Since ~ 2012, UBNT has had their series gigabit capable routers, known as the EdgeRouter line. There’s been a few generations of these over the years, focusing on either price or performance points. It can be confusing when trying to find the best one to suit your needs, so lets do an overview of the different models and what they each bring to the table.
All of the ERs have pretty much the same software features, so we won’t go into too much detail on software unless its an important distinction.
First Generation (Cavium)
This is the original EdgeRouter model – inexpensive (sub-$120 USD), capable of near wirespeed routing with its hardware offloading and accelerated IPSec VPN. Has three gigabit ethernet ports, and can do various routing protocols such as BGP, OSPF, RIP, etc.
There are two versions of these – the original plastic ones and the newer metal case ones. The original plastic ones have known issues with the DRAM and flash drives.
Old, but if you can find one cheap (either metal case, or a plastic one with the USB flash drive replaced), they make a great inexpensive CPE – however their CPU is pretty slow and anemic making for poor performance with OpenVPN, QoS, and other CPU bound uses.
EdgeRouter 5 POE
Basically an ERL with an integrated switch and passive 24v and 48v POE support (not 802.11af/at). These can power an older Unifi AP that supports 24v passive, or some AirMax type devices.
Has same performance limitations as the ERL.
Rack mounted ER, faster CPU, and 8 gigabit copper ethernet ports. Better performance with CPU bound applications/services such as OpenVPN and QoS. Has all of the same software and offload capabilities as the ERL.
EdgeRouter Pro 8
Another rack mounted ER with a step up in performance from the ER8. Has two SFP ports and six copper ethernet ports (two are shared). Was top of the line performer for routing until EdgeRouter Infinity was released.
Although a solid performer, the ER8 and ERP8 are both outclassed by the newer ER4/6/12/Infinity models. If you can find them inexpensively, they make a good router for sub-gigabit connections.
“1.5” Generation (MediaTek)
This little router has a great price/performance ratio – for under $60 USD you get a 5 port router (built in switch) that is able to be powered over 24v passive poe, and is capable of outputting 24v passive for some Unifi APs. Performance is almost equal to the ERL in many cases, with it performing better for some tasks like OpenVPN.
It does however have some limitations – offloading can be hit or miss performance wise, especially with the 2.0 firmware. There is a single gigabit link between the internal switch and the CPU, which limits the theoretical max routing performance. It also lacks a serial port, making it a pain to recover if you lock yourself out.
These units tend to be my ‘go-to’ for customers needing an inexpensive router while leaving room for future growth.
EdgeRouter X SFP
An ERX with an added SFP port and 24v passive POE on all five copper gigabit ports.
EdgeRouter 10X (new!)
An ERX with double the RAM, double the flash storage, and double the ports! The 10 port integrated switch make this router a nice router/switch combo, perfect for small offices and home users.
This device somewhat straddles the older ERX and the newer ER4/6/12/Infinity line – not as good performance as the 2nd generation of ERs, but an improvement over the original ERX.
The serial port has been readded, and this device can only run the new EdgeOS 2.x software.
2nd Generation (Cavium)
EdgeRouter Infinity (AKA ER-8-XG)
UBNT’s first 10G router – 8 SFP+ ports and one gigabit copper. 16 CPU cores, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and up to 80Gbps throughput. This beast of a router was the first in the newest generation of routers, and packs quite a bit of performance in 1U. It has dual PSUs.
The internal SFP+ banks can be quirky – they are split into two banks of 4. If you want to run 1G SFP modules in some, you have to switch one bank (either 1-4 or 4-8) to being for 1G only.
For ~ $1850 USD, it’s not a bad price if you need > 1G performance.
UBNT’s newest line of routers – these are in the same CPU family as the Infinity, but are focused on 1G performance and price point. Since they all have the same general performance, we’ll just point out the differences in what each offers hardware wise:
- ER4 – Base model, 3 gigabit copper ports, 1 SFP port
- ER6P – 5 gigabit copper ports, 1 SFP port. 24v passive POE on copper ports
- ER12 – 10 gigabit copper ports (integrated switch), 2 SFP ports, 24v passive POE pass-through
- ER12P – 10 gigabit copper ports (integrated switch), 2 SFP ports, 24v passive POE on copper ports
These units are optional rack mount, with a bracket kit available. They are passively cooled, small form factor, in a durable metal case.