X86 Router build example for just 100 USD

Complete x86-64 router for 109 USD

Hi just wanted to share My OpenWrt experience, it's not a real guide or something. just my way to do it.

Hardware:

CPU: Intel Pentium G3460
Most arguable thing, full 1Gbit speed load this CPU for 22% with adblock and OpenVPN.
You can buy an celeron, but what's the reason? Saving 5 USD not worth it. You can buy 4 core 8 threads xeon
but for what, even pentium will enough, xeon will be just a waste of money and power.
Conclusion for CPU:
a) Modern 2012-2020 year release
b) 2-4 Cores
c) 1.1 - 3 GHz clock.
d) Less TDP you can find. (intel use T letter for small TDP CPU's)
Price: USED - 600 RUB = 8,2 USD

Motherboard: ASUS P9D/C-4L
It have 4 intel integrated intel NIC's so i don't need switch.
You need motherboard with at least 2 NIC (LAN-WAN) if you want go without additional cards.
Also i strongly recommend use server class motherboards like intel S1200 or asus P9/P10/P11 because
it's not a pc, router will work 24/7 and it should be reliable.
Price: USED - 2500 RUB = 34 USD

PSU: DELL 265W
The power draw not much, buy any 130-250W PSU you can find, cheapest with PFC (!IMPORTANT), just make sure it's not noisy
You can also buy an 80+ certificate PSU, it will cost more but will save a little bit of energy.
Note: The PFC, is the thing what changes old and diying PSU's and modern.
Price: USED - 350 RUB = 4,7 USD

RAM: 4x1GB (4GB) DDR3 1333 ECC RAM Hynix (hmt112u7tfr8c-h9 to ab-c)
For what 4GB? Why not, price gap between 1GB and 4GB is 2 USD. If you want save extra money
buy 2x1GB sticks, it will be greater than enough.
Price: USED - 400 RUB = 5,4 USD

ROM: 16GB Sandisk + 1TB Seagate HDD.
Cheapest USB stick you can buy in your local store. I do not recommend you buy complete trash on Ali.
There is no difference between SSD or USB stick, at least i didn't noticed.
HDD you need depend on - would you use your router as a file storage.
Note: HDD make noise, but you can command it to turn off spin after 20 min.
Price: NEW - 280 RUB = 3,8 USD + USED - 1500 RUB = 20,5 USD

Fan: Cooler Master Standard I50 PWM RH-I50-20PK-R1
STRONGLY recommend buy most silent cooler you can afford, it will work 24/7, some server motherboard can't PWM fan,
buy lowest speed, or buy fan resistor. Also buy only new, not used fan.
Note: New ones contain thermal grease, and fan itself always works quieter when not worn out.
Price: NEW - 485 RUB = 6,6 USD

Additional NIC: Intel CT gigabit adapter EXPI9301CTBLK
Buy only Intel adapters, it will almost guaranty flawless work, compatibility.
If you want save money, buy adapter from Ali, they work the same as original.
Price: USED - 400 RUB = 5,4 USD

PC Case: Old and rusty InWin i found on trash can.
If you want hide it, buy cheapest case you can find, ask friend for free one, if you have some extra money,
buy an some stylish case glass case and when you get guests tell them - check this router!
Price: -

Wireless: Tp-Link Archer C9
You can buy AP, you can buy internal wireless card, you can buy router and use it AS router to gain
additional Lan ports, you can even not use WiFi. All depends on your house/apartment size.
Price: USED - 1500 RUB = 20,5 USD

Overall: 109 USD
Note: I live in Russia, the prices in countries like USA or EU will be less
due to much more wide market and much more supply.

Minor:
I also using a dedicated small 17'' monitor as a terminal output, i got it for free,
using it with a VGA->RJ45 connector from Ali.

Why do someone need's to build something like that?

1. Fully listed adblock, wich will block the all AD. comes through Lan, and WiFi. Only x86 can handle XL adblocking list.
2. Samba shared HDD for my wife, she just connected iphone to router and upload her photos to it due to small 128GB phone.
Note: samba is not safe, you doing it at your risk, at least people at this forum talk like that, i never had a troubles.
3. Full 1Gbit speed, if your ISP provides 10Gbit you can install 10Gbit NIC, you can make 10Gbit switch. If your ISP use GPON
you can buy an GPON SFP and not rely on modem.
4. Small ping in CS:GO, with linux kernel 5.4 and modern hardware i always have the less ping than my friends who live same building
and use ISP routers like same Archer C9. QoS here works well, even when my wife goes full speed torrent, my ping doesn't become high.
5. Building something like that is FUN!

