Best New Router for OpenWRT ;)

by kacang bawang

A small note of triumph 🙂

For some time now I’ve been looking for a modern router. Yes, that WRT54G isn’t getting any younger 🙁 But few people are willing to “school” one on what’s the one to get these days (these days = May 2016). So after a long string of “google it” responses, I finally buckled down and did my own research. You wanna know the conclusion? 😉

TP-Link Archer C7 v2. It sports the same chipset (QCA9558) as its more expensive cousins at a fraction of the price. Its 5G radio (QCA9880-BR4A) is well supported by the ath10k driver. There are a couple of problems though. One – starting with some version number, the web ui blocks 3rd party firmware installation. Two – starting with another version number, a new flash chip is being used which is unsupported as of OpenWRT 15.05.1. Neither one is a dealbreaker, as the the OpenWRT firmware can still be flashed via TFTP or even as a web exploit. The new flash chip will be supported in the next release, until then a more cumbersome installation is necessary.

I searched for a used Archer C7 on ebay, hoping to get an old model without the problematic changes. I managed to score one in the 2149xxxxx serial range, which was early enough to be devoid of the locked web UI and had the old style flash. Installation went waay faster than what I had been preparing for.