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You are here: LAN & WAN LAN & WAN Reviews First Look: Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite - In Use, Routing Performance, Closing

First Look: Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite - In Use, Routing Performance, Closing

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In Use

I think I noted earlier that the ERL doesn't do much out of the box. The only thing that is set up is that the port marked 0 (eth0) is assigned an IP address of 192.168.1.1 so that you can get to the web admin interface. If you'd rather jump right into configuring via command line (CLI), SSH is enabled on port 22, so that you can connect with putty, WinSCP or your favorite SSH client. Your other option is to rustle up a DB9 to RJ45 serial console cable (there isn't one in the box) to connect that way.

If you go the Ethernet-connected route, you'll need to statically assign an IP address in the 192.168.1.X subnet to the computer you are going to use for configuration and plug it into the ERL's port 0.

The shot below shows what you'll see when you log in.

ERL default Dashboard

ERL default Dashboard

I'm going to do a separate article on setting up the ERL and even provide a few working configurations for you to upload. But for now, you can try using the SOHO example configuration found in the Ubiquiti Wiki to get set up.

The interface is a multi-windowed environment where you can have multiple settings screens open at once and open up a CLI window from the web interface. The GUI is very responsive and remained responsive even when I was running IxChariot traffic through the ERL full-throttle.

There are only little info popups scattered around the GUI for help. So you'd best be connected to the internet via other means when you are trying to first configure the ERL. Some of the CLI commands can be found in the Wiki, but there isn't a complete list or a downloadable reference available from Ubiquiti. Since EdgeOS hasn't diverged much from Vyatta at this point, the Vyatta Quick Start and Basic CLI references might be helpful in getting up the learning curve.

I've put some of the key screens and commentary in the gallery below so that you can get more of a feel for the interface.

Routing Performance

Routing throughput was measured running 1.0.2 firmware, using our router test process. I configured ERL using the SOHO example configuration as a guide to get started. I then used the Port Forward example to forward ports 1 - 65535 using a destination NAT rule and adding a rule to the basic WAN_IN firewall rules. This essentially put my LAN client into "DMZ" and allowed IxChariot tests to run in both directions.

Table 2 summarizes and compares the ERL's routing benchmark results and includes two other routers that ranked above it for WAN to LAN (download) throughput, the EnGenius ESR750H and ASUS RT-AC66U.

Test Description Ubiquiti ERL EnGenius ESR750H ASUS RT-AC66U
WAN - LAN 822 890 836
LAN - WAN 773 907 839
Total Simultaneous 1307 868 820
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 29354 29666 30069
Firmware Version 1.0.2 1.3.4 3.0.0.4.164
Table 2: Routing throughput

Note that the differences in Maximum Simultaneous Connections should not be taken literally. Ever since I switched to using Win 7 machines to run the test, the test limit has moved around a bit, but is in the range of all the results shown. So consider all three routers to have run into the limit of my current test procedure.

The IxChariot composite plot below shows very steady throughput. No complaints in that department.

Ubituiqi ERL IxChariot routing throughput test summary

Ubituiqi ERL IxChariot routing throughput test summary

Closing Thoughts

I am not a networking professional and like my routers easy to configure. I also don't care for routers that require separate rule sets for router and firewall when it comes time to forward ports. So the EdgeRouter Lite didn't exactly put a smile on my face as it turned what is usually a 30 minute test process into a day long voyage of discovery.

The bottom line is that this is not a router that the average router buyer should even consider. It is poorly documented, difficult to set up and will test your patience unless you have experience with the Linux command line, understand routing mechanics and know what router interfaces are and how to use them. Not to mention that it has only, at best, two LAN ports, if you are willing to delve into the command line to bridge the two. So you'll probably need to buy a Gigabit switch to go along with it.

That said, if you're a fan of router distros like Untangle and pfSense, comfortable wrangling DD-WRT via the command line or would need your Mikrotik pried out of your cold, dead, hand, you might want to spend the $100 bucks or so to impress your friends and become a ERL fanboi.




