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Networks Should I spend £250+ on a home router?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Cookie Monster, 5 Jun 2020.

  1. Cookie Monster

    Cookie Monster Well-Known Member

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    I've had Virgin Media 100mb internet for about a year and have been using their flakey Super Hub 3. Recently the wifi has become unusable and I've purchased a number of extra devices so I'm thinking I should get a new router and kick the SH3 into modem only mode.

    I'd like to do this right, so while I'm doing this I'm also going to have a play with setting up a pi-hole (Raspberry Pi is currently sat in the sorting office) and maybe hard wire in a few devices for a better connection. Currently I have the following:

    Wired devices: Windows 10 desktop, Ubuntu server, Apple Time Capsule, Synology DS211 (on its way)

    Wireless: Samsung TV, Xbox One, iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro, HP Laser and OfficeJet printers, Pure Radio and whatever the kids bring when they sleep over (iPhones of which one is 11, iPad, PS4).

    My thoughts are to get something which will enable me to wire in the TV and Xbox, which including the pi-hole and the wired devices would mean I need at least 7ports. Everything important is capable of gigabit connections over ethernet and the runs of possibly cat6a or cat7 would be around 10m long

    Should I go all out and get something wifi6 (ax) to future proof?

    Should I go with a switch, DHCP via pi-hole and seperate access point(s) to try and provide better house coverage (ground floor UK terraced flat with the standard kitchen / bathroom extension off the back)?

    I'm leaning towards getting one of these, rrp is around £260+ - https://www.tp-link.com/uk/home-networking/wifi-router/archer-ax6000/

    Cheers for any help.
     
    Last edited: 5 Jun 2020
  2. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    My tuppence... I would absolutely never spend £260+ on a "home router". I would, on the other hand, spend as much and more on a router for my home.

    IME, consumer networking gear is all trash. Different degrees of trash, but generally trash. Even gear I've used that's widely lauded as "good" is still trash. To me networking kit needs to be something that can quite happily run for years on end, with zero interaction, allowing me to entirely forget it exists.

    Consumer networking gear does as much as possible, in one box, built with price as a priority, and there are compromises along the way.

    Figure out the problem you want to solve most, and focus on that:
    - If you want to have better wifi, get an AP
    - If you need more ports, add a switch
    - If you actually do need a better router, get a router. But not a router-switch-AP all-in-one that also is a NAS and a print server and so on and so on - get a router.

    So given your scenario, I would suggest an AP and an inexpensive unmanaged gigabit switch. I personally wouldn't go for Wifi 6 just yet, I don't have many (any?) Wifi 6 devices and the selection is currently limited. But if you want an AP now, and don't want to replace it in a year or two, then it's not the worst idea. Just bear in mind that you may need to compromise on what you want or what you pay simply through lack of choice.
     
    edzieba likes this.
  3. Bloody_Pete

    Bloody_Pete Technophile

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    Do you need £250 for anything else? Is £250 a lot of money to you? If its a no to both then no other arguements really matter :)
     
  4. Cookie Monster

    Cookie Monster Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. I'll spend a little bit of time looking into seperate devices and see what I come up with.
    I don't mean to sound like a total tw@t here, but money isn't an issue. Not because I have loads, as I don't, but I don't mind going without while I save for the right thing. I believe in buying things that work once and never buy anything as a quick fix.
     
    Bloody_Pete likes this.
  5. play_boy_2000

    play_boy_2000 It was funny when I was 12

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    Might be worth looking at a standalone wireless access point and disabling the wifi on the modem. If the router portion of it is still pants, you can always get a Ubiquiti or microtik to handle that.
     
  6. Bloody_Pete

    Bloody_Pete Technophile

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    Totally agree with you there!
     
  7. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    One thing I should have mentioned, I'm assuming you're at least mildly technically inclined for this sort of thing. Which I think is safe. Because whilst good networking gear should operate for years with zero maintenance (although, the odd update won't hurt), configuration isn't always entirely trivial.
     
  8. Cookie Monster

    Cookie Monster Well-Known Member

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    I need more ports. The Virgin Media super hub 3 only has 4 ports, currently I have my desktop, server and time capsule (3 total). I'd like to add TV, Xbox, NAS and pi-hole (7 total), there is now the possibility of an access point too.

    I'm not shy about getting in and routing about, but networking was the least favourite and the weakest subject in my college Computer Science degree. I wouldn't say I know / understand none of it, but I'd rate myself as a beginner.

    I do have a Netgear FS108 8 Port 10/100 Fast Ethernet Switch and Netgear N300 Wireless Dual Band ADSL2+ Modem Router on its way after nabbing it from @Fingers66 donation thread in the market place. I plan on using these to get my feet wet.
     
  9. Zoon

    Zoon Hunting Wabbits since the 80s

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    No. But you might want to consider spending £110 on this which I've typically got around 20 devices connected to via my SuperHub3 in modem mode and I'm more than happy with the performance: https://www.amazon.co.uk/MikroTik-RB962UIGS-5HACT2HNT-Mikrotik-RouterBoard-hAP/dp/B01BMMK4HI

    As with Ubiquiti kit, this is small to medium business kit, and has some serious power.

