Wifi Card Recommendations for Use as an AP

Apologies if this is writted down somewhere, but wondered if there is a good list of chipsets that support ac wifi in AP mode. I found one that works for USB (and has good linux/openWRT support), but would prefer to run the AP mode off the mPCIE card internally and have the client mode on USB.

Regards

The first piece of advice would be to outsource the wireless aspect to a dedicated AP (running OpenWrt), as that will be (considerably) cheaper and provide better results (better placement, far away from the big chunk of metal of your x86 system and the other wireless cards (2.4 GHz), as well as providing designed-for-purpose wireless chipsets, pigtails and antennas).

Apart from that, your choices are between mt76 (mt7915, mt7916) and ath11k (qcn9074), with the former probably being easier to work with. Keep in mind that all AP capable wifi6 cards are running hot (heatsink required, active cooling probably as well, unless you have a very good thermal design) and typically expect to get 10 watts out of the 3.3V PCIe connector, which is beyond mini-PCIe/ M.2 specifications and may be too much for quite a few mainboards (risk of crashing and/or permanent damage).

USB WLAN cards won't be on any serious list of options.

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In normal cases I would use two devices, but sadly that isn't possible for this requirement :frowning:

I also only need wifi 5 thankfully.

I am using the miniPC with quad/6 ethernet ports as my base but should be able to add a fan.

I've been using Mikrotik miniPCIe cards in openwrt for some time. I mount them in a Mikrotik RB14e 4xPCI to 4xminiPCIe adapter

I have a R11e-5HacD and R11e-2HPnD currently.
The 5GHz card is ath10k the 2GHz one ath9k.

This works well, running openwrt in a kvm instance where the server has uptime in months the setup is entirely stable.

Apart from it being discontinued, you can get quite decent OpenWrt capable wifi6 APs for the cost of the PCIe-to-mini-PCIe riser (which doesn't solve the heat- or power delivery issues) alone…

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Apart from it being discontinued, you can get quite decent OpenWrt capable wifi6 APs for the cost of the PCIe-to-mini-PCIe riser (which doesn't solve the heat- or power delivery issues) alone…

This is true though you can get PCIe -> miniPCIe risers for next to nothing. When I looked years ago the only way to get a decently capable AP wifi card in a PC was to use a miniPCIe card in a riser. At the time the brands I looked at were Compex and Mikrotik. Where I am Compex would have been massively more expensive.

This is never going to be cheaper than a standalone router (need to also buy pig tails and antennas).

Things may have changed since I last looked at it but I doubt it. I expect now that when a PC ships with wifi it is supported directly on the motherboard or uses a miniPCIe slot on the motherboard (seems most motherboards have these now).

As long as cost is reasonable, its fine for my purposes - but key requirements for me is

  • wifi client (not always used)
  • wifi AP
  • 4/6 2.5G/10GBaseT Ethernet Ports
  • DHCP Server
  • Persistent oVPN/Wireguard Tunnels
  • Sane remote management

There are almost no routers/platforms that come ready made and support that at even vaguely reasonable size and cost.