One of my tasks recently in a public library where I work as a system admin was to configure a VPN server. At first, I thought it’s gonna be a separate virtual machine within the same network on our main server. But then I decided to use a Linksys router, WRT3200ACM, to be exact. I flashed it with OpenWRT LEDE firmware and configured an OpenVPN server using this guide. Everything works perfectly.

Having a perfectly stable and functional router with OpenVPN server on it, I thought I would be great to compile a list of 5 best routers for OpenWRT firmware. So if anyone has a similar desire to use this opensource firmware instead of stock one.

I searched a bit throughout the OpenWRT forums, especially the topic about best and most supported and stable enthusiast routers.

If you are searching entry-level routers for a few ten bucks, this is not the right place for you. I just stay away from those cheap routers and if you respect your nerves well enough, I recommend you to do the same. 🙂

What is the Best Router for OpenWRT LEDE Firmware and OpenVPN server?

While compiling this list I took into consideration the following features:

  • The router must have a dual-band WiFi. The 2.4GHz band is just so oversaturated, especially in urban areas, that more and the more 5GHz band comes in handy. Also, the 5GHz band has a way better throughput, which is more and more important factor nowadays.
  • Gigabit WAN and LAN ports. And as close as possible to 1 GB/s throughput WAN <-> LAN.
  • MU-MIMO preferred. Latest set of multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technologies for wireless communication.
    Yet, there’s no open source driver for MU-MIMO. However, I recommend considering it as it may be supported in the near future.
  • And lastly, of course, stability. There must be no complaints from users about router being unstable, crashing, freezing, etc…

Comparison table:

Linksys WRT1900ACS Open Source Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Wireless Router ,Black
Linksys WRT AC3200 Dual-Band Open Source Router for Home (Tri-Stream Fast Wireless WiFi Router, MU-MIMO Gigabit Wireless Router)
NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S Smart WiFi Router (R7800) - AC2600 Wireless Speed (up to 2600 Mbps) | Up to 2500 sq ft Coverage & 45 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet, 2 x 3.0 USB, and 1 x eSATA ports
Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 MU-MIMO Wireless Router with StreamBoost and Beamforming Antennas [NBG6817]
Turris Omnia 2 GB Wi-Fi high Performance, Open Source & WiFi Router/NAS/printserver/Virtual Server, CPU 1.6 GHz Dual-core, 5X GLAN, 2X USB 3.0
Wi-Fi Speed
600 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 1300 Mbps (5 GHz)
600 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 2600 Mbps (5 GHz)
800 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 1733 Mbps (5 GHz)
2,600 Mb/s
800 Mb/s
Wireless Compability
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
MU-MIMO
CPU
Dual Core 1.6 GHz
Dual Core 1.8 GHz
Dual Core 1.7 GHz
Dual Core 1.7 GHz
Dual Core ARM 1.6 GHz
Ethernet Ports
5
5
5
5
6
$179.99
$219.99
$169.99
$169.99
$339.00
-
-
BEST BUDGET
Linksys WRT1900ACS Open Source Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Wireless Router ,Black
Wi-Fi Speed
600 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 1300 Mbps (5 GHz)
Wireless Compability
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
MU-MIMO
CPU
Dual Core 1.6 GHz
Ethernet Ports
5
$179.99
BEST OVERALL
Linksys WRT AC3200 Dual-Band Open Source Router for Home (Tri-Stream Fast Wireless WiFi Router, MU-MIMO Gigabit Wireless Router)
Wi-Fi Speed
600 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 2600 Mbps (5 GHz)
Wireless Compability
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
MU-MIMO
CPU
Dual Core 1.8 GHz
Ethernet Ports
5
$219.99
BEST WIFI
NETGEAR Nighthawk X4S Smart WiFi Router (R7800) - AC2600 Wireless Speed (up to 2600 Mbps) | Up to 2500 sq ft Coverage & 45 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet, 2 x 3.0 USB, and 1 x eSATA ports
Wi-Fi Speed
800 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 1733 Mbps (5 GHz)
Wireless Compability
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
MU-MIMO
CPU
Dual Core 1.7 GHz
Ethernet Ports
5
$169.99
Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 MU-MIMO Wireless Router with StreamBoost and Beamforming Antennas [NBG6817]
Wi-Fi Speed
2,600 Mb/s
Wireless Compability
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
MU-MIMO
CPU
Dual Core 1.7 GHz
Ethernet Ports
5
$169.99
-
BEST PERFORMANCE
Turris Omnia 2 GB Wi-Fi high Performance, Open Source & WiFi Router/NAS/printserver/Virtual Server, CPU 1.6 GHz Dual-core, 5X GLAN, 2X USB 3.0
Wi-Fi Speed
800 Mb/s
Wireless Compability
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
MU-MIMO
CPU
Dual Core ARM 1.6 GHz
Ethernet Ports
6
$339.00
-

Last update on 2020-08-10.

 

1. Linksys WRT AC1900

Photo: dainghia.com.vn

Wi-Fi Speed: 600 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 1300 Mbps (5 GHz)  Wireless Compability : 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac   |  MU-MIMO: No  |  CPU: Dual Core 1.6 GHz Ethernet Ports: 5

With Linksys WRT AC1900  you get an impresive performance for the price. If you are tight on a budget, this is a reasonable choice.

Price/performance   No MU-MIMO

 

Last update on 2020-08-10.


 

2. Linksys WRT AC3200 Open Source

Photo: digitaltrends.com

Wi-Fi Speed: 600 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 2600 Mbps (5 GHz)  Wireless Compability : 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac   |  MU-MIMO: Yes  |  CPU: Dual Core 1.8 GHz Ethernet Ports: 5

Linksys WRT AC3200  is my favorite choice. It has everything I need for the robust OpenWRT router. I’m also very pleased with WiFi performance.

Jack of all trades 🙂   but master of none 🙂

 

Last update on 2020-08-10.


 

3. Netgear Nighthawk X4S AC2600 (R7800)

Photo: gottabemobile.com

Wi-Fi Speed: 800 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 1733 Mbps (5 GHz)  Wireless Compability : 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac   |  MU-MIMO: Yes  |  CPU: Dual Core 1.7 GHz Ethernet Ports: 5

In the OpenWRT comunity, Netgear Nighthawk X4S AC2600 (R7800)  is known for the best WiFi performance.

WiFi

 

Last update on 2020-08-10.


 

4. Zyxel Armor Z2

Photo: cnet.com

Wi-Fi Speed: 2,600 Mb/s Wireless Compability : 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac   |  MU-MIMO: Yes  |  CPU: Dual Core 1.7 GHz Ethernet Ports: 5

Zyxel Armor Z2  is quite simmilar to the Netgear above, but a bit cheaper.

Reasonable price

 

Last update on 2020-08-10.


 

5. Turris Omnia

 

Wi-Fi Speed: 800 Mb/s Wireless Compability : 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac   |  MU-MIMO: No  |  CPU: Dual Core ARM 1.6 GHz Ethernet Ports: 6

Turris Omnia  is a whole open-source router solution. Hardware and software. There is a fork of OpenWRT running on it by default. Definitely the most powerful among all regarding cpu performance.

Routing performance   No MU-MIMO

 

Last update on 2020-08-10.

Profession: System Administrator, Stage Crew – Technician
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