If you want a router that is compatible with Freifunk, you will have to choose between these three options:
For Freifunk routers, the exact hardware revision is extremely important. It wasn't only once that a hardware changed immensely from one version to the next and completely different resources were installed or even another CPU was used. Needless to say, that a hardware revision of a router that worked e.g. in version v4.2 is not necessarily compatible to v4.3 or v5.
Please read the instructions for installing the firmware: Instructions: Flashing the Router
The Archer C7 is currently one of the easiest Freifunk routers to set up. It is one of the few models that provides WiFi on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Our stable release only supports models v2 and v4. Versions v1 and v3 unfortunately turned out to be incompatible. There is a beta release for the currently available version 5 (April 2019). It can work but might also be prone to errors. Unfortunately, this router is very expensive, costing €70-€100. The Freifunk WiFi is suitable for each Internet traffic possible including videos in medium to high quality.
The TP-Link WDR 4300 and the WDR 3600 were very good models for Freifunk. When the routers were still produced, they only cost approx. €25. They are among the first models that could transmit WiFi on 2.4 GHz as well as on 5 GHz. Unfortunately, these routers are no longer available and pop up on the second-hand market for more than €100. The Freifunk WiFi is suitable for each Internet traffic possible including videos in medium quality.
The TP-Link WDR 1043 is also among the better Freifunk routers. Unfortunately it only transmits the WiFi signal on a 2.4 GHz band which is still something. Only models v2 to v5 are supported. Version v1 is to weak and has therefore turned out to be incompatible. Version v5 has to be flashed via tftp, though. Unfortunately, with a price between €40 and €80, it is still pricey. The Freifunk WiFi is suitable for each Internet traffic possible including videos in low to medium quality.
The Ubiquity Nanostation is also suitable as medium-quality Freifunk router. Its design as sectorial antenna enables it to transfer the WiFi in a 60-degree angle and not in all directions. Unfortunately, it only transmits the WiFi signal on 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz - depending on the hardware model, which is still something. The Nanostation M2 model transmits on 2.4 GHz, Nanostation M5 model on 5GHz. Unfortunately, with a price between €40 and €80, it is still pricey, however it is suitable for directional radio when the correct configuration is set up. The Freifunk WiFi is suitable for each Internet traffic possible including videos in low to medium quality.
A Freifunk off-loader is a small computer with significantly better resources compared to a Freifunk router that sets up the connection to the Freifunk gateways.
That way an enormously better connection to the Freifunk network can be established, using a bandwidth of usually 80MBit to 120 MBit.
The Siemens Futro S550 is the most popular off-loader hardware. Second-hand, you can purchase it for €5-€20. Using an off-loader, we recommend to implement more professional Freifunk installations with directional radio or wider WiFi broadcast. Installing the Freifunk off-loader turned out to need a little more effort, as most hardware require an installation via serial console and USB drive. The Freifunk WiFi is suitable for each Internet traffic possible including multiple parallel videos in very high quality.
The PC-Engine APU is more or less the professional equipment of a network administrator. The APU includes a strong hardware and is therefore almost to good to be "only" used as Freifunk off-loader. The installation can be done in several ways. You either install a Debian-based OS and then install the individual Freifunk components manually. Unfortunately we currently do not have a suitable script that carries these steps out automatically. However, with some effort, motivations and the right questions from you we will also be motivated to fix and provide this. The alternative would be to use the x86 images of our firmware which do of course also work for the APU. The Freifunk WiFi is suitable for each Internet traffic possible including multiple parallel videos in very high quality.
For Freifunk installations with an off-loader, basically any WiFi router can be used as WiFi AccessPoint. We had especially good experiences with the Ubiquity Unify AP-AC-Pro. It can be managed via a controller. We gladly help with the installation. Furthermore, we operate a Unify controller at one of the gateway servers and provide you with an account there through which you can manage your own hardware.
Freifunk can also be provided with hardware that is less expensive. However, you cannot expect to achieve a Freifunk with a huge bandwidth. The WiFi here is mostly only suitable for writing e-mails or sending text messages. Watching videos or sharing pictures is often prone to long loading and waiting times or the bandwidth isn't even enough.
NOT RECOMMENDED! DON'T BUY! The TP-Link CPE is one of the cheapest Freifunk router. Unfortunately. depending on the hardware it only provides WiFi at on frequency band which is still something. The CPE 210 transmits at 2.4 GHz, the CPE 510 at 5 GHz. Its sectorial antenna design enables it to send the WiFi signal in a 60° angle and not in all directions. More experienced Freifunk members call it paperweight due to its very heavy hardware and its high failure proneness. Only the v1.x model is compatible with Freifunk. The router costs €25-€50. However, this router is still suitable for Freifunk, covering most Internet traffic incl. writing e-mails and sending text messages. Videos and pictures in low quality do have a relatively long loading time in most cases.