Best OpenWRT Router

3 Best OpenWRT Routers of 2018 (Open Source Firmware)

If you have been looking at ways to upgrade your old wireless router or have more flexibility with its firmware, you should take a look at the best OpenWRT routers recommended in this guide.

OpenWRT is an embedded Linux distribution that can be installed on a variety of routers or you can purchase a unit that already has it. OpenWRT can be more stable than your router’s default hardware, improving your privacy and can prevent you from having to reset your router regularly, if you have had that problem.

OpenWRT has a variety of advantages, from setting up a VPN through the router to removing the need of having a second router. It depends on how much you need from your wireless gateway and your Wi-Fi to see if having the best OpenWRT router would be a good fit for you.

What is OpenWRT Firmware?

Wireless Router & OpenWRT Firmware

OpenWRT is open source firmware that can be installed in many routers to give your network performance the boost it needs, while giving you access to advanced settings you couldn’t before.

OpenWRT firmware is an open source option that can be used on some routers. Open source means that you have the ability to modify the code of the router itself, allowing you more flexibility as what your gateway is capable of. Just like with open source software, the option to alter what is the default setup of the device. It is worthwhile for people who know how to or enjoy changing settings to meet their specific use needs.

If you are not interested in using the source code for your router’s firmware, having a router that has an OpenWRT option may not be necessary for your Wi-Fi uses at all.

Benefits of Open WRT Router

Customizable: Users can avoid having bloated firmware on their router with OpenWRT, making it easier for users to manage the features they installed and selected.

Is Supported on Many Hardware: More than any other third party firmware, Open WRT can support most hardware.

Advanced Security Features: Open WRT allows you to access and install a variety of security features on your router ranging from VPN packages, encryption tools and more.

Great Price: OpenWRT is absolutely free – which makes it an awesome deal.

VPN: Most users who have had experience in dealing with OpenWRT and DD-WRT will tell you that you get better VPN speeds with OpenWRT than with other third party firmware. Apart from being able to share a VPN account with other users, you can keep your network secure no matter where you are in the world.

Separating users into different networks: OpenWRT helps in creating routed clients, so that you can manage your network better, ensuring that your connected users are in smaller networks. This is best seen when users are separated on a wired connection from a wireless network.

3 Best OpenWRT Routers Of 2018

Device

Speeds

Ports

Rating

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1. Linksys WRT3200

(Editor's Choice)

3200 Mbps

4 Ports

99%

2. Turris Omnia

(High Performance)

3200 Mbps

4 Ports

99%

3. Zyxel Armor Z2

1900 Mbps

4 Ports

97%

Who Is OpenWRT Router Best For

OpenWRT routers are great for users who are looking to get a more stable firmware which allows them to control and manage their router better than a device with default firmware. If you want to convert your router into a system for shaping traffic, VPN, into an SSH server or even a BitTorrent client, you should consider replacing the default firmware in your wireless router with OpenWRT.

Many times the default firmware in a router can be unreliable, causing you to restart your router ever so often due to overload. Upgrading to OpenWRT will take care of this problem.

OpenWRT also has a web interface, making it easier for users to adapt to the new firmware. As the internet progresses, many users are more aware of privacy concerns stemming from cloud computing and IoT – and using OpenWRT could help you control your network more efficiently.

1. Linksys WRT AC3200 Wireless Router

Best OpenWRT Router Overall (Editor's Choice)

The Linksys WRT AC3200 MU0MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router allows you to substitute the router’s stock firmware with an adaptable open-source code. You can then customize the settings and utilize the advanced monitoring options. Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU_MIMO) means that you can go to multiple compatible clients at the same time instead of waiting on individual clients to be available. The tri-stream tech means that it doubles the 80MHz channel’s bandwidth on the 5 GHz band.

It comes with four adjustable and removable external antennas as well as a series of LED indicators to let you know how your connection is doing. The router comes with four LAN ports, a WAN port, one USB 3.0 port, one 2.0/eSATA combo port, as well as the ability to reset.

