A couple of weeks in the past, Ubiquiti unveiled the UniFi Dream Machine, an all-in-one networking system that for $299 combines a router, a swap with 4 Ethernet ports and a Wi-Fi entry level. It has what Ubiquiti calls an built-in cloud key that allows you to management your community.
I’ve been utilizing the UniFi Dream Machine on my house community for the previous couple of weeks, so contemplate this a assessment of the system.
Ubiquiti is a widely known networking model. Most persons are accustomed to the corporate’s entry factors — these rounded antennas that yow will discover round faculties, firms and public areas.
But the upfront funding has all the time been a bit steep for private use circumstances and even small firms. The UniFi Dream Machine sits completely in between skilled gear and shopper gadgets. It represents an enormous improve in case you’re utilizing the router with Wi-Fi capabilities supplied by your web service supplier.
Rebundling UniFi gadgets
Ubiquiti has a spread of routers underneath the AmpliFi model for shoppers who’re on the lookout for a plug-and-play answer. The firm lately introduced a brand new system with nice specs in case you don’t wish to fiddle with networking settings.
But in case you’re studying this, likelihood is you already know that UniFi merchandise supply some customizations that you simply suppose are missing in shopper merchandise.
Switching from an all-in-one networking system to a UniFi system has all the time been a bit sophisticated. The firm has damaged down the networking stack into totally different gadgets to give you extra management.
It implies that it’s a must to purchase a Security Gateway (a router, the “brain” of the community), a swap (identical to an influence strip, however for Ethernet ports) and an entry level (a Wi-Fi antenna). On prime of that, a UniFi cloud secret’s a necessary purchase if you wish to handle your community with the corporate’s controller software program.
If you’re dedicated to the UniFi ecosystem, you get an amazing expertise. You can handle every Ethernet port in your swap individually, you’ll be able to management Wi-Fi settings from wherever on this planet and plenty of, many extra issues. Ars Technica’s Lee Hutchinson fell down the UniFi rabbit gap and wrote an amazing story about his expertise working skilled networking gear at house.
The UniFi Dream Machine takes a unique strategy. It rebundles all of the separate items that make a UniFi community come to life. You should buy the $300 UniFi Dream Machine and management each little element of your community.
A couple of phrases on the specs of the UniFi Dream Machine. The pill-shaped system has an built-in safety gateway, which helps you to run a DHCP server, create firewall insurance policies, reap the benefits of a number of VLANs and extra.
In addition to the WAN port to attach your system to the web, there are 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports. As for Wi-Fi, the Dream Machine helps 802.11ac Wave 2 (“Wi-Fi 5”) with a 4×4 MU-MIMO antenna — no Wi-Fi 6, sadly.
Behind the scene, the system makes use of a 1.7GHz ARM Cortex-A57 processor. It has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage and consumes as much as 26W.
Using the Dream Machine
Setting up the UniFi Dream Machine is a good expertise. Ideally, you wish to plug an Ethernet cable in your ISP-provided router and put it in bridge mode. This means, it’ll act as a dumb modem and let the UniFi Dream Machine do all of the laborious work.
After downloading the cellular app and turning on the UniFi Dream Machine, you get a popup that mimics the pairing popup of the AirPods. You can then management your community from that cellular app or use an internet browser in your pc.
This is when it will get attention-grabbing.
UniFi’s controller software program often lists all of the UniFi gadgets at present working in your community. With the UniFi Dream Machine, you get a single system. But in case you increase that system, you’ll be able to see an inventory of three separate UniFi elements — a gateway, a swap and an AP.
As anticipated, you’ll be able to management each little element of your community. Once once more, this isn’t for everybody and you’ll have to study quite a lot of issues about networking with a purpose to optimize your setup. But in case you’re a digital tinkerer, it’s a breath of contemporary air.
The UniFi Dream Machine acts because the DHCP server in my house. I’ve renamed my gadgets and assigned fastened IPs to all my gadgets with a purpose to discover them extra simply. You can see in actual time the community they’re utilizing and in the event that they’re getting a great Wi-Fi sign.
I’ve additionally configured Cloudflare’s 220.127.116.11 public DNS on the community degree.
There are a ton of potentialities in case you care about safety. I created a visitor Wi-Fi community that solely lets my buddies entry the web. They can browse Twitter and stream Netflix reveals with none difficulty, however they will’t entry my computer systems on the native community.
I additionally created one other Wi-Fi community for IoT gadgets, resembling related audio system, a printer and a robotic vacuum. Connected gadgets don’t get quite a lot of safety patches and have extra vulnerabilities than a pc or a smartphone that you simply preserve up-to-date. I assigned a unique VLAN to this Wi-Fi community. VLANs allow you to create a partitioned community with totally different units of guidelines.
I utilized firewall guidelines to this VLAN in order that I can management the gadgets from my private gadgets, however they will’t provoke requests to my gadgets on their very own. This is overkill for most individuals, nevertheless it’s enjoyable that you are able to do that from UniFi’s controller. More particulars right here.
When it involves Wi-Fi, every thing is customizable and performances have been stellar. I reside in a small residence, however the balcony has all the time been a problem. I usually work from the balcony, and I’ve been utilizing an affordable Wi-Fi extender that I discovered in a field of devices and cables.
I unplugged the Wi-Fi extender and tried to hook up with the UniFi Dream Machine. I get higher efficiency, even when I cut back Wi-Fi transmit energy to medium.
These are only a few examples of issues you are able to do with the UniFi Dream Machine. I really feel like I’m nonetheless underusing the system (you’ll be able to join by way of SSH and management every thing from the terminal), however I wouldn’t contemplate going again to an entry-level router with Wi-Fi capabilities.
The UniFi Dream Machine is the networking system I didn’t know I needed. I’ll by no means have lots of of Wi-Fi gadgets related to my house community. I don’t want a dozen Ethernet ports. And but, I wish to be in charge of my community. If you miss Apple’s AirPort Extreme or in case you’re a networking nerd, it’s best to contemplate the UniFi Dream Machine.
Small companies and retailers usually make some poor selections firstly of the corporate. An affordable Wi-Fi router on Amazon doesn’t lower it when your online business scales. The Dream Machine generally is a good entry level, as you’ll have the ability to construct upon that base system.
But in case you suppose you may have larger wants, don’t attempt to run an enormous community from a UniFi Dream Machine. Ubiquiti sells some nice rackable gadgets that will provide you with much more flexibility. The UniFi Dream Machine is a constrained machine in any case. That’s what makes it each not ok for enterprise prospects and nice for prosumers.