Networking Noob to try UM 450 Router, Needs Advice Before Buying Parts

I wanna try the UM 450 mini router according to Wendell’s guide “Some Off-Label Uses for Small Form Factor Machines” for a new apartment but have minimal networking experience. I tried asking the ISP about it (Frontier) but they were thoroughly unhelpful. I’d appreciate some help finding answers to the following:

  • Will pfSense or OPNsense work with Frontier internet? Sounds like they’ll be running symmetrical fiber into the apartment with an ONT to convert optical to something that can be used by a complementary Eero router. I don’t anticipate needing anything over 2.5gigabit in the foreseeable future. I would really like to avoid using their router if at all possible but don’t want to commit to buying the parts for this if it ain’t gonna work.

  • What kind of switch and access point should I get to go with this setup? I don’t need great wifi and don’t know where to start with a WAP. I would however like to get some decent LAN. Here’s a decent switch that I think would scale well as my knowledge and ambitions grow:
    QNAP QSW-2104-2S-A

  • Is it worth buying ethernet wiring stuff or should I just buy premade cables for now? I have moderate experience soldering from repairing custom analog audio stuff (cables, power supplies, preamps, etc) but my budget is quickly ballooning outside what I can justify and I’m left asking what do I really need for this.

  • Any resources / guides I should look into before embarking on this project? I don’t have much free time, but can occasionally squeeze in 15-30min here or there to learn stuff. Any written / video materials I can delve into that walk through basics / intermediate networking stuff?

You guys are great thanks for all the help so far,

Given your limited time you’re going to spend on this project I’m going to say it’ll probably be a week or probably more like 2 before you get things up and running without prior experience given you’re going to learn as you go. You may see limited success with the UM 450 since it very likely uses Realtek NIC and I’m not sure how you’re going to work around one NIC except for VLAN or using a USB dongle (not really recommended)? pf/OPNsense with work just fine however if your ISP supports bridge mode and/or just use a plain media converter, if NAT is enforced you might not want to add another firewall/router at all. The QNAP will work however it won’t support VLANs which is fine for a home network however if you own a tin foil hat you probably want to consider a switch that supports VLAN so you can segregate your network. Premade cables are fine and probably of better quality (if you look at Cat 6A and better at least) however the connector is rather bulky so not ideal if you plan to cable installs in walls. Given the limited time you’re able to spare I’d honestly recommend that you either outsource the work or just go with your ISPs hardware.

you’re in for quite a ride, start here, after about 5-10 hours, see example ebay listings below:

Don’t get the um450 for your first DIY router (waste of money), get something like this below, and spend the money on fancy network cards and switches:

option 1:


option 2 (if you want to do 10 gig):

just buy premade from from monoprice or … you’ll know when it’s time to crimp your own - there’s no soldering needed. (rj45 crimp tool and a basic led tester will get you far for $20-$30 bucks total, but why bother if you don’t have to)

cat6 or cat6a utp cable is all you need.

Diizzy thanks for the tips. I’ll probably reuse an old router or just use the given one for the time being, working towards a pf/OPNsense as I learn more. I may get a switch that supports VLAN if I can find some around the same price point, but I’m not particularly paranoid and am mostly working up networking skills so I can avoid the manufactured ewaste or “everything as a subscription” model.

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risk this series looks awesome thanks for linking. You’re probably right, once I understand a little more about what I need I’ll do some shopping around for used / refurbed hardware. The price point of the um450 seemed high for my use case but I was unsure if anything less would be performant enough for 2.5gig, but if you think that HP EliteDesk 800 would suffice I’m probably just stressing out about computational horsepower because I don’t know enough about it yet. Sounds like once I own my own place it may be worthwhile to invest in crimping stuff but especially if I’m trying to just get my shit up and running buying premade is one less thing to worry about and not that much more expensive overall.

Crimping network stuff is not hard, but isn’t really all that glamourous either, you might need another simple $10-15 tool if you want to “punch down keystone jacks”. It can get fiddly if you don’t do it often, but it’s still easier than e.g. wiring a wall socket, or wiring a doorbell.

If you don’t mind leaving a small loop on either end of the cable, and you’re living in a place in the world where Amazon deliveries under 5 days are a realistic option or you have a local store that’s not ripping people off, then pre-made is the way to go.

If, on the other hand, you’re in some places in South America, Asia, Africa non-EU Europe, … getting a 305m box of cable from a big box store or a big box network vendor and some tools is probably the way to go, … on the account that waiting a week or more every time you need a decent quality decently priced cable is probably infuriating.

Also, (I may be dating myself here) but in those cases, among your real world friends and family, there’s probably someone who’ll want/need an ethernet cable at some point and you can help them out.

Re VLAN switches, lots of folks on these forums, at home, use Ubiquiti, Mikrotik, TP-Link and apparently also Engenius… , usually alongside their WiFi access points, but lots of folks mix and match too.