Xiaomi Mini R1CM + additional Ethernet - is it worth it?

Hello,

I have been using a Xiaomi R1CM (Router Mini) for years, it's dirty cheap yet great little device that still receives security updates from manufacturer unlike many major brands. However, stock firmware is very inflexible - I can't even set a guest network via web interface without using a stupid smartphone app, let alone add drivers for USB Ethernet adapter, and the only way to completely disable WPS is to make both 2.4GHz and 5GHz SSIDs hidden - both minor, yet still present annoyances. Also, wireless range is slightly lacking after moving to larger apartment - but I can live with that.

I am considering installing OpenWRT on this router and adding this USB Gigabit Ethernet adapter to it, in hopes it improves LAN throughput from 100Mbps to at least 200Mbps, which would be a huge improvement for my NAS connected over Ethernet. Also, I'd like to set multiple guest networks, on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, to separate IoT and guest devices.

I ask fellow OpenWRT users for advice. Is it worth a try, or is that too much for that old and cheap router, and I should keep things as they are until I replace it with something 802.11ax? With stock firmware, Xiaomi Router Mini is very reliable, it works great, the only real problem I have is lack of additional features described above and uncomfortable to use interface in Chinese. My experience with OpenWRT is very limited, only installed it once on a different router years ago - but I believe I will manage. Might experiment with a Raspberry Pi before installing OpenWRT on the router, so that if I brick the router I at least have a backup AP.

p.s. I won't be purchasing a new router until some capable yet reasonably priced 802.11ax router appears on the market. I have zero incentive to waste hundreds of $ on current half-baked 802.11ax routers, or expensive 802.11ac routers which will be outdated by the end of the year. My laptop will be upgraded to 802.11ax as soon as Intel 22260 appears on eBay, other wireless equipment (except IoT) will also get 802.11ax as soon as compatible USB adapters are available. I don't need additional features not described above, like VPN client/server or external storage support, on router. I don't put enough trust in any router to allow unencrypted sensitive communication on home network. In the end, all I need is a secure, reliable, reasonably fast and long range, preferably cheap router with multiple guest networks.

No. Device won't be able to handle such traffic requirements.

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There are some MT7621 based wired routers in the $50 range, that will get you five Gb ports with switching between them at line speed and enough CPU to NAT and SQM at over 200 Mb (you never said what your ISP speed is). Use the Mini as a wifi AP until you are ready to upgrade the wifi separately.

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USB, especially USB 2.0, is a very CPU intensive protocol, a 580 MHz single core mips SOC will have to run flat out (leaving no CPU cycles to spare for routing/ NAT/ firewall) for even reaching ~60-80 MBit/s (and there is a huge quality variation between USB ethernet chipsets as well, with better ones not being on the cheap side). As mentioned above, there are quite a number of new devices meeting your current requirements + 802.11ac in the 40-75 EUR price range and quite a selection of used devices for less than half of that.

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Thank you very much for your answers!

Following your advice, I won't be wasting my time and effort on trying to connect a USB Ethernet dongle. My ISP is 100Mbps or something like that. My NAS services my laptop only, exclusively over local network. Didn't even test how fast can it go.

I may consider getting something like Xiaomi Router 3G, but honestly I'd rather use the money to get a better 802.11ax router when the protocol is finalized and I know for sure the device I end up with won't be crippled by not fully compliant hardware and/or abandoned by manufacturer because of some inherent flaw. If there was a good 802.11ax option now, I would shell out $200-$300 for it, maybe even $400 - but on another 802.11ac router I don't really want to waste even $40.

What makes you so sure that ax router will operate flawlessly ? ac is more than enough for your needs, given that you choose corresponding hardware (which 100M eth port device definitely isn't)

@psyborg I hope by the time I buy one, some of them will. Why shouldn't it operate flawlessly, after all? After switching from 802.11n to 802.11ac when this router was introduced, I never had any reliability or speed problems with router (and deployed same model to relatives house). Range could be better, but zero stability problems, unlike TP-Link and Netgear routers I had before.

I want 802.11ax for better range than 802.11ac and better device coexistence. WPA3, while buggy mess riddled with vulnerabilites now, should improve security in future - and current 802.11ac routers are very unlikely to ever receive corresponding firmware updates to support it. Oh, and 160MHz 802.11ac Wave2 is simply pathetic due to terrible DFS implementation, 802.11ax should address that too. From my understanding, even my current Intel 9260 wireless adapter will work better with 802.11ax router than anything 802.11ac - let alone Intel 22260 I am going to replace it with.

WPA3 should work on most semi-recent devices with current OpenWrt/ master, I've successfully tested it on ath5k, ath9k and ath10k - even your current router might already support it.

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@slh thank you for this information. If my current router will be receiving latest OpenWRT firmware by the time I finally get a new one, I might find some alternative use for it after all.