Forty days with the AmpliFi Home WiFi router (finishing initial review)
I’d done a partial review of the AmpliFi Home WiFi router back in August after setting it as my home router, and after throwing over a terabyte of data transfer over our VPN and several hundred gigabyte WiFi camera streaming.
TL;DR version – I have some issues which I’m going to detail in the next thousand words, but the hardware is great an I expect these issues to be ironed out at some point shortly.
I had one incident in the first four days where WiFi downed, rebooting didn’t solve it instantly, and I rebooted the webcams on a hunch that the cheapest WiFi device might be causing issues. I never had any instance after that where I had any WiFi connectivity issue.
I had replaced a couple of WiFi routers with one AmpliFi and two bunny ear repeater/mesh points and got whole household coverage.
I attempted to get a WiFi speed test and a LAN speed test on my network from every point so I could give some hard metrics, however once anything touches my network I’m seeing speeds of about 360mbit. I was able to fix things by disabling WiFi, but I’m of the impression that I’ve got some cheap piece of equipment hanging out in the WiFi zone that’s screwing it up for everyone as similar things happened with a different router.
Let me stress – I am of the belief that it’s unrelated to the AmpliFi and more related to cheapest bidder devices I’ve got attached.
I’ve been told hardcoded jumbo frames, a bad wire, or just the house being possessed by demons are the likely causes. So I decided I’d generalize and just write about what WiFi became in my house now that I wasn’t hopping between two routers on different floors.
As an internet providing WiFi this thing worked fine. Full speeds (260mb) from the internet with 30+ mb up which is what I wanted. For WiFi 360 mbit (max I could ever get on my network with WiFi on,) covered streaming UHD video stored on my computer (80 gigabyte UHD, not that 5 gig garbage you kids call UHD).
I started seeing speeds dropping to about 66% when I got to the extreme range of my house with a rabbit ear mesh point in between me and the main router. My guess is I could probably change the orientation a tad and squeak some more bandwidth out, but due to plugs, furniture, everything I’m going to say it appears that every part of my house can get at least 66% of the speed.
My house has plaster walls, wiring that holds the plaster up and acts as a Faraday cage. In the past I’ve had to run Ethernet cables from floor to floor in order to get internet one room from the base routers. I didn’t with the AmpliFi home, however it should be noted without the two additional rabbit ears/mesh points that I was not exactly seeing distance beyond a standard router.
The AmpliFi Home was less good at penetrating plaster and bricks and security door than my previous router to provide internet on the back porch. Not been a huge issue really, but my Trendnet managed to do about six more feet. This may have been more due to the positioning of the Trendnet router on the second floor however.
There are some serious issues at the moment that make me increasingly leery of recommending this wholeheartedly. The first is that the setup is next to entirely app based. If your phone isn’t there, configuring anything past whether the router is on DHCP or static is impossible.
A good example of the above is I had to set up an FTP route and I was at work, the Home was conveniently at home. I could remote desktop into my computer but without an Android or iOS device there that was pretty much it. Had to go home to set up the forward.
The next big issue is the firmware is incomplete. It does not support IPv6, which is top of their list for a future addition, but this means the router as it stands is two years obsolete. I do not have a huge issue with that it’s coming, but this does mean that I cannot consider this a complete router. I need IPv6 and so will you some day.
Another issue I ran into is that the bandwidth steering function doesn’t appear to function properly. If you’re not familiar with bandwidth steering, it’s where your device sees an SSID, connects, and then is steered toward the best channel and gHz (2.4 or 5).
I’ve found quite often as opposed to sitting in a channel in the hundreds on 5ghz where I get all the bandwidth I could expect, I’m sitting on channel 1 at 2.4ghz and seeing 3-4mbit upload speeds. What I believe is happening is I’m occasionally picking up one of the mesh points and sticking with it like a huggy toddler even when I end up next to the main access point.
What this entails is my phone shouting upstairs or through a wall to a mesh point, then that mesh point talking to the main router. A game of telephone through multiple walls if you will.
There’s also the mysterious USB port. Other routers I’ve played with do things like set up media servers run off of a USB stick, or allow you to run a NAS without any setup woes. This one does nothing at the moment.
The one real annoyance I have with this is that data counters are lost after a firmware update, so if you’re metered and update your firmware, forget about knowing where you’re at for the month.
This is all correctable
A firmware update will solve the bandwidth steering, the web interface, the NAS, etc. I don’t doubt that the hardware is capable, but it does start to worry me how much is not yet complete as this device is in market at the moment.
It requires a lot of trust as an IT tech to say that a company is going to follow through with their promise and get this amazing piece of hardware a set of amazing software that will make it purr.
Should I trust them?
Yes. AmpliFi is Ubiquiti. They’ll get there. Even though I’m not particularly pleased with some of the current limitations and lack of features, the hardware is excellent, the features are coming.
Why are you re-reviewing this?
I agreed to do an AmlpiFi HD review. I’m putting the regular one in a box for a while.
You can grab an AmpliFi Home, LR, or HD from the manufacturer.