Buyers' Guide

OpenWrt is a niche Linux distribution, which enables you to deploy a vast variety of software. Your hardware is the only limit. This guide is intended to help you pick the right hardware to meet your particular needs.

OpenWrt does not recommend any hardware or manufacturer!
There is no “best hardware”, since people's needs are so different.
To think through your requirements, read Which Router Should I Buy?
Once you have that list, ask for a recommendation on the forum.
You don't have to spend a lot: OpenWrt is what does the magic!

All GL.iNet, Turris and some others routers already have an OpenWrt based firmware so you may not need to install them manually.

  • the bootloader should not only be under a FOSS license, but preferably under the GPL, so that the OEM is forced to release the complete source code
  • some bootloaders make installing OpenWrt unnecessarily complicated or even impossible!
  • some bootloaders allow you to boot from a USB device or Boot over Ethernet but many do not
  • How many NICs does the System on a chip incorporate? Common are one or two, very seldom more.
    These are implemented as soc-integrated Ethernet-MAC-blocks, which are each connected over a xMII to a distinct PHY (chip).
    Note: Do not confuse the number of Ports with the number of NICs.
  • Which Ethernet-Layer-1 standard does the NIC/NICs support?
    BASE100-TX (i.e. 100MBit/s, Fast Ethernet) or
    BASE1000-T (i.e. 1000MBit/s, Gigabit Ethernet)?
  • Is there an integrated Ethernet switch?
  • Which Ethernet-Layer-1 standard does the integrated switch support? (BASE-100TX or BASE1000-T)
  • How many RJ45 ports are there? Most common are 5 Ports (4 for LAN and 1 for WAN).
  • Is the switch manageable? Which capabilities does it offer?

(Please consult the Wireless Overview)

  • How many WNICs? Common are one or two. These can be :
    • SoC-integrated: this is commonly called WiSoC
    • Onboard: the wifi chip is the same used in MiniPCI/e cards but soldered on the main PCB
    • MiniPCI: the wifi card can be extracted, and replaced by another different MiniPCI model
    • MiniPCIe: the wifi card can be extracted, and replaced by another different MiniPCIe model
  • Which substandards of the IEEE 802.11-family shall the wireless hardware support? Most common ones are 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac and 802.11s
  • Capabilites: 1T1R, 2T2R, 3T3R or 2T3R ..
  • Frequencies (or bands):
    • For the AP to be capable to provide 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz at the same time, the router should have at least two radios. This tag shall help you find suitable devices more quickly: :FIXME: The simultan currently means 2 radios.
    • A single radio that allows use of both bands at the same time supports dual band simultan aka RSDB (Real simultaneous dual band) aka DBDC (DualBand-DualConcurrent) standard. It is not widely adopted (Q1-2021; only some mt76 hardware supports it and mt76 driver support for DBDC is new and not completely stable)
    • At 2,4GHz you only have 3 distinct channels without overlap, in the 5GHz band there are 19 (EU)/ 13 (USA)/ ?? (Japan) channels without overlapping available
    • The 2.4 GHz band is quite crowded with Bluetooth PAN, while 5GHz is usually unused.
    • newer Wifi standards use 6GHz (Wifi6E) or 60GHz bands (IEEE_802.11ad) possibly having 3 radios
  • Is it relevant to you whether the WNICs are SoftMAC or FullMAC devices?
  • Do the current capabilities of the Existing Linux Wireless drivers for your WNICs satisfy your requirements?
  • Are the antennae detachable? If so, you could replace them with ones with a better gain, or with (home-made) directional antennae.
  • FLOSS drivers: this is very important for a correct wifi performance/behavior. For years Broadcom didn't supply enough quality FLOSS drivers (or hardware specifications) and it seems won't ever happen, proprietary wl drivers often causes crashes or incorrect behaviors, then avoid Broadcom's wifis. As recommended by many people, Atheros or Ralink/Mediatek wifis are probably the best choice.

(Please consult the Internet access technologies)

  • The most crucial decision is your choice of RAM. If you are going to run asterisk, mumble, Direct Connect, bittorrent, a web server and other stuff, enough RAM will make them run smoothly. Some of them tolerate SWAP pretty good, others do not. FYI: If you are considering adding more RAM, keep in mind that there are no DDR1-Modules bigger than 64MB. Also, the SoC sometimes only supports so much. For example, the Marvell Kirkwood, supports a maximum of 512MB.
  • Occasionally the computing power of the CPU proves to be a bottleneck. To compare you should have a look at the CPU included on with SoC. Do not compare raw MHz, e.g. a MIPS 34KE@300MHz is in most scenarios faster than a MIPS 24K@400MHz.
    • As you can see by referring to the flash layout, with a total of 8MiB flash memory, you can use about 5MiB for your own packages.
  • TRNG: Most devices use a software random number generator. Only few are equipped with a true hardware random number generator, see tag
  • Cryptographic Hardware Accelerators: routers equiped with these accelerators may bring you better speed transfers when you plan to use encrypted connections such as OpenVPN.
  • USB: connect a hub, hard disks, SSDs, USB sticks, UMTS modems, cameras, sound cards, etc. →usb.overview
  • Serial: very useful for developers, limited uses for end users →port.serial
  • JTAG: very useful for developers and also for end users →port.jtag
  • TAE sockets: a telephone connector used mostly in Germany
  • You can boot your device into OpenWrt Failsafe with a reset button. Without one, this is only possible through connection over serial! Also, after boot up, you can attach functions to the buttons, like start/stop WLAN, reconnect DSL, start/stop a daemon, mount/unmount partitions, etc.

OpenWrt targets traditional routers. These run on ARM or MIPS CPUs. However running inside a VM or on common x86 Hardware is also possible. While most consumer Hardware can lack Ethernet ports, Hardware for IPC (Industrial PC) or server mainboards are built and advertised for 24/7 operation. Other embedded devices or SBC (Single-board_computer) may be viable alternatives.


Most hardware is constructed to run at a temperature range from 0-40°C (Operating Temperature). This is appropriate for most indoor use cases. However - increased temperature can speed up the aging of electric components. Industrial PC, Server Hardware or outdoor equiment may be certified and constructed to extended temperature ranges:

  • 0-70°C (server, IPC)
  • -30-75°C (outdoor AP)


Some plastics used in wiring or enclosures are problematic in outdoor operations under direct sunlight. Specialized UV resistant outdoor cabling and enclosures exist. Shielding from water (rain) and/or dust is certified with an IP_Code.

On many price comparison sites you can search for OpenWrt. Beware, though, that sometimes OpenWrt only works on certain versions. Check with the OpenWrt Table of Hardware to see if the router is really supported.

If you find a site with an effective price comparison please add it below, or report it on the OpenWrt forum.

Amazon also lets you search for OpenWrt, but you cannot filter for OpenWrt support:

Note_1: The filter is not 100% perfect, be sure to double check a router before buying

You can use the tags to find devices with your desired features.

Beware: Tagging of devicepages is incomplete, resulting in incomplete listings below.

The ToH Collection of views should be your first choice when searching for a device. It is more complete, up to date, and shows you the current OpenWrt support status.

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  • Last modified: 2023/02/05 14:48
  • by memicinn19