x86 routers for Gigabit SQM with OpenWrt

If you're here. It's because you want to get SQM for 1400Mbps+ and connections. The reason I'm saying 1400Mbps+ is because that is my current maximum provided by my ISP. The set up has potential for more than 1400Mbps. This is a write up based on an Intel N100 CPU mini PC I've tested.

If your internet connection is between 160-630 Mbps it is more economical for you to get a NanoPi R4SE and follow the NanoPi guide instead. The NanoPi R6S is also cheaper and can do 1400Mbps+ as well, but keeps requiring constant CPU tweaks. For some reason it kept defaulting to the slower A55 cores instead of using the A76 cores every time I modify SQM settings.

Now on to the physical setup.

The diagram below demonstrates how you would install any x86 Mini PC as a router in your network stack. Building your home network infrastructure like this, is more reliable and better than consumer routers which try to combine the modem, routing, and wireless all in one.


Pictured Switch - TP-Link 2.5Gbps 8 Port Multi-gigabit switch (Amazon Referral Link) I earn a small commission on these links thank you!

Pictured Access Point - Ubiquiti Unifi 6 Pro (Official Link) Note: If Ubiquiti is out of stock you or if you don't like them, I heard that the TP-Link EAP670 (Amazon Referral Link) from their Omada lines work just as great. A reader of mine prefers Omada over the Ubiquiti stuff. I just have never tried it myself so I can't say much.

Pictured OpenWrt Device - BeeLink EQ12 Intel N100 Mini-PC (Amazon Referral Link). If you're cheap and don't mind waiting you get an N100 x86 miniPC from Aliexpress. I had good experience with the one on the WooYi Storefront.

What is bufferbloat and why do we not want it? It is lag or ping spikes in video games or zoom calls that is caused when you or someone else uses up all your bandwidth. It could be torrenting, 4k streaming, bulk downloads, or even a speedtest. SQM algorithms (fq_codel or cake) which are available on OpenWrt, can completely mitigate these pings and ensures low latency even under full load. Overall, you do sacrifice a little max speed 5-10% for guaranteed low latencies.

Intel Alder Lake N100 12th Generation Based Mini PCs

Hardware Requirements

The minimum requirement for choosing one of these x86 based PCs is as follows

1. Make sure it has at least 2x 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports. Intel Ethernet ports are generally preferred over Realtek ports but Realtek ports will do.

2. You also want to make sure it has a CPU Mark of 5000 or more. And a strong single core performance of 1200+. You can check here: https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php

3. Preferably it would be a low power device that uses < 25 Watts.

Performance of N100

On my 1400 Mbps connection I was able to run cake SQM at 1350Mbps with up to 40% CPU Usage on a single CPU core so there's a lot of room for more Mbps!