Well, it does seem like a network at home has gotten really complicated. Our house has over 30 different IP devices alone and trying to manage all of them is definitely not easy. Here are some notes:
- Moving to Power over Ethernet using 802.11af. Lots of new devices support it, in particular the Unifi collection of devices. This is really convenient because you don’t need to find power for things like access points or cameras or just about anything that just needs 5V. In fact, you can even buy an POE convertor that gives 5V USB from the 48V POE which is great for lots of small devices and even supports USB C. The voltage is limited at 10W, but it’s very handy.
- Unifi POE 24/48 250/750W Switch. If you are going Unifi, then they now have a managed switch that you can use with Dream Machine. That is really convenient. One of the nice things about using Unifi is that if you have an old 24V old style AP, it actually will supply that power as well as the standard 48V power. Also the amount of power have been changing from POE to POE+ to POE++. POE or 802.3af was 48V with 13W to the client and done in 2003, 802.3at in 2009 raised that to POE+ at 25W at 48V. Finally in 2018 to 51-71W to the device. At that level, you can power a laptop from POE! That’s one reason why the latest switches are rated up to 750W in drawn power across 48 ports.
- Link Aggregation Protocol or Channel Bonding. We use a 10-year old Netgear 48 port POE but while hard to setup it’s becoming really important as devices like 802.11ac Wave 2 allows over 1Gbps Wifi and Synology support 2Gbps over two Ethernet ports. Finally someday, with Docsis 3.1, you can have more than 1Gb Internet. But making this work isn’t easy. You have to configure your switch and tell it which two ports to bond together. Then in the server, like Synology, you go to Control Panel/Network and turn on Channel Bonding using 802.11ad to control it. The benefit is that at the end, you can two different clients going to a single server. Each sees only 1Gb, but the server can handle 2Gbps.
- Move to 2.5Gbe over Cat 5e, 5Gbe over Cat 6 with Unifi XG6 POE. Probably the coolest thing thought is that with the new 802.3bz, you can now use the existing Cat 5e in most houses and run it at 2.5Gb. Then if you have a local room, then use Cat 6a to get 10Gb or Cat 6 for 5Gb. This is going to be really great for video and other processing. Of course this means you have to upgrade your clients to support it. MacBook’s don’t have this, but if you have a PC or a Mac Pro, then you (Anandtech) get a special switch like the Buffalo LXW 10G2/2G4 that has two 10Gb and four 2.5Gb ports. And then you need a motherboard with 2.5G/10G capability and either Cat 5 or Cat 6a. Or the Unifi X6 if you want to manage it.