GL.iNet Beryl AX Review
I’ve just gotten my hands on a GL.iNet Beryl AX (GL-MT3000) travel router. Cost was approximately $100.
The major claim to fame with this router is that it does WiFi 6 and the WAN port is a whopping 2.5 GB ethernet port. That is really pushing the limits of a device that can fit in your pocket. Additionally, it barely takes up any space in a laptop bag or backpack.
The router is based on OpenWRT 21.02 firmware. After taking mine out of the box I discovered that mine did need a firmware update from version 4.2.2 to 4.4.5. OpenWRT is an Open Source router firmware that is extremely powerful, and has greatly improved security over OEM router firmware.
Simple. Plug it in. Connect to the Wifi SSID it broadcasts and navigate to the address below in a browser:
The Wifi key is on a sticker on the bottom of the device and you are prompted to change the admin password upon first connection.
After that you want to make sure and set your time zone.
How are you going to use this router? I think most people are going to use a travel router for errrrr…….travel. Plug this device in anywhere that you might find free wifi hotspots. Also, you should configure a VPN. Your choices are either an OpenVPN or WireGuard client. This creates an encrypted tunnel between your devices and your VPN provider. This secures your online session from prying eyes.
You can also use it to Extend your current wifi network, or use it as an Access Point or WDS if your main router supports WPS.
One of the neatest tricks the Beryl AX can do is that it is a breeze to set up Encrypted DNS. Domain Name Service is the internet phone book. It matches the plain text name that you type in a browser address bar to the actual IP address of that server. DNS queries are plain text, that is unless you encrypt them so no one else can see. Your choices are NextDNS or Cloudflare. I personally use Cloudflare.
It is literally as easy as selecting it and hitting Apply.
There are two choices for configuring a Virtual Private Network. OpenVPN and Wireguard. Both can act as either a client or a server. I’ve configured mine as a client. If you check the GL.iNet docs they provide links and instructions for creating a configuration file for most of the VPN services out there. The link I provided shows how to configure WireGuard, which is what I use.
You can also setup an OpenVPN or WireGuard server on your home router or firewall and connect to it as a client. Doing this while on travel will allow you to connect to, and access your home network. I keep two VPN configurations. One is for accessing my home WireGuard Server and the other is to connect to ProtonVPN servers.
At any rate, our goal is connect to the free wifi hotspot and secure it with a VPN connection to prevent spying or snooping. GL.iNet makes this EASY.
Plug Ins and Apps
OpenWRT has an abundance of plugins too numerous to cover. One of my favorites is plugging in a USB software defined radio and using it as a network streaming device for virtually every frequency out there. AM, FM, ShortWave, Weather, Police, Fire, EMS, pager traffic, etc.
That same USB port can be used to add an external hard drive and a Samba server can be enabled making your Beryl AX a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. Lastly you can enable a DLNA media server. Wow!
As far as apps go, there are some good ones.
- Parental Controls
- Dynamic DNS
This is a lot of very powerful stuff packed into a very small package.
Do You Need All This?
I guess it depends. If your goal is to connect to free hotel wifi hotpot’s and securely connect to a VPN server, then all you really need is the $30 Mango V2. If you want to do anything beyond that such as run a travel NAS or you want AdGuard or some other app then you need to take a step up from the V2. You can save a couple of bucks by getting the Slate Plus. However, if you want that WiFi 6 capability, or 2.5 GB WAN, or both, then you simply have to get the Beryl AX. Me. I have all three, and will probably get some more.
You can even set up a Guest Wifi network. Are you on the job on travel and want to share secure wifi but not share your files with your travel buddy? Guest Wifi.
For about $100 you can have a secure router with an easy to configure graphical interface that does Wifi 6 and 2.5 GB ethernet. And it fits in your pocket. I’m not sure what’s not to love about that. If you consider yourself a techie, or a geek, or a road warrior I highly recommend the GL.iNet Beryl AX. You won’t be sorry you bought this.