Help Router Experts! - I'm after a Specific Router Recommendation

Hi it's time to replace the router, and after a couple of hours reading about the choices, well I'm still not clear and wanted to ask some help and opinions from people who've been through the router replacement process recently and understand the choices on the market these now.

I have a smallish detached house with light usage, and I'm looking to spend probably under $200 bucks. I would prefer just a single router not a mesh, to keep radiation down and as my house is smallish should be fine with one good router, my current tp-link archer something has been fine so far usually, except sometimes flakey with dropouts or lower than usual speeds, which might be my isp or router.

I'm getting the internet into it by just plugging in the cable from the NBN box, in other words I don't need a modem, just a wireless router.

I want

  • a quality product that will work well without problems
  • white in colour to match my home
  • ideally stylish looks but as long as it's white it's okay
  • mid level performance, 867 Mb or higher on 5Ghz .. it's also nice if it's even faster
  • good control options, such as guest network, mac blacklisting, usage monitoring etc

I don't want

  • any app to configure it - i just want to login to a web page on the router
  • any cloud connected features, no alexa, no virus scanning from the cloud, no user account with the router company and no cloud features at all
  • a chinese router such a xiaomi etc, or a entry level brand

I've considered

Ubiquitu Unifi LITE-6 .. but it seems it has an app to control it, maybe cloud stuff and is a mesh system .. I like the visual style of this being unobtrusive

TP-Link Deco AC2200 .. similar issues to the ubiquiti

TP-Link Deco AC1200 .. might be good for my criteria?

Wavlink 1200 from here - https://www.amazon.com.au/WAVLINK-1200Mbps-Router-AC1200-Wir...
this wavlink actually seems pretty good for what i'm after but I would prefer a top tier brand if possible

TP-Link Archer C60 - https://www.amazon.com.au/TP-Link-Archer-C60-TP-link-Routers...

Seems to be too may TP-Links .. I'd possibly prefer ASUS or some other higher end brand?

Can anybody suggest good matches please, and also the reasons why you recommend a particular router? Thank you 😊

Thanks to everyone for their inputs and ideas!

Comments

  • +1

    Since you're prioritising looks over performance, as odd as that may be, you can get the best of both worlds with the Ubiquiti Unifi AP series.

    https://www.ui.com/unifi/unifi-ap/

    • Do you know if its possible to use that without using any cloud or app?

      I don't use/really minimize apps on my phone, just webpages preferrably. Also don't want the router to support being accessed from the cloud, by me or anyone else..

      • +1

        Yes, the AP series is setup via browser as you requested. I've used them for years.

        The UniFi® Controller software is bundled with the UniFi AP hardware at no extra charge — no separate software, licensing or support fee.

        • Ah this line has me worried "A single UniFi Controller running in the cloud" as it indicates it has cloud integrations - but can you disable them?

          • @bono: Haven't tried as it's one of those 'setup and leave alone' things but seems so: https://community.ui.com/questions/Disabling-cloud-access-on...

            Your posts are raising major paranoia flags. It's great to be cautious and considerate of these things but to a point. Webpages with all their tracking elements, cookies and referrals etc are no less nefarious than apps and cloud data by the way.

            • @Hybroid:

              Your posts are raising major paranoia flags. It's great to be cautious and considerate of these things but to a point.

              Not necessarily paranoia. I read a bit into Home Automation stuff and the amount of cloud services that get dropped, cancelled, changed is surprising.

              Would you be happy buying this router with "The UniFi® Controller software is bundled with the UniFi AP hardware at no extra charge — no separate software, licensing or support fee." and then finding out 3 years later that Ubiquiti have decided it's no longer viable to provide the software at no charge, and that if you would like to continue using the software it'll be $x per month?

              I wouldn't. And there have been lots of cases of this sort of behaviour in recent years. Wyze and SONOS are two recent ones that come to mind. I worry TP-Link may end up changing things with their Kasa products in the near future.

              If your device depends on the cloud, then you're at the whim of the provider to continue getting that service, which for some products means you're at the whim of the provider for your product to keep working.

            • @Hybroid: @Hybroid Thanks for your notes on the unifi, much appreciated and I rally do like the unifi will investigate it more!

              As for threat model of a router phoning home, it's a different sort of access to web pages. A web page can't read the files on your computer generally, whereas a router is on the network and can read e.g. file shares, do port scans etc. Web pages are sandboxed to reduce their access, however exes are not, and phone apps are sandboxed but in practise not effectively there's so many cases of apps exfiltrating data.

              So web interfaces are by far the safest, especially if you can secure your system. Have a look at e.g. uMatrix as an example of one way to help securing web access.

