WireGuard performance on the low-end GL.iNet GL-AR150 mini router

Background

Back when I got my GL-AR150 mini router, I was blown away by the powerful capabilities of this $25 OpenWRT router, even being able to (somewhat) run WordPress!

One thing that the router didn’t do so well was acting as an OpenVPN client or server, due to its weak CPU and the relatively high computing overhead of the OpenVPN protocol. The speeds you could expect were often 5 megabit per second or lower.

Recently, the WireGuard protocol with its promise of lower CPU overhead was added as an alternative, so I decided to dust off my AR-150 and try it out.

The performance test

After setting up a WireGuard server on the GL-AR150, I connected to it from a MacBook and ran a short download performance test:

wget https://gensho.ftp.acc.umu.se/cdimage/archive/3.1_r2/arm/iso-cd/debian-31r2-arm-netinst.iso
debian-31r2-arm-netinst.iso 100%[===========>]  85,89M  2,97MB/s    
Average speed: 3,05 MB/s.

This means that this tiny router can push 25 megabits per second, and I’ve seen burst of up to 35 megabits per second for short periods, which is acceptable for many VPN applications.

Conclusion

GL-AR150 is the weakest router CPU-wise in the GL.iNet line-up, so it means that essentially purchasing any of their newer model would provide an even better VPN experience.

For example, their newest Brume router promises a whopping 280 megabits per second in throughput with WireGuard!

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