RogerBW's Blog

Ubiquiti Unifi AP 03 April 2016

This is simply the best wireless access point I have used.

I live in an oddly-constructed house with poor Wi-Fi penetration, so I'm demanding on the radio capabilities of wireless access points. I also use IPv6 and other protocols that some manufacturers just can't be bothered to support. The Unifi access point has solved all my problems. It's designed for offices, hotels and such like, but I definitely recommend it for domestic use.

The hardware is elegant and effective: just set up a wall or ceiling-tile mount (basic kits for both are supplied in the box), plug in an ethernet cable from your router, attach a Power over Ethernet adapter if needed (there's one in the box), and you're ready to go. Well, one more step: the management software.

And that software is where the Unifi shines. It's the best management software I've used, and it's cross-platform (written in Java); Linux packages are available. Adding a new AP is a matter of plugging it in, clicking "adopt" when it shows up on the management screen and, well, that's it. Upgrade all your APs' firmware? Done. Want to add a new network, unencrypted but with a captive portal? And deploy it to the "public" APs but not the "private" ones? No problem. And DHCP requests are fed through to your existing DHCP infrastructure.

(Unfortunately it is written in Java. I'm contemplating working on a replacement, but don't hold your breath.)

There are several models: the basic AP costs about the same as a high-end normal access point, and is slightly cheaper if bought in a pack of three. The next step up, and I'll probably probably upgrade to them at some point, is the new UAP-AC-Pro, which does Gbit ethernet and 5GHz. (Round here 2.4GHz isn't swamped the way it is in many places, so there's no rush.) There are also long-range models and weather-sealed outdoor ones.

I've been running on Unifi since 2013. I'm getting about twice the transfer rate for the same hardware at the other end of the link as I got with generic APs in the same place, I don't have to fight them to stop them wanting to be a general router as well as an AP, and IPv6 works perfectly.

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  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 03:57pm on 03 April 2016

    At times I can see over a dozen 2.4GHz access points at my house and the band is swamped (6 one bedroom houses within 10-20m and even more 2 and 3 bedroom, I'm at a junction). I have to use 5GHz to get decent throughput.

    I bought a couple of Apple Airport Extremes about 4-5 years ago and have never regretted it, they work very well together. The management software is a bit lacking, I use the PC version which is better than Mac apparently because it exposes more options and doesn't have to toe the Mac line on things. I think Linux users are out of luck for management software, but there is an iOS App as well (which exposes yet another different subset of options).

    If I were starting again I'd probably buy the Unifis, but I've spent a fair amount of money on the pair of Extremes and while they continue doing what I need I see no reason to change.

    Oh and the Apple Airport stuff does fully support IPv6. Now if only the A&A Zyxel router's IPv6 worked for more than a few hours after switching it on I'd have a working IPv6 solution.

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