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Ubiquiti UAP-AC Access Point Reviewed

User reviews

Average user rating from: 4 user(s)

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4.5 Features :
 
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5.0 Reliability :
 
4.3
 
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High Performance Routing Without Things You Don't Need

Overall rating: 
 
4.7
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by zentec
September 07, 2013
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Just like others have stated and in the review, this is not your typical home router because it really *isn't* a home router. You will spend quite a bit of time configuring this box.

I purchased mine because I needed better performance between LAN and DMZ (the DMZ is used for my work) that couldn't be achieved with OpenWRT running on hardware like a Netgear WNDR3700 and a TP-Link WDR4300. Offerings from Linksys and Zyxel didn't impress due to features/cost, cheaper alternatives missed things like SNMP.

So for pretty much the cost of a router at any big box store, I solved a problem usually not seen on home networks.

Performance is great.

If you are familiar with Vyatta, you can ditch the web interface and go right to the heart. If you don't know anything about Vyatta, the 1.2 firmware UI is decent enough to get started and experiment, but you'll still be at the command line to set up things like Dynamic DNS, L2TP/IPSec and nuking messes created with the web UI.

If you are comfortable with Linux IP tables, advanced networking and thinking about building your own router out of PC hardware, this is worthy of consideration. If you need something that you pull from the box and is pretty much what you want at the first boot (there is nothing wrong with that), be advised that this isn't that kind of device.

 

Fast, Powerful, Stable... but a bit rough, and not too friendly

Overall rating: 
 
4.7
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by GordP
June 12, 2013
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I'm a bit of a geek, and I bought this router for two main reasons:
-form an endpoint for my Hurricane Electric IPv6 Tunnel, so that my whole house could benefit from IPv6 throughout
-stability. I've been through most of the consumer-grade products, and they always seem to disappoint :-( Particularly when they're being a bit stressed (ie someone watching IPTV, couple of other family members surfing/streaming, a few wifi connections, and me remotely SSH'ing in with a couple of connections).

In both these regards, the ERLite3 is rock-solid.

It's a router only, so when you need WiFi in your home or small business, you'll have to add that separately. Same for multiple computers - I already have a 48-port GigE/IPv6 switch, and you'll need something external like this - the ERLite is only a router, and it excels at that.

The unit runs warm, so allow for ventilation... I've mounted mine in my "network closet" (well, under my stairs in the basement, actually), on the edge of a 2x4... this gives me about 5.5 sides of ventilation, which "feels" about right - don't set this on a fuzzy towel and expect it to run cool - it won't.

While I have a lot of Linux familiarity, the Linux in the ERLite is hidden beneath a bunch of Vyatta configuration-scripts. Once you get the hang of using these "set/show/configure" style of commands, they're actually OK. But - I warn you - best to set aside an entire day to get this thing up-and-running for a basic configuration, and expect to lock yourself out and de-stabilize things a couple of times during the first week. After that, it will do what it's told for most of eternity :-)

Because the Linux is so hidden, you don't need to know anything about Linux, but you can drop out of their EdgeOS command environment, and access the Linux command-line with a quick 'sudo su'. But, you may never have to, unless you're a real geek :-)

During the first day, you will get really good at Factory Reset, and saving/restoring working configurations. The learning curve is indeed steep, and you should not be the type of person who is quickly frustrated...

For me, configuring IPv6 was jumping into the deep-end with both feet: the GUI is nice, but offers nothing in the way of IPv6 settings - perhaps a later version of the GUI will offer that, but for now you'll have to hit the EdgeOS command environment. For setting up a Hurricane Electric tunnel, HE does offer some cut-and-paste commands which help tremendously and worked perfectly. Test this with lots of 'ping6' commands, from the router and from your other machines...

But even from the EdgeOS command environment, there are still some things which cannot be set: rDNSS servers in radvd.conf for one example (only applies to a small subset of IPv6 users, I think). OTOH, at the Linux command-line, you can add Debian stuff like 'ddclient' and more, if you want.

