Introduction

Google is on a mission to reinvent the router, and we got our hands on their first foray into the home-networking market—the Google OnHub. With a sleek design, hefty price tag, and a whole host of unique features, we're excited to see what this router is rockin'. It's teardown time!

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your OnHub, use our service manual.

Image 1/2: Dual-core 1.4 GHz CPU Image 2/2: 4 GB e-MMC flash storage
  • Google has promised that the OnHub router will give you a new way to Wi-Fi, and with these specs, it looks like they might be onto something:

    • Dual-core 1.4 GHz CPU

    • 4 GB e-MMC flash storage

    • IEEE 802.11 b/g/n/ac

    • Dual band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 12-antenna array

    • Congestion-sensing radio and antenna

    • USB 3.0 port + Bluetooth 4.0

    • 1 GB DDR3L RAM

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Image 1/2: This LED ring will change colors based on what state the OnHub is in. Blue means you're ready to begin setup. [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Orange+Teardown/13470|Orange] is for, “Oh snap, something is wrong." Teal means you’re good to go! Image 2/2: This mysterious anomaly in the speaker grille is probably an ambient light sensor enabling dimming.
  • No blinking router lights here; let's hope the constant status light isn't blinding in the dark (it's not).

    • This LED ring will change colors based on what state the OnHub is in. Blue means you're ready to begin setup. Orange is for, “Oh snap, something is wrong." Teal means you’re good to go!

    • This mysterious anomaly in the speaker grille is probably an ambient light sensor enabling dimming.

  • We also spy a small cutaway on the bottom of the cowling for the cabling.

    • A novel idea for cable management, but not great for ease-of-access. You've got to twist the cowling off to plug anything in.

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Image 1/3: The ~~rifling~~ fins along the inside of the ~~barrel~~ cowling are perhaps there to encourage air circulation, as this tower has no fan to cool itself. Image 2/3: Under the hood we see the real branding on this guy. Google has contracted with TP-Link for the first iteration of the OnHub. Image 3/3: Smug [http://www.tp-link.com/en/for-service-provider.html|TP-Link guy|new_window=true] approves of this product. Let's see how he feels once the ASUS OnHub is on the table, "[http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2015/08/meet-onhub-new-router-for-new-way-to-wi.html|later this year]."
  • Luckily the outer cowling comes off with a simple twist. You can't plug any cables in without shucking that shield, it better be simple.

  • The rifling fins along the inside of the barrel cowling are perhaps there to encourage air circulation, as this tower has no fan to cool itself.

  • Under the hood we see the real branding on this guy. Google has contracted with TP-Link for the first iteration of the OnHub.

  • We also get a peek at some components. Is that an antenna we see? We're itching with anticipation.

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Image 1/3: Having been screwed (pun intended), we aim for the tempting seam along the sides of the tower. Image 2/3: Unfortunately,this doesn't seem to be the intended point of entry either. We wound up breaking some clips in the process. Image 3/3: This thing still won't open...
  • The rubbery foot seems like a great candidate for hiding screws. Sure enough, we remove a couple. Did that actually accomplish anything? Nope.

  • Having been screwed (pun intended), we aim for the tempting seam along the sides of the tower.

    • Unfortunately,this doesn't seem to be the intended point of entry either. We wound up breaking some clips in the process.

  • This thing still won't open...

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Image 1/3: We really wish this thing came with a repair manual—this cap ''should'' have been the first to go. Image 2/3: We finally pop the top off this can ~~of worms~~, and the first component we spy is the famed congestion-sensing antenna. Image 3/3: We can't quite remove it yet, so leaving that to dangle gently to the side exposes the LED board with some control hardware:
  • We turn our attention back to what we thought was a solid top, it turns out this was the way in all along.

    • We really wish this thing came with a repair manual—this cap should have been the first to go.

  • We finally pop the top off this can of worms, and the first component we spy is the famed congestion-sensing antenna.

  • We can't quite remove it yet, so leaving that to dangle gently to the side exposes the LED board with some control hardware:

    • National Semiconductor LP5523 programmable 9-output LED driver

    • Ambient light sensor

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Image 1/3: Finally the two halves of the casing are ready to come quietly, revealing the first glimpse of the OnHub's shiny, antenna-filled insides. Image 2/3: That crazy disk antenna up top, responsible for sniffing out network congestion in the air, is finally free to leave the OnHub. Image 3/3: Looks like the OnHub intends to keep unbroken Wi-Fi [http://memecrunch.com/meme/FP3J/stay-on-target/image.jpg?w=751&c=1|new_window=true|on target] with this bullseye shaped antenna.
  • With the top panel neutralized, some screws are revealed.

