Help me gut-check my new home network

I am moving into a new house in a month, and along with the house, I have convinced my wife that we need a new network, top to bottom. I think that I have picked good stuff, and that it is semi-cost effective, but I’m just looking for a gut check (or critical advice).

Relevant house/internet information:

  • Comcast Gigabit internet
  • House is a 2-Story with a basement
  • Lot is 1/2 acre
  • 6 Ethernet ports scattered around the house (Cat-6), at least 6 more planned when basement is finished
  • Once all the computers and smart things are in the house, I expect to see ~25 devices on the network.
  • Of those devices, I expect 2-3 to be streaming YouTube or Netflix at peak times, and at least one stream happening all the time.
  • My budget is about $1000, but I have some flexibility if I can justify it. If I can go under… that would be nice.

I am hoping to get Wifi across the entire property (and everywhere in the house, of course).

Current purchase list:

  • Unifi AP-AC-PRO, mounted to the ceiling in the central hallway on the top floor
  • Arris SB8200 modem
  • UniFi Switch (24 port w/POE for AP)
  • Small APU-based board for a PFSense router (BIOSTAR A68N-5600, w/ Intel E1G44HTBLK, RAM, HDD & etc is just what I have lying around)

Things I am considering:

  • Is the Ubiquiti switch worth it? It is a premium above other managed switches with PoE, but the ability to manage it plus my AP in one interface is appealing…
  • Do I need more APs? In particular, I am considering putting one on the outside of my house so I can guarantee WiFi across my yard.
  • If needed, I was also thinking about one of those Ubiquiti in-wall APs on the main floor to shore up WiFi on the main floor of the house.

Any advice or recommendations is welcome.

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Arris 8200 is not a puma6 by any chance - avoid puma6

IMHO, no. You’re planning <5 APs, 24 POE is overkill. Ubiquiti has an 8 port gigabit with 4 POE ports but that’s too few ports for your home, you’d need a secondary switch.

Consider this one instead, for your central switch::

That one I like because of 4x 10Gbps ports you can hookup your NAS/Server/pfSense/virtualized thing to 10G ports, and you can get a 10G copper SFP+ transceiver for your workstation if you want to do 10G over cat6.

I’m thinking, instead of a uap ac pro, get a pair of uap nano hd , they’re faster than pro, (e.g. 500Mbps+ on an iPhone kind of fast)

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Agree with @risk about everything above, but would add that I’d be careful with this:

10G SFP+ transceivers have low power output and are technically out of 10GBASE-T spec. That combined with CAT6 not technically being in the 10GBASE-T spec either could cause you problems unless the run is very short. 10G SFP+ transceivers also tend to be expensive.

These are $65 and they work at 30m distance:

They can do 5Gbps at 100m …

No, the Arris is not a Puma6; this one also seems to have 2 ports and purportedly can do link aggregation. Was nech and neck with a Linksys I saw thats also DOCSIS 3.1.

I was looking at alternatives that had no PoE and just using an injector, but I admit I am easily swayed by pretty UIs like their UniFi… I am leaning away from that because then I have room to get a proper rack and cases to rackmount the router box and the home server box.

Had no idea there was a 10G copper SFP Transceiver… I like the way you think!

Thanks for the help/advice!

The run is fairly short; probably like 30 feet. Straight up from the basement to my lair^H^H^H^H office. Might be worth a try…

Yes, I have one of these on an ~100’ CAT6A line. The throughput is slightly degraded compared to the CAT6A lines that run RJ45-RJ45 and for whatever reason, jumbo frames don’t work.

That will probably be ok, but it would still be better and cheaper to just run SFP+ if possible.

its a little late now, the walls are sealed up and painted. Maybe once I get to finishing the basement?

Thanks for the advice, Ill be building it out with these plans in the future.

