I read this post asking Is the Raspberry Pi suitable for running continuously, 24/7? , which seems to conclude that it is fine to run the RPi 24/7, but is it suitable for use as an industrial-strength wireless router?

I see that Adafruit has a tutorial where you can set up a RPi Access Point, but would it actually function acceptably for, say 10-20 connections? What hardware would make this acceptable?


4 Answers 4


I can't say I've tried this personally, so what follows is all just an educated guess, but try comparing the Pi's hardware to a home router (which should handle 10-20 connections happily):

I've got a little Netgear WNR1000 as a home router; looking at the attached devices there's currently 7 wired devices, and another 8 wireless devices (a good half of those are Pi's :). So, not quite 20 wireless connections, but close to that number of total connections and it's doing fine. What hardware has the WNR1000 got? According to the OpenWRT pages it's got a Broadcom BCM5356 processor (presumably an ARM architecture) running at 333Mhz, and a whopping 14Mb of RAM ... so the Pi's got it beat hands down there.

However, the one place you might find the Pi wanting compared to a "proper" router is in the bandwidth available to its network interfaces. The Pi's Ethernet port and of course any WiFi dongles you plug into it will all be using the USB bus - which is not exactly fantastic for overall bandwidth (although it's still better than the SD card!). I'm not sure how Ethernet or WiFi are attached on "proper" routers, but I'd be rather surprised if they weren't simply integrated directly into the SoC which would be considerably more efficient.

So, my educated guess would be: the Pi's got more than enough processing power and RAM to handle being an "industrial strength" router, but you could probably saturate its IO bandwidth quite easily with 20 simultaneous connections. In other words, if your 20 clients are all doing low-bandwidth stuff (e-mail, browsing web-pages, etc.) you'd be fine but if a few of them started streaming video simultaneously you might find things stuttering!


You may want to look at something like Tomato USB or DD-WRT. They are full Linux systems that run on the Broadcom chips, developed specifically for (and optimized for) routers.

I have an Asus RT-N16. See its DD-WRT page here. The specs are lower than the RPi, but the backplane to all the telecom stuff is probably a lot more solid and a lot less CPU intensive on the purpose-built router. (That's pure conjecture, of course.)

You should be able to learn a lot from the source.

Good luck and keep me updated if you move forward!


I wouldn't say the Pi can replace a commercial wifi router, mainly because of cost at $60 - the Pi can't realistically get cheaper than this once you factor in the power supply + case + sd card + wifi card, at which point any commercial router will have it much better wireless antennae and throughput due to a more direct connection for the I/O, however the Pi will have tons of extra features. As far as performance, even with less than half the CPU speed and a limited amount of RAM, the fact that it can run a tiny, optimized OS instead of a full-blown linux will allow it to have better performance in the specialized focus that it was tweaked for.


One thing to look out for is that many wifi dongles are limited to the number of connections they can make in Access Point mode.

E.g. the popular TP-LINK TL-WN722N will only allow a maximum of SEVEN connections


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