  • Finally the two halves of the casing are ready to come quietly, revealing the first glimpse of the OnHub's shiny, antenna-filled insides.

  • That crazy disk antenna up top, responsible for sniffing out network congestion in the air, is finally free to leave the OnHub.

    • Looks like the OnHub intends to keep unbroken Wi-Fi on target with this bullseye shaped antenna.

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Image 1/3: Google seems to have some kind of color coding system, which might help for repair, but the board markings don't give us any hints just yet. Image 2/3: Peeling off the second half of the outer shell, we find an interesting antenna arrayed in a double diamond. More on this guy later. Image 3/3: The OnHub's antenna array is revealed in all its Lovecraftian glory, the antenna leads looking spookily like tentacles.
  • There are 12 cables across the top of the device (six 2.4GHz antennas and six 5GHz), plus the congestion antenna along the side, and a final coax cable along the other side.

    • Google seems to have some kind of color coding system, which might help for repair, but the board markings don't give us any hints just yet.

  • Peeling off the second half of the outer shell, we find an interesting antenna arrayed in a double diamond. More on this guy later.

  • The OnHub's antenna array is revealed in all its Lovecraftian glory, the antenna leads looking spookily like tentacles.

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Image 1/3: Look at that enormous speaker. [http://www.amazon.com/Amazon-SK705DI-Echo/dp/B00X4WHP5E|Alexa], why does Google's router need a 3-watt speaker? Image 2/3: Turns out, OnHub uses a loud tone to pair with ~~[http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/08/googles-onhub-is-a-200-wi-fi-router-and-smart-home-hub/|ultrasonic tones|new_window=true] to configure~~ Android devices running Google's companion app—but will it feature sick beats in the future? Image 3/3: The hexagonal speaker enclosure has disturbing similarities to the [http://orig05.deviantart.net/0be5/f/2013/025/b/7/galactic_empire_logo_by_liyay-d5sogb0.jpg|Galactic Empire's logo.]
  • With a dozen connectors dispatched, we can finally separate the antenna assembly from the motherboard.

  • Look at that enormous speaker. Alexa, why does Google's router need a 3-watt speaker?

    • Turns out, OnHub uses a loud tone to pair with ultrasonic tones to configure Android devices running Google's companion app—but will it feature sick beats in the future?

  • The hexagonal speaker enclosure has disturbing similarities to the Galactic Empire's logo.

The audio setup isn't ultrasonic. This links to an old OnHub article of mine and it's wrong. The OnHub uses sound to pair the phone to the OnHub, but the setup tone is VERY audible—it sounds like a ringing cell phone. I updated the article just now. Sorry.

Ron Amadeo - Reply

Thanks for the heads up =) We updated the teardown to clarify.

Sam Lionheart -

Image 1/2: Each of the six PCBs is a pair of antennas. The smaller boards are 5 GHz, and the larger are 2.4 GHz, alternating around so that each antenna pair is 120° offset from the other two pairs of the same frequency. Image 2/2: Some engineer was probably pretty excited to design antennas in an arrow shape. Looking snazzy!
  • With a flick of the spudger, the remaining antenna connectors come free—releasing what we theorize to be a miniature Stargate. That, or the omnidirectional antenna array.

    • Each of the six PCBs is a pair of antennas. The smaller boards are 5 GHz, and the larger are 2.4 GHz, alternating around so that each antenna pair is 120° offset from the other two pairs of the same frequency.

  • Some engineer was probably pretty excited to design antennas in an arrow shape. Looking snazzy!

  • That one extra-long cable runs a bit lower on the motherboard, where it connects next to a ZigBee network co-processor—hello 802.15.4 (coming soon).

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Image 1/3: The heatsink serves as a reflector dish, pushing that extra bit of Wi-Fi to the far corner of your house where you need it most. Image 2/3: The components in this thing have been pretty big so far, and the heat sink is no different. Prying up the metal mass reveals some equally hefty thermal pads. Image 3/3: It looks like the heat sink actually draws heat ''through'' the motherboard—we spy the real heavy ~~hitters~~ heaters on the reverse.
  • Remember that diamond shaped antenna a few steps back? Turns out that's the directional antenna, for boosting the signal in a specific direction.

