Table Of Contents_
To help you find the best OpenWRT routers, we first spent multiple hours determining which options would support the open-source software. After that, we spent more time ranking 25 different products and presenting the best 10 for your consideration. The top features you should look out for when shopping for a new OpenWRT router include speed/throughput, internal processing power, and overall design quality. You should also consider things like range, compatibility with multiple devices, and physical connectivity, but what you need in each of these areas can change depending on your individual situation.
With these features and considerations in mind, we selected the TP-Link Archer A9 as the best OpenWRT router available today. Keep reading on to learn more about the Archer A9 and the other best router picks in our buying guide below.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This OpenWRT router is a fast and powerful choice for connecting multiple devices to your home internet network. It features high-end MU-MIMO capabilities and excellent beamforming tech to emit a Wi-Fi signal throughout your home without a problem.
The TP-Link Archer A9 router is an excellent choice for anyone looking to get into the world of OpenWRT software so you can have full control over your home network. This is a dual-band router packed to the brim with features and functionality. The dual-band functionality gives you two channels to which you can connect your devices: a 2.4GHz channel and a 5GHz channel. This gives you more flexibility to get the most speed out of all of your devices. You can connect devices that need more speed and reliability to the 5GHz channel and those that don’t to the 2.4GHz channel.
Related: Take a quick look at the best network switches.
When it comes to speed and connectivity, you’ll also get tons of options here. The Archer A9 can provide a top speed of 1300 megabits per second, or 1.3 gigabits per second, on the 5GHz channel. Plus, with beamforming technology and MU-MIMO capabilities, you’ll get long-range performance for multiple devices, even through obstacles like walls and doors. The OpenWRT router features four different gigabit ethernet ports for greater connectivity options, as well as a single USB 2.0 port for data transfers. Unfortunately, this isn’t a USB 3.0 port, but it’s enough for most people’s needs. Installation is easy here as well, although the reboot process takes longer than other routers, which can be a little annoying at times. Still, it outperforms many of the best modem and router combos on the market.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This mini OpenWRT router is perfect for travelers and people who don’t have a lot of space for a large wireless router. Despite its smaller size, it still offers dual-band functionality, support for MicroSD cards, and solid throughput speed, on top of coming with OpenWRT pre-installed.
The GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext is one of the more unique OpenWRT routers we feature in this buying guide. The first thing you’ll notice about it is the fact that it’s incredibly small and compact. With an overall size of 3.9 x 2.7 x 0.9 inches, this is one of the smallest routers you can buy today, and it even fits in your pocket. This makes it perfect for traveling or generally keeping it out of the way in your home, especially if you don’t have a lot of space. Plus, the GL.iNet comes with the OpenWRT software pre-installed, so you won’t have to worry about going through that process if you’ve never done it before.
Fortunately, the GL.iNet doesn’t sacrifice much in the ways of functionality to achieve such a compact size. This is still a dual-band router with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels for greater connection versatility. Of course, it won’t be as fast as other, full-sized wireless routers, but you’ll still get up to 300 Mbps of throughput on the 2.4GHz channel and up to 433 Mbps on the 5GHz channel. This is more than enough for most people’s home internet speeds. The GL.iNet also features three ethernet ports, a USB port, and a microSD card port so you can connect plenty of devices for wired internet and data transfers. For storage, you might also want to consider the best external hard drives so you can back up your devices with ease.
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you don’t have a lot of budget or space for your OpenWRT router, then you can’t go wrong with this ultra-compact option. It comes pre-installed with OpenWRT software for easier installation and a removable antenna for extended range capabilities.
The GL.iNet GL-AR150 OpenWRT router is the best budget OpenWRT router your money can buy today. It’s extremely affordable and capable, which is more than enough for anyone who wants to take a router with them on business trips or doesn’t have space for a large router in their home or apartment. Unfortunately, this is a single-band wireless router, so you’ll only get a single 2.4GHz band to which you’ll connect your devices. However, unless you’re streaming 4K video or playing competitive online games, this connection should be plenty good enough for your needs. You’ll also get up to 150Mbps of throughput with the GL.iNet.
When it comes to user-friendliness and installation, you’d be hard-pressed to find something easier than the GL.iNet GL-AR150 OpenWRT router. It’s as close to plug-and-play as you can get. Plus, it comes pre-installed with OpenWRT software, so you won’t have to go through that process after the initial setup process. You’ll also get VPN capabilities here, which means you can secure your internet connection even further. All in all, this mini wireless router is powerful and fast, on top of being incredibly affordable, making it an excellent choice for personal and travel use. If you recently started an account with Verizon and have to stick to Verizon router hardware, consider our guide to picking the best router for Verizon Fios.
