UniFi Diary: 2021 Ubiquiti upgrades, Wi-Fi 6, Dream Machine Pro, and more

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After taking an in-depth look at all of the gear in my current UniFi setup, I’m back today to delve into the equipment I’m hoping to change in 2021. From stepping up to Wi-Fