x86-OpenWrt: which LAN NIC chips are supported?

I am evaluating the idea of an OpenWrt device based on x86 consumer PC parts (~ PICO PSU, uATX mainboard, non too old Intel 2-4 thread CPU).
Goal: x86 for firewall&routing&SQM, separate ARM access point devices for WiFi.

So far I hit the challenge of not really knowing what LAN NIC chip vendors to look for, both for onboard-NICs on mainboards and optional PCI express cards for additional NIC ports.

I kind of liked the idea of choosing an ARM-based router device from the OpenWRT supported device list and would basically look for a similar list of supported x86 LAN NIC chips.

So far I could find high level recommendations in the forum, like:

  • "Many Realtek NICs are said to have bad OSS support"
  • "Intel on PCI E cards usually supported, but eBay items are said to often be based on counterfeight chips that break after a few months."
  • "Broadcom on PCI E preferred"
  • a few random punches, where someone specifically asked for a single (kind of older) chip ID.

I am unfortunately not skilled with the Linux code repos. I would like to somehow reduce the NIC guessing and research part, and also avoid having to pick 10 year old mainboards.
Can someone recommend a page/thread/public repo path, where I could find e.g. a one-shop positive list of NIC chips that are supported in Linux/OpenWRT?

Realtek, intel and Broadcom should all work, unless you pick someting cutting edge.

Intel multi port NICs are usually cheap on ebay.

There's useful info in X86 device, which network chip should be chosen for "headache-free" functioning?


That stance is incorrect for wired ethernet cards from Realtek (WLAN cards are another and more nuanced topic). As these chipsets are also used in servers, and servers often running Linux, all vendors of ethernet cards have a strong interest to get good support into the linux kernel.

This tells you which kernel modules are currently included in default OpenWrt x86_64 images, more modules are installable at runtime. In theory, all devices supported by the mainline linux kernel can be supported by OpenWrt (keep in mind that OpenWrt 21.02.x is on kernel v5.4, 22.03~ will be on 5.10 and the next kernel afterwards will be v5.15, so you may have to wait (or spend some time on backporting more recent driver support), not necessarily all potentially available (mainline-) kernel modules are already packaged up, but getting that sorted is usually a sensible amount of effort.

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thanks for the valueable input

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