Which Core Router?

We have a GIG fiber circuit being installed which will be the backbone for our new WISP service. We will use (3) A5C’s with a gang cluster of (6) N5-45X2 antennas. My question is, what core router would be good to use? I have been looking at the Mikrotik CCR-1036-12. I know Cisco has many options, but they get very expensive for some of the same features you can get with Mikrotik. Just need a good router that can handle all the traffic with ease that has a fiber SFP port for the backbone link.

What is everyone using?


Mikrotik is very popular. Both the CCR line as well as the RB and X86 Virtual appliances that are really getting popular for many people these days.

You can get used Juniper and Cisco gear that is also pretty feature complete. Getting support/updates might be difficult so keep that in mind.

To make a decent recommendation it will help to know what exactly you are wanting to do.

  • Do you expect this router to be a firewall as well? How complicated of a firewall are you wanting to run?
  • Do you want the router do do NAT for you or are you not planning on using NAT?
  • How are you getting your connectivity? Will the router need to do BGP?
  • Will you be using your router for bandwidth limiting?
  • What kind of routing are you running to your customer? Just want to do a Layer 2 connection? PPPoE? Something else?
  • Are you familiar with Mikrotiks? Do you have familiarity with other router makers?
  • Any other stuff you will want your router to do?

I don’t know the Juniper/Cisco lines nearly as well as I do Mikrotik, so I won’t make any broad recommendations here about them, but here are my thoughts that come to mind for what you have mentioned so far:

Familiarity is actually a pretty good question. It took me about 1 year of working with Mikrotiks and spending lots of my free time to really understand and be able to configure routing/firewall and bandwidth limiting on them. Their documenation is pretty good, but if you don’t have an underlying understanding of networking you are going to run into problems. Mikrotik will pretty much let you configure whatever you want, even if it’s super inefficient or breaks things. There are a lot of pitfalls with Mikrotik config that will put a sour taste in your mouth unless you have a really good test bench and time to learn. If you don’t have a lot of networking experience (like a couple Cisco/Juniper/other big name router/switch maker certifications and a few years experience) you will probably need to have a consultant at least get you started. You probably will want to get some Mikrotik training as well.

As far as Mikrotik hardware:

Probably the CCR1036 line will be overkill for your uses. It also has some limitations that make it a bit less then ideal. Primarily the cost, the 1036 is really meant for terminating a boatload of PPPoE connections while doing a half dozen different things. I would look at the CCR1009 for your situation right now, or something from the RB line, like the RB4011 or honestly the RB3011.

If your going to be running BGP, the CCR2004 would be a good place to start, but there are some bugs that are currently being worked out with it and the RB4011 which also has very good BGP performance. (I have not run into them, but there are wide spread reports of them, Mikrotik has been actively working on the issue and “may” have fixed it, I dunno)

I personally like the 1009s a lot if all you need to do is internal routing. They have enough cores for bandwidth limiting hundreds of customers and are stupid reliable. (I have a dozen out in the field and the only times they have gone down is because of misconfiguration on our part or we loose power.)

Note: I do consult as a side gig, if you want we can have a chat.

William5, thanks for all your input as it is very helpful. I do agree the CCR1036 is an overkill, and the CCR1009 would do everything I need. The biggest difference is the CCR1036 has (4) fiber SFP+ ports, as where the CCR1009 only has two. We are installing a cluster of (4) A5C’s, and to avoid lightning from coming in on our equipment, we will come off the A5C POE’s and go into a fiber converter and then go in to the Mikrotik router to the (4) SFP+ ports. This will eliminate any lightning being able to run in to our routers and switches. If the CCR1009 would support (4) SFP+ ports we would use them as they are much more cost friendly.

Thanks for your consulting offer. We are getting a block of 12 statics from our Internet provider so I will need to setup a way for the router to be able to give certain customers statics, and yet still be able to hand out private IP’s via DHCP to all other customers. I may take you up on your consulting offer when we get to this point. Will be doing this install by the end of this month. I will let you know if I need help.

Kent S.

The CCR1009 should only have 1 SFP+ port. It does also have a SFP/Copper Combo port as well though.

Why not just run a switch like the CRS305? There are actually several SFP/SFP+ switches offered by Mikrotik, heck, you could even get a really nice Juniper or Cisco that is used off of Ebay. As far as config would go, unless you really wanted VLANs or something of the sort, config would be dead simple. The CRS309 would also be a good option, I would avoid the 1xx and 2xx series because they don’t have all the cool features of the 3xx range and can be more difficult to program.

Actually, a switch like the netPower 16P would probably not be a bad idea, if you are only running Mimosa equipment then you would only need to run 1 set of wires (48V) and a fiber cable to the top of your tower.

That said, you are right, CCR1036 is probably one of the cheapest routers with 4 SFP ports on it, just keep in mind there are 2 different 1036 models. One that has 2 SFP+ (10 Gbps) ports and one that has 4 SFP (1 Gbps) ports. (Technically 4 with the Extended memory models of each router type).

Sounds like you won’t need much in the way of BGP, so really your options are about as plentiful as can be for a router. Just an FYI.

Sure boss, would be glad to help with the consulting. There are plenty of Mikrotik consultants out there as well. Honestly, for how you are getting rolling, most anyone should be able to walk you through setting up a config. That said, whoever you get, make sure you get some training so you can do your own diagnostics. The last thing you want is to have to hire back the consultant because you don’t understand your own equipment.