More than 3 years ago, I bought TP-Link Archer C7. Here is the link for installing OpenWrt on it and here is the link for the unboxing post. It worked great and I never had any issues with it. But my secondary router TP-Link WDR4310 started to show some issues with the 2.4GHz band. I have a lot of old devices that use that band and sometimes they lost connectivity. The most annoying is the printer because I had to restart my secondary router to fix this issue. Sometimes there are issues on the 5GHz band as well but they are quite rare.
Normally I would update that router to the latest version of OpenWrt but there are a few issues:
- It is old, I believe I bought it 10 years ago and I am afraid there could have hardware issues
- It has only 8 MB of flash and OpenWrt issued an 8/64 warning stating that 8 MB of flash is “barely enough”
- If the upgrade will fail and I will brick the router, half of my house will lose connectivity. Typically, I don’t like situations like that. Moreover, I prefer to have a spare router, just in case. If one of my routers will suddenly dies then I will be able to replace it while a new router is arriving.
After some research, I bought Cudy X6 router that by default runs a custom version of OpenWrt (it is OpenWrt plus a custom UI on top of it). It allows Cudy to save a lot of money on the development of its own firmware and as result, the device is quite cheap.
It has 32 megabytes of flash and 256 megabytes of RAM. I hope it will last for quite some time and I will not hit any OpenWrt limitation for the next 10 years. Also, it will give me the freedom to install much more packages if I need to.
Plus, it has 4 CPUs (or 2 + 2 hyperthreading). These CPUs work at 880MHz while my old router has a single CPU that is working at 750MHz. As a result, I also have hope that I can provide a faster speed than the old router. More on this in my next post.
I wrote some time ago about the importance of planning and having the ability to revert everything back in case of something will go wrong. After all modern families depend on the internet a lot.
I created the plan and my plan has 2 stages.
Stage 1 was to test basic functionality. I put the router on top of my PC and connected my computer to it and then connected the router to my main router. Effectively it became my second secondary router. Then I enabled the 5GHz band and allow my family member to connect to it. I wrote about it here.
Everything works just fine for almost 1 week. We did a lot of testing, gaming, streaming, working, etc. But just in case I would like to mention that router was a bit warmer than my old 2 routers, but it wasn’t hot.
Stage 2 has the following items:
- Replace the main router with a new one
- I need to replace it when I’m home. It will not be nice if I must come back from work, just to replace the glitching router. I decided to do it on Friday because I will be home and I will have 3 days ahead of me to monitor it.
- Then I will observe the new router for about a week or so. And because I set them up exactly the same, I can swap them at any time
- After that, I will decommission the secondary router and replace it with the old main router. And again, I will set up them exactly the same way, so I can swap them if the new secondary router will not work properly
- The old secondary router will become my spare router
I also saved all the settings of my old main router just in case I would like to return to them much later. I may forget how I did setup it up etc. I also run some tests like speed tests, ping, etc. to have something to compare with later.
Currently, the new router works for about 28 hours and so far it works well. I found only one issue: Google Chromecast TV will not able to connect at all. I tried 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and had no luck. It turns out that it doesn’t like WPA2-PSK/WPA3-SAE and works only with WPA2-PSK. But to be honest it is quite typical for Google. All other devices work just fine. And some of them are small sensors with very limited space for firmware and yet they work correctly.
The post about installing the latest version of OpenWrt is here.
I hope it will help someone.