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toh:buyerguide [2014/03/02 17:12]
toh:buyerguide [2016/09/18 04:36] (current)
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 +====== 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.
 +| {{:​meta:​icons:​tango:​dialog-information.png?​nolink}} |  **OpenWrt does not recommend any hardware or manufacturer!** ​ \\ There is no "best hardware",​ so stop asking. Purchase something that meets your requirements. \\ Inform yourself about the //current hardware support// on the Internet and ask other users/​developers for //a personal recommendation//​ in the forum. \\ Avoid overhyped, overpriced products -embedded hardware can be VERY inexpensive! ​ OpenWrt is what does the magic! ​ |
 +===== Features =====
 +==== Bootloader ====
 +    * the [[doc:​techref:​bootloader]] should not only be under a [[wp>​Free_and_open-source_software|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
 +==== LAN ====
 +    * **How many [[wp>​Network interface controller|NICs]]** does the [[wp>​System on a chip]] incorporate?​ Common are **one** or **two**, very seldom more.\\ These are implemented as [[doc/​hardware/​SoC]]-integrated Ethernet-[[wp>​Media access control|MAC]]-blocks,​ which are each connected over a [[wp>​Media Independent Interface|xMII]] to a distinct [[wp>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, [[wp>​Fast Ethernet]]) or\\ **BASE1000-T** (i.e. 1000MBit/s, [[wp>​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?
 +      * [[https://​​viewtopic.php?​pid=152347#​p152347|4bit VIDs]], [[https://​​viewtopic.php?​pid=120457#​p120457|4bit VIDs]], ​
 +    * Support for EEE (Energy Efficient Ethernet), Green Ethernet officially: [[wp>​IEEE 802.3az]]
 +    * Support for PoE (Power over Ethernet). non standard "​passive"​ 12V, 24V or standardized [[wp>​IEEE802.3af]],​IEEE[[wp>​802.3at]]
 +==== Wireless ====
 +(Please consult the [[doc:​howto:​wireless.overview|Wireless Overview]])
 +  * How many [[wp>​Wireless network interface controller|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
 +    * [[wp>​MiniPCI]]:​ the wifi card can be extracted, and replaced by another different MiniPCI model
 +    * [[wp>​MiniPCIe]]:​ the wifi card can be extracted, and replaced by another different MiniPCIe model
 +  * Which substandards of the [[wp>​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):
 +      * 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz or both? (see e.g. [[wp>​Electromagnetic_interference_at_2.4_GHz|Electromagnetic interference at 2.4 GHz]] or [[wp>​Fresnel zone]] or [[http://​​wireless/​wireless-basics/​32316-how-to-buy-a-wireless-router-2014-edition?​showall=&​start=1|Throughput and Range]])
 +      * For the AP to be capable to run in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz at the same time, the router must support //<color green>​dual band simultan</​color>//​ aka //<color green>​DBDC (DualBand-DualConcurrent)</​color>//​. This tag shall help you find suitable devices more quickly: {{tagpage>​802.11abgn_simultan}}
 +      * 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 [[http://​​en/​users/​Documentation/​Bluetooth-coexistence|Bluetooth]] [[wp>​Personal area network|PAN]],​ while 5GHz is usually unused.
 +  * Is it relevant to you whether the WNICs are [[http://​​en/​developers/​Documentation/​Glossary?​highlight=%28softmac%29#​SoftMAC|SoftMAC]] or [[http://​​en/​developers/​Documentation/​Glossary?​highlight=%28FullMAC%29#​FullMAC|FullMAC]] devices?
 +  * Do the current capabilities of the [[http://​​en/​users/​Drivers|Existing Linux Wireless drivers]] for your WNICs satisfy your requirements?​
 +  * Are the [[doc:​hardware:​antennae]] detachable? If so, you could replace them with ones with a better gain, or with (home-made) directional antennae.
 +  * [[wp>​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, propietary 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.
