick something "professional" and ridiculously over-powered.

It is really really hard to buy competitive computing equipment that is not (at least partially) based on "corporate greed"*. Turning your moral black-white argument into a different-levels-of-gray argument, much less clear to interpret.
But didn't the whole thing start by an argument about performance/price/and energy consumption, why are we wading deep in a morality argument now?

*) Because almost all large enough companies operate like that.