Looking for recommendations for a home WiFi Router.

Markess

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May 19, 2018
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As in the title, looking for a Wifi Router for home use that is above all else reliable.

Currently using a first generation Asus Lyra (pseudo)Mesh system that is super buggy and drops Wifi, or wired, or both, without rhyme or reason, for about half the active users at the most inopportune times. Its not constant, but often enough that the Spouse and kids have had enough. Sure it has a nice looking app, but if it doesn't work.....

So, I'm looking for something that's reliable and is recommended by someone that's used it rather than just a review site.

I think my use case is pretty straight forward:

-- Gigabit fiber into the house (Consolidated Communications, North/Central California)
-- ~20 Devices are on wired Gigabit throughout the house. Another 10 or so are on Wifi. Usually no more than 6-7 devices active at one time (mostly TVs & Phones).
-- No anticipated need for faster than Gigabit in the future.
-- The house is small enough that a decent modern Wifi Router will suffice for wifi coverage without need for extenders or APs.
-- I've got no firewall or other traffic shaping devices. There's two 8 port dumb switches and an Aruba S3500 downstream of the router.
-- The bulk of all internet consumption is streaming content (Netflix, You Tube, etc.)
-- Upload volume is very low. No large or continuous uploads, no port forwarding, no hosted game servers, etc.
-- Reliability is more important than cost, although less than $400 would be good.

Any recommendations would be appreciated. TIA
 
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j_h_o

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Apr 21, 2015
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I'd do a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter ER-4, and pair it with a used Ruckus R710 (running Unleashed) firmware from EBay.

$199 for the router:

$120-220 for the AP:
I spoke to a few resellers who were offering me $120/ea for the R710, used, a few months back.
 

Markess

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May 19, 2018
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I'd do a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter ER-4, and pair it with a used Ruckus R710 (running Unleashed) firmware from EBay.
Are you using either of these yourself? The 6 port version of the router might be a good choice. I've got 1Gb drops coming together from 4 rooms into a structured wiring box in the master bedroom closet. One of the two dumb switches is in there and connects them to the single downstream port on the Asus router, which is just outside the box (to maintain wifi signal) on a shelf in the closet. The Ubiquity router could replace both the Asus Router and the switch in the wiring box. The much higher throughput would sure help with content streamed locally, backups to the home server(s) and etc. I could then put the AP in a more central location in the house where it could provide better coverage than an All-in-One wifi router in a corner closet could.

I've been using a TP-Link Archer C5400 ( TP-Link Archer C5400 AC5400 Wireless MU-MIMO Tri-Band Router - Comprehensive Antivirus and Security, Works with Alexa and IFTTT - Newegg.com ) for the last 3 years. Works great. Never had to reboot it. It's in the basement and provides a good signal throughout a 2 story house.
Thanks! We've got some TP-Link wired products where I volunteer and they seem to work well. Running for 3 straight years is great. Right now I cant run for 3 weeks without an issue. This particular model doesn't seem to be available new anymore (I'm not surprised after 3 years) but it looks like they're available factory refurbished at a price much lower than I was originally thinking I might have to spend. Another good recommendation.
 

gregsachs

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Aug 14, 2018
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My parents have an amplifi HD setup with two satellites in a ~3500 sq ft brick/plaster/old construction house. Has been rebooted 2-3 times in 2+ years, when I do firmware updates. Don't hear any complaints from them. They also have gigabit fiber, but not convinced they use it.
 
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zer0sum

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Mar 8, 2013
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For maximum flexibility and future proofing I like to seperate my gateway and wifi boxes like this...
Internet > cable modem > firewall > wifi AP

A decent cable modem will last 5-10 years, whereas you will most likely upgrade wifi every 1-2 years.
Now you also have flexibility to switch firewalls whenever you want as well :)
So you can try out an edgerouter, then if you don't like it you can switch to a T620+ with OPNsense, , then if you outgrow it, an esxi box with a virtual fw etc. etc.

I personally run the following and it is solid as a rock!!

- Motorola MB8600 cable modem
- MiniITX based ESXi server that I switch between Juniper vSRX, Palo Alto or OPNsense firewall's
- Mist wifi AP's, but I have had some fun with Ruckus, Aerohive and Ubiquiti in the past
 
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Markess

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May 19, 2018
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For maximum flexibility and future proofing I like to seperate my gateway and wifi boxes like this...
Internet > cable modem > firewall > wifi AP

A decent cable modem will last 5-10 years, whereas you will most likely upgrade wifi every 1-2 years.
Now you also have flexibility to switch firewalls whenever you want as well :)
So you can try out an edgerouter, then if you don't like it you can switch to a T620+ with OPNsense, , then if you outgrow it, an esxi box with a virtual fw etc. etc.

