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Do simple SOHOs benefit from dedicated wired router?

Discussion in 'Routers' started by Milky Way, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. Milky Way

    Milky Way New Around Here

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    After reading recent threads on dedicated wired routers like ER-X and RV-320, curious if simple a home network can benefit from adding one?

    In my case, I have 360 up/12 down through Comcast on an SB6183, ethernet home runs to a structured wiring cabinet with a unmanaged gigabit switch. Wireless is handled by two Airport AC Extremes on different floors with wired backhaul.

    Wireless coverage is excellent and the network is rock solid with amazing modem signal levels and never have down time or issues streaming or downloading.

    Speed test shows C for bufferbloat.

    Current devices include regular mix of phones, tablets, a few IoT and streaming devices. No immediate plans to upgrade devices wireless devices or speedplan except for whatever free bump Comcast provides.

    I write analytics code most days at work so looking at ER-X docs on the web don't overwhelm me.

    Want to know the upside benefit vs. the 'why'd you break the internet' downside.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    Yes, a simple home network can benefit from a solid wired router (and/or managed switch), especially if whatever you're using now is under-performing on its layer 3 duties and/or built-in services for whatever reason. What make/model router are you running currently (You listed your modem and your APs, but not your router)

    Next, I presume your internet speed is 360 Mb/s download, 12 Mb/s upload -- I highly doubt it's the opposite.

    In your case, to eliminate your bufferbloat issues, you're going to want to run either a true non-bottlenecking layer 3 switch plus a conventional gateway (such as @coxhaus 's setup of a Cisco SG300 and an RV340) or simply run all layer 3 converged on a gateway with SQM-based QoS and a powerful-enough CPU to push all traffic in-software at your internet's line speed (for 360/12, that would be an EdgeRouter 4, 6 or 12, instead of the ER-X).

    The upside of rolling a wired setup like I described above is you'll likely squash your LAN/WAN bufferbloat, plus you'll gain a wired network "core" which would likely be way more solid and reliable than most consumer firmware/hardware. The downside is indeed a a bit higher propensity to "break the internet" in configuring these products, which tend to be more nuanced to configure (some to varying degrees more so than others). However, a positive is that, presuming they have been setup correctly, you'll usually get non-stop, reboot-less performance for years at a time. In this case, your network would run more like a commercial appliance; something that just sits in the corner and does its job, consistently and without fail.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  3. Greg72

    Greg72 Regular Contributor

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    If testing over Wifi, the Airports can be a choke point since they are no linger supported and use elder hardware. I have used the Engenius EAP-1750H with no issues, along with a Cisco RV-320. As for Bluffer-bloat. Take that with a very small grain of salt. Mine was a non-VLAN network running around 30 devices and two full time streaming devices.
     
  4. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    At a macro scale, probably true for most people. But I would say it all depends on the traffic type. Typical home user doing web browsing, email and streaming? Bufferbloat can be largely ignored. More advanced user looking to run latency/jitter-sensitive traffic such as VoIP and/or certain kinds of gaming? You definitely want as little of it as possible.
     
  5. Milky Way

    Milky Way New Around Here

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    Thanks Trip & Greg!

    To answer your questions:
    - Do not have a dedicated router, hence my question about what the upside to adding one would be
    - Yes speed is 360 download / 12 upload

    I wouldn't say I have bufferbloat issue or at least one that is noticeable.

    Trip - can you explain what a network 'core' is and how a dedicated router and level 3 switch help? I've seen you and coxhaus reference this but haven't really grasped it.

    Greg 72 - Love the airport extremes as they've been dead reliable but know I'm hitting the upper limit of what they can do now, especially looking at the next speed increase in 12-18 months, realistically I will want to build to 1 gig capacity. Would rather slowly build over time than install new modem, router, switch and APs all at once (again breaking the internet factor here :)

    Seems like Cisco RV320 or ER-4/6/12 is the way to go and then adding a layer 3 switch, correct?

    Thank you both for the helping!
     
  6. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    Better hurry the Cisco RV320 is going end of sale in January. It had a pretty good run for almost 7 years. The RV340 is going to take over and it is good router also.
     
  7. RMerlin

    RMerlin Super Moderator

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    Which means you should not hurry to get one, but stay away from it instead. End of manufacturing is typically the sign that the end of support is also near, so security updates will stop happening sooner rather than later.
     
  8. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    By network "core", I'm referring to your center of your LAN's switching fabric, plus your WAN gateway -- ie. your main switch and router. In consumer devices, that "core" exists most often as the built-in switch chip and commodity CPU in an all-in-one router. If you look all the way up to the enterprise, the core there is specialized switches and services routers. They both do essentially the same thing, but just at very different levels of power and reliability. So what I do, wherever it's feasible, is simply take as much from the enterprise space as possible and deploy it at home. Takes all the guess-work and headaches out of dealing with consumer beta-ware and lets my network run more like an appliance and less like a toy.

    In regards to the specific terms, "dedicated router" would be a discrete, dedicated box with one job: to route LAN-to-WAN and be the gateway, maybe run a few services that you might not be running on your main switch -- DNS, QoS, VPN, etc. "Layer 3 switch" refers to a switch capable of handling most capabilities of a Layer 3 device in the OSI model. Most SOHO type switches are Layer 2, or Layer 2 with a few Layer 3 features (often referred to as L2+ or L3 Lite). A full layer 3 switch allows for the switch to handle all IP routing and related services for the LAN, offloading that responsibility from the gateway/router, typically making for a faster, more controllable LAN, and also for a faster gateway, as it's responsibilities are much lower than if all L3 duties were converged onto the gateway.