 +==== Modem ==== 
 +(Please consult the [[:​doc:​hardware:​internet.access.technologies|Internet access technologies]])
 +  * Common Layer 1 protocols that utilize a [[wp>​Modem]] are: [[wp>​Digital subscriber line|DSL]], [[wp>​DOCSIS]] and [[wp>​Mobile telephony]],​ e.g. [[wp>​3GPP Long Term Evolution|LTE]]. See tags {{tagpage>​ADSL2+}} {{tagpage>​VDSL2}} {{tagpage>​DOCSIS}} {{tagpage>​Mobile_telephony}}
 +  * If a device has a built-in modem, is the modem fully supported by OpenWrt?
 +  * E.g. there are no FOSS drivers for the Broadcom modems in the [[doc:​hardware:​soc:​soc.broadcom.bcm63xx|BCM63xx SoCs]], but there are FOSS drivers for Texas Instruments/​Infineon/​Lantiq Modems in these SoCs: [[doc:​hardware:​soc:​soc.lantiq]]!
 +==== Processors and Memory ==== 
 +  * The most crucial decision is your choice of RAM. If you are going to run ''​[[doc:​howto:​voip.asterisk|asterisk]]'',​ ''​[[doc:​howto:​umurmur|mumble]]'',​ ''​[[doc:​howto:​direct.connect|Direct Connect]]'',​ ''​[[doc:​howto:​BitTorrent]]'',​ a [[doc:​howto:​http.overview|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 then 64MB. Also, the SoC sometimes only support 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 [[:​doc:​hardware:​cpu|CPU]] included on with [[:​doc:​hardware:​soc|SoC]]. Do not compare raw MHz, e.g. a MIPS 34KE@300MHz is in most scenarios faster then a MIPS 24K@400MHz.
 +    * as you can see by referring to the [[doc:​techref:​flash.layout|flash layout]] with a total of 8MiB flash memory, you can use about 5MiB for own packages.
 +==== Cryptography ====
 +  * [[wp>​Hardware_random_number_generator|TRNG]]:​ Most devices use a software random number generator. Only few are equiped with a true hardware random number generator, see {{tagpage>​trng}} tag
 +  * [[doc/​hardware/​cryptographic.hardware.accelerators|Cryptographic Hardware Accelerators]]:​ routers equiped with these accelerators may bring you better speed transfers when you plan to use encrypted connections such as OpenVPN.
 +==== Ports ====
 +    * USB: connect a hub, harddiscs, ssds, usb sticks, UMTS modems, cameras, sound cards, etc. ->​[[doc:​howto:​usb.overview]]
 +    * Serial: very useful for developers, limited uses for end users ->​[[doc:​hardware:​port.serial]]
 +    * JTAG: very useful for developers and also for end users  ->​[[doc:​hardware:​port.JTAG]]
 +    * [[wp>TAE connector|TAE sockets]]: a telephone connector used mosly in Germany
 +==== Buttons ====
 +    * You can boot your device into //​[[doc:​howto:​generic.failsafe|OpenWrt Failsafe]]//​ with a reset button, without one, this is only possible through connection over serial! Also, after boot up, you can [[doc:​howto:​hardware.button|attach functions]] to the buttons, like start/stop WLAN, reconnect DSL, start/stop a daemon, mount/​unmount partitions, ​ etc.
 +==== Platform / Architecture ====
 +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''​ ([[wp>​Single-board_computer]]) may be viable alternatives.
 +==== Certified Operation Modes ====
 +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 [[wp>​IP_Code]].
 +==== Examples ====
 +    * particularly small devices are e.g. the [[toh/​asus/​wl-330n|ASUS WL-330N]], the [[toh/​redwave/​rw2458n|Redwave RW2458N]] (has a MiniPCIe slot), or the [[toh/​​hornet-ub|ALFA Network Hornet-UB]] (supports 12V Passive [[wp>​Power over Ethernet|PoE (Power over Ethernet)]]), ​
 +    * devices with an integrated [[wp>​Rechargeable battery]] are e.g. the [[toh/​tp-link/​tl-mr13u|TP-Link TL-MR13U]] and [[toh/​tp-link/​tl-mr3040|TP-Link TL-MR3040]]
 +    * devices with more then the usual five RJ-45 Ports are e.g. 
 +    * Note that many but not all device pages are tagged. Please see if the [[meta/​tags|Tags]] help you with your search.