              Did you know it's not paranoia if they really are out to get your data? So many companies, government and criminals etc have been proven to be doing exactly that! Paranoia is fear of imagined but not real threats, but these are real threats so perhaps you really meant over-cautious?

              Yet I can't agree, I think your attitude is under cautious, for my needs anyway, but I completely understand the point of view of giving up and just expecting all your data to be accessible and shared across the internet, it's just not my point of view! Chandler replied with one of other reasons I make the kind of requirements I do for now cloud, and other reasons are along the themes of security, simplicity, and reliability/resilience, and long term time savings. Different strokes and all that but felt pretty strange to have careful considerate protection of my data, time, uptime and life simplicity called 'major flags of paranoia'.

              So I think these careful steps are just well informed on current internet security landscape. My next door neighbour was hacked twice in three weeks recently (once facebook, once rootkit on his pc), and data encryption ransoms, identity theft and many other risks are sadly very real these days.

            • @Hybroid: Webpages are a lot less of a threat than programs running on a system or network hardware spying on you!

              Hell, Ubiquiti is a bad actor in that regard! https://www.theregister.com/2020/01/29/ubiquiti_data_collect...

              • @Namesareapain: This is why I love the ozbargain community, so much knowledge and insight! Thank you. Was about to buy the unifi till I saw your post.

          • @bono: Yes it's your choice to keep grant cloud access or keep it local

        • +1

          Yes, the Ubiquiti Unifi AP is setup in the browser, but it requires you to install a controller software on your PC. Also the Unifi AP has no routing functions, only Wifi, so you will need another router to use it. I suggest keeping your current router and connecting the Unifi AP to a lan port. In my experience the wifi is fast and stable, and there are lots of management features (blacklisring, guest network, usage and signal strength per client, can also limit wifi speed of a client if you want). I have a Unifi AP LR and a Unifi AP Pro and would recommend the LR version for your budget.

          • +1

            @AwesomeAndrew:

            I suggest keeping your current router and connecting the Unifi AP to a lan port. In my experience the wifi is fast and stable

            I did exactly this.

            One thing a lot of people don't realise is that all these networking devices are literally mini computers running specialised software on (sometimes) specialised hardware.

            You can get your combo device (i.e. your old ISP provided modem/router/wireless AP), but it's using its resources to do all these jobs (poorly in a lot of cases).

            This happened to me - ISP device's wireless wasn't performant enough for me, so I plugged a Unifi AP (UAP-AC-LITE) into it - fantastic.

            I've since switched to NBN and got a USG as my router with the UAP plugged into it.

          • @AwesomeAndrew: Thanks Awesome!

            Is it possible to run it without that controller software? Is there any limitation in doing so? Haven't got a new wifi router for about 5 years, but all the many I used previously were able to do whatever needed doing just from the admin website, and I can't see any reason that the Unifi would not be able to do so either. That doesn't mean they didn't make it require the software, just they didn't need to. So I'm wondering if I can use it without running their controller software, and what I might lose by just using the admin website only, if that's even possible?

            • @bono: The admin website is generated by the controller software. It is possible to install the software to set up the access point and then close it, but you will lose the ability to make any changes to the settings or access the web interface until the software is opened. Also you will miss out on the realtime analytics (realtime monitoring). If you don't trust the software, you can always run it in a virtual machine.

  • +1

    Ubiquiti Unifi stuff is your best bet. Enterprise and prosumer grade hardware coupled with the white-Apple—chic-minimalist aesthetic you are going for.

    Wavlink has backdoors built right into the firmware so I think you can scratch that brand off the list.

    • Thank you, that's definitely off the list omg

  • unifi routers look nice and have a nice interface but they are lacking features and I would avoid them unless you really know what you are doing. I have one in my drawer waiting for a software upgrade to give it the same features as my Asus, but that will never happen.
    I also run the unifi AP's and they are good. You probably only need one.

    Have you done a wireless survey of your house? You might be getting wireless interference.

    • What features are Unifi routers lacking?

      • mainly realtime reporting of device downloads/uploads. To me this is critical in troubleshooting. So if your streaming movies are buffering or game lagging, is it due to another device in the background hogging your bandwidth, or another issue? You cannot tell with unifi as they don't allow you to see in real time what device is interacting with the internet. That is fine if you don't have kids or family, and don't run any windows or apple devices that randomly decide to grab a large update. Or a cloud backup etc. And you can rely on your internet to never go down. None of these apply to me.

        I run my asus router without wireless, even though it is fine for that, and have wireless run by several unifi AP's as I live in acreage and need the coverage. But I also have a sever on 24/7 so I can have the app running on that at all times.
        If I was just in a house I would get this: https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/598949. But it is black, more than you want to pay and doesn't have wireless 6.

        It shows each device and their realtime usage, and it easily as powerful as I will ever need. I run its smaller older brother the AC68U which has the same features, but getting old.