Award: BEST FOR ENTERTAINMENT
WHY WE LIKE IT: This powerful OpenWRT router is the best option for all of your entertainment needs, including online gaming and 4K streaming. With tons of range, lots of speed, and a wide variety of ethernet ports, this router is versatile and high performance.
There are no two ways about it. The Asus GT-AC5300 features one of the most interesting and unique designs available on the market today. The OpenWRT router looks like a piece of sci-fi technology, and it also provides a ton of advanced features and functionality to match the design. With eight adjustable antennas, you’ll get plenty of range for large homes and multiple devices. Unfortunately, this design is also large and bulky, making it more difficult to install the GT-AC5300 in compact spaces.
When it comes to performance and user settings, the Asus GT-AC5300 is hard to beat. This is a tri-band wireless router with a 2.4GHz channel and two 5Ghz channels. These three channels allow you to connect more devices to the router without experiencing drops in performance or bandwidth. Plus, you’ll get blazing fast speeds on each of those channels, which is perfect for all of your online entertainment needs. This is one of the best OpenWRT routers for gaming and 4K streaming. The powerful router also gives you eight different gigabit ethernet ports so you can connect a wide variety of devices straight to the router for a more reliable connection. It’s certainly the best router for streaming on our list.
Award: BEST COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE
WHY WE LIKE IT: This mesh OpenWRT router provides amazing coverage throughout large spaces up to 3,000 square feet. Plus, it offers excellent speeds up to 6Gbps, support for Wi-Fi 6 signals, and support for up to 40 different connected devices.
If you need comprehensive coverage throughout your entire home for all of your different devices, including personal-use devices and smart-home technology, you can’t go wrong with the Linksys MR9600 OpenWRT router. This is a mesh Wi-Fi router, meaning it uses a central base that then connects to other compatible Linksys mesh routers to create a more comprehensive coverage throughout your entire home. Of course, the Linksys MR9600 still performs well even without the additional mesh modes, even at long ranges. This flexibility is another huge selling point.
Overall performance and design are also to be applauded with this wireless router. It features a sleek design that looks great anywhere you install the device. It’s still larger than many other routers, but it’s not as bulky as some that share similar sizes. The Linksys MR9600 is a dual-band router, but it’s compatible with Wi-Fi 6 networks for ultimate speeds, especially at close ranges. When it comes to connectivity, you’ll get four-gigabit ethernet ports, as well as two USB ports for speed file transfers. Unfortunately, the Linksys doesn’t provide any kind of multi-gig LAN port for even higher wired speeds. It’s a great option for anyone looking for the best wifi routers for long range.
Award: BEST EASY INSTALLATION
WHY WE LIKE IT: With solid internal and external performance, durable design, and superb long-range speeds, this OpenWRT router is an excellent choice for networking professionals and home users. It’s also incredibly easy to install, both initially and with OpenWRT software.
The Linksys WRT1900ACS OpenWRT router looks like a classic networking device with its traditional blue and black, blocky design. Some are turned away by this design, but it allows for stacking if that’s something you need with your home or office network setup. The router’s design also gives you four different gigabit ethernet ports and two USB 3.0 ports for the ultimate level of connectivity. We were also impressed by the WRT1900ACS’s durability. This router is tough, which makes it even better for commercial use or high-traffic areas.
The Linksys WRT1900ACS router doesn’t hold back on performance, either. It’s a dual-band Wi-Fi router, but it performs best on the 5GHz band. You’ll also get strong long-range speeds – up to 1300Mbps – and excellent signal strength, even through obstructions. We were also really impressed by the overall ease of installation and use. When it comes to internal components, this wireless router offers a powerful, dual-core 1.6GHz processor, which is more than enough to run the best OpenWRT packages available for download today. The WRT1900ACS features a plethora of LED indicator lights on the front of the device, which easily tells you the overall status of your network without being too bright or distracting.
Award: BEST NETWORK CUSTOMIZATION
WHY WE LIKE IT: With powerful internal hardware and great overall ease of use, this OpenWRT router makes it easy to adjust settings for a fully customized home network. This router also gives you strong 5GHz speeds and file transfer performance.
The Linksys WRT3200ACM OpenWRT router is the perfect choice for both networking professionals and home tech enthusiasts alike with extensive configuration options and powerful internal components. Whether you decide to install OpenWRT or not, you’ll be able to create a fully customized network with this wireless router with minimal effort. However, installing OpenWRT is also incredibly easy with the Linksys WRT3200. And everything is powered by the Linksys router’s enterprise-grade 1.8GHz processor, which can easily handle both heavy and light traffic.
