The need for a better home router (Part 2 of probably many)

If you’re like I am.  You would like a great home router that is well-above consumer grade.  Linksys and D-Link simply won’t do, but, one can find some pretty good gear that might be interesting and fulfill actual needs.  For anyone that know’s me, I’ve always supported Ubiquiti networks for their cheap entry level professional gear; I will here too but only because I feel they provide great gear for a great price and will meet the requirements given.Like any IT project (or HAM radio if need be), the engineer needs to look at needs and wants over everything else.  In college, we called this user requirements.  These should translate to system requirements or simply, what does this product hope to solve?  In building my network, I wanted: IDS/IPS, an Open Source Firewall, VPN capability, Wi-Fi, DNS resolver and 4 Gigabit ports for my Xbox, 360 and television.  I also wanted a few things to safeguard for the future.  I wanted Gigabit everything and IPv6 as well.  I was able to translate those needs using my current gear into my current network.

To fulfill my needs:

  • PFsense Router/Firewall (more here)
  • Asus RT-66U (Consumer, but paid for)

My friend David has similar needs.  He’s a computer Wiz who needs to network the house and demands a level of security that is good but doesn’t want to spend time managing the network.  David needs 802.11AC capabilities, a solid firewall, and a powerful GUI.  If more ethernet capacity is needed any dumbswitch (non-managed switch) would probably be fine for the use case.  If VLAN’s are needed something more sophisticated can be suggested.

My suggestion to David:

  • Ubiquiti Unifi Security Appliance (Router/Firewall + Wi-Fi Controller)
  • Ubiquiti APs to match the controller
  • A “Walmart” grade non-managed switch for more ethernet ports

My network and his network have similar needs but different wants.  Both of us wanted a powerful GUI but David didn’t need IDS/IPS but didn’t want to skimp on the firewall.  I wanted a VPN concentrator and the ability to do DNS forwarding and cacheing.

While people in IT demand “the latest and greatest,” it wouldn’t serve me well to get a Cisco 4500 series for home.  It’d take too much electricity to run and be too loud for my apartment.  It’d obviously also be overkill.  Interestingly enough, so is a cheaper 2960-x.  If engineers design networks to meet requirements at work they should use these same skills at home and in advising friends on their purchases.  It’d have been pointless to suggest a 500 dollar or more router for David’s needs.  It’d also have been silly to suggest a Linksys off the Walmart shelf router for a customer who demands more.

Weigh needs, advise from there but only after understanding what the customer’s needs are this will hold true in multi-million dollar installations or even the sub hundred dollar installs.  SOHO gear is at a similar price point compared to home gear but offers infinity more.  Knowing what you want might result in a perfect build meeting all your needs for similar costs.



Thanks David for the Blog Post idea!

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