        • +1

          The Unifi Controller shows each device's realtime usage just fine. In the old version of the Clients page, it shows each devices realtime activity (updates every 10 seconds) using a bar. In the new version (enable this under "settings, user interface, new clients" or "settings, system settings, new clients") you can see each clients realtime activity in bps, kbps or mbps. Maybe you missed it?

          • @AwesomeAndrew: Missed it, no, just wasn't mislead by dodgy data reporting.
            I had an issue where my unifi USG would show d/l's of my devices on a nice page, like you probably see. Then when I checked the actual client (which measures the d/l speed) it was completely different. The client was clearly correct as you could time the d/l and it matched the reported speed.

            I documented inconsistencies with screenshots and posted several threads on the unifi forums, and didn't get an official response from unifi. However I got a few from other users who told me:
            It was a known issue which cannot be fixed on unifi (but doesn't exist on edgerouters which use different architecture)
            Unifi don't actually promote that feature, even thought it "appears" to be working from the data you can see.

            From what I have read, the latest unifi stuff uses the same architecture as the USG, so it isn't fixed.

            If you look around on the web you will find that most pro's do not recommend the Unifi router for home users. I agree.

            So unless there has been a major change, what you see on the unifi page showing realtime client d/l and u/l speed is complete and utter BS (although if you average it out over hours/days it will apparently match). That is why my unifi router is in the drawer and I bought an Asus.

            Of course if you can find a firmware update from Unifi that documents a fix, I am all ears. But everything I have hears suggests the problem is at a hardware level not a software level.
            Oh, and for certain tasks, you still need to use the cli and mess around with json (text based config) files.

            I am not a unifi hater, have their AP's which are good, and their cams which are ok (but support is being dropped). It is not consumer stuff no matter how they market it.
            But it is pretty.

  • -1

    to keep radiation down

    So you're after poor or no wifi then, in your Faraday cage house?

      • +4

        On the other hand I know someone that had brain cancer from early mobile phones,

        No you don't….
        You know someone with brain cancer that also used a mobile phone
        You also likely know many others mobile phone users without brain cancer

        And wifi 'radiation' doesn't get 'too much' when you're talking a basic home router.
        You get more radiation walking to your letter box

        • -1

          Thanks for your valuable input.

          https://quoteinvestigator.com/2019/02/19/fool/

          • @bono: No problem at all.
            I don't mind helping those uneducated about basic technology or lack of scientific understanding.

            My mother in law is the same…she also collects crystals. You two would probably get along…

  • For starters you have to work out if the problem is the router or the NBN side of things. Is your NBN FTTC, FTTP or HFC?

    Wifi is non ionizing. Turn down the Unifi AC Lite or Unifi 6 Lite TX power if you really must. A single AP is just that - a wireless access point and it is not a mesh network. Using 2 or more APs over a wireless connection is a mesh network. As others have pointed out you need a router paired with the AP.

    TP-Link Deco doesn't fit the bill. There is an app for configuration and control. You know you have been using a Chinese TP-Link router this whole time right?

    What about the Asus Blue Cave?

    • It's FTTP, with a NBN Co. modem terminating box with ethernet output. So I think I only need a AP and not a router. Why would I need a router if I have ethernet in from the NBN box?

      It's time to upgrade the current router/ap anyway as it's 5 years or so old, so when thats done it should confirm whether it was the router or if issues remain it's the NBN. I didn't realise TP-Link is Chinese so now I know that's just another reason to move to a different router but if it has been phoning home well cat's already out of the bag with all my data then :o(

      I don't mind the look of Blue Cave, but most reports said it's mediocre as an actual access point. However maybe worth investigating deeper. I'm considering the Unifi 6 Lite and will investigate if I can disable the app and cloud features so it's locked down to be only accessible from within my home on it's home network, then it would be okay for me. Hybroid confirmed it can be configured via web interface.

      • Nah you have to use a router and AP. You are looking at an extra $169 for a Ubiquiti USG. All the NBN FTTP connection box is doing is converting Fibre to Ethernet and is not a router.

        It is more likely to be the router than the NBN side of things.

        Asus Blue Cave is their only white router under $200 and is suitable for light use.

        You can configure and control Unifi just from the web interface and the app and cloud features are optional.

      • +1

        Why would I need a router if I have ethernet in from the NBN box?

        The RJ45 jack on the nbn NTD resides on the WAN, and so you need a router to route packets between your LAN and the WAN via NAT/NAPT. You don't need a router if you intend to connect only one IP device to the jack.

      • Blue Cave works well for me as my only router. Web interface is pretty good, the range is excellent and it goes through my double brick walls easily. Looks great too, although I actually keep it in a cupboard and it still works well.

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