Which router with OpenWrt support to buy in 2023

Short description

Home routers can be enhanced with unofficial firmware or packages to expand their functionality. OpenWrt is a popular firmware based on the Linux kernel that offers a full-fledged operating system with a package manager and a large community. To run OpenWrt, routers must have larger chip sizes, and some good options include the Xiaomi Redmi AX6S and Asus RT-AX53U. On the secondary market, the Xiaomi 3G v1 is a popular router with a MediaTek MT7621AT chip, 128/256 chips, gigabit ports, and USB 3.0. An upgraded version of this router is the Xiaomi Mi 3 Pro with 256/512 chips, 4 gigabit ports, and a more downloaded wifi chip.

Which router with OpenWrt support to buy in 2023

As long as I remember home routers, it was always possible to install some unofficial firmware on them, and the router began to work more stably (not always). Then there was an opportunity to add packages that expand the functionality of the router.

Now, thanks to the rapid development of microprocessors, we can purchase quite powerful, compact iron glands for an adequate cost. And manufacturers began to expand the functionality of firmware. If, for example, you only need USB modem support, many routers can provide this out of the box.

And if the functionality out of the box is not enough and you want more, then you have to look towards unofficial firmware as before.

In the last 8 years, my leader is OpenWrt, a firmware based on the Linux kernel. This is a full-fledged operating system, which has its own package manager, and systemd has not penetrated there yet.

OpenWrt has a lot of features and a large community. But to be more specific, on OpenWrt you can:

And this is only part of the possibilities. OpenWrt does not support all routers, and therefore it is not always easy to find suitable ones on sale. Thanks to enthusiasts, you can now buy a new router that supports OpenWrt. By the way, there are routers that are sold with OpenWrt installed, but they are overpriced + weak filling.

My selection criteria

If you ask the question “which router should I buy for OpenWrt”, then you need a router with normal chip sizes, not 4/32 (4MB of disk and 32MB of RAM). By the way, OpenWrt developers themselves stopped supporting such routers a long time ago and the minimum requirement for a router is 8/64.

For my part, I recommend taking the maximum from what is available. If you need an OpenWrt router, then you obviously want to install something there, and if we are talking about bypassing blocks and nftables, there is not much RAM.

The routers presented here are a golden mean. They cost moderate money, but at the same time have a good filling. And, accordingly, these routers are used by more enthusiasts, which means better support and fewer bugs.

The situation is such that in Russia only two vendors fall under the criteria of “larger chip sizes” – these are Xioami and Asus. In addition to Russia, these routers are also sold in neighboring countries.

Routers that you can buy in the store

Xiaomi Redmi AX6S

At the moment, this is the best option. The advantages are as follows:

  • It can be bought on Russian and Chinese marketplaces, price range 4500-5500 rubles

  • It has 128MB ROM, 256MB RAM

  • It can be stitched without dissection, but you will have to tinker a little

  • Wi-Fi 6

It is necessary to make a reservation here, it is not easy to install OpenWrt on any Xiaomi. To make life even more difficult, we have two routers with the same hardware, but with different names and firmware – the Redmi AX6S and the Xiaomi AX3200. In Redmi AX6S, telnet is enabled, and thanks to this, you can flash Openwrt without opening the box. But in the Xiaomi AX3200 firmware, telnet is disabled and it cannot be flashed so easily. Therefore, buy exactly Xiaomi Redmi AX6S. The main external difference: Xioami has a European plug, while Redmi has an American standard.

You don’t need to open the cover, but you need to downgrade the firmware and use a python script to generate a password from the serial number to get the password for telnet.

Everything is described in detail on the router page on the OpenWrt website

Asus RT-AX53U

Asus routers have always been good because they are easy to flash. And this, first of all, it differs from the previous one. Enable WebGUI SSH and voila. It also has a USB port.

It is in the same price range, but the iron is a little weaker. MediaTek MT7621AT in RT-AX53U vs MT7622B in Redmi AX6S.

The Redmi has a higher clock speed, so theoretically it can handle data encryption better. For a router in our reality, these are primarily OpenVPN tunnels, Wireguard, etc.

There are synthetic benchmarks in which you can compare both processors and even the routers themselves. For clarification, the OS column is the version of OpenWrt, for example, r19803 is 22.03. And the ending -multi means the number of cores used during the test. Both models should be viewed with the ending “-multi 2”, because both dual-core processors. According to these benchmarks, the MT7622B is almost twice as good, but there are no real tunnel performance tests.

Router page on the OpenWrt website

Well, that’s the end of routers that can be bought in a store. Of course, there are other devices, but they either have a smaller chip size (you don’t need to buy a new router for OpenWrt with small chips – you’ll regret it), or an overprice in the region of 15,000 rubles.

Routers on the secondary market

If funds are limited, or you are an idealistic person who drowns for reasonable consumption, or you just love rape corpses revive old devices, then the BU device market is waiting for you.

Xiaomi 3G v1

This is a popular router and my personal favorite. He became popular thanks to:

  • MediaTek MT7621AT, for which firmware can be adapted

  • Huge, by the standards of 2018, with 128/256 chips

  • Gigabit ports and USB 3.0

  • And most importantly, with such data, the price was 1,500-2,500 rubles

The photo shows my router, which I bought in 2018 and still use. It is supported starting from 18.06. At the very beginning there were problems with the wifi module, but on version 19 everything was fine.

It is important to know exactly what Xiaomi 3G v1 is all about. Its second version should be bypassed. The main external difference between the second and the first: the first has a USB port.

In addition to the second version, a bunch of other mi3s were released with different endings. They were followed by mi4 with the same story. All these routers have small chip sizes, many do not have OpenWrt support – you should not buy them (except for Pro, about it below). Is it possible to pay attention to the mi4 itself with 128/128.

Xiaomi Mi 3 Pro

Upgraded version of Xiaomi 3G v1. Chips 256/512, has 4 gigabit ports and a more downloaded wifi chip.

But there is a nuance: you may get a memory chip from Micron, which will have bad blocks. This is written on the device page.

It is better to ask the seller in advance if he had problems with flashing, if he installed OpenWrt, maybe he even knows what chip is there. If you are unlucky and decide to sell, please sell with a label to that effect. Make life easier for other people. Moreover, not everyone needs OpenWrt, there will be a buyer.

That’s all?

There are other routers that do not fit into my selection criteria. You can find them in the nameplate, the link is immediately filtered according to the 22.03 version, there is no point in buying a router with support.

Here you can sort by volume Flash MB (Keep in mind that the sorting there is by the first number, not the total volume), next to it, open the tab with the site for the sale of BU equipment and see what is available. There is an opportunity to find a standard router at a good price.
But most of the routers from this base are not sold in the American and European markets, in Russia and neighboring countries.

You can check the support of an existing router here.

Do you know more options? Any experience with the routers listed here? Write in the comments or private messages.

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