September 21, 2023


Networking, Computer, PBX, IT, DIY Solution

What are Advantages and Disadvantages of Soft Routing?

9 min read

What are Advantages and disadvantages of Soft Routing?


What are Advantages and disadvantages of Soft Routing?


In the Internet era, the speed of home network bandwidth is rapidly increasing, and there are more and more smart mobile devices in the home.

However, it is becoming more and more difficult for consumer-class routers to meet the needs of households at this stage, and soft routing is therefore on the stage.


What are Advantages and disadvantages of Soft Routing?

What are Advantages and disadvantages of Soft Routing?


So, what exactly is soft routing?

Just like computers have software and hardware differences, routers also have “soft” and “hard” distinctions.

Usually, almost all the products we get by searching for the three keywords “router” on various e-commerce platforms belong to hard routing.

It is based on self-developed or open source embedded device operating systems by router manufacturers.

According to specific hardware Equipment, traditional hardware equipment designed.

The corresponding soft routing is based on software tools to realize the functions of traditional routers on ordinary hardware.

We can install soft routing systems in old computers, industrial computers, development boards, servers and even hardware virtual machines, and then implement various functions through powerful software.


What are advantages of Soft Routing?

Compared with hard routing, soft routing has obvious advantages.


The price of soft routing is cheaper.

The price of high-end consumer-class or enterprise-class router with powerful performance and multiple functions can easily cost hundreds to thousands dollars, while using soft routing to achieve the same effect may only cost two or three hundred dollars.

We can use this difference to upgrade our network bandwidth or do other things. More meaningful things;


The performance of soft routing is more powerful.

Different from the traditional hard-routing MIPS and ARM platform processors, the X86/64 processors often used in soft routing have stronger performance and can bring more plug-ins.

At the same time, the soft routing can be equipped with better network cards, which also ensures the stability of the network and the access of more devices;


The functions of the soft routing are more diverse.

With the rich software ecosystem, we can implement more interesting functions on soft routing, such as offline download, de-advertising, QOS, traffic control, multi-line control, link load balancing, etc., and even develop software according to our own needs .


What are disadvantages of Soft Routing?

Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages, and soft routing is not a panacea, and it also has some disadvantages.


The power consumption of soft routing is higher.

Soft routing has higher hardware specifications, so its power consumption naturally increases, and the average power is 10-20W higher than that of hard routing;


The wireless signal of soft routing is slightly inferior.

Soft routing can be said to be different from hard routing in terms of wireless WiFi.

Hard routing has circuit board layout specially designed by manufacturers, independent WiFi signal amplification devices, shielding covers to prevent electronic signal interference, etc. These are soft routing.

Configurations that routing does not have;


Soft routing is more expensive to learn.

Hard routing has been developed and designed by manufacturers for many years, and various operation configurations tend to be simplified.

We can complete the basic configuration through fool-like operations.

For soft routing, if there is no network foundation and learning and practical ability, not everyone can control it.


Do you really need soft routing?

Soft routing is indeed very powerful, but it is necessary to judge whether it is worth investing time and energy according to your own situation. So, how do we judge whether we need soft routing?

We summarize the following conditions:

  • Your broadband should be higher than 100M. If you have a “small water pipe” bandwidth, you should give priority to upgrading the bandwidth
  • It is best to rent (living) a house independently. If you are sharing a house with someone you are familiar with, you can also rent a house. After all, you need to renovate the network of the house, otherwise it may cause unnecessary trouble.
  • Need to have other wireless AP or hard router to act as WiFi wireless function
  • Network equipment at home and people with complex network requirements, such as P2P downloads, online videos, online games, access to overseas resources, precise traffic control, and a large number of networked devices at home, etc.

If you meet all of the above conditions, then soft routing is very worth a try, keep reading.


How to choose a soft route?

If all the costs and thresholds mentioned above cannot stop you, we can officially start to create a soft routing that suits us.


Generally speaking, the previous soft routing is aimed at large enterprises, so the price is relatively expensive, and it is not suitable for home users.

Therefore, it is difficult for us to directly buy an out-of-the-box soft router. In most cases, we need to “assemble” or “modify” a soft router by ourselves like a build machine.

The following hardware can be transformed into soft routing.

If you happen to have it, you might as well try it out:

  • Old X86 PC
  • Development boards with ARM structure CPU (raspberry pi, banana pi, orange pi, etc.)
  • Highly integrated multi-port IPC
  • E-commerce platform ready-made soft routing barebones system

Due to the length of the article, it is impossible to describe the details of each scheme in detail. Let me talk about the key points that need to be paid attention to when purchasing with the soft routing barebones scheme that relatively saves time and cost.



As the “heart” of soft routing, the CPU is particularly important, so we need to choose a suitable CPU.

At present, the more mature and mainstream solution is to use the Intel Celeron J1900 processor .

