I've gone through too many consumer routers (most recently it seems that a capacitor failed on my Netgear WNDR3700) and a friend suggested I look into Ubiquiti.

I'm currently in a three floor apartment where we share the internet with the two units below us. The WNDR3700 worked fine for this. I have a cheaper older router plugged in now and it is struggling. We will probably be moving to a house next year and I want the ability to add extra access points so I can saturate the wireless signal. I like the idea of having individual components so later on I can upgrade the AP to 802.11ac or whatever the current standard is and still keep all the other hardware. We have the usual wireless devices (laptops, phones, tablet) and I also have a PS3 and a QNAP NAS that I connect via wired ethernet.

I was thinking I need to get a router, switch, and a wireless access point (and a second AP in the future). Ubiquiti seems to be pretty good from what I've read online other than some difficulty with initial setup. I assume it's better, but not required, to have all the components be the same brand? Would I plug everything into the switch and then just one cable from the switch to the router?

While I'm fairly tech savvy, I'm new to this level of the networking, but I want to learn more about it. Thanks!


I really wouldn't consider this prosumer or even low-end enterprise. When you get into managed switches and vlans for home networking, then you're hitting the prosumer level. This is basically common networking with access point and range extension. For example, I have a cluster of VM servers that I have at home which perform various tasks and services. I have these separated from our normal network using a managed switch and vlans. I have a guest network that is on its own vlan.

You have the right idea though. Your main router would be plugged into the model and it would be your firewall. A switch plugged into the LAN side of the router would be a simple extension of the internal switch of the router. From there, you can plug in multiple access points.

However, I would caution that you may get interference of your access points between each other. Having them on different channels will help prevent issues down the road. Instead of different access points, you may be better off in looking into range extenders.

For most households, 802.11ac should be sufficient by itself. However, this would greatly depend on the material of your walls, how many floors and overall size of the house.

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A: specific recommendations of brands/models are off-topic, so I'll not be making them.

B: all same maker - really does not make a whit of difference, most of the time. Helps if you know what you are doing, of course, but from that point of view, there's no particular reason to get "all brand X" anything.

C: Staying "generic" I prefer a dedicated, flexible, inexpensive router machine based on FreeBSD or Linux, and some old (or new, but that raises the stakes a bit) computer. But that's merely an opinion. If you are using a packaged router that includes several LAN ports, that section of the router is a small switch, and if it has enough ports for what you are doing, you don't need another switch. If you do need another switch, you can plug whatever you are plugging in to router switch ports or to switch switch ports, it makes almost no difference.

D: use wires wherever practical, and save wireless for what needs to be wireless.

E: or get out a soldering iron and replace that capacitor.

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To answer your question specifically about Ubiquiti/Unifi -- yes, it's a good choice for a step-up prosumer level situation.

The setup is not that bad -- you might have read about their computer-based controller and wondered why the controller (isn't built in to the router or access point like a home router (Netgear/Linksys/D-link) does (with an embedded web/http server on like we're all used to.)

The reason they use a computer-based controller is because it is designed to scale up from one device (like an access point) to all the Ubiquiti devices you might buy from them -- if you add a router, a second access point, etc., you can manage them from one place with the same login (password).

Once you know you need more than one wifi device on the same home (or small business) network, this style of controller makes a lot of sense. (You don't have to keep the controller software running on your PC at all times, you can just launch it when you need to change settings if you like.)

The hardware and controller setup was very straightforward in my experience with an AP-LR. Stepping up from a home wireless router to a prosumer solution with central controller is well worth it if you need more signal strength or need to manage two or more devices.

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