Review: Ubiquiti Networks EdgeRouter Lite

Earlier this year I started to have problems with my Internet connection. As most people do, I blamed my cable company. I filed a trouble ticket and a technician came out. He checked the signals, replaced a few connectors and called it good. After he came out, I still experienced blips where I completely lost connectivity for up to 30 seconds. The tech suggested I try replacing my router. As I’ve never had problems with Apple routers (I have a Time Capsule), I basically said “whatever”.

While I still wanted to blame the cable company, I went ahead and order a TP-Link Archer 8 router from Costco.com to give it a whirl. The router was easy to setup and I had it running for a week. After about a week, the web UI stopped responding and required a reboot; support had no idea why and just suggested I reboot the router when it happened. I didn’t like that answer as I like routers to just work, so I returned it to Costco. (Another issue I had with it is that it had an on/off switch; there doesn’t need to be a power switch on a router.) Other than the web UI not responding, it seemed to work well for the week I used it.

I decided to take a stab at another router; this one was a Netgear router that I bought at the Costco store. Configuration was easy (and it did have a power switch which I didn’t like) and it ran for about a day before the 2.4 GHz network stopped responding and required a reboot. This was not good as my son was quite upset that his Squeezebox Radio wouldn’t work when he got up. This router didn’t get a second chance and went right back to Costco.

My luck was kind of running out with routers. I remembered that I had backed the Securifi Almond+ on Kickstarter and I had it sitting on my shelf. I fired it up to use as a router. Setup, like the others, was easy and I was up and running. I went through a few software updates and it performed quite well for well over 2 months. I didn’t, however, take the last few software updates as there were reports of problems with them. I had wanted an integrated automation hub/router, but the automation stuff isn’t up to what I want, yet.

A colleague and I had been discussing routers over this whole time and we were both convinced that the Apple AirPort Extreme/Time Capsule wasn’t the fastest router. (Routers have processors in them and have to make decisions about where each packet goes; the more traffic going through the network and the more devices, the more processing power a router needs.) He had been reading about the Ubiquiti Networks EdgeRouter Lite and decided to pick one up. The router is less than $100 and is only a router and not a WiFi access point.

I’ve used a Ubiquiti Networks access point in the past and the performance for price was phenomenal. When my colleague got his router and started using it, I got a text that said “Holy cow, this router is fast!”. He’s on a 75 Mbps/75 Mbps FIOS connection. A few days after he got the router, I decided to bite the bullet and get one.

This router is definitely not a router for the average consumer. As I’ve configured Linux networking for almost 20 years, I wasn’t intimidated by the box. The web UI on this is much better than any other web UI I’ve seen for a device like this. It has pretty graphs and the latest firmware uses deep packet inspection (DPI) to show you the bandwidth used by each device and what services the devices are using. Initial setup was a little trickier as I had to upgrade the firmware (new firmware came out the day before I received mine), add a new admin user, figure out which wizard to use, and change a few network settings. This router has 3 ports; it is NOT a switch, so the 3 ports are designed for 3 separate network interfaces. One interface is the WAN (cable modem) while the other 2 are for separate LANs. I configured 1 LAN for my home network and the other LAN for my Ooma; no real reason to separate the Ooma, but I had the port available and I can monitor bandwidth for it separately.

While everything worked fine for my wired network, I had to reconfigure my Time Capsule to simply be a wireless access point which wasn’t hard.

Screen Shot 2015 07 09 at 4 49 46 PM

After the setup, I was pleased as punch with the graphs and the performance was quite snappy for accessing web pages. While most people would be done and happy, I wasn’t content! I wanted to get my guest WiFi network working. In a separate post, I’ve written about the experience.

Now my router has been running for 1 week without any hiccups. I’ve done some reconfiguring, but have not had to restart the router. This is NOT common in the consumer routers I’ve touched, but is very much UNIX like where you can bring network interfaces down and then back up. This router has so many options that I’ve only scratched the surface on what it can do. It is definitely a geek’s tool.

Screen Shot 2015 07 09 at 4 51 37 PM

Pros

  • Very fast router.
  • Excellent web user interface.
  • Extremely flexible (VLANs, VPNs, etc.)
  • Vibrant user community.
  • Well supported with firmware updates.

