GL.iNet Beryl AX OpenWrt router review
Jun 24, 2023
In the first part of the review of GL.iNet GL-MT3000 "Beryl AX" pocket-size WiFi 6 OpenWrt router we had a look at the specifications, the package content, and the hardware design with a teardown of the little.
I’ve now had more time to play with the router focusing the review on WiFi 6 performance, and some of its functions such as repeater, NAS, and 4G hotspot. The router also supports VPN client and server modes, the Tor network, and Adguard Home, but I’ll invite readers to check out the GL.iNet Brume 2 security gateway review since I went through all these, and the hardware is very similar minus wireless connectivity.
If you connect an Ethernet cable to the router you can switch to step two. If you only rely on WiFi for the setup that works too as the Beryl AX router will be as GL-MT3000-XXX and GL-MT3000-462-5G.
Simply use the password located at the bottom of the router, and type "admin" user to login to the dashboard while after 192.168.8.1 address in your favorite web browser..
GL.iNet Admin Panel is the same for all routers from the company. I went to set the timezone, and change the SSIDs (5GHz and 2.4 GHz) and password to something I’d prefer…
If order to test the GL.iNet Beryl AX router, I connected the Rock 5B SBC with WiFi 6 and 2.5GbE networking plus an RTL8156BG 2.5GbE USB 3.0 adapter connected to my laptop running Ubuntu. A Xiaomi AX6000 higher-end router was also used as a reference against the AX3000 router from GL.iNet.
After upgrading all packages on the Rock 5B and rebooting the single computer board, I started testing by checking all SSIDs in the terminal running in the Rock 5B board:
We can see a 540 Mbps link rate for the Xiaomi router, and a 270 Mbps link rate for the GL.iNet router, but we’ll see below those numbers as somehow irrelevant.
Since both routers are pretty close to each other, I make sure only one was turned on above inference while testing performance with iperf3.
Rock 5B download from the Xiaomi AX6000 router:
That's pretty good with 826 Mbps and 820 Mbps looks pretty good, and I have fewer retransmissions and better performance than the first time I tested the board in July 2022.
Now I tried to switch to the GL-MT3000 5GHz SSID following Radxa Wiki instructions:
But it did not quite work as expected:
Somehow it was stuck at getting an IP address, but the client would not show at all in the Admin panel.
Eventually, I rebooted the Rock 5B board, and it could connect to the Beryl AX WiFi 6 router without issues.
But when I first tested the download speed with iperf3, the results were disappointing:
A massive amount of tries and an average bitrate of around 342 Mbps. The upload speed was however better:
732 Mbps on average with a fair number of retransmissions.
But then when I immediatly tried to run the download test again all problems magically disappeared:
No retransmissions at all, and an average bitrate of 910 Mbps. Go figure. It's almost like WiFi gets better the more you use it. Note the Ethernet cable was disconnected from the Rock 5V at all times during WiFi testing.
I also connected a display to run Ookla Speedtest in Firefox to quickly test the router function. I reckon it's an imperfect test since it's limited by the ISP capabilities, but I was able to saturate my ISP 400/400 Mbps fiber connection over WiFi.
The GL.iNet Beryl AX router comes with a toggle button that allows you to easily enable functions such as AdGuard Home, OpenVPN or WireGuard clients, and the Tor network by simply toggling the switch on the left side of the router.
That can be convenient, especially for websites that have trouble rendering when an adblocker or a VPN is enabled.
Advanced users can easily access OpenWrt's LuCi interface for more advanced configuration for example to switch the LAN port (Gigagit Ethernet) with the WAN port (2.5GbE). I did not do it due to time constraints and my 2.5GbE switch was connected to the 2.5GbE WAN port.
The router can be used as a repeater. Simply click on "Connect" next to the test "Repeater (STA) is disabled" on the main page of the dashboard. A list of 2.4GHz and 5GHz will show up.
Since my phone only supports 2.4GHz WiFi, I select the 2.4GHz SSID from my Xiaomi router.
