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Networks Mesh Wi-fi - Unifi or "other"?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Mister_Tad, 1 Apr 2017.

  1. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    I've just replaced my router with a wired-only model, so looking to replace the Asus router/APs I'm using for wifi with a proper mesh solution, as I'm tired of always finding my phone or laptop hanging on for dear life by a shoestring to AP1 when I'm in the same room as AP2.

    The Ubiquiti AC-LRs seem to be a popular choice and at a great price, but at least one if not two will be on standard POE (802.3af) switches, and the LRs are passive POE, so it seems I'd still need to use an injector, which seems dumb.

    The AC Pros don't have this problem, but then using those everywhere seems to be overkill, and I'd rather have the greater Rx of the LR model... For my uses it's probably irrelevant, but then I'm a stickler for theory ;)

    I can't quite make out whether the handoff is also of Ubiquiti's own devising, loosely based around a standard, or textbook. Lots of different types and generations of devices using the network, so something that's going to handle all devices sensibly is desired.

    I'm likely to get a USG-Pro at some point in the future (once they finish it...), so that's another appeal of having something in the Unifi ecosystem.

    Google Wifi is another obvious contender, and I've noted some other consumer brands seem to be doing "real" wi-fi as well, but kind of put off by the latter.

    EDIT: I have some visitors from the US in a few weeks, so $125 for the PRO is more tempting. I assume when you do first time setup it asks you which geo you're in anyway, so there's not really such think as a US or EU model in hardware?

    EDIT Again: Hmm, seems the US model is hard locked to FCC regs, so maybe not a goer.
     
    Last edited: 1 Apr 2017
  2. jinq-sea

    jinq-sea 'write that down in your copy book' Super Moderator

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    I'm a massive unifi fan - just upgrading to an USG Pro and unifi switches and I started with the AC pro APs. I've been really very pleased with range, handoff, and throughout.
     
  3. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    I assume you have a mix of shiny new wifi and old crusty wifi devices - handoff totally transparent?

    What mode are you using - the communities seem to suggest there's been a few revisions over the last few years.

    You'll have to let me know how you get on with the USG-Pro. Their feature roadmap put me off - 18 months into a product you should not still have a feature roadmap that's a mile long, least of all for delivery in the next 6 months. If it comes to fruition though, I can see me swapping out the Draytek towards the end of the year.

    Offoptic... why on earth are you going with Unifi switches? They seem to be really poor value unless you need dozens of POE ports.

    EDIT: actually I take that back, I'm sure when I was last switch shopping, all of the Unifi ones were chock full of POE, noisy and expensive (if you don't need loads of POE), seems that there more options around now, or maybe I never noticed them before. I'd consider swapping out my Netgears... you'll have to report on them as well.
     
    Last edited: 1 Apr 2017
  4. liratheal

    liratheal Sharing is Caring

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    My experience with unifi kit has been largely positive.

    I did have an issue which necessitated sshing to the AP and deregistering/forcing the inform they're ready for adoption. But that was three aps out of hundreds, so probably an isolated incident.
     
  5. Atomic

    Atomic Gerwaff

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    I have two AC Lite's in the house, along with the USG (non-pro) and UniFi PoE switch.

    I find the coverage to be excellent, I have one AP at the front on the ground floor and one at the back on the second floor, whole house full signal on every device and the same in the garden too. It's a 50s built house with very dense brickwork and no stud walls. I still have a useable connection at the bus stop 6 houses down :D

    All manner of devices and smart home things on it and everything's fine.
     
  6. Sp!

    Sp! Well-Known Member

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    I use the UAP-AC-PRO's for all my customers at the moment, they've been really good so far (the previous model we had a few issues with) Although I've not used them mesh (they are always hardwired back to the network). I agree the switches are expensive for what they are (the Cisco small business cost out cheaper) but I guess there's something to be said for having them all in the same management interface. The Cloud Key is also awesome (especially given the price) but I guess this is a little less relivent if it's for your home network (rather then a remote site your supporting)
     
  7. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    That seems pretty conclusive! I'll pick up a couple of the Pros and see how I get on. I don't have any 3x3 devices and that's likely to be the case for at least a few years so it would be just for the sake of not using injectors at the moment... or maybe the injectors are bothering me more than they should.

    Or maybe a PRO for the the front of the house, and a LR for the back of the house, with a view of stretching into the garden a bit better?

    Though compared to the AC68Us I'm using at the moment, I don't doubt I'll be in a totally different world of coverage either way.


    Those were my thoughts at the time of shopping - I figured the SG200s would meet my needs and they undercut the Unifis by a fair bit. But then the Netgears did by a fair bit again.

    The Netgears are not without their quirks and caveats though, and doing things across three of them consistently often takes more thought than I care to give, so the Unifis are once again a temptation. I find myself valuing an easy life when it comes to technology at home more and more these days.
     