Performance

The Linksys WRT AC3200 features a tri-stream 160 technology that can double your bandwidth. The MU-MIMO tech allows you to have high-speed Wi-Fi to multiple connected devices. As it supports MU-MIMO technology, we knew that we would get great performance, and we weren’t disappointed.

In close range, we were getting speeds of 686Mbps, and the speed dropped to 422Mbps at a distance of 30 feet with the 5GHz band. The 2.4GHz band gave us speeds of 147Mbps at close range, with the speed dropping to 75Mbps at a distance of 30 feet. Even file transfers with super heavy files revealed superb speeds, reaching 75MBps on writing speeds.

These reasons and the fact that we didn’t bust the bank to get it made it our Editor’s choice for the best open wrt router.

Features

  • Tri-Stream 160 doubles 5GHz bandwidth
  • Access to restricted DFS channels
  • Gives you clearer Wi-Fi
  • 1.8 GHz CPU: helps in improving performance
  • OpenWRT and DD-WRT availability: Allowing for tweaks and changes in configuration and settings
  • Smart Wi-Fi app: to monitor and modify your router remotely
  • 512MB of RAM with 256MB Flash

Linksys WRT3200ACM Pros

  • Open source firmware
  • High performance tri-core
  • Easy setup process
  • Updates automatically
  • Supports MU-MIMO and Tri-stream 160MHz technology
  • ​Excellent 5GHz throughput
  • Excellent speeds with file transfers

Linksys WRT3200ACM Pros

  • No availability of 160MHz clients
  • Have to be a little tech savvy

2. Turris Omnia OpenWRT Router

Best High Performance OpenWRT Router

The Turris Omnia is an OpenWRT fork, meaning it allows for open source hardware. It provides the ability of replacing three devices in your setup: the router, the Wi-Fi access point, and the media converter. As a result, you would have better power savings and the set up would take up a lot less room. This is without a doubt one of the best routers for OpenWRT.

Performance

The Turris Omnia is a high-powered dual-core ARM with a 1.6 GHz CPU with a 2 GB RAM capacity. The impressive feature set it has alone makes it the best openwrt router in this guide if you are looking for a high performance one. The speedtest the BlueGadgetTooth team carried out revealed the router had a speed of 2ms ping, 935 Mbps down and 936 Mbps up on the 5GHz band. The set up process of the Turris Omnia is very simple, making it easy for most people to set it up themselves. We loved at how much freedom we had in customizing our router.

Features

  • 1.6 GHz dual-core processor: You need a faster engine to handle faster speeds
  • 1 GB DDR3 memory
  • 8 GB flash available storage
  • 5x Gigabit LAN port and 1 Gigabit WAN port
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • SIM card availability
  • RTC with battery backup
  • Customizable automatic updates

Turris Omnia Pros

  • Powerful open source firmware and hardware
  • Unmatched performance
  • Easy setup process
  • Updates firmware automatically
  • Secure default configuration
  • It performs with the power of a PC
  • Simple UI
  • ​Great coverage
  • Great community support

Turris Omnia Cons

  • Great for mostly tech savvy people
  • Overkill for people with basic internet needs

3. Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 Wireless Router

The Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 router is Mu-MIMO enabled and utilises StreamBoost bandwidth management tech from Qualcomm that will give gamers and movie buffs the ultimate experience. Having a good range of management settings, this router has amazing throughput and many extras like an auto photo backup utility and usage monitor that makes it worth the value.

Performance:

You have the option to go through the set up process via the ONE Connect mobile app form Zyxel or the web based console on the router. With the configuration process being rather simple, it took the BlueGadgetTooth team a short while to get it up and running.

The throughput on the 2.4GHz band was excellent, scoring 112Mbps in close range, which was comparable with many other routers we tested in the same range. The speed dropped to 82Mbps at a distance of 30 feet. What makes the Zyxel Z2 really shine is its performance on the 5GHz band, scoring 574Mbps at close range. The throughput dropped to 312Mbps at a distance of 30 feet.

The MU-MIMO throughput was not the greatest, but delivered good results, achieving scores of 212Mbps at close range, with the speed dropping to 87Mbps at a distance of 30 feet. The file transfer speeds of the Z2 was 61Mbps for reading, and 42Mbps for writing, which was pretty good as per industry standard averages.