Second issue: Hairpin (aka Reflection or loopback) NAT. I run a home-webserver, which is a virtual-server that co-exists with other virtual-servers on a single physical machine. It's not suitable for use in a DMZ, and setting it up for outside (public) access went fairly well... however, from inside my home, I always only got the ERLite's config-page every time I tried to browse to my home-web-server :-( This took *a lot* of searching, liberally mixed with trial-and-error, before it worked. This is in-contrast to some consumer-grade products with a single check-box, and everything "just works"....

Like Mark L below, I would class the EdgeMax ERLite3 as a "prosumer" router, entirely suitable for demanding home and small-business use. And, IMHO, it delivers tremendous bang for the buck - after 1 month of usage, I'm very satisfied.

I'd give it the highest rating if IPv6 settings appeared in the GUI, and if Hairpin NAT were tremendously simplified.

 

Extremely configurable, incredibly powerful, beautiful web GUI

Overall rating: 
 
5.0
Features:
 
5.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Mark L
April 19, 2013
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This is not for the average consumer for sure. You are supplied with a "blank slate". Everything is configurable...everything!

This is great for control freaks like me but is not for the average user.

Fortunately there's a default example configuration that you can install in minutes which will get the router into the same state as an average consumer-level router. What you do with it from there is entirely up to you.

The web GUI is by far the nicest I've ever seen in a piece of networking equipment. It's fast, it's professional-looking, it's well-organized, it's informative and it's deceptively simple. It does not allow all the configuration options you can get over the command line but it works for basic to intermediate things.

The unit is TINY. It runs downright hot I'd say. The power adapter is a small brick - for me this is a good thing because the standard-sized plug fits into a power bar as opposed to a wall-wart which blocks adjacent ports.

The configuration files are probably the nicest thing about this router. They are fairly small, less than 100 lines or so, and are actually pretty simple. Without learning much about the command line I was able to alter the following:

- change a bridged configuration, which does not employ packet acceleration, to a single LAN port, which does employ packet acceleration

- disabled one LAN port entirely (I'm doing everything through a switch)

- change DNS servers from OpenDNS and Google to my ISP's DNS servers, provided through DHCP

- set Debian package repositories and point them to a local server

I just observed how other interfaces and parameters were defined, copied, pasted, and altered them to suit. I made some errors the first few attempts, disabling the LAN port I was connected to which locked me out of the router, but a reset followed by re-installing a saved known-working configuration file got me back up and running within minutes.

The user community is small, composed mostly of networking professionals - this can be a little intimidating for a home newbie user, but they did treat me well and went out of their way to help. I wish the community was a little more active, here's hoping sales increase and more newbie home user types come on board.

In terms of "prosumer" or low-end commercial gear, it's this or MicroTik. This is much newer than most of the MicroTik platforms, even the ones with latest-generation CPUs. The CPU is more powerful than even the mid-range MicroTiks and the amount of memory and flash is in line with the mid-range MicroTiks. On Ubiquiti's website there's an independent third-party comparison with a fairly high-end MicroTik router, the RB1100AHx2, where the ERL compares quite favourably. Sure MicroTik's user interface has gotten quite feature-laden over the years but it has its limitations. You can do everything through MicroTik's GUI that you can do on the command line, but that makes it incredibly dense and complicated. Since everything is configurable on the command line in the ERL, if you delve deep enough you can do anything you need.

I guess my only problem now is - what do I do with all this million-packets-per-second power? :-)

 

Powerful, but still a work in progress

Overall rating: 
 
3.7
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
2.0
Reviewed by James Tenniswood
February 01, 2013
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Its a great bit of kit, but I had a first gen version which developed a memory fault. The service from ubnt has been excellent.

The power of the device is very impressive, but it isn't a consumer or prosumer level device, the learning curve is high, but worth it I'd say.