    • The heatsink serves as a reflector dish, pushing that extra bit of Wi-Fi to the far corner of your house where you need it most.

  • The components in this thing have been pretty big so far, and the heat sink is no different. Prying up the metal mass reveals some equally hefty thermal pads.

  • It looks like the heat sink actually draws heat through the motherboard—we spy the real heavy hitters heaters on the reverse.

  • The plastic base and port cover slides off and the motherboard is free!

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Image 1/1: Qualcomm Atheros [http://www.anandtech.com/show/7526/qualcomm-atheros-announces-new-internet-processor-lineup-ipq8064-and-ipq8062|IPQ8064|new_window=true] Internet Processor with 2 Krait 300 CPUs clocked at 1.4 GHz
  • With the heat sink off and the chips deshielded, we can get to the meat of the matter:

    • Qualcomm Atheros IPQ8064 Internet Processor with 2 Krait 300 CPUs clocked at 1.4 GHz

    • Micron MT41K256M16HA 4 Gb DDR3L SDRAM

    • Qualcomm Atheros QCA8337

    • Qualcomm Atheros QCA9882

    • Qualcomm Atheros QCA9880

    • Silicon Labs EM3581 SOC network co-processor for ZigBee

    • Skyworks 66109 2.4 GHz ZigBee/Smart Energy front-end module

Is it Zigbee or Thread? I thought the OnHub was to support Thread and Weave, but not zigbee, despite them using the same radio.

Randy Hammons - Reply

Thread runs on 802.15.4, the same as ZigBee.

Morten Norman Lund - Reply

Right, but that's like saying that TCP/IP runs on 802.3y, same as IPX/SPX. It's quite possible for Google to include a software stack for Thread without including a software stack for ZigBee. 802.15.4 means the hardware can support both, but that doesn't mean the device will support both.

Paul K -

Contradiction on this page. It lists 4Gb DDR3L SDRAM but step 1 identifies 1Gb as does the micron product page.

Graham Scholton - Reply

2 x 4Gbit = 8Gbit = 1GByte

zareekjb -

+1 Point to zareekjb! (or +1,024 points)

mattshu67 -

Image 1/2: Skyworks SKY2623L 2.4 GHz WLAN power amplifier Image 2/2: Skyworks [http://www.skyworksinc.com/Product/3128/SKY85405-11?Lang=ko-kr|SKY85405|new_window=true] 802.11ac 5 GHz WLAN power amplifier
  • But wait, there's more!

    • Skyworks SKY2623L 2.4 GHz WLAN power amplifier

    • Skyworks SKY85405 802.11ac 5 GHz WLAN power amplifier

    • Atheros 3012-BL3D Bluetooth radio

    • Bluetooth antenna

    • Micron MTFC4GACAAAM 4 GB NAND flash

    • Micron 25Q064A 64 Mb SPI flash

    • Infineon SLB9615 Trusted Platform Module

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Image 1/1: The speaker is replaceable.
  • OnHub Repairability Score: 4 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

    • The speaker is replaceable.

    • The device is mostly assembled with clips, which are better than adhesive but can break during disassembly.

    • With all ports on a single board, fixing a loose USB port means a soldering repair.

    • Tiny antenna connectors are fragile and prone to breaking during disassembly.

    • This is a fairly complex device—and with no repair documentation available, disassembly and reassembly are especially difficult.

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5 Comments

Those "arrow" antennas are a type of fractal antenna. With 2.4 GHz ~= 12.5 cm, full size antennas would be 2/3 the height of the entire unit, and would need more shielding from the motherboard.

Brad Hansen - Reply

Great writeup. I have but one question.

Where's the no-way-to-identify mystery chip that routes all of your data back to NSA? And where is the other no-way-to-identify-except-with-rainbow-color-paint chip that sends your traffic data to Google for targeted ads while you browse the Web?

revelated - Reply

Did you notice anything that could at certain angles obstruct a portion of the lights at the top of the unit? Trying to figure out if I have a light that is going bad or if there is an antenna infront or behind it causing it to look dark in one small area. Thanks

Shawn Thor - Reply

Any chance of getting the ASUS Onhub Teardown?

Justin S - Reply

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