If your requirements are not particularly high, then this CPU is enough to meet all the needs of an ordinary family. 

In addition to J1900, Intel Atom N2600 is also a good choice, and routers equipped with these two CPUs are also relatively cheap.

However, you could spend more money to get Intel J4125 or J5005 for much better performance, but not a must.


What are Advantages and disadvantages of Soft Routing?


Although these two solutions are classic, they are also outdated.

If you do not have the pressure on budget and want to expand more advanced functions (such as virtualization) in the future, then we recommend you to choose Intel Celeron 3215U . Providing better virtualization support is also the ultimate choice for the vast majority of soft routing players. 



Because the soft routing uses a low-voltage CPU, we need to choose a DDR3L memory module, which is the “short memory” on a notebook computer. 

If you happen to have this kind of memory stick that was eliminated from the old notebook, then you can save a lot of money by “waste recycling”. 

As for the size of the memory, we need to decide according to our own needs.


If you choose a soft router with a CPU that does not support virtualization, such as the J1900, then 2GB of memory is more than enough. 

Usually the soft routing system does not occupy too much memory, but if you are afraid that there are too many soft routing plug-ins and the memory is not enough, you can also consider upgrading the memory to 4GB.


If you choose a soft router equipped with a CPU that supports virtualization such as 3215U, you need at least 8GB of memory, because each virtualized system needs to allocate at least 1-2GB of memory. If there is a “virtual NAS”, more memory may be allocated.


Hard Disk & Cooling

The soft routing system itself has very low requirements for storage space, and the space of about 100 megabytes is enough. 

Soft routers can generally be connected to MSATA SSDs, external U disks or mobile hard disks, but it is recommended that you use 16 GB MSATA SSDs:

  • It can meet the storage requirements of the software routers
  • You don’t need to worry about space when installing plug-ins in the future. problem of use.

 The hard disk itself does not need to be of high quality, it can be used or eliminated by yourself.

The cooling of soft routing is divided into active and passive cooling. Passive cooling is quiet but the effect is average, and active cooling is efficient but noisy. 

If you choose a low-voltage processor like Celeron, passive cooling is enough to hold the heat of the soft routing. 

If you choose a high-end CPU with high power consumption, in order to ensure the stability of the routing, it is more appropriate to choose active cooling, because once the temperature is too high, it may cause the soft routing to crash, thus the entire network will be paralyzed, and it is easy to cause unnecessary unnecessary loss or trouble.


How to configure and deploy soft routing?

After we have the hardware, we need to inject soul into it – install the soft routing system. The soft routing system can be described as a hundred flowers blooming, and there are many systems to choose from. The following is a list of some commonly used at home and abroad.

  • RouterOS is a very well-known paid system with low licensing fees, but extremely powerful features and performance. Up to broadband operators, down to home and Internet cafes will use it, the function is very complete, there are many tutorials on the Internet, but the learning cost is very high, suitable for people with technical foundations
  • PFsense is a free soft routing system that integrates powerful firewall functions on the basis of routers. Including intrusion detection, vulnerability scanning and other modules, it is cumbersome to configure, but after in-depth research, it can become your home security gateway.
  • OpenWRT/LEDE has a very high market share, with massive software and a very powerful ecosystem. At the same time, OpenWRT’s tutorials are also very rich and detailed.

In addition to the above, there are also  Pandbit, VyOS, WayOS, etc., which will not be introduced here. You can search for tutorials and install them by yourself.


As mentioned in the article discussing the advantages and disadvantages of soft routing, the WiFi performance of soft routing is very poor, so we need to connect additional AP to soft router. 

You also can connect a regular consumer-class router as AP to soft router instead.

We can sort out the structure through a simple network topology.


What are Advantages and disadvantages of Soft Routing?


You can refer to the above picture to lay out your network architecture.

Of course, wired devices can also choose to connect directly to the wireless AP for flexible adjustment. 

It should be noted that if you choose the hard route as the wireless AP, in order to keep all devices on the same network segment, we need to leave the WAN port of the hard route empty, connect the LAN port to the LAN port of the soft route, and turn off the hard route.


DHCP function and set the IP address of the LAN port to be in the same network segment with the IP of the soft router without conflict.

For example, the IP of the soft router is, and the IP of LAN port of the hard router can be set to any one .

At this point, all configuration related to soft routing is completed.


At the end

In order for most people to understand soft routing, we tried my best to remove many technical details.

If every content is expanded in detail, we are afraid it will take ten days to write. 

There are many details in the article, such as installing the soft routing system, configuring soft routing, virtualizing soft routing, installing various soft routing plug-ins, etc.

After reading this article, you need to explore and explore through the Internet and your own strong curiosity. learning, and that’s where the real fun of soft routing comes in.


What are Advantages and disadvantages of Soft Routing?


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