First, I thought about going in the garden at the back of the house around 18 meters away from the Xiaomi router, but while the signal strength would be slightly lower I would speed get the same 30 to 35+ MB/s in Ookla speedtest app. So I decided to walk a bit and ended up around 110 meters (as per Google Maps measurement) from the Xiaomi router, check the signal strength and speed test again.
That's much better, in the sense it's much worse, with just one or two bars for the signal strength, 0.19 Mbps download and 1.05 Mbps upload. Just what I wanted! So I went to take the GL.iNet Beryl AX out of the house along with a power bank and placed it in a strategic location…
I then checked the signal strength of the Xiaomi and GL.iNet routers, before running the speedtest app again in the same location around 10 meters from my now battery-powered GL-MT3000 router.
That's all good with 7.83 Mbps download and 8.83 Mbps upload and we have yet again a usable Internet connection in that specific location. Note that the repeater works a little differently than what I’m used to since a repeater would typically duplicate the main SSID name. But with the GL.iNet router, I had to select CNX_Software_GL-MT3000 instead of CNX_Software _Xiaomi. One of the reasons for this is that GL.iNet promotes the Repeater mode as a security feature while traveling, and you’d be able to make sure to connect to your router with VPN, Tor, and/or AdGuard Home enabled.
I connected a "4G LTE WiFi modem" USB adapter to use the router as a 4G LTE WiFi hotpot. It's not super sensical here, since the USB dongle is itself a 4G LTE router that can work in standalone mode, albeit only with 2.4GHz WiFi supported. Connecting it to the Beryl AX does add WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 connectivity and support for the 5GHz band.
It was not exactly a smooth transition through. First I was told the modem is incompatible, and it failed to connect to the Internet because some SIM cards may have special usage restrictions. It did properly show my SIM card as being from DTAC. A second attempt looked like it got connected but without internet access because DNS servers were not defined. I finally went into the setup in the Admin Panel and select Hard Reset for the USB modem, and we can now see DNS servers and I could use it to browse the web over a 4G data connection.
A reader also asked me to connect a hard drive to test the basic NAS function of the router. The four partitions of the USB 3.0 drive, formatted with NTFS, exFAT, EXT-4, and BTRFS were all recognized, and I could share a folder.
I could easily find the GL-MT3000 in the network share on my Ubuntu laptop and copy 1.8GB file at about 46MB/s to the SAMBA share.
Several readers were really upset about the presence of a fan in the router and commented they would not purchase a router with a fan. It was just a non-starter. But I’ve never heard the fan being activated during testing.
You can also adjust the temperature threshold set to 76°C between 70 and 90°C to have control over the fan behavior.
I did manage to trigger the fan running iperf3 over WiFi 6 for over 400 seconds (6 minutes 40 seconds), but even then it was barely audible unless I place my ear 10 cm from the router.
If I wait a little longer and the temperature not does come back below 76°C quickly, the fan speed does increase at over 2000 RPM, and I can hear the fan noise if I place my ear around 30 centimeters from the router. I had to run iperf3 over WiFi 6 and copy a large file over SAMBA (Ethernet) to boost the CPU usage, temperature, and fan speed.
The room temperature is around 24°C as it is winter here, so the fan is more likely to be active during the other months of the year when the room temperature is around 28-29°C with the air conditioner on, in which case the fan noise would totally be overwhelmed by the air conditioner noise. I’m pretty sure the fan will NOT be an issue for most people.
LAN port connected, and WiFi radios active:
It's quite higher than the Brume 2 security gateway, but the higher power consumption is a consequence of getting WiFi 6 support
I’m pretty happy with the GL.iNet GL-MT3000 Beryl AX WiFi 6 router reviewed here. It's small and ideal for traveling, comes with many features, and everything mostly works out of the box with a web interface that's easy to use. I only have some troubles when connecting a 4G LTE USB dongle which took a while to work, and I’m not sure why it ended up working. I don't think the fan is a problem at all, but the company could have done a model with a metal case to cater to people really wanting a fanless solution as they did for the Brume 2 security gateway, although in that specific case, the metal enclosure is probably not necessary at all.
I’d like to thank the company for sending a Beryl AX sample for review. GL.iNet can be purchased for $99 on Amazon or GL.iNET store.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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