Hey @wendell in light of your recent review of the ASROCK router, I was curious if you have ever heard of Mikrotik, or used any of their networking equipment. I have been using their Routerboard line of routers as a reliable and inexpensive solution for home networking, and the few small servers I run on my personal VM host machine.
If you haven't heard of them, I would encourage you check them out and would love to hear your feedback, or possibly even a review.
They have some pre-enclosed solutions, as well as a number of higher-end solutions that just come as a bare circuit-board requiring an enclosure (or not... depending on how daring you are).
The idea was to have wireless access across the entire campus using Ubiquity Unifi PoE AP's that created one massive network connected to the internet via fibre. Each building had an AP in every classroom leading to one switch that then connected to the server/firewall room via fibre.
To be honest, at the time (and even now) my networking knowledge was pretty limited, but I was able to set them up with very little training/instruction and they fit the budget pretty well. As far as I know nothing has failed yet and the setup is a bit overkill for what they needed.
I'd also like to know @wendell's opinion on these.
Before I got my current job (which actually utilizes my degree) I was working for a small IT company in my home town as well. We rather unexpectedly stumbled upon the Mikrotik company, and I convinced the owner to let me get a few and benchmark them compared to consumer routers. After developing a few basic usage scenario tests, I established that they are remarkably good quality for the price, beat the pants off almost every $100-$150 router I compared them too. And the performance of just the consumer model I was testing competed with the Cisco routers we were using for small business setups (which ran somewhere around $300 or so). Not to mention, the RouterOS that is used on the Mikrotiks is essentially just Linux optimized to act as a router on lightweight computer hardware, so you can configure it to do just about any networking scheme you can imagine (like the chained AP linking you mentioned). And they have hardware designed for pretty much every application you can imagine.
I also, just for fun, installed the RouterOS (with the basic free license) on an old used computer we had in the shop (some quad core Intel system circa 2009-ish with dual NICs). The throughput and load handling on that was hilariously good... sometimes performance benchmark escapades can be rather entertaining.
Anyway, thanks for the reply, let's hope @wendell notices our thread here and throws in his own thoughts : )