Overall performance with the Linksys WRT3200ACM is also worth noting. It can provide upwards of 3.2Gbps of combined speed across both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels. The 5GHz channel offers exceptional throughput at most ranges, but you may be a little disappointed with the performance on the 2.4GHz channel. The WRT3200ACM router also offers plenty of physical connectivity options with four-gigabit ethernet ports and two USB 3.0 ports. We were also impressed by the Linksys router’s form factor. It’s durable and stackable, giving you much more versatility in your overall installation process. It’s a great option if you’re looking for the best small business router.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: This wireless router comes with OpenWRT pre-installed and features advanced security features, powerful speed, and plenty of connectivity options. And while the design may not catch anyone’s eye, it’s built incredibly well for long-lasting performance.
The Turris Omnia 2GB OpenWRT wireless router is the option with one of the highest qualities you can find available on the market today, in both its construction and overall great performance. It’s built with a durable metal chassis that looks good and can withstand a beating. Unfortunately, the metal chassis can’t elevate the router’s overall design, which is frankly a bit boring, especially when compared to other modern OpenWRT routers. On the front of the device, you’ll find a single USB 3.0 port and a line of LED indicator lights that flash to tell you different statuses. The Turris Omnia OpenWRT router also features three adjustable antennas that emit a powerful Wi-Fi signal.
The Turris Omnia performs excellently overall, too. It features a standard dual-band setup with both 2.4GHz and 5 GHz channels and offers good range and speed. However, where the Turris Omnia really shines is in its pre-installed OpenWRT software and extensive network customization. Plus, you’ll get a ton of built-in advanced security features with the Turris Omnia 2GB router. It can automatically detect attacks on your network with its distributed adaptive firewall. You’ll also get automatic OpenWRT firmware updates, which is increasingly rare to find on wireless routers that are available today. For more network security, check out our best VPN buying guide as well.
Award: BEST FOR STREAMING
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you’re a big streaming fanatic and want the best speeds from your home network for 4K content or online gaming, you can’t go wrong with this OpenWRT router. It also performs well at range and offers powerful MU-MIMO technology for consistent performance across multiple devices.
The Netgear Nighthawk X4S OpenWRT router is the best choice for streaming 4K and full HD content in your home, even across a wide variety of different streaming devices. This wireless router offers dual-band functionality – with both 5GHz and 2.4GHz channels – but performs best on the 5GHz band. You’ll get up to 1.733Gbps of speed on the 5GHz, as long as your home network offers those kinds of speeds. The Nighthawk X4S also provides excellent performance over longer ranges, which is an excellent feature to have.
You’ll also get amazing performance for multiple devices with this Netgear wireless router. With strong MU-MIMO capabilities, the X4S can connect up to 45 different devices with hardly any service interruptions or performance dips. The default user interface that the Netgear offers is a little confusing, which can get frustrating before you install your own OpenWRT software and web interface. However, the overall installation and initial configuration are still pretty easy. We were also impressed by the Nighthawk’s onboard ports and connectivity options, with four-gigabit ethernet ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Great for use with the best gaming tablets.
Award: BEST FOR MULTIPLE USERS
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you have multiple devices, whether for personal use or smart-home functions, then you can’t go wrong with this OpenWRT router. It features strong MU-MIMO capabilities, fast 2.4GHz performance, and overall easy installation for the best wireless experience.
The Zyxel Armor Z2 OpenWRT router is the best device for homes that have multiple users and multiple devices connected simultaneously to your home network. The most important feature to consider here is the MU-MIMO capabilities, which allow the Zyxel router to provide comprehensive and reliable signal strength to any connected device. You’ll also get dual-band tech here, giving you two different channels to which your devices can connect.
The Zyxel Armor Z2 is also built incredibly well. It features a unique design aesthetic that still looks great and not quite as wild as some of the more unique options available today. You won’t have any trouble getting the Zyxel router up and running. The built-in software isn’t as great as others, especially when it comes to parental controls, but when you install your chosen OpenWRT software, this doesn’t become as big of an issue. For travelers, you might also want to consider the best travel router buying guide.
Our first order of business when researching and ranking the best OpenWRT routers was to ensure compatibility. We only included routers in this buying guide if they are actually compatible with OpenWRT software. Next, we considered each router’s overall performance. You’ll obviously want the fastest router to give you the best speeds – depending on the speeds you get from your ISP – as well as an option that gives you a good amount of range. We awarded points based on overall throughput, which refers to how well your router can provide signal and speed, even at long ranges or through obstacles.
Next, we ranked each OpenWRT router based on its user-friendliness and overall ease of installation for the OpenWRT software. The best OpenWRT routers offer simple installation processes for both getting the router initially set up and running, as well as getting the software installed. We preferred routers that give you access to network and user management settings via web browser and smartphone apps.
Finally, we considered overall build quality and durability. We gave preference to routers that didn’t take up too much space but still considered larger options. We also awarded points based on overall durability, ranking options higher if they could handle a bump or drop without damage, even with protruding antennas. OpenWRT routers designed with a stylish aesthetic are also scored better in our evaluations because they can fit anywhere in your home without being too much of an eyesore.