I personally run the following and it is solid as a rock!!

- Motorola MB8600 cable modem
- MiniITX based ESXi server that I switch between Juniper vSRX, Palo Alto or OPNsense firewall's
- Mist wifi AP's, but I have had some fun with Ruckus, Aerohive and Ubiquiti in the past
That's good advice. I don't have cable (so no cable modem) but the theory is definitely the same, just less components. Being able to switch out parts, without having to replace the whole gives good flexibility. Especially if I'm unsure how well each component is going to work for me.

I've got my internet through a company that does TV over IP, so the fiber goes to a "neighborhood" junction and then a single Cat 5e line comes from there into the house to my structured wiring box in the closet. Lucky for me, the junction is in the front corner of my lot, so the Cat 5e run isn't too long.

I don't have TV through the company, just internet, so all I got was that single inbound cable with an RJ 45 jack on it, and I was responsible for providing my own hardware from there.

I'm thinking PFsense, OPNsense, Untangle and the rest aren't an option right now. The wife lets me build up my own gear, and even her PC, but draws the line at the router and network management. For that she wants a genuine commercially produced appliance..or appliances.

The trick for me is picking one that actually works well. The advantage of a commercial product is that its not really my fault if it doesn't work well. But it will still be my fault for picking that particular one, hence my request here. ;)

That doesn't mean I'm ruling out a PFsense (or other similar) appliance. Sadly, that seems to be a pricey option though, since I don't have the option of rolling my own if I want to keep Spouse Approval Factor in the green
 

ReturnedSword

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Jun 15, 2018
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How about mesh routers? I realize you're using the ASUS Lyra, which uses the same AiMesh system I'm using for my parents' house. The main router itself is fine, but the satellites are a bit flaky at times even hardwired. Netgear Orbi is quite good, especially on the higher models. Eero is also great. Google WiFi isn't far behind. Plume, with their SuperPods don't have the highest throughput, but the user experience is exceptional due to the AI (I dislike it due to being forced to pay a subscription, though).

Personally I run my own firewall appliance (pfSense) to which the APs connect to. My needs aren't particularly high, but I do like the more advanced firewall rules, IDS features, analytics and monitoring that's possible by something like pfSense.
 

Markess

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May 19, 2018
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How about mesh routers? I realize you're using the ASUS Lyra, which uses the same AiMesh system I'm using for my parents' house. The main router itself is fine, but the satellites are a bit flaky at times even hardwired. Netgear Orbi is quite good, especially on the higher models. Eero is also great. Google WiFi isn't far behind. Plume, with their SuperPods don't have the highest throughput, but the user experience is exceptional due to the AI (I dislike it due to being forced to pay a subscription, though).

Personally I run my own firewall appliance (pfSense) to which the APs connect to. My needs aren't particularly high, but I do like the more advanced firewall rules, IDS features, analytics and monitoring that's possible by something like pfSense.
Mesh is certainly an option! Networking is my weak spot, so the set-up simplicity of home oriented mesh has appeal.

I suffer from "Early Adopter Syndrome", so often wind up with buggy gear that only got cursory use before the glowing reviews appeared on the various tech sites. Case in point is my first gen Lyra. Maybe they actually work well, and mine is just dying? (I also figured out the satellites were flaking out some time back and they've been turned off for a while now)

So, this time I'm looking for something that real people (aka not an Amazon or Newegg review) are actually using in the long term and are satisfied with. Between this thread and others this forum, looks like a lot of people prefer pfSense. I don't need all the features, but lots of folks here are using it and its solid for them. And that's the kind of information I'm looking for.

Just not sure the wife, who is relatively tech savvy herself, is going to buy off on it :rolleyes: She much prefers 100% set-it and forget it.
 

ReturnedSword

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The Lyra’s AiMesh is probably the culprit. It’s a nice concept, and when it first came out I went about converting all my ASUS routers to AiMesh. I found myself having to reboot a satellite every couple days when it lost its pairing to the master node, which was a bit annoying.

