Previously, my network setup included a Linksys WRT160N router running dd-wrt. It was a steady little work horse but had a few downsides like not having gigabit ports. I coasted for quite a while with this setup but over the last year I had been hearing names like Ubiquiti and Mikrotik which were bringing enterprise-grade routing to the consumer price point. You may recall both of these brands were mentioned in the tech wishlist for the past holidays.
Both Ubiquiti and Mikrotik were making a splash and had their own following. After doing a bit of research, I went with Ubiquiti’s EdgeRouter Lite. This router, unlike your Linksys or ASUS routers, does not have wireless built into it nor does it act like a switch by default. For me, that was not a problem because I already had Ubiquiti’s UniFi AP Enterprise WiFi access point and my LAN has its own gigabit switch.
The most common thing you will hear with these higher performing routers is that they are not as user-friendly. From my experience with the EdgeRouter Lite, it is not made for somebody to pick up off the shelf, take home, plug in, and be all ready to go. The EdgeRouter utilizes Vayatta code to pair with the dedicated hardware. It has a limited GUI to make changes but allows access to the command line. The power of the EdgeRouter Lite gives you a lot more flexibility for custom environments but also requires more setup as a result.
To get started, you will unbox the router to find the router, the power adapter, mounting screws, and a quick start guide.
The back of the router has the power adapter and an additional ground while the front has three gigabit ethernet connections, the reset button, and a console port. The right LED indicates the link’s speed and activity. (Amber = 10/100, Green = gigabit, and flashing = activity)
In order to configure the router, you connect your computer to the eth0 port and set your IP address statically to 192.168.1.100 (or something in the 192.168.1.x subnet). Then you can launch your browser and enter 192.168.1.1 in the address bar. You will be prompted to login. The credentials are on the outside of the box: ubnt/ubnt. Be sure to change that later.
The first thing I did when I was connected to the EdgeOS was to download the latest firmware from Ubiquiti for the EdgeRouter Lite. When you click the ‘System’ tab near the bottom, a screen comes up and allows you to upload the new firmware. After it finishes uploading, verifying, and rebooting, the system will come back up with the latest version (version 1.3.0 at the time of writing).
To setup the router for a standard Small Office, Home Office configuration, you can follow the SOHO example on the Ubiquiti Wiki or just download the configuration and upload it to the router. Version 1.3.0 also includes a Wizards tab which only has a single wizard so far but it allows you to create a SOHO configuration pretty easily. You have your LAN connected to eth0, your WAN (from the DSL or cable modem) connected to eth1, and a second, separate LAN connected to eth2.
After I went through the wizard, I switched my computer back to DHCP instead of the static configuration. It pulled all of the information it needed, and I was again able to browse the web. I went around and reset some devices so they would pull a new IP and was able to connect to them right away. I explored the EdgeOS user interface to find where to create static reservations and other settings.
My first impressions of the EdgeRouter Lite have all been positive. I was able to get a few more features from the dd-wrt router like Wake-on-LAN and dynamic DNS. It’s not that I won’t be able to do that from the EdgeRouter but it certainly won’t be as easy. My use of those features has been decreasing recently, so I have not been that motivated to seek them out. Overall, the router has been fast and reliable. I’m impressed with the information displayed and the detailed setup. The router was not my bottleneck to uploading/downloading information but now with the 1 million+ packet per second processing, I’m sure. The hardware is great and the firmware on the device makes the most of it. I’m looking forward to future updates to see how they improve the user interface to make some of the more powerful features more accessible. You can create VLANs, setup NAT or VPN, and configure DHCP and firewall.
I picked up the EdgeRouter Lite from Amazon for under $100. It features 3 gigabit ethernet ports, 512MB RAM, and 2GB storage in a metal case.