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Ubiquiti Unifi Mesh Review – Mesh and Mesh Pro Models

What MESH is all about and what is used for?

We could say mesh networking is an intelligent grid of access points. They’re all connected together and aware of each other, “talking” to each other. If any of those access points for any of reason goes down, all the other access points still automatically re-connect into the grid on the fly and still route traffic.

The most common usage is when you need to cover a larger area and there’s only one location having a physical internet connection available. In this case, we utilize many of these access points which connects wirelessly with each other and create a wireless mesh network, covering all the area.

Of course, when they are wired (with an ethernet cable) into the network they are just regular access points. Good ones, though! 🙂

NOTE! If you have a chance for a wired uplink to all of the devices, do it. Wired connection to your router has a superior performance over the mesh wireless uplink. Use wireless uplink only if you have only power and no wired uplink at a certain location. This is because with each mesh hop the max bandwidth cuts to half.

Even if you don’t have a wired uplink available at a certain location, you can still create a dedicated point to point wireless bridge from a router to the access point.

 

Ubiquiti Unifi Mesh Topology Example

Here’s an example of the Unifi Mesh Topology. Worth to mention that Unifi Mesh access points are NOT routers. You always need a router to do al the routing in your network. There’s no need to use Ubiquiti equipment for all other devices, although it’s recommended for the highest compatibility and scalability.

 

Recommended equipment as shown on the topology example:

  • Access points: No products found. or Unifi Mesh PRO 
  • Router: Unifi Security Gateway  or Unifi Security Gateway PRO . Of course, PRO version is much more powerful and has more functions  (for instance multiple LAN and WAN ports as well as SFP ports for fiber modules)
  • Switch (optional if needed): 8-Port UniFi Gigabit Switch 
  • Unifi Controller: In order to configure all the Unifi devices you need a computer or tablet with Unifi Controller installed on it. It is a free software solution to manage and configure all Unifi devices in your network. You can download it here (available for Windows, MacOS, Linux (Debian/Ubuntu), Android and iOS). The computer with software installed is only needed during configuration. You can shut it down and disconnect it later once everything is up and running.
    But in order to observe and log all the network statistics it needs to be running all the time. For this purpose, Ubiquiti sells a Unifi Cloud Key , which is nothing more than a small computer with a Unifi Controller installed on it. It is meant to be connected and running all the time.

My Real World Example

My job was to cover a whole camping area. I used 1x Unifi Security Gateway PRO, 4x Unifi Mesh PRO and a Unifi Cloud Key.

On the MAIN location, there’s one Mesh Pro physically connected to USG-PRO. All other (1, 2 and 3) are connected wirelessly to the main Mesh Pro device. On the picture above you can see all the distances and wireless uplink bandwidths.

NOTE! All Mesh devices work on 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz frequencies. Although the wireless uplink (Unifi Mesh technology) works exclusively on 5 GHz. The best approach is to use the 5 GHz frequency only for uplinks and 2.4 GHz only for clients (laptops, phones, tablets…). This way the potential client devices don’t overload the 5GHz uplinks.

I was quite impressed with the overall performance. Roaming between access points works flawlessly.

When I first tested the devices I noticed that even though it’s said the coverage is up to 180 meters, the reality is a bit different. Most users have mobile phones and tablets. The antennas of these small devices are not that powerful. They have no problem receiving the signal, but with the transmitting to the access point. For the best performance, I wouldn’t recommend the distance between two Mesh devices to be more than 100 meters.

NOTE! Make sure you use non-overlapping 2.4 GHz channels. This way you eliminate any interference between access points. I used channels like this:

  • MAIN: channel 6,
  • 1: channel 1,
  • 2: channel 11
  • 3: channel 1

More about overlapping explained here.

13 Comments

  1. Gregory Rivera April 16, 2019
    • Blaz Valentinuzzi April 17, 2019
  2. Hector May 29, 2019
    • Blaz Valentinuzzi May 30, 2019
  3. George June 5, 2019
    • Blaz Valentinuzzi June 6, 2019
  4. George June 10, 2019
  5. Mattias Andreasson June 19, 2019
    • Blaz Valentinuzzi June 19, 2019
      • Mattias Andreasson June 19, 2019
        • Blaz Valentinuzzi June 20, 2019
  6. Mattias Andreasson June 20, 2019
    • Blaz Valentinuzzi June 20, 2019

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