Cons

  • Some pieces are not very user friendly.
  • Command line need to configure some things.
  • Not a full fledged switch, so a separate switch will be needed.
  • Not a WiFi access point, so a separate WiFi access point is needed.
  • Limited documentation.

Summary

This router is an excellent router for someone that has a networking background and likes to tinker. The configurations are endless and can be tuned to the needs of almost any small setup. It is NOT a consumer router. For my uses, it is excellent and appears to be quite stable. The performance is more than I can ask for on my 50 Mbps/5 Mbps connection and I wish I had more bandwidth to really put this router through its paces.

I am looking forward to the web UI enhanced for IPv6 when that is rolled out. While the router handles IPv6 through the command line, there are only a few pieces in the web UI to support it. If Ubiquiti keeps up with the firmware, I expect to see this in the future.

If you have a really fast connection and feel that your router isn’t snappy, something like this router could be the ticket. However, don’t get this expecting it to be completely plug and play. If you have never used ipfilter or similar firewall tool and don’t know what to do with separate ethernet interfaces named eth0, eth1, and eth2, stay far away from this router.

14 thoughts on “Review: Ubiquiti Networks EdgeRouter Lite

  1. Marc

    Another step up from consumer routers is the Pepwave/Peplink Surf SOHO. It has the standard 4-port switch and does WiFi and sells for about $150. It can use internal WiFi antennas or external ones can be purchased at additional cost – the antenna connector is standard. The UI is approachable, yet this is a business class device. One great feature is the firmware – it keeps two copies. Thus you can easily fallback to the prior firmware if an upgrade breaks something. Documentation is reasonable, not good, but reasonable. Tech support via online forums is good.

    Reply
    1. Scott Gruby Post author

      Thanks! I’ve never heard of them before. That device doesn’t have Gigabit Ethernet. I think there are other consumer routers that compete with this as well.

      Reply
      1. Marc

        The Surf SOHO did not have GB Ethernet until recently. It just got a hardware upgrade. Still, its not a speed demon, but it is a professional router at a relatively cheap price with a simple consumer level UI. Another downside is that it can only do one WiFi frequency band at a time and it does not support WiFi ac. But, it should prove extremely reliable and is a big step up from consumer devices. Also, the WiFi as WAN feature can be a real life safer if your prime ISP goes down. A hotspot from your cellphone (or neighbor) can provide Internet access to the Pepwave router. Works great.

        Reply
  2. Tay

    I bought one of this router and ended up a disaster to me, most of the features are useless for me since im not really familiar at it nor willing to spend hours and hours of youtube how-to videos. But I manage to make the internet work at least.

    ended up buying a pfsense router based on 4core atom I think and it was more flexible than edge router lite. Learning curve is easy and well documented (but you might not need it because the GUI is self explanatory). Worth of extra bucks for easy to understand GUI that will save me hours of diagnostic if issue comes up. And it functions almost the same as Sophos but in much more easy to use fashion.

    Reply
    1. Scott Gruby Post author

      I’m sorry that the router didn’t work out for you. It is definitely not a tool for those not familiar with routing and command lines. Even without command line interaction, the GUI handles the needs of most people.

      Reply
      1. David

        Hello, I found your article really helpful and was hoping you could help me out.

        I have 1Gb/s internet speeds and am looking for a router that can deliver it wired to my pc and couple up with a UAP-AC-PRO to give my wireless devices the best speed they can get out of it.

        I don’t know any CLI and would be looking to use this router purely through the GUI if possible. Do you think it would serve my purposes ok or would it just be too much of a headache for me to get up and running?

        I also want my router to be fire and forget. I have no interest in playing around with all the settings, I just need to plug it into my PC and AP and potentially one day a switch if needed (but not at the moment).

        Thanks

        Reply
        1. Scott Gruby Post author

          Hi David,

          The EdgeRouter Lite can handle 1 Gb/s speeds as I’ve read people using it to replace the Google Fiber boxes. However, people did us the CLI to set it up. While the GUI handles many things and might work for you, the 1.7 version of the OS on the router (1.8 is the latest) has limited support for IPv6 in the GUI.

