Expert advice needed



  • As was suggested https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=120444.msg678132#msg678132 I've got myself TP-Link TL-SG108E. It is fine switch, but I think I am running out of ports with all the automation hubs we're buying. So, here is my query to all of you networking gurus.

    I have 2 questions possibly 3 for our needs.

    Being in Home Small Business environment with only 3 people and 3 main devices - server (desktop) mac mini, macbook pro and ipad pro.

    1. Would you suggest best Access point and switch combo for our environment, doesn't have to be cheap.

    Currently we have:

    :: SG-2440 pfSense® Security Gateway Appliance
    :: Apple AirPort Extreme
    :: Ubiquiti UniFi Enterprise WiFi System UAP-PRO Access Point <<<<<<< turns out that unit does not have AC protocol  :'( so I have to sell it
    :: TP-Link 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Easy Smart Switch (TL-SG108E)
    :: Synology DS716+II

    8 wired devices
    15 wireless devices

    I have not configured SG-2440 yet, but I'm thinking that I have redundant devices, like Apple AirPort Extreme.

    2. Would it be best to get rid of Apple AirPort Extreme and get UniFi Enterprise WiFi System UAP-AC-HD Access Point in conjunction with SG-2440?

    If I missed to include any information necessary for the decision I am asking tell me. Thanks



  • For your use case (connecting the automation hubs) you could just get a plain old 100mbit switch and link it up to your existing switch. The bandwidth requirements for smart devices is minuscule, so much so that even a 100mbit switch is an overkill. Your airport extreme would do well in this regard. Just disable its Wifi to avoid interference with your primary access point.

    If you want to go overboard, get a second TP-Link TL-SG108E and connect it to a spare LAN port on your pfsense box and plug all your home automation devices to it.

    An access point with a switch on it will also work. I use this and am impressed with its speed in wifi AC and stability in AP mode: http://www.netgear.co.uk/home/products/networking/wifi-routers/R7800.aspx
    https://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/32958-netgear-r7800-nighthawk-x4s-smart-wifi-gaming-router-reviewed

    Personally I would connect the primary home devices to the switch connected directly to the router with the automation devices connected to either the wifi access point or to a second switch, to reduce the number of hops that my primary devices have to go through to talk to each other and to the router.



  • Primary home devices (NAS, etc) connected to the main smart switch which is connected to the router via trunk port.
    Ubiquiti AP is connected to a main switch via trunk port and configured with multiple SSID/VLANs - family, guests, IoT, etc.
    Automation devices connected to a second cheap switch which is connected to the main switch and assigned a separate VLAN on it.



  • Are you using any of the 'smart' features of the switch?  You could do what I did and just buy another one and link them with a trunk port.  In retrospect I'd rather have a single 16 port (or more) switch but for now it's fine.

    I second the recommendation of the Ubiquiti AP.  Even the AP-AC-LITE is a fine AP and cheap, as long as you don't require blazing throughput (about 2-300Mbps is what I get w/ my Macbook Air, which is the fastest AC device I currently have).  Bonus to the Ubiquiti gear is that you can just add APs (and mix and match models and features) as needed.



  • @whosmatt:

    Are you using any of the 'smart' features of the switch?  You could do what I did and just buy another one and link them with a trunk port.  In retrospect I'd rather have a single 16 port (or more) switch but for now it's fine.

    I second the recommendation of the Ubiquiti AP.  Even the AP-AC-LITE is a fine AP and cheap, as long as you don't require blazing throughput (about 2-300Mbps is what I get w/ my Macbook Air, which is the fastest AC device I currently have).  Bonus to the Ubiquiti gear is that you can just add APs (and mix and match models and features) as needed.

    The AC Lite is OK but there are much better options out there. It is 2x2 which means it is limited to 867mbps in AC mode. My 2014 MacBook pro can do 3x3 wifi AC hence it would be under-utilised by the AC Lite. If I were buying an access point now I'd go for the AC Pro as a minimum (3x3) and ideally for the UAP AC HD which is 4x4 and MU-MIMO enabled to future proof my setup. Alternatively the netgear R7800 router is equally capable (4x4 & MU-MIMO). For info I'm getting about 700mbps real world performance from the netgear on the MBP 2014 and about 800mbps on my MBP 2016. Both sync with the AP at 1300mbps so you really need a 3x3 access point as a minimum if you have 3x3+ capable devices and ideally a 4x4 MU-MIMO to get the most out of your network.



  • Thank you all so very much for all the responses  :) I am sorry for the delay, I have been very busy with my work.

    I have follow up questions just to be very clear on my end.
    For access point it seems that everyones favourite UniFi UAP-AC-HD, so I will get that. Now for the switch. In the past I've been advised on
    CISCO Sg 300-10 10port Gigabit Managed Switch even though I think now 10 ports are not enough for ours needs. How is this switch fares to
    Ubiquiti US-16-150W UniFi Switch?

    Is there any advantage to pair AP with the same brand switch? Or is there any better switch (future-proof) beside those two for our needs (Company and home use).


  • Rebel Alliance Global Moderator

    If your going to go unifi, then go unifi to be honest.  Might as well get their gateway, tied with the gateway and switches and the controller to control/manage them you get DPI into all your network traffic, etc.

    As to spending money on the HD AP.. Do you have wave 2 clients?  Are you getting wave 2 clients anytime soon?  what is your internet speed?  How much data do you move about locally via wifi?  The cost different between a AC Pro and the HD model more than 2x – the HD models are wave 2 AC, while the PRO is just wave 1 AC..  If your not going to be changing clients in the next few years that will support wave 2, and actually have the network to make use of those speeds.. Or are just moving files locally over wifi which seems odd if you have a gig wired network, etc.

    But hey its your money..  I would love to have some HD to play with, but not in the budget currently since don't have any wave 2 clients to take advantage of them, etc.



  • @johnpoz:

    As to spending money on the HD AP.. Do you have wave 2 clients?  Are you getting wave 2 clients anytime soon?  what is your internet speed?  How much data do you move about locally via wifi?  The cost different between a AC Pro and the HD model more than 2x -- the HD models are wave 2 AC, while the PRO is just wave 1 AC..  If your not going to be changing clients in the next few years that will support wave 2, and actually have the network to make use of those speeds.. Or are just moving files locally over wifi which seems odd if you have a gig wired network, etc.

    But hey its your money..  I would love to have some HD to play with, but not in the budget currently since don't have any wave 2 clients to take advantage of them, etc.

    Thanks. Our internet connection is 32/8 now but will be getting fiber this fall or in the spring 2018. Wave 2 clients again no, will be updating our hardware this fall as well with new apple releases, our server is straggling sometimes with HD content.

    Wow, I did not see that coming when you suggest to get UniFi Security Gateway. To be honest I was not aware it was existed in UniFi product line. I like the idea one brand integration but does it compares well to SG-2440 pfSense?