    If the stuff above reads mostly like Chinese, no worries, just know that if you're interested in getting a dedicated wired "core, you want a good quality wired router like the ones I suggested above, coupled with an L2 or L3 switch of similar quality if the router doesn't have a built-in switch, or you simply need more switch ports, or just want the performance for your LAN.
     
  9. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    The last date of support is 2025. Toward the end of that date it will only be patches for major security issues like hacks and stuff. Cisco is a good company which supports their products for a long time.

    The RV340 router is a better replacement router. I have already replaced my RV320 with a RV340 router.
     
  10. Mark070

    Mark070 New Around Here

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    Interesting, so .. what I am reading is: I just bought a EdgeRouter 4 as my main wired router for the home. It is connected to a simple 8 port unmanaged switch (netgear). I have QoS (Smart Queue) turned on; on the ER-4.

    What your telling me is ... get a new switch, that has QoS on it, and turn off the ER-4's QoS. Those are Layer 3 switches. Huh, didn't know that, never even considered that (still new to routers/switches). Thanks!
     
  11. paraplu

    paraplu Regular Contributor

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    Having an unbalanced up/down, eg your 12mbps upload, COULD kill your wan experience/remote sessions due to bufferbloat, during other download activity. Putting in a device with smart Qos helps a lot on better client latency experience. A cheapy edge X, ERL or mk Hex would be a definite help with qos configured properly, resulting in better small-packet response with remote servers, like ssh sessions etc.
     
  12. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    Not necessarily, in fact not likely, and I apologize if I misconstrued the info. The ER-4's "QoS" (often referred to as "SQM") is based on a traffic shaper coupled with a queuing algorithm. This is best utilized on interfaces where packets are moving between highly differing link speeds; ie. your typical gigabit LAN going out to the internet over a DSL line or low-speed cable (say, 200Mb/s or less).

    SQM is very different from the kind of QoS usually found on most switches, even high-end L3 models, mostly all of which run classic/legacy QoS, which tags and prioritizes packets based on traffic type (DSCP, etc.), and is best run on the local network, and potentially on the gateway, too, depending on how much traffic you've got and where/how it's being routed.

    That said, offloading other services like DHCP and some routing to a full L3 switch is a nice way to de-burden your gateway/router, but certain packet flow modifiers like what I mentioned above should really only be applied on the gateway itself.

    Hope that makes sense. Happy to explain more if not.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019 at 4:59 PM
  13. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    An L3 switch helps take the load off your gateway router which means your router has more CPU cycles for doing internet services. If your LAN is very small then an L3 switch may not help. If you are running multiple network VLANs with a IOT, guest, VOIP, security cameras and private network the L3 switch can help. The L3 switch only works at layer 3 and below where as your router is working all the way up to layer 7. The router is more of sequential process where as the L3 switch is more working in parallel. All of this makes switches faster than routers. So it is a good thing to take advantage of the faster switches to make your network faster.
     
  14. dosborne

    dosborne Senior Member

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    I would venture to say the "average" SOHO user would probably not really notice much difference. Running benchmarks would likely show overall improvement, but that doesn't directly map onto the user experience. It would have to be "fixing" an issue that actually matters.

    Best option, buy one with a good/easy return policy. See if it makes a difference. Compare improvement to cost and then decide if you return it or not :)
     
    Val D. likes this.
  15. Mark070

    Mark070 New Around Here

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    I fully appreciate the information. I am not going to run out and buy a L3 switch for my home network. Instead I need to figure out how I can get multi 10GB ports and 1GB ports on a switch to make my backbone, internally, 10 GB. That will allow me to then move my NAS to 10GB, and my desktop to 10 GB, leaving the rest at 1GB. Sorry, I am n00b at this stuff, just talking out loud as I build a SOHO network for 2 people with only a handful of devices :)

    I am done hijacking the thread. You have enlightened me on the switches, thank you.

    EDIT: Fix grammar and spelling where obvious
     
  16. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    Very doable, and not super costly... Could start off with something simple like a Netgear GS110EMX, then upgrade port count and/or capabilities from there as needed.
     
  17. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    If you want a 4 port 10gig switch then I noticed the Cisco sg250X-24 switch has it plus 24 ports of 1gig.
     
  18. Mark070

    Mark070 New Around Here

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    That netgear switch (GS110EMX) is actually correct. Its not a L3 switch - as I do not need that yet. I was thinking I would need up to 4 port Link Aggregation in addition to the 2 10GB ports, but after thinking about it; I don't see a need for Link Aggregation. The Cisco switch is complete overkill (which is what I love about the suggestion). For the moment, I will add the Netgear switch to my wishlist.

    You guys are good at this stuff :)
     
  19. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    I was going to mention quad uplink, 24-port models like the SG250X-24, or the Zyxel XGS1930-28 (fanless!), but I figured they'd seem a bit overkill. Certainly a "next level" item to move to if/when you outgrow the Netgear.
     
  20. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    Save your money. There is nothing to fix on your network. You may add whatever equipment you like, but the final result will be very similar to what you already have and you and your family will be using the network exactly the same way. Better spend the money on a nice family vacation. Everyone will remember the vacation, no one will remember when you reduced the latency with 10ms.

    Exactly.