I'm looking to replace my Linksys WRT54G router with a slightly more powerful (in terms of processing power) box, but want to keep a low power footprint (ideally 10W or less).

My must have requirements are:

  • Wi-fi access point (802.11g)
  • NAT based routing
  • NAS for USB hard disks
  • Print server support
  • Simple web server support

At the moment the closet thing I can think of is getting a netbook and just not moving it around (has the added bonus of built in UPS). However I'm not entirely sure of the overall power consumption of a netbook.

What options do I have for a low power system?


6 Answers 6


You can build the hardware from MiniITX, MicroITX or PicoITX form factor mobos running an Atom or VIA processor and flash drive for pretty cheap.


It seems that the best bet for sub 10W usage is a small embedded board, something like an ALIX from PC Engines. It's smaller and more compact and there are many suppliers around the world.

There is also the option of a fit pc or other small system (Viglen used to do once called MPC, but they don't stock it any more). These are a bit more expensive than the ALIX and don't give much benefit if you don't need the power of the Atom processor.

Netbooks will use between 18W and 35W, according to this discussion board post, which is based on battery capacity and quoted battery life, so seems reasonable.

Looking at the ITX option it seems that ITX boards use between 15W and 40W, depending on which board is used and what the storage device is (HDD seem to grab lots of power). That's from the data here for Atom based boards.


I've used hardware fro Soekris before. There are several other companies that make similar hardware.

BTW: Your netbook would likely be >10W.


Why not look into OpenWRT with your current router? It's firmware you install instead of the factory firmware that turns it into a mini-linux box.

  • I'd love to stick OpenWRT but it's a v5 one so very limited in RAM/ROM as far as I understand it. Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 21:14

I'd advice to look first on the software you want to run, I really love monowall, after that you can see on which hardware it runs.

  • 1
    You could also look at pfSense, which was originally based on monowall. Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 3:15

While the accepted answer is certainly a good one, I doubt you'll end up with less than 10W. If you want something to tinker with, you might want to have a look at this: http://www.ubnt.com/products/rs.php
It has a 680mhz MIPS CPU, 64mb of ram, three mini-pci slots(for wifi) and comes with openwrt preinstalled. It can be used with PoE, so power requirements must be very low. You can buy one for less than 100USD.

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