Features

  • Edgy design appealing for gamers
  • 4 external adjustable, non removable antennas
  • 1.7 GHz dual-core processor
  • 802.11AC wireless standard
  • Beamforming technology
  • USB 3.0 & USB 2.0 port
  • Parental controls
  • Advanced WAN settings
  • Guest Network
  • IPv4 and IPv6 firewall

Zyxel Armor Z2 Pros

  • Easy installation process
  • MU-MIMO streaming
  • Excellent throughput
  • Edgy design
  • Secure default configuration
  • It performs with the power of a PC
  • Simple UI
  • ​Great coverage
  • Great community support

Zyxel Armor Z2 Cons

  • Average MU-MIMO performance

OpenWRT Router Set up

If you have purchased a OpenWRT router and are ready to setup, you are in the right place.

1. Verify that you have a router compatible with OpenWRT. It should be listed on the router’s features.

2. There are different ways of installing OpenWRT depending on the different physical interfaces between your computer and router.

3. Select the OpenWRT firmware version that you would like and download it. If this is your first one, go with the most current stable release. One of the most recent stable releases is the Chaos Calmer 15.05.1, which was released in March 2016.

4. After downloading the firmware onto your computer, you need to install it onto the router.

5. Restart the router and login.

6. Set up a basic configuration to put in your specifications in order to use the router effectively.

7. You may not notice much of a change right away to your router, but if it is a stable firmware, there should be no hiccups that cause alarm.

Benefits of OpenWRT router Over DD-WRT Router

A DD-WRT Router is great for users who are looking to remove the limitations of a consumer grade router for more business oriented functionality. This follows a more open platform for users who can add other packages to the firmware, allowing users to choose and pick the features they want, rather than the one-solution-for-all option that DD-WRT offers.

Although both are Linux based, and both contain package managers, this is where the similarities end.

OpenWRT Starter FAQ

Is there an initial password set? If so, what is it?

There is no initial password created for root. You have to create one manually after you first login. You can do this by using ‘passwd’ in the command line.

What happens if I forget my password? Can I reset it?

You can reset your root password by going to the Troubleshooting tab of your User Guide.

Is there a default admin username?

Yes, it is ‘root’.

How can I access web admin GUI?

Enter http://192.168.1.1 on the browser of your choice.

I made some mistakes during device configuration and now my device doesn’t seem to work. Help!

Go to the ‘FailSafe and Factory reset’ section in the Troubleshooting tab of your User Guide.

Please tell me how to enable SSL for web admin GUI?

Run ‘opkg update’ in an SSH command line. The next step involves installing ‘opkg install luci-ssl’, after which you should restart your router. Then you should enter http://192.168.1.1 on the browser of your choice.

What are the key shortcuts for command line editor in SSH?

ESC :q! – exit without saving

ESC :wq – exit and save

ESC i – insert text at present cursor location

ESC x – delete character under cursor position

ESC dd – delete whole current line

ESC o – open new line below cursor position

ESC O - open new line above cursor position

Final Words

It goes without saying the need for an OpenWRT firmware router depends greatly on the user and the user’s needs. If you are looking for just a basic plug and play router that will not require you to have any personalization or medications, OpenWRT may not be a good idea for you.

However, if you want more out of your router, and are looking for the best Open WRT router, and if you would like to use some of the features, but are unsure about venturing into the world of open source, the two routers we have reviewed here would be good options to try out. While they do require some tech knowledge, they are not completely complicated and with a little bit of effort, you should be able to use them effectively.

These two open wrt routers are considered by the BlueGadgetTooth team to be amongst the best open wrt routers in their class, either for the overall performance and budget, to feature sets and high performance capabilities. All in all, if you are looking to get more control over your router, these two are the ones you should buy.

About the Author tomas

Hey, it's Tomas here! I'm the founder and chief editor here at BlueGadgetTooth. After spending hours explaining my parents how to hook up their Internet, why it's being so slow etc. I decided to start this blog to help people with their gadgets and questions about technology.