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Need a router, switch and wireless advice

Last response: in Networking
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March 13, 2012 2:20:45 AM

Hello,

I am in process of building a house and need some advice on home networking.

I've been following the Leviton Structured Media Panel solutions, but their networking products don't seem quite price competitive.

I want a gigabit backbone for my house, and I am strongly leaning towards a cat 6a install (because the price between 6a and 6e is so small - at least on wiring)

I know I need a router for just south of my cable modem. They are usually 4 ports, however I need a total of 18 ports that will be in use at any one time in the house. For that I need a switch. But as someone who is hopelessly ignorant of networking, I have no clue what I need and why I need it. I CAN figure out how to install it once I have it, but have no idea what to choose (or why to choose it in the first place!). Once I have the switch, I want wireless access upstairs (for iPad, smartphones, guests, etc.). I currently have a linksys wireless G router right now. I would like to move up to wireless N. I know all I have to do is turn off DHCP and I have an instant access point, but it still leaves me with no guest support and no wireless N.

All of this needs to fit in the structural media panel (except for the wireless, which will be upstairs). However, all the 24 port switches I have been seeing are for mounting on a rack, which doesn't help me. I was thinking of (2) 12 ports to balance across the routers ports, but this gets more expensive and with no additional bang.

In summary, I am looking for advice on router, switch and access point type as well as what I should stay away from. I don't need a managed switch, nor do I need support for VLANs (at least I don't think I do). Most of the ports will be taken with HDTV, blu-ray, A/V internet usages. There will probably only be about 6-8 ports that will actually have computers.

BTW, the budget is whatever it takes to do it right.

Thanks in advance for your advice!

Matt
March 13, 2012 4:01:17 PM

With the price of CAT6 being about the same as 5e, no real reason not to use it. Do a cable run to each place that you want a wireless AP in addition to where all the network devices will be located.

From the cable modem, you can go to a gigabit router that has good QoS features to control network usage (and you can use one with wireless N there if you need wireless near that point), then to a 24 port unmanaged switch like THIS ONE. You can attach 23 wired computers/TVs/network printers/wireless APs to it. I use DLink DIR-655 routers as APs often and they work well and are fairly inexpensive and have one at each end of the house plus the guest house doing AP duty.
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March 13, 2012 4:30:31 PM

Thank you for the reply.

I was talking to one of my friends at work and he said that I probably don't need a gigabit router since I am connecting to the internet via cable modem (limited to 50 MB/s). Probably want to find one with level 2 firewall (NAT filtering (or stateful fitering for ipv6) and a configurable one - interestingly, I found the DIR-655 and the DIR-825 fairly quickly, though I cannot find user reviews). I didn't see guest password access points, however, so this would not be appropriate for providing wireless. It does have a USB port which would be nice for network storage.

All my router searches are coming back with ads. Or old reviews (5+ years).

Attempting to attach a photo to illustrate setup.

Thank you again and keep the advice coming!

Matt
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March 13, 2012 4:47:20 PM

Several reasons to use gigabit: current routers and switches have it at little to no cost increase, and you can transfer files within the network at much faster speeds, which is particularly useful to stream very high quality video from a network storage device. I stream my bluray disk images from a large NAS.

The DIR-655 supports a Guest Zone that is easy to configure, and allows different security modes and scheduling to only allow use during certain times.
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March 13, 2012 5:09:30 PM

Realbeast, is that true within the internal network? I thought everything that would be attached to the switch could talk among themselves at full gigabit speed, but once you need the internet, you would then go to the router. If the router can only talk to the internet at 50 MB/s, then .... I thought the gigabit switch would take care of all the internal communications, and the router all the external communications. [sorry I cannot upload the picture I made. I haven't figured it out yet].

But if there is no cost for gigabit, then no problem. I am just not explicitly looking for gigabit.
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March 13, 2012 5:28:42 PM

Gigabit will not increase your 50Mbps Internet connection speed relative to a 100Mbps network, but yes it is much faster for internal network transfers. If your Internet speed rises to over around 80Mbps then you would start to notice a speed improvement on a gigabit network, nothing that will happen tomorrow but may over time.

My first real home network was 10Base2 (thinnet cable) and if I still lived there I would have upgraded long ago. :) 

To have a gigabit network all components must support that speed from the wiring, to routers/switches, to network adapters in the machines or devices. Machines that do not have gigabit adapters will run at 100Mbps and those with will run at 1000Mbps (actually around 830Mbps is what I get on mine due to the network overhead).
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