Recently last month I helped a family friend who teaches nursing set up her home office, and while I was at it I fixed her bad WiFi with a couple Eero Pro units. When done right mesh networking just works and pretty much sets itself up. It took me about 30 minutes to finish everything, with the bulk of the time taken up by physically walking around her house and plugging the units into power. From there out it’s quite painless and doesn’t require much tinkering.

Personally I like the control of Ubiquiti APs (Ruckus is also quite good), but it can get pricey fast. My home is a bigger ranch style building that’s spread out, and due to being constructed in the late 50s probably has a lot of stuff in the walls. I have to have 3 APs to cover everything, all connected with wired backhaul.

If possible I’d suggest wired backhaul since it makes things simpler and more reliable, even when using mesh routers.

On the topic pfSense, I’ve been running more or less the same config since I set up the current pfSense (about 2014). I ran into an issue with the HDD failing about 3 years ago, but since changing over to a small old SSD, have had no issues. Running your own firewall appliance gives you more control and some nifty plug-ins. My network is also segmented at the router, with my WiFi and IOT stuff on separate subnets from the private network. It may be overkill for most people, though I imagine many readers here run their own router/firewall appliance, such as pfSense.
 
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blinkenlights

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May 24, 2019
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I'd do a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter ER-4, and pair it with a used Ruckus R710 (running Unleashed) firmware from EBay.
I saw this thread earlier in the week and thought of something that might help future readers. Any of these options, like the Netgear SoHo gear, will do just fine, but you may find the enterprise options more economical in the long run. A lot of times people will buy the consumer gear "plus" - plus four Wi-Fi extenders, plus higher gain antennas - costing far more than a single enterprise AP that could cover the same area.

Here is how I explained to my wife why I wanted to spend $300 on a refurbished Ruckus R720: no, it will not be "faster" than what we have now, but each of 20+ guests in and around the house will have a strong signal and consistent speeds. Enterprise wireless gear is not like a sports car - really fast for short distances - more like a locomotive that pulls heavy cargo long distances.

Hope that helps!
 
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Markess

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Here is how I explained to my wife why I wanted to spend $300 on a refurbished Ruckus R720: no, it will not be "faster" than what we have now, but each of 20+ guests in and around the house will have a strong signal and consistent speeds. Enterprise wireless gear is not like a sports car - really fast for short distances - more like a locomotive that pulls heavy cargo long distances.
Any advice on how to convince the wife on a purchase is HIGHLY appreciated! Probably more important than advice on the hardware selection itself. After all, if the wife doesn't approve, there's going to be no purchases. :p
 

blinkenlights

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May 24, 2019
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Any advice on how to convince the wife on a purchase is HIGHLY appreciated! Probably more important than advice on the hardware selection itself. After all, if the wife doesn't approve, there's going to be no purchases. :p
LOL! Allow me to pass along a book of sage wisdom, handed by old married guys, shared with my own brother and brother in-law: Red Green's Beginner's Guide to Women: (For Men Who Don't Read Instructions): Smith, Steve, Green, Red: 9780385677639: Amazon.com: Books ;)

All joking aside, you know your wife better than anyone - my wife has a background in accounting, so nearly every tech upgrade I present from a cost/benefit perspective. Need to upgrade from 100/100 FTTH service to 400/400 (typically 500/500+!) for $20/mo. more? Pretty easy argument with everyone SFH/WFH nowadays, but when I did it I pointed out that we have several devices capable of 4k streaming and $20/mo. is worth not dealing with stutters and resolution flipping. Now, if my wife were technical and demanded to see the RRD bandwidth graphs from pfSense... :eek::oops::rolleyes:
 
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Markess

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One of the reasons I love this site is that I always get good information I can act on. Sometimes its nothing I expected though ;)

...I realize you're using the ASUS Lyra, which uses the same AiMesh system I'm using for my parents' house. The main router itself is fine, but the satellites are a bit flaky at times even hardwired....
I initially thought, "yup flaky satellites!", then after a day I thought, "Wait, what? AIMesh? These things don't do AIMesh do they?". Since early 2018, whenever I checked for firmware through the GUI or Lyra app, it returned "no updated firmware available". So, I thought it had been abandoned for updates. I never thought to check the website in case the GUI/App were reporting incorrectly. Finding, and manually uploading the December, 2019 version stopped the dropouts just like that. But, the 5G signal strength for the reserved backhaul channel was still pretty abysmal. I know penetration for 5G is less than 2.4, but into the next room over was about as far as each would reach.

