For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a home network problem. While I truly enjoy the simplicity of Apple’s Airport Extreme wifi router, I often need some features that it doesn’t offer, e.g., command line interface, a web interface, dynamic DNS support, easy static dhcp mapping for dozens of clients, simple local “DNS,” etc. On the flip side, there are many high-end routers that will give you this an much more, but you need a Ph.D. in Cisco hardware to make sense of them. My typical workaround usually involved offloading network tasks to Linux servers. It works, but in most cases it felt heavy for a home network. About a year ago I bought a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 and flashed dd-wrt onto it. This was a nice step forward, but the whole dd-wrt community is a bit of a hack. With every firmware update something gets better, but something else breaks. It’s cool, but not reliable.
And then about a month ago I found Ubiquiti while reading an article on SmallNetBuilder. It sounded too good to be true, “enterprise hardware at consumer prices.” For the price, I couldn’t resist ordering one to see. I decided on the EdgeRouter PoE. Small, silent (no fans), built-in switch, it seemed to have the essentials.
I’ve had it for a week now and it lives up to the hype. The hardware is great. The firmware is excellent. The updates are frequent. And a nice surprise/bonus: the community is great. Every question I’ve had thus far was well documented on their community forums and easy to find with Google. They make it quite easy to follow content too, so if you want alerts on updates or a specific topic, it is very easy to do. Given the higher end nature of the product, the people in the community seem to be a bit higher end on the knowledge scale, which means instead of broke college kids guessing about configs you’ve got seasoned network professionals offering really great insights. I’ve already learned quite a bit more about networking, and in a fun, painless sort of way. More importantly, I’ve noticed speeds have dramatically increased, 2x as fast in some cases. (To be fair to the Netgear, installing dd-wrt on the device is known to decrease speeds as only their proprietary firmware makes it operate at full speeds.)
Anyway, if you’re looking for a nice network upgrade, check them out. For the price, you really can’t miss. I like them so much, I went ahead and ordered an EdgeSwitch managed layer 2/3 switch just for fun. :-)