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If it’s a straight and easy run, an extra actual fiber might be nice, you could even make it 40G/28G/56G depending on what nics you come up with from some random datacenter surplus down the road. (Thinking about a direct connection using a pair of nics, one in each machine).


@risk @oO.o

How far is it worth going down the SFP route? I mean if its 10GBASE-T, would it be worth putting the home server on that at least, even if everything else is wireless or CAT 6 wired in? Any recommended SFP NICs?

I do plan to get SFP up to my office at some point too, you have convinced me. Now I have to convince my wife that I need to poke holes in our brand new pristine house…

Also, part of the point of this is to teach myself more professional-level networking skills - as a software engineer I have become too used to tossing these problems over to the ops team and I need to fix that. Got any good resources to get me up and running fast?

10GBASE-T is technically the 10GbE standard for data transmission across CAT6A cable with RJ45 terminations (although it anecdotally works with CAT6 cable up to 30m).

10GbE over multimode fiber or DAC cables with SFP+ terminations is called 10GBASE-SR.

Used Mellanox ConnectX-2’s are a good value sweet spot right now. Lots of them on e-bay for under $20. I haven’t had any cable-compatibility issues with them, which can be an issue (mostly with Cisco and Intel NIC’s I think).

I use this cheap fiber cable from Amazon and have never had an issue with it. It is thin, light and flexible for a fiber optic cable. It also can carry a 40Gb signal for future upgrades.

Make sure it’s SFP+. SFP is not 10Gb.

I went through Cisco Academy a long time ago (had a CCNA for a few years). It wasn’t fast (took 9 months), but it was comprehensive. Otherwise, just study the OSI model and TCP/IP stack.

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SFP+ is ideal for enthusiasts/folks who want a little bit extra out of their network; not exactly plug and play but cheap and useful when running a local file server.

Turns out that in Telco and datacenter land, distances are greater, data rates on ports are higher, the utilization of each data port is greater and it’s worth spending more money per port when compared to residential and soho.

This means they can swallow less standardization and are willing to accept many standards for connectivity.

For example there’s 10GBASE-T for soho residential, but for fiber optic Telco and DC networking there’s like 50 different ways you could do 10gigs over fiber. To enable interoperability of devices on the market, the vendors of switches ganged up and creates a spec where electronics and logic of the port is separate from the radio/laser of the port that you can then swap/mix and match things. Basically you’d agree what to put on the wire to be the compatible with what the other company is running on their side of the wire. (Basic protocol / wavelength / power / that kind of stuff).

SFP/SFP+/QSFP+/… are standards that define the data rates(1G/10G/40G), the shape and pinout of the connector for the radio/laser , the power that can be delivered to the radio/laser module, etc…

For patching things within a rack, or in adjacent racks you can wire up SFP* ports directly using passive twinax cables, but that becomes expensive at long distances, so usually people tend switch to fiber fairly quickly.

Turns out for 10Gbps, it takes about the same power to signal a laser that’ll reach 80km (10GBASE-ZR), as it does to drive signal down the copper wire for 30m; and so SFP+ spec doesn’t allow RJ45 modules to go up to full power needed. (Not exactly advertising, have a look at prices of some of these modules and prices of cable at ; they tend to be indicative of which market segment is deploying what tech)

There’s 10GBASE-T switches around, but they’re more expensive than SFP+ switches or hybrid RJ45/SFP+ . This is because in datacenter and telco land, 10Gbps links have come and gone.

Typically in Telco/DC 40G/100G are in use today and 200G/400G are what folks are playing with (still cost prohibitive at scale to deploy at fabric scale). This means there’s literally no r&d cost left to pay for SFP+ and there’s plenty of DC/Telco stock and surplus and there’s branch office market still stuck at 1Gbps mostly - ideal sweet spot for enthusiasts.

Some people are building $250 ryzen 3 boxes - don’t spend too much money on that biostar board.

If you’re going to run new cables, why not run some multimode fibre and just use short range multi-mode optics in your SFP slots?