Don’t Fall for Wi-Fi 7 Marketing! How to Build Your Own…

In the ever-evolving world of wireless technology, the buzz around Wi-Fi 7 has been growing. A recent visit to Best Buy revealed the TP-Link Archer BE19000, a tri-band Wi-Fi 7 router, sparking a flurry of online discussions due to its initial eye-watering price tag of $1,500. This post aims to demystify the confusion surrounding Wi-Fi 7 and explore cost-effective alternatives for your home network.

$1500 for a home router – WHAT?!?

The Reality…

Our journey began with a tweet that went viral, featuring the TP-Link Archer BE19000. The router, boasting impressive specs like dual 10 gigabit ethernet ports and a 10 gigabit fiber port, initially seemed priced at an outrageous $1,500. However, a closer look revealed a mix-up: the price was for the TP-Link Deco BE22000 mesh system, not the Archer BE19000, which actually retails at $599.

Wi-Fi 7: To Invest or Not?

As of late 2023, Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) is still awaiting formal certification, expected in early 2024. With very few devices currently on the market supporting Wi-Fi 7 and the standard not yet formalized, we delve into whether it’s worth investing in this technology today. Once the Wi-Fi 7 has bee formalized, and Wi-Fi 7 has an official certification program for vendors, then we’ll start seeing a larger and wider adoption of Wi-Fi 7 in client devices.

Let’s Pretend…

Let me run through one scenario for all of the haters who are going to insist that I’m wrong about the status of Wi-Fi 7 today. Let’s say you bought a Wi-Fi 7 capable router, and you also have a Google Pixel 8 that also has a Wi-Fi 7 antenna built in – it could theoretically be capable of up to 8 or 9 gigabits worth of throughput. Let’s also assume that you have a 10 gigabit Ethernet connection (yea right) that won’t be a bottleneck in our fictional scenario. Exactly what are you doing with all of that throughput to your device? Netflix Ultra High Definition streaming (UHD – 4K) has a recommended Internet speed of 15Mbps. Let’s say you have 10 Google Pixel 8’s in your household, and all of them are streaming full quality Netflix UHD movies simultaneously – you’re using about 150Mbps worth of data, which Wi-Fi 6 is more than capable of handling. You STILL don’t need Wi-Fi 7 in this scenario. So then why would you invest so much money today into Wi-Fi 7 when Wi-Fi 6 is ubiquitous and much more cost effective. Perhaps by 2025, when you could have a network full of Wi-Fi 7 client devices and are a super heavy wireless user, then *maybe* you could make an argument for Wi-Fi 7…but for home use, I’m not seeing it. If anyone can give me a valid home use case for Wi-Fi 7 – put that in the comments below. I’m all ears.

Building a Budget-Friendly Home Network

The problem with something like the TP-Link Archer BE19000 ($600) is that it’s a single device that you’re going to be placing in a single location. The Wi-Fi emanating off of the device only goes so far, and if you’re outside of that range (or if your house is made from materials that aren’t friendly to Wi-Fi), you may not get your wireless signal everywhere you need it.

Example floorplan with a single access point – the white areas are where coverage will be very weak.

Instead, what can you do with a UniFi network that allows you to pick and choose the individual components?

We explore two scenarios: creating a robust home network for $600 and an upscale version for $1,500. For the $600 network, we recommend a UniFi setup, offering a blend of performance and value. The $1,500 network scales up the offerings with more advanced equipment for those seeking premium features.

The $600.00 UniFi Network

How I would build a $600 UniFi network.

In this case, we start with the Dream Router (Model: UDR – MSRP: $199)- which is a device featuring a built-in 4×4 MIMO Wi-Fi 6 access point, 4 switch ports (2 of which are PoE) and a gigabit WAN port. It also has UniFi OS onboard meaning you can use this device as your UniFi Network controller to manage everything.

Optionally, you can extend the port capability of the network with the Lite 8 PoE (Model: USW-Lite-8-POE – MSRP: $109). This small switch provides an additional 8 ports of gigabit Ethernet, 4 of which are PoE+ capable.

To round out the network, and provide expanded coverage (more than you would get with a single access point in a single location), I have added in two of the U6+ access points (Model: U6+ – MSRP: $129). These are 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi 6 access points – perfect for sprinkling around your house to extend coverage where its needed.

3 total access points means much more coverage area.

The $1500 UniFi Network

This one was harder to come up with since there are really so many options. Do you need more access points? Do you need 10Gbps connectivity? How fast is your Internet? There are so many different ways to spend this money…it’s one of the best things about having a network with distributed devices.

So here is my best stab at what I think would be a solid $1500 UniFi network:

How I would build a $1500 UniFi network.

In this network, we’re starting off with the Dream Machine SE (Model: UDM-SE – MSRP: $499) – a wonderful gateway device that is more than capable of handling faster than gigabit Internet connectivity. It also includes a hard drive bay if you want to add in some Protect surveillance cameras (though I wouldn’t put more than 2-3 on this device before upgrading to the actual UniFi NVR).

The Dream Machine SE features 8 Gigabit LAN ports (2 PoE+, 6 PoE), 10Gbps SFP+ LAN and WAN ports, and a 2.5 Gbps WAN Ethernet port.

You can use a SFP+ to Ethernet adapter in the Dream Machine SE’s SFP+ port to connect 10Gbps Ethernet to the UniFi Flex 10 GbE switch (Model: USW-Flex-XG – MSRP: $299). With this 10 gigabit switch, you can connect up a 10 gigabit NAS device…or 10 gig connect your PC to the network.

Finally, for the access points, I went with 3 U6 Pro AP’s (Model: U6-Pro – MSRP: $159) and 1 of the U6 In-Wall AP’s (Model: U6-IW – MSRP: $179) for the garage – this is probably overkill, but I was really trying to spend all of that $1500 bucks. These are all super robust 4×4 MU-MIMO access points. The U6 In-Wall also features a 4 port gigabit switch on the bottom with one of those ports being PoE capable.

This setup provides near perfect wireless coverage for our fictional floorplan and also gives you some 10 gigabit device connectivity.

No problem streaming Netflix while on the toilet here…

Conclusion:

The world of Wi-Fi is filled with marketing gimmicks and technical jargon. My goal is to help to cut through the noise and provide practical, reliable advice for your networking needs. Whether you’re a home user or a small business owner, making informed decisions about your network setup is crucial.

About Crosstalk Solutions:

Crosstalk Solutions is dedicated to helping you navigate the complex world of networking. For personalized assistance, visit our Rogue Support platform at https://rogue.support, where our expert technicians are ready to tackle your networking challenges.

Comments 1

  1. I agree, that TP-Link system looks nice as an upgrade, but that price! I did just recently (yesterday) go with the cheaper TP-Link system – TP-Link Tri-Band WiFi 7 BE10000 Whole Home Mesh System (Deco BE63). It’s still wi-fi 7 and I got the 3 pack to cover my home. I’m replace my 5 year old EERO mesh system and using my AT&T Fiber with them. They should arrive today (fingers crossed Amazon delivers on time). I did get $80 off from a coupon on another Youtubers video for these, so that helps a little.

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