Ubiquiti dream machine with keystone jack

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Rock-solid Wi-Fi connectivity is one of those things that people take for granted, but it’s not a given. And for me it is more than a simple necessity. As someone who has been working remotely for over a decade, this is the backbone of my livelihood.

Over the past ten years, I’ve spent thousands of dollars chasing seamless connectivity in my apartment. From expensive routers to DIY mesh solutions and, more recently, mesh routers with dedicated backhaul connectivity, my pursuit has sent me on a path of balancing speed with range, but the perfect solution has always eluded me. .

I’ve spent thousands of dollars on Wi-Fi routers, but they rarely work as advertised.

On paper, a three-point mesh router should be more than enough to cover a 2,400-square-foot apartment with sweet, sweet Wi-Fi. Despite the promise of whole-home connectivity on the sticker, none of those solutions worked for me. It was clear it was time to take things to the next level.

Step one of solving a problem is clearly identifying the problem. In my case it was easy. Thick brick and rebar walls are not only a deterrent to fast Wi-Fi, but can even act as a Faraday cage. Sure, I can get 2.4 Ghz signals throughout the house, but a speed drop from 300 Mbps to less than 5 Mbps is unacceptable. So with a little renovation underway to run CAT 6a Ethernet cabling, it was time to tackle the Wi-Fi beast.

Make the Right Choice: Ethernet vs. Wi-Fi — Need a Wired Connection?

Ubiquiti dream machine and network switch racked

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

One thing was immediately clear: my requirements far exceeded the capabilities of most consumer hardware. I needed a solution that was future-proof to some extent, handy enough to combine a few different usage scenarios, and that could be upgraded without shutting down the entire system. The Ubiquiti Dream Machine Pro was the perfect fit.

Ubiquiti has an Apple-esque approach to networking hardware. Unlike, say, Pfsense or DD-WRT, Ubiquiti gives you a ton of power, but hides it behind a glossy interface. I needed a solution that was simple enough for the average user to figure out in case I’m not around to manage it. Ubiquiti’s companion app (Play Store) is a beautifully elegant way to log in remotely and diagnose any network issues.

Ubiquiti unifi access point and camera layout

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The Dream Machine Pro also differs in that the router has no Wi-Fi access point at all. Its sole job is to act as the brain of my home network. The router connects to my 24-port Power-over-Ethernet switch to talk to the wider network. The entire system was built with the idea that Ethernet cabling will serve as a backhaul between access points. This beats mesh routers competing for the same airwaves to talk to each other, ensuring future-proofing up to 10 Gbps over CAT 6a. An added benefit is that I can disable individual access points when needed to better meet my requirements.

unifi access point

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For my apartment, I chose a combination of a single Unifi 6 Long-Range and two Unifi 6 Lite access points. While I wanted to adequately balance a load of more than 70 client devices, two access points should be sufficient for most users. I also mounted the access points on the ceiling for maximum range. Also, since they are powered directly over Ethernet, there is no need to use a power cable. As it turns out, that was “all” to maximize connectivity throughout my house and get full-speed internet even in the far corners.

A high-end system is more than just range and speed.

However, better range and faster speed aren’t the only reasons I chose a system designed for business applications. You see, I’ve been keeping a close eye on my internet-connected devices for the past year. It’s amazing to see how often your smart home devices call home, often to servers in China. There’s just no telling what kind of data is being shared.

Related: How I Consolidated My Smart Home With Home Assistant

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of some private organization tapping my security cameras or having a complicated profile of when I’m home through motion or door sensors. Therefore, I have actively moved my smart home equipment to local control, either through software or by disabling the hardware itself.

My colleague Roger recently talked about keeping smart home devices on a separate network. Although his article offered simple solutions, it did not solve the problem of your data being sent to offshore servers. The Dream Machine Pro allows me to set up VLANs and isolate all my smart home equipment from internet calls. That’s a big step to keeping your data private. It also doesn’t break functionality like Casting or Airplay if you enable multicast support across the VLANs.

Ubiquiti unifi protect video recorder

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

I’ve always been a little wary of cloud-connected security cameras. By design, cameras like Xiaomi’s share private data with cloud servers. In addition, their reliance on unreliable microSD cameras and the need to find an outlet near the camera has more than once proved cumbersome. I am also averse to the idea of ​​paying a subscription fee in addition to an expensive security camera.

Ubiquiti’s high-end router comes with the built-in Ubiquiti Protect security suite. You can even slide a hard drive directly into the router and have all your security footage recorded. Using a combination of Ubiquiti cameras, PoE, and a 2TB hard drive in the router allowed me to regain full control of my home security system. All data is stored securely on the router itself and I can log in remotely to check notifications.

close up shot of ubiquiti dream machine and network switch

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

See, there’s no denying that switching to a prosumer setup costs a lot more money than just picking up a Google Nest Wifi package off the shelf at Best Buy. However, what you spend on upfront costs saves you upgradeability, better connectivity and, most importantly, peace of mind in the long run.

The initial setup is much more expensive, but it pays off in the long run.

Being able to have granular control over my network, seamless connectivity throughout my home, and a great all-in-one home security system is worth gold to me. If you’re struggling with your home Wi-Fi network or just need a more powerful solution, I recommend going the Ubiquiti route. I’m sure you won’t look back.

Are you satisfied with your current Wi-Fi solution?

166 votes

Yes.

31%

It works well enough. I am not looking for an upgrade.

38%

No, I will upgrade to a mesh system.

11%

No, I’m looking at professional solutions like Ubiquiti.

20%

Comments

This post I Dumped Consumer Wi-Fi Routers and Switched to Ubiquiti

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