Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite Review

Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite (Model: ERLite-3)
Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite
(Model: ERLite-3)

I recently purchased the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite (Model: ERLite-3). The state of my home network was pretty sad. I had gigabit ethernet run between the machines in my office, but only a 100 megabit link to the cheap wireless router that handled all of the traffic for the house. The weakness of this setup was shown when attempting to back up data to the local server over wireless, while at the same time using VoIP from one of the wired computers in my office. This fancy router should allow for a setup with much better scalability.

In case you’re not familiar with it, this is a highly-configurable gigabit router. The specs on this router look pretty impressive. It has 3 gigabit ethernet ports, 512 MB DDR2 RAM, and 2 GB of internal storage. All this for under $100.

In the box are the router, power adapter and cord, screws and drywall anchors, and a quick start guide. Getting it out of the box, it appears about as expected. It has a metal case and feels fairly well built. There are 4 RJ45 ports on one side, one is for serial console and the rest are gigabit ethernet. The opposite side has connection points for power and ground. The bottom has slotted holes for wall mounting with the included screws and drywall anchors. The drywall anchors are a nice touch, a small thing that is often overlooked. In addition, the last page of the manual has a template for the mounting holes.

Speaking of the manual, it is concise and seems to include all the necessary information to get started. There are several simple URL’s listed throughout the manual to get more information online. In keeping with the theme of this site, the source code for this router’s firmware is available for download provided you agree to their terms of use (basically don’t redistribute it or modify it for malicious purposes). This is one of those cases where open-source doesn’t necessarily mean free, but it is good to see steps in the right direction. On a side note, it appears that some people are successfully running various Linux distributions on these things. That is something I may have to look into in the future.

Now to see how it works. I got it powered up, and was able to connect to it easily. The online manual referred to some features that weren’t in the interface, so I updated to the latest firmware. This part was quick and painless, but depending on your situation you may want to download the manual, firmware, and config file (more on that later) before you connect to this router to start setting it up.

After getting the new firmware installed, I realized I still didn’t really know how to use this thing. The manual, while very detailed, wasn’t much help for me on this. There were some preset configurations on the built-in wizards tab, but based on the descriptions I wasn’t sure any of them would quite do what I wanted. I did a little looking around on Ubiquiti’s website and found their forums. A quick search for configuration examples led me to a thread on basic SOHO and home router configurations. The thread had a good configuration prepackaged in a tarball for easy upload to the router. The configuration I chose wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but seemed close enough to get things working.

Uploading the config file was just as simple as updating the firmware, performed through the web interface. I temporarily disabled my local DHCP server to avoid conflicts with the one on the router and proceeded with the configuration change. This worked flawlessly and properly configured the network interfaces. After restarting my cable modem, I was able to regain internet connectivity. Once I verified everything was working, I turned off the router’s DHCP server for the wired network and re-enabled my existing one.

Everything seems to be working at this point, and this router is far more configurable than I will likely need. Overall, the web interface is actually fairly easy to use once you get a good base configuration. The router also has SSH capability, allowing for more in-depth management through the command line.

My recommendation based on initial impressions:

If you’re looking for a powerful router and willing to do a little learning on how to use it (or are familiar with commercial router configuration), this router is well worth the money. If you want something super-simple to use or are turned off by the idea of a nearly $100 router that doesn’t have wireless, you’re probably better off to keep looking.

I hope you have found this review helpful, and I will post a second part with some speed test data and my thoughts after having used it for a few weeks.