Alternate routers

So I’m not happy with my Ubiquiti router and I had a bad experience with OpenWRT. What are other options? I’m considering three choices. My metric here: decent UI, small device that’s just a router (I have a separate Linux server). Must support dual WAN failover and Wireguard VPN tunnels.

Mikrotik and RouterOS. For years I’ve heard about these European routers as being a good product. RouterOS is said to be idiosyncratic but capable. They make a confusing variety of routers. The Hex S seems to be the leading small consumer product and $70 is a fantastic price. The RB4011 and RB5009 get lots of recommendations on Reddit, both at $220. The problem is you can’t really buy these in the US, either not at all or not at that price. Best I can find is like $110 for the Hex S shipped and from dodgy companies that either don’t have stock at all or are probably shipping from Europe.

Netgate and pfSense. The path not taken in routers, based on FreeBSD. Has a good reputation. Buying hardware from Netgate is clearly the path of least resistance. The Netgate 1100 is the small consumer product at $190. Also has flaky availability; Newegg and Amazon are like $230 and ship in a couple of weeks, which suggests “not in stock”. pfSense is nominally open source but I think is amd64 only, which rules out running on Raspberry Pi hardware. Note there’s a remarkable amount of sleaze around this company, the opnsense.com lawsuit and a scary-bad Wireguard implementation.

OPNsense. A fork of pfSense. There’s a company selling hardware but at about $800 entry level it’s clearly not for the home consumer market. A lot of enthusiasts seem to be buying mini PCs to run t his.

I don’t quite know why I’m so focussed on cost; I’ve certainly wasted many valuable hours farting around with failures. I guess I don’t have much faith that throwing $800 at it will actually get me a more reliable router. Also I just don’t have the needs that the higher end hardware is solving.

My best option is probably to order a Mikrotik Hex S and just wait for delivery. I wish I had any faith in the vendors who are selling it in the US.

Update: I got a Hex S from ispsupplies.com. They showed 1000 in stock on Saturday and I got it Thursday, at the list price of $69 plus $10 shipping. They’re already sold out! Note they are selling a unit labelled “tariffed” which I guess has something to do with Trump’s trade war with China but doesn’t seem to matter to me at all.

One thought on “Alternate routers

  1. I have run Edgerouters and Mirkotik… currently have been running pfsense on an old x86 box and its been remarkably bulletproof for the past couple of years with a gigabit connection and two LTE backups… i think its worth a try since its essentially free.

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