 +===== Price comparison for currently purchasable hardware =====
 +Since Christmas 2011, Geizhals offers a filter for devices supported by OpenWrt:
 +  * [[http://​​cat=wlanrout&​sort=p&​xf=758_OpenWrt#​xf_top|Preisvergleich AT: WLAN-Router]]
 +  * [[http://​​cat=wlanrout&​xf=758_OpenWrt&​sort=p|Preisvergleich DE: WLAN-Router]]
 +  * [[http://​​cat=wlanrout&​xf=758_OpenWrt&​sort=p|Porównanie cen PL: WLAN-Router]]
 +  * [[http://​​cat=wlanrout&​xf=758_OpenWrt&​sort=p|Price comparison UK: WLAN-Router]]
 +  * [[http://​​cat=wlanroutmod&​xf=758_OpenWrt&​sort=p|Preisvergleich AT: WLAN-Router mit Modem]]
 +  * [[http://​​cat=wlanroutmod&​xf=758_OpenWrt&​sort=p|Preisvergleich DE: WLAN-Router mit Modem]]
 +  * [[http://​​cat=wlanroutmod&​xf=758_OpenWrt&​sort=p|Porównanie cen PL: Routery WLAN z modemem]]
 +  * [[http://​​cat=wlanroutmod&​xf=758_OpenWrt&​sort=p|Price comparison UK: WLAN Router with Modem]]
 +**''​Note_1:''​** You can safely ignore the filters for "​3G-Router"​ and "​BitTorrent-Client",​ since they apply to the OEM firmware only. Once you installed OpenWrt, the full software repository stands to your disposal. \\
 +**''​Note_2:''​** Do not expect the filter to be perfectly up-to-date, since it is updated manually conforming to the [[toh:​start|OpenWrt ToH]]!
 +==== United States ====
 +Amazon also lets you //search// for OpenWrt, but you cannot filter for OpenWrt support:
 +  * [[http://​​1mONYr0|Price comparison USA: OpenWrt routers]]
 +**''​Note_1:''​** The filter is not 100% perfect, be sure to double check a router before buying \\
 +===== Find hardware matching your criteria =====
 +<columns 100% 50% ->
 +==== Tags ====
 +You can use the [[meta:​tags]] to quickly find devices with your desired features. Sadly :-( not many devices have been tagged so far.
 +  * {{tagpage>​GigabitEthernet}} ​
 +  * {{tagpage>​DetachableAntenna}} ​
 +  * {{tagpage>​USB2.0}} {{tagpage>​USB}} {{tagpage>​2USB}} {{tagpage>​3USB}} {{tagpage>​4USB}}
 +  * {{tagpage>​512RAM}} {{tagpage>​256RAM}} {{tagpage>​128RAM}} {{tagpage>​64RAM}}
 +  * {{tagpage>​gt32Flash}} {{tagpage>​32Flash}} {{tagpage>​16Flash}} {{tagpage>​8Flash}}
 +  * {{tagpage>​802.11abgn}} {{tagpage>​802.11abgn_simultan}} {{tagpage>​802.11ac}}
 +  * {{tagpage>​rechargeable_battery}}
 +  * {{tagpage>​portable_router}}
 +  * {{tagpage>​ip_camera}}
 +  * {{tagpage>​TRNG}} {{tagpage>​crypto}}
 +==== Table of Hardware ====
 +  * The [[toh:​start|OpenWrt Table of Hardware]] provides an easy hardware overview.
 +  * [[toh:​views:​toh_available_864|ToH filtered for available, >4M Flash, >32M RAM]]
 +    * If you want to buy one, the device should be available.
 +    * 4M Flash //can// work, but it's no fun. Quickly you reach the point, where there'​s no space left to install further packages. 8M Flash are better in this regards and quite comfortable to work with.
 +    * 32M RAM //can// work, but depending on your use case, this might be too little. 64M RAM are quite comfortable to work with.
 +  * The ToH related [[toh:​views:​dataclouds|dataclouds]] show you all available filter options.
 +  * [[toh:​views:​start|Collection of views]] offers different views of the ToH, with more data and multiple filter options.