AmpliFi – when design overwhelms functionality

I am not a fan of typical ‘review’ which you can find thousands all around the Internet, because mostly they do not focus on functionalities of a equipment but on design, accessories and other issues which are less important regarding telecommunication devices, am I right? This router came along to me almost accidentally, but I need to point something out – this is not a sponsored article, and I will try to keep it as substantial as possible.

Ubiquiti’s equipment is something which I work with for many years and I got my opinion about their portfolio – these are decent telecommunication devices with great price/quality ratio often degraded by software updates. MikroTik kicks its butt hard when it comes to functionality, but wireless parameters are more than great. I came across AmpliFi router thanks to Ubiquiti newsletter and I had big expectations about it. I was really wrong, but first things first…

This article was supposed to be published about 2 months ago, but after opening the package and connecting the router to my network I got really disappointed. Believe me. I lost all motivation to write about it, I also considered sending it back, but at long last – you got the article in front of your noses. I admire my friends’ patience – he send me AmpliFi for testing long time ago.

The way this router is presented in press or online shops attracts attention successfuly and makes us think that this device is what you really need to solve are your problems with home network. Quality of a packaging and a way it is packed makes you feel like owning a premium class equipment. It’s worth mentioning that this router costs almost 200$.

amplifi plug in

AmpliFi connected.

AmpliFi is made with high quality materials which are fitted great. It has five Gigabit copper ports on it’s backpanel. You need to decide whether you like design or not. I’d say it’s esthetical, but nothing to be really excited about. On the other hand – I would not be ashamed of having this device in the living room.

amplifi close up

Reviews which I came across the Internet represents completely different approach than mine. Admiring the way the router looks is improper regarding it’s functionalities. This is a goddamned router not a chandelier. Touch screen on such device is equally important for me as a rain sensor on a bike. Since I started using it in my home I touched it maybe 20 times, while 2 months passed. Useless gadget which makes the router look trumpery. It would be a lot better if manufacturer would focus on functionalities of a device.

Just after connecting all the ethernet cables I logged into web panel which greeted me happily, allowed to configure WAN port and informed me, that since now – the rest of configuration will be made through mobile application. I couldn’t believe what I see and started to look for “Advanced” or “Configuration” button somewhere. No chance.

First and the only one configuration window in web panel.

Unwillingly I reached my smartphone and looked for an application. At least it does not need any suspicious permissions, but during installation I imagined myself creating all port forwarding rules, VPN accounts using smartphone keyboard and reluctance was building up. Application looked fine, everything was in place, it’s a shame however that ‘everything’ in this case is so little. Managing the wireless networking was limited to absolute minimum – SSID, channel and it’s width, wireless security and basic guest access. Nothing worth mentioning. Same for WAN port, DHCP service or port forwarding, which (praise the Lordah!) this router is capable of. More options are related to LCD brightness and LED lightning of a device’s base, what was funny in a way. We are able to check who is connected to our network, limit their access oraz make use of preconfigured profiles – ‘Media’ and ‘Gaming’ for specific clients which from my point of view – had no impact at all. That’s all…

Forget about VPN services, copper ports configuration, advanced firewall rules, QoS, multimedia server, download station, usable USB port, statistics or advanced diagnostic tools. Software treats you as a unaware user and states it on every step. For experienced user configuring this device would be pain in the ass. You cannot access AmpliFi in any other way than using this smartphone application. All ports are closed and lack of a VPN bashfully does the job.

I need to glorify the wireless network of a AmpliFi. Signal is strong and stable and it offers great throughput. On a photo below you can see a sample of dual-band possibilities. I didn’t have to wait to get such result, almost all tests were estimated at 500-550Mbit. Unit I got for tests was shipped without wireless extenders and despite of really long flat I didn’t experienced any problems at all. Maybe owner of a big house with a garden would put them into consideration. Those internal antennas did better than TP-Link 1043NDv2 and Fritz!Box 7490! Great job.

Simple wireless test.

I would not go deep into it’s specification. I assume you got the basic knowledge since you are here. Throughput of a switching unit was measured by professional ethernet-meter device. It’s great, but similiar results you can get on a routers for $40.

1Gbit/s, 1518 bytes, 100% utilization.

Now test for LAN to WAN. 1Gbit/s internet access measured with iperf to server with 10Gbit/s access. Usual and smaller windows sizes.

iperf3 -c X.X.X.X -R -P6

iperf3 -c X.X.X.X -P6 -M128

AmpliFi parameters are more than sufficient. Device is quick and responsive, all changes are applied without need of a reboot. Make a notice, that AmpliFi is not manufactured directly by Ubiquiti – treat it as a separate product line which seems fine. It got nothing to do with portfolio of a Ubiquiti itself. Functionality is limited to minimum. The only use for this device I see in modern interiors, which owners have no idea how it works and why. That’s fine then. But where the price came from…

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