    Last edited: 2 Apr 2017
  8. Zoon

    Zoon Hunting Wabbits since the 80s

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    Anytime Ubiquiti comes up I usually post "hey consider Mikrotik too. Check out the hAP AC (not Lite) and look at their CAPSMAN utility for meshing." however they're not PoE so might not work as well here. Very capable AP though.
     
  9. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    CamelCamelCamel notified me this morning that the UAP-AC-PROs are <£130 on Amazon, so a pair of them are winging their way to me now :thumb:
     
  10. Sp!

    Sp! Well-Known Member

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    That's better than I buy them, at "trade" price.
     
  11. sandys

    sandys Well-Known Member

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    Is this Mesh stuff how to do proper home wifi, I have been using powerline mostly with wifi extenders for hard to reach places which work great for PC and Android phones but our Apple rubbish refuses to shift to other APs with stronger signal and I keep getting whining from the missus :(

    All my gear is years old so was looking at new powerline stuff for more bandwidth as I always found wireless unreliable for high bandwidth back in the day but the wifi hardware now looks like they have some heady numbers and sound it sounds like I could get some good speed over wifi.

    Is that what these will do, seamless transfers and high speed?
     
  12. Votick

    Votick My CPU's hot but my core runs cold.

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    Using Unifi gear in a big mesh for WAN for local businesses works well.
     
  13. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    Short answer: Yes.

    Longer answer:

    The speed you'll get across the wireless isn't fundamentally better than a consumer grade AP (or more likely, AIO router/AP), but the addition of things like band steering and handoff/roaming mean that in cases where you have more than one AP, you should always find that you're using the one that offers the best performance.

    With many standalone APS without these features, you can set them as separate SSIDs and manually change when a client is adamant about hanging on to a weak signal. You can also set them all as a single SSID, but you may find that whilst the client insists it has excellent signal, it's still hanging on to the more distant AP. It's generally a pain, and why I'm switching over.

    Mesh is something else again (which my OP was kind of erroneous in asking about, I blame it being the buzzword of the week with Google Wifi), where APs talk to each other and can establish a path back to a wire by hopping between APs, letting you extend coverage to additional APs without wires. This is a bit more intelligent than a wireless bridge in that the APs manage the hops themselves (presumably the new consumer offerings like google wifi use STP or some adaptation thereof), but it's always better to have as few wireless hops as possible to get back to a wire (i.e. one hop from client to AP only).

    The latest wireless devices have come a long way since previous generations, and is a reasonable replacement to a cable for most home uses IMO, where a cable isn't easy (I mean, if it's sitting next to the switch, clearly use a cable).

    In my office on the laptop (2x2 AC) I get 60MB/sec, and that's with two floors in between it and the AP. I even have ethernet to the room, but it's not even worth my effort to plug in a USB ethernet adaptor for the bump to gigabit. With a 3x3 client and good coverage, you won't be far off gigabit wired speeds. Note, it's still only half-duplex, but it doesn't seem likely that you're going to be doing much to demand such throughput in both directions on a wireless device.
     
    Last edited: 7 Apr 2017
  14. sandys

    sandys Well-Known Member

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    Sounds reasonable I get 50Mb/s between the furthest points over powerline and actually don't need more, it is just that it gets quite some latency hit and bandwidth drop off with multiple devices zapping data around at the same time, the new powerline stuff has this MIMO tech now too, hence looking at upgrades but we have many more wireless devices these days and if I went for the new powerline kit it will still have the limitations of multiple APs.

    I'm torn, not good with change, but perhaps I should embrace the brave new mesh wifi world, if only to shut the missus up :D

    Not even sure I need mesh setup to be honest, perhaps a fancypants wifi router might be good enough now too.
     
  15. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    If you fancied a couple of the APs, you should have popped round mine, as they were sitting in a box on my doorstep from around midday yesterday until around an hour ago :lol:

    I'm setting them up now, pretty slick so far. I nearly bought the cloud key, then decided that would be lazy and pointless, so spun up an ubuntu server VM for the controller. I'm surprised at how much space it demands, the 15GB VHD I initially gave it was barely enough, so have upped that to 25GB. It barely sips memory and CPU though, which is nice since.

    The controller software itself is lovely - the setup is a bit of a pain but that's just because I'm managing the switchover from some old APs without breaking my daughters streaming, or my wife's browsing, from wifi myself... Not entirely ideal.
     
  16. Margo Baggins

    Margo Baggins I'm good at Soldering Super Moderator

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    It's probably already been said.... but remember with unify if you are planning on doing this fancy stuff you are going to need something to be on all the time running the controller software.

    EDIT: at this point I read your post above about what you are using for the controller :D :D :D :D
     
  17. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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