    It won't be all-in-one, so if you need more than 4 ports directly connected you.d need another switch to plug into it, but that's simple enough with Netgear.
     
  10. Mister_Tad

    Mister_Tad Will work for nuts Super Moderator

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    That should be fine. There's likely to be some element of configuration required versus a TP-Link which if not ready to roll straight out of the box, will have a simple wizard to configure a handful of settings. In the case of an AP, if you understand what an SSID is and know how to use Google, you're qualified.

    Ubiquiti's Unifi management is utterly fantastic, and IMO perfect for the home power user with a large network, but for a single, or couple of devices probably overkill, and you'll be paying for it too (though the APs are very keenly priced). You also need a management server - this can live on your PC but there are some limitations to anything short of always-on. There's a handy appliance that will run it, that's cheap enough for what it is, but also if you're just running it for an AP, then that one AP looks quite expensive.

    MikroTik is very capable gear, and has a UI that is sensible and down to business for managing individual devices. If you have only a couple of devices no harm in this approach.
     
  11. silk186

    silk186 Derp

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    For home router, I recommend TP-Link, I've been running them for 12 years now. Because they aren't too dear I upgrade to the latest and greatest every couple of years. They do some rediculous high and £ 300-500 models as well, but I would rather upgrade every few years as each new generation is released. My issue with bleeding-edge routers is limited device support.

    • TP-Link Archer C7 - AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router £ 71
    • TP-Link ARCHER VR400 AC1200 Wireless VDSL/ADSL Modem Router (TRI-band) £ 70
    • TP-Link Archer C80 AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-Band £100
    • TP-Link Archer AX50 Next-Gen WiFi 6 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Cable Router, WiFi Speed up to 2402Mbps £ 151
    • TP-Link AC4000 MU-MIMO Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router £ 170

    If I wasn't getting enough coverage because of a multistory house I would add an additional AP to increase coverage.
    If I was thinking about spending big money, I would go with something like UniFi.
     
  12. GeorgeStorm

    GeorgeStorm Aggressive PC Builder

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    If you need more ports just buy a router + gigabit switch, should be cheaper than having to get a router with a million ports I would have thought.
     
  13. play_boy_2000

    play_boy_2000 It was funny when I was 12

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    24 port gigabit switches go for peanuts on ebay or whatever your local listings site is (gumtree?). Could even toss in PoE functionality for a bit more £ if you want to power access points, security cameras or VoIP phones.
     
  14. Fingers66

    Fingers66 Kiwi in London

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    I have Virgin (after previously having Sky & BT), this is my setup (note my house is fully wired with CAT6):

    - Virgin Superhub 3 in modem mode in lounge, plugged into the 4 port CAT6 socket in the wall - this is where the cable & phone connections come into the house
    - Pi-Hole in lounge beside Virgin SuperHub but plugged into the house network (not the SuperHub) providing DNS
    - Asus RT-AC86U as main wired & wireless router downstairs in hall cupboard (wireless covers front of house, upstairs and downstairs), providing DHCP, SuperHub patched into the WAN port via the patch panel
    - Netgear GS116 beside router in hall cupboard linked to the patch panel, providing the link to the CAT6 wall sockets in every room
    - Asus RT-N66U in upstairs back bedroom in AP mode (uplink is wired, wireless covers back of house, upstairs & downstairs and garden)
    - Netgear GS308 in loft for work, gaming & main PC's as well as the NAS

    The AC86U is a superb router, wireless is really strong. Obviously there are newer models of the switches and AP I listed, I installed it 10 years ago and it has been solid. The N66U used to be the main router until I needed an AP but bought a new router instead. I previously tried wireless extenders/AP's with the AC86U which worked fine but the signal strength of my current setup is much better at the rear of the house and I needed more network ports in my son's room - which the N66U gives me.

    The key to my success with the wireless signal is the wired CAT6 in the house, it allows me to place the primary wireless router and secondary AP in the perfect locations for coverage around the house (Victorian). The wired "backhaul" between the devices means that wireless is not used for router to AP connections, greatly speeding things up.

    Here's what we have running on the network, all without a hitch and with great speeds, never seen any buffering (580Mb ~ish cable):
    - Wired: 7 PC's, 3 Smart TV's, NAS, laptop, Virgin set-top box, Pi-Hole, PS4
    - Wireless: 4 phones, 2 iPad's, Kindle, Virgin set-top box, 3 laptops, printer, 3 Sonos speakers, Sonos Connect, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Switch, roughly 6 or 7 phones (on guest wi-fi when the kids have friends over pre-corona)

    Tip: when working out the best location for your wireless router/AP, use a phone app to show signal strength and any conflict with the neighbour's wi-fi channels.

    Tip 2: get a Pi-Hole no matter what, it made a huge improvement to the wired & wireless experience in the house with ads blocked. Currently around 20% of DNS requests in the house are blocked by the Pi-Hole, only had to whitelist one site.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2020
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