          If you’re not comfortable with a CLI, I’m not sure the EdgeRouter Lite is the best box for you; it performs quite well, but the CLI unlocks so many additional things.

          The UAP-AC-Pro access points are top notch and those have controller software that has a GUI for configuring everything (also mobile apps that I understand provide some functionality).

          Reply
  3. Marc

    Hard to know how any router will handle speed that fast since so few people have it. The Peplink Balance One Core sells for about $400 is rated to handle 600Mbps. However, it was initially rated for one gibabit speed but the company found some issue with older Mac laptops that limited to the speed so they changed their advertising. The discussion of this with details is available on their forum.
    The Balance One Core is a second generation device. The earlier model, the Balance One retails for about $500 and includes WiFi. The newer, cheaper “Core” model does not do WiFi and seems more appropriate to your needs.
    Peplink routers are business class devices but the user interface is very much like that of a consumer router. No networking expertise is needed. Their documentation is kept current, but its mostly only useful to networking techies. Their forums however are excellent. It should meet your set it and forget it requirement in that the devices can run for years without rebooting. But, you will have to manually update firmware every now and then.
    http://www.peplink.com/products/balance-one/

    Reply
  4. Tritorus

    Use some ERL for 500/500 Mbps fiber internet with failover to backup line on second location.
    Make sure the Hardware offloading works, then does line speed awesome!
    even with NAT and Firewall enabled, but no QoS (needed).
    and yes the failover on v1.7 was difficult to do right, but the new 1.8 has new option BFD all of which help on the great forum is available if you want to learn something new.

    Reply
  5. KMACSON

    I likewise grew tired of rebooting consumer routers. I had 20 Mbs cable internet service with an Archer C9 wireless router. My home network has six Cat5e connected desktops, 8 Cat5e connected devices such as TVs, DirectTV, BluRay players etc. plus the usual assortment of wireless devices such as phones and tablets. I had switches all over the house. I had frequent issues that required me to reboot the system.

    Recently upgraded to 50Mbs PPoe fiber service and decided to redo the Network. After reading multiple reviews and doing some research, I purchased the EdgeRouter Lite and a Netgear GSSS116E 16 port click switch (awesome product). I am a technical tinkerer and have minimal “real” networking experience. It took me an evening of playing around to get the Router working. I had to figure out how to set a static IP to access the router to work the configuration through the GUI. This is not a big deal, you just have to know how to do it. There were a couple helpful posts on line that I found through a Google search. The software that came with the Router did not have the latest wizards so I down loaded the latest firmware. THIS IS A MUST. With the latest wizard, it was pretty straight forward to setup a SOHO application with a PPoe connection to the ISP. I have been running for over a month now and the system has been 100% rock solid. Fast, and reliable. I have not rebooted a single time and have an amazing amount of data available to me through the GUI. I have a combination of static and DHCP connections that are very easy to setup. I have not touched any of the more advanced features such as VLAN, VPN, etc. but it it is nice to know it is there if I need it. All in all a great product that I would recommend if you are tired of dealing with router re-boots.

    Reply
  6. Mike Paulin

    Greetings – I have one of these routers and it worked for a while until I did an update. After the update, it quit working and I tried to do a hard reset with a paperclip inserted in the reset hole and nothing happens – still not able to connect to the router. Being that it only has 3 ports, I tried to hook up an 8 port Netgear switch to give additional ports. I would like to get the router operational again and get the Netgear switch to work. Is the router toast and I have to get a new one? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Scott Gruby Post author

      Hi Mike,

      I’d contact Ubiquiti tech support and see if they can help you. Mine has been working fine through a number of updates for over a year.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  7. Don Lunsford

    One way one can do many things without using CLI is to export the config and extract it. Then one can edit the config with an editor using copy and paste. There are may configs floating around on the internet. After carefully making changes you re-zip it and load the new config to the router. Originally I used the graphical interface to set it up, export the config, and then modified it to my needs. This is an easy way to get IPV6 working. CLI is still handy to do one liner things.

    Reply

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