openwrt router

Best OpenWRT Router (Open Source Firmware)

If you have been looking at ways to upgrade your 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 router 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 router 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 router 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 an Open WRT Router

OpenWRT has many advantages including:

  • They have the ability to setup a real VPN through the router itself
  • OpenWRT has software that let it work like a server or even a BitTorrent client, eliminating the need for an extra server to do the same function. Routers are less expensive than a server would be as well.
  • You can create a guest network, which means you can setup a network that is separate from your main network, improving the security of your router.
  • The OpenWRT will let you use the SSH server for SSH tunneling. Since the OpenWRT uses an SSH server, you can access the server remotely and utilize the SSH tunneling to forward traffic across an encrypted network. In layman’s terms, you can use pubic Wi-Fi somewhere else and still have safe access to all of the local websites you would use if you were home.

1. Linksys WRT AC3200 Wireless Router

Best OpenWRT Router (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

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.

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.