Home Network Upgrade Recommendations


Jul 5, 2011
I have started on an upgrade to my home network and am looking for advice.

Currently I have a cheap consumer router, NAS, gaming pc, a couple of work laptops and various entertainment devices. Everything but the NAS is connected via WIFI right now. We are in a rental and I don't want to try and make any hardwired runs while we rent. In the next year or two we plan on buying a home (depends a bit on what the home market does). When I own I don't mind fishing and running some wires. My NAS runs a number of different things including Nextcloud, Pihole and Plex and a number of other docker services. While I am not an IT professional I am quite tech savvy. I have a minor in computer science and have used linux and the command line.

Recently I bought a fanless box for pfsense. I want to move the adblocking onto this and run a VPN on it. It is also the first step towards the upgrades I am wanting to make. I want to segment my network with VLANs and multiple SSIDs. It is probably unnecessary but I would like to have it to ease my mind as I start playing with network cameras and some home automation. Pfsense will allow me to do this. The box has 6x2.5gb ports and a Celeron N5105. Overkill probably but also future proof.

My real dilemma comes when I start looking at the rest of the networking equipment. I see a few options around and am having a hard time deciding which way to go. In the short term 16 ports is more than I need but sort of the minimum I would like. I would like WIFI 6 (preferably with a 4x4) since all my devices connect via wifi now. At the moment I only need one access point. I want something that will scale and be reliable. I worry a bit about anything cloud managed and would prefer to avoid it but could be convinced otherwise. I don't have a ton of budget. I also want something I will be able to manage that isn't crazy complicated to make adjustments to.

Let me present what I see as options with the pros and cons I see.

Ubiquity Unifi
Unifi is what I am leaning towards right now but it seems expensive. It has simple control of all devices with one UI on locally hosted container. I have heard both good and bad things about the devices. There is some worry about where the company is going. Chances are there will be new devices in the future when I want to upgrade. There is a full eco system with lots of guides and some second hand products. I will admit the fact that Lawrence Systems (youtube) reccomends and has guides on them and uses them in businesses gives me more confidence. I just have to be willing to pay more and stay in the system.
Proposed Devices:
Access Point: U6-Pro ($149)
Switch: USW-Lite-16-POE ($199)

Used Switch and Standalone Access Point
There are a bunch of used enterprise switches on ebay. The one I was looking at was from (this) post. It was the Brocade ICX6450 which I can find 48 port poe version on ebay for around $120. A similar switch for unifi costs $835 for the old one or $1099 for the new one. I am a bit worried about configuring it though. I would like to avoid learning a new command line language that I will forget between times I need to change a setting. This has a bit of a web UI but that may also be a pain to work with. You get so much more switch for the price though. If I went this way I would have to find an access point that can work standalone. I don't even know if the fast roaming works properly like that.

Other Items I've Investigated Some
  • TP-Link Omada - Not sure if it will survive. Some say it feels beta. It is a bit cheaper than unifi for the same performance.
  • Netgear - Access Point has 2.5Gb. I'm not sure what the switches look like but it is cloud managed.
  • EnGenius - Looks good. Not positive if it has local management or cloud based. May pair well with thr Brocade
  • Ruckus Access Points - Really expensive
  • Aruba Instant On - May be an okay option but seems cloud managed.
Is there anything else I should consider? Any thoughts or experience?
Gauging from your tone and the goals you've set forth, I think brocade and ruckus is your go to once you find them used in your budget. They'll do what you want and be bulletproof at doing it without the common backdoors and other security issues found in stuff like ubiquiti.
With 6x2.5Gb ports on the router and most stuff on WiFi do you even need a managed switch? What are you going to use it for? I'd be inclined to wait until you buy a place to get a used enterprise switch unless you actually have a current use for it. They tend to have fans and I wouldn't want one in my office. It's usually fine if you can stash it in the basement unless you get something really big, a high performance/low latency 10Gb+ switch, or a PoE switch that's either loaded up with PoE devices or doesn't support variable fan speeds.

I'm using TP-Link Omada APs. I'm happy with them so far. They're stable, support VLANs & multiple SSIDs, etc. The only hassle with setting them up was figuring out how to get the controller running on an unsupported Linux distribution. With just one AP it's probably not worth bothering with a controller. I haven't actually tried the built-in interface. Maybe that's what feels beta. I'm running two APs and just went straight to running a controller on my general purpose Linux box/file server since you need one for fast roaming support. TP-Link has WiFi 6 APs with 2.5Gb ports. I'm not a heavy WiFi user -- I pull cat6 and OM3 MMF through my unfinished basement and up to wall jacks -- so I'm just running a couple relatively cheap EAP-610 AX1800 APs I got for $100 each last winter.

One other thing worth mentioning is the Netgear Orbi Pro mesh system. It's a prosumer/small business mesh system that supports VLANs and multiple SSIDs. The thing that's nice about it is that each node has several ethernet ports (including a 2.5Gb port on some models) and the ethernet ports can be assigned to VLANs. It could be handy if you have devices that need to be wired in a different room from the router or have clusters of devices you'd like to wire together. One down side with it is the router part is kind of lousy and really doesn't properly support routing between VLANs (no firewall rules, routing between VLANs is on or off for each VLAN), but that shouldn't be an issue since you're using a pfSense box as a router. I don't know if you'd have any use for this. It's just worth knowing about if you're renting or otherwise can't pull cable and want to use VLANs for more than just separating SSIDs. If it sounds useful check the manual and make sure you can put the whole system in Access point mode. E.g. disable the routing and DHCP server functions.
This is a home network system.

I say get a U6 Pro, a netgear GS724TPv2 and be done with it.