Some pictures:
Cooler:
Imgur
CPU, RAM, Motherboard:
Imgur
PSU:

Overall:

Archer c9

Note: If you afraid high electicity bills, don't. Modern CPU and motherboards are really power efficient.

8 Likes

#Reserved for software part

#Reserved for additional images

I would argue this is relative ;- ) Have you measured?

Also very old PSUs (mostly!?) have PFC, but it is realised with bulky coil / transformer

Yes, about less 5 usd month difference at least in Russia. Same as i would use 100W old lamp instead of LED one. Also i have my table personal .. some kind a safety electricity point.
1.3 A - all my stuff + PC with i9-9900k + RX 580. Only X86 router use 0.1 A, but i guess it just can't show less than 0.1 Measure. So i can call it more or less accurate!
Note is: 5 usd i can't even count it was a router, maybe my wife washed out my pants twice not once in a month, or winter was cold and we boiled 2800W teapot 5-7 times a day...yeah.
Again, power draw at least in Russia prices i would call it not valuable.

You are right, the measument uncertainty of the instrument is too high for such a little load.

In my experience different PSUs can make quite a difference about 5-10W for itself at low load.

Russian cold would kill me ;- )

i would note the price of electricity kW in Russia is - 0.066072 (USD) day and - 0.0456 (USD) night

A new ARM SBC would be around the similar cost same and a lot more compact :slight_smile:

Wrong point, you can't install PCI-E Fiber card into SBC, you can't switch SBC CPU from low TDP to extreme power xeon, you can't add some LAN's, you can't add more RAM, you can't pretty anything with SBC... thats my point. SBC good when you make some special stuff like magic mirror, container, adblocker, file center or something like that.

Sure you can, RockPro64 for instance has a PCIe slot :slight_smile:
I would be a bit concerned regarding reliability of 6+ year old hardware and 2-4Gb will most likely be enough for the majority of tasks for a simple router. Hardware vulns might be also of concern.
But yes, you can get a cheap X86 box pretty easily in general.

Nooooo, you didnt get my point, 1 slot is a limit, building x86 you can make almost everything you can imagine, if you need only 1 slot why didnt buy an some netgaer all in one router, my point is for 100 usd you can make everything up to 10 gig nics from ebay, raid cards,cpu you want..
And please dont be angry at me, my talks can looks rough but only because my english skills limit)

I would add to:
cons vs SBC/arm/mipel/router:

  • the SIZE - you can't just "hide" an x86 PC - you need to have a proper place for it - that's a NOGO for me with small kids messing around
  • hardware assembly skills - you need to assemble the parts - it's not plug&play - I know you have tutorials on yt and such but you really do have to consider this for such a project
  • If you care about size, again, why not buy an all in one netgear? If you want limit yourself, buy AIO router.
  • if you have enough skill to install snapshot you have enough skill to build a cheap pc.
  • most of the folks around here ARE already buying/using all-in-ones :slight_smile:
  • I tend to disagree on Hardware vs Software skills but feel free to contradict me

anyway - nice project ! thanks for sharing it !

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Thanks for reply, just wanted to people, make something, to encourage at least someone to expand their knowledge, isn't it a delightful feeling when you did something yourself? :slight_smile:

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I mean if you already here for not a stock software for your router, why dont you make a next step? Its cheap and not really Hard.

you should add all this into into a wiki post (openwrt.org) - it's very good info

First i want add some info how to install software onto x86 and compare with AIO archer c9

With those tasty hardware specs I'd likely install a general-purpose Linux distro. :wink:

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At $0.114 per kWh, which is a typical price in the USA, it works out to $1.00 for a watt-year.

I've used the cheap plastic KingDian S100 series SATA SSDs for several of these projects. That drive has mediocre performance as SSDs go, but they are notably faster than a USB2.0 stick, likely more reliable, and easily integrate internally.