Upon hearing this, my 17 year old started pitching that maybe we should get a new Asus router as the base router and use the 3 Lyra units as mesh extenders. He really doesn't care about wifi (his PC is wired), but he hates having to wait for me to get around to configuring the firewall every time he gets a new game that requires configuration, and ASUS promises that the new "gaming" routers have firewall presets for all the popular games/services and one of the RJ45 jacks was "Gaming Optimized" (whatever that is). He was smart and pitched it to his mom first..."I'm thinking it would be so much easier for Dad..." She thought it was a great idea, because we could reuse what we already have (she's into Reuse). There was more, but you get the idea.

So, if anyone needs to know how well the ASUS ROG GT-AC2900 does, just PM me in a few weeks. :p
 

ReturnedSword

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With AiMesh all the settings are configured from the master node. Settings-wise stuff carries over to the satellite nodes, within their technical capabilities. They just act somewhat like mesh APs. The heavy lifting will be on the master node though, such as the QoS stuff for games.

Out of curiosity, which Lyra model do you have? To bring older ASUS routers to the current firmware version that supports AiMesh, there was a major version number jump, which required manual installation of the firmware. That’s probably why the firmware update functionality in the web configurator didn’t/couldn’t report the availability of new firmware.

You mentioned about the wireless backhaul. Is that how the Lyra nodes are set up currently? It’s much better to use wired backhaul with AiMesh, especially if you include older units in your AiMesh setup. Additionally, that way the Ethernet ports in the back of the Lyra nodes acts as a switch, allowing you to plug in one wired device, or another switch for more wired devices.

Ideally the master node (the new AC-2900 router) should be in a somewhat central location, or the location where you want the best wireless performance. Then the satellite nodes would wired out to cover the dead spots. Ofc nothing is ideal, so an approximation will be fine in most cases.
 
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Markess

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Out of curiosity, which Lyra model do you have? To bring older ASUS routers to the current firmware version that supports AiMesh, there was a major version number jump, which required manual installation of the firmware. That’s probably why the firmware update functionality in the web configurator didn’t/couldn’t report the availability of new firmware.
I've got three of the AC2200 & was on the last FW version before AIMesh.

You mentioned about the wireless backhaul. Is that how the Lyra nodes are set up currently? It’s much better to use wired backhaul with AiMesh, especially if you include older units in your AiMesh setup. Additionally, that way the Ethernet ports in the back of the Lyra nodes acts as a switch, allowing you to plug in one wired device, or another switch for more wired devices.
Wired backhaul didn't work well on the old firmware. But every room in the house is wired, so I can easily try it again with the (much) newer firmware. Thanks for the recommend, I wouldn't have thought to try it again.

Ideally the master node (the new AC-2900 router) should be in a somewhat central location, or the location where you want the best wireless performance. Then the satellite nodes would wired out to cover the dead spots. Ofc nothing is ideal, so an approximation will be fine in most cases.
Sadly, all the house's internal ethernet wiring & the cable from the ISP terminate in a wiring panel in a large closet near a corner of the house on the upper floor. The master Lyra is just outside the wiring panel (as far as the cables could reach) with the ISP's cable in one Ethernet port and the second connected to the house's wired ethernet runs through an unmanaged switch. I'm thinking I'll have to put the new router in the same place, but since it has more gigabit jacks than the Lyra, I can do away with the switch. And if this doesn't solve the wifi issues, at least the wired networking piece should be sorted out. If that happens, I can always get a used "industrial strength" Ruckus AP that I can put in the center of the house.
 
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ReturnedSword

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You’ll probably need to keep a switch, since you mentioned you have about 20 wired devices. The ASUS AC-86U / GT-AC2900 (the GT-AC2900 is just the version with firmware preconfigured for gaming), only has 4 ports on its built-in switch. It’s probably best to connect each Lyra to the new router directly. After flashing AiMesh compatible firmware each AiMesh node will also act as a switch (whether using wired or wireless backhaul), so you can connect something to the spare port too.

At my house I also have a situation where my wired network originates in a corner of the house too. My APs are located throughout the house though using wired backhaul so I didn’t have to deal with thinking much about where the modem goes. In your situation unless you re-run your drops, you may have to live with having the “latest” WiFi in the area of the new router, and use the Lyras for WiFi everywhere else.
 
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EngChiSTH

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Jun 27, 2018
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That's good advice. I don't have cable (so no cable modem) but the theory is definitely the same, just less components. Being able to switch out parts, without having to replace the whole gives good flexibility. Especially if I'm unsure how well each component is going to work for me.

I've got my internet through a company that does TV over IP, so the fiber goes to a "neighborhood" junction and then a single Cat 5e line comes from there into the house to my structured wiring box in the closet. Lucky for me, the junction is in the front corner of my lot, so the Cat 5e run isn't too long.

I don't have TV through the company, just internet, so all I got was that single inbound cable with an RJ 45 jack on it, and I was responsible for providing my own hardware from there.

I'm thinking PFsense, OPNsense, Untangle and the rest aren't an option right now. The wife lets me build up my own gear, and even her PC, but draws the line at the router and network management. For that she wants a genuine commercially produced appliance..or appliances.

The trick for me is picking one that actually works well. The advantage of a commercial product is that its not really my fault if it doesn't work well. But it will still be my fault for picking that particular one, hence my request here. ;)

That doesn't mean I'm ruling out a PFsense (or other similar) appliance. Sadly, that seems to be a pricey option though, since I don't have the option of rolling my own if I want to keep Spouse Approval Factor in the green

I think you are on the right track in - seeing feedback from real from people who actually use something similar for the similar needs every day ( vs review)

My recommendations to you overall
- multiple device vs all in one. much easier to swap, scale, etc. lower impact of failure of any component.
- fit for purpose, just enough hardware. no future proofing (fool errands anyway), " just works " mentality

what i use personally and like
- router/firewall , Mikrotik Hex RB750GR3 , $50-60 piece of hardware that I had zero issues with.
MikroTik RouterBOARD 750Gr3 hEX (Complete w/ Enclosure + Power Supply). 3W of power consumption, very stable.
- unifi APs (AP-AC-PRO in my case) with controller software of very low capacity VM over Debian without a GUI. solid.
- for switch I use Brocade 6450 (another massive thread here) bought for $89 from e-bay , 25W power consumption, 10G SFP+ networking for my NAS + primary server.

I used pfsense before and liked it but thought it is a massive overkill for functionality I want
I also have high Wife Acceptance Factor requirements (it must work) and kids who stream every waking hour right now so bad wifi or rebooting router is out of question. set it and forget it.
 
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Markess

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You’ll probably need to keep a switch, since you mentioned you have about 20 wired devices. The ASUS AC-86U / GT-AC2900 (the GT-AC2900 is just the version with firmware preconfigured for gaming), only has 4 ports on its built-in switch. It’s probably best to connect each Lyra to the new router directly. After flashing AiMesh compatible firmware each AiMesh node will also act as a switch (whether using wired or wireless backhaul), so you can connect something to the spare port too.

At my house I also have a situation where my wired network originates in a corner of the house too. My APs are located throughout the house though using wired backhaul so I didn’t have to deal with thinking much about where the modem goes. In your situation unless you re-run your drops, you may have to live with having the “latest” WiFi in the area of the new router, and use the Lyras for WiFi everywhere else.
With drops from 4 rooms (one per room) plus the inbound cable from the ISP, there were too many jacks for the master Lyra, so I had a switch in the wiring cabinet for them. The GT-AC2900 has exactly enough ports though, so that switch can go.

The two rooms with more than one device have their own switches: a Netgear GS-108E and an Aruba S3500-24T. Neither has any advanced features running ATM, so the network is pretty flat.

I wouldn't have thought to connect the Lyra nodes directly to the router with devices "behind it" in the second port. But it makes total sense, thanks for bringing it up. I can easily do that in the rooms with just one device, TiVo DVRs in both cases. The third Lyra is going to have to go in front of the Aruba S3500 or behind it though. I can try it both ways to see what works best.

I'd wondered about the difference between the "GT-ACnn" and "AC-nn" series. Thanks for clarifying!

what i use personally and like
- router/firewall , Mikrotik Hex RB750GR3 , $50-60 piece of hardware that I had zero issues with.
MikroTik RouterBOARD 750Gr3 hEX (Complete w/ Enclosure + Power Supply). 3W of power consumption, very stable.
That actully looks pretty perfect! If the solution that my son just roped me into suggested doesn't work out, I'll definitely look into that. Honestly, I only knew Mikrotik from 10G, but since I've stopped using 10G at home (wasn't using the bandwidth), I hadn't thought of them as an option.
 
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