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Help with a home network

PraetorPraetor [Redacted]Registered User regular
Hey guys,

My family's just built a new house, and I've been tasked (as the only technically oriented person) to figure out what hardware to use for the home network. It's my first time looking at networking bigger than, oh, stick the cable from the wall into the router and just connect via wireless, and this is supposed to be a place we're gonna live in for a while, so I'm hoping I could get advice from people that've had experience with this.

So far, we've currently got about 10 cat6 cables to various points in the house, and a NAS box. My internet connection is going to be 100/50, so the current plan is a cable from my fibre optic box to a gigabit router with wireless-N (People have laptops and wanna roam around the house), which will then be connected to two 6 port switches. Finally, it's a pretty big place,so I've been told that for full coverage, i'm going to need to stick a range extender somewhere in the house.

So, big questions - any brands for hardware I should be looking at or specifically avoiding? I was advised to either go with Cisco, or to go with some taiwanese brand I cannot for the life of me remember right now. Advice on the network topography would be great too, in case I've overlooked something.

--2 Switches + NAS Box

Thanks for your time!

3DS FC: 3067-6095-3603
Praetor on


  • AlectharAlecthar Alan Shore We're not territorial about that sort of thing, are we?Registered User regular
    Any reason to go with 2 switches vs 1 big one?

  • SyphyreSyphyre A Dangerous Pastime Registered User regular
    Unless you're running a business out of your home, Cisco is overpriced and overdoing it. You can get the same results for much cheaper.

    Your topology sounds good, if you have a large of house as you say. I'd recommend the Netgear GS108 for the switches. They are unmanaged, and if you need managed switches (likely not) I may recommend another brand. I'm also a big fan of the Netgear WNDR3700 as a wireless N router. However you may also look at some of Buffalo's routers because they have external antennas and you can get somewhat higher gain->higher range with them.

  • PraetorPraetor [Redacted]Registered User regular
    @Alecthar I was told by the networking guy at my nearby electronics giant that it's necessary for load balancing. Not sure if its complete horseshit, which is a reason why I'm asking here as well.

    @Syphyre I'll definitely try to find those switches - I don't live in the US, so physically sourcing for hardware is a bit more time consuming. I'll have a look around for buffalo routers and update the post when I do.


    3DS FC: 3067-6095-3603
  • AlectharAlecthar Alan Shore We're not territorial about that sort of thing, are we?Registered User regular
    Sounds like horseshit to me. The only "load balancing" I know of with networking involves managing different connections to multiple hosts, an enterprise-related need.

    Using multiple switches isn't going to hurt anything, but if it's not more expensive to do so, you may as well just go with a single larger switch. As for wireless "range extenders" I'm assuming they mean a Wireless Access Point or Wireless Bridge. An access point will create another wireless network linked to your home network, but must be physically plugged into the network via ethernet. Useful if for some reason you'd like to have different wireless networks in different areas of the home (your living area vs. another family member's, for example) or if you have wired network connectivity, and wish to have wireless connectivity in an area where your regular wireless network doesn't reach (making wireless bridging impossible).

    A wireless bridge will "repeat" the signal of your main wireless network without being wired into the LAN. I use an old wireless router for this purpose, so that devices can be hardwired to it in addition to using the wireless connection.

    For your use, it sounds like wireless bridging is what you're looking for.

  • punkpunk Professional Network Nerd Phoenix, AZRegistered User regular
    Praetor wrote: »
    @Alecthar I was told by the networking guy at my nearby electronics giant that it's necessary for load balancing. Not sure if its complete horseshit, which is a reason why I'm asking here as well.

    It's usually safe to ignore just about anything the sales guy/gal at your local electronics giant has to say about any product. Safer to do your own research. I rarely overhear a conversation at Fry's or Best Buy that I don't cringe at.

    Cisco used to mean only expensive enterprise-class hardware. Now that Linksys has been totally absorbed into the Hive Mind, the Cisco Home brand is out there and they do have some decent stuff. The person who told you Cisco was the way to go may have been referred to their home products and not their enterprise hardware.

    From personal experience, I've owned several Linksys/Cisco Home products and they've all been decent. I've also worked with NetGear, which is also decent. It's been a while since I touched D-Link or Belkin, but the last time I used either brand they were total shit, so there's no reason for me to want to sample them a second time.

    At the moment I have a Cisco E4200, which is pretty much last year's version of the newer EA4500.

    No reason to use two switches, as others have said; unless some of your connections are more than 300 feet apart. But to be honest, there's no reason notto use two switches, either. If you want to use two, no one is going to stop you.

    Technically, a wireless bridge joins two wired networks together via wireless. Speaking from experience, a wireless bridge might be used to connect your network at the main airport terminal to a baggage trailer out on the tarmac that has no copper or fiber connectivity. An access point has a wired connection to your LAN and serves as a Wi-Fi radio. In most consumer routers, there is basically an AP built-in. A range extender or repeater will actually connect to your existing wireless network and extend its range. In the case of this Cisco RE1000, it's both a bridge and a repeater.

    5GHz Wireless N doesn't appreciate a lot of walls, walls made of dense material like brick or concrete, or walls thick with metal pipes or supports. Apply a range extender where its needed, usually around the half-way point between "awesome!" and "shit!" signal strength.

    Godspeed, and good luck.

  • AlectharAlecthar Alan Shore We're not territorial about that sort of thing, are we?Registered User regular
    Good point about bridging vs. repeating. DD-WRT's wireless bridge setting is also a wireless repeater, like the Cisco unit you refer too, so I often conflate the two.

  • PraetorPraetor [Redacted]Registered User regular
    Thanks a ton for your advice guys.

    Popped down to the store, and couldn't find anything from netgear, and buffalo gear was on par with the cisco/linksys EA4500, so I'm probably going with that. I have a super old linksys router that I might be able to use as an access point, but either way, I think I'd best just get the router + switches (switches cause there isn't a 16 port gigabit switch that I can find) first and then see if I need a bridge or not.

    Again, thanks!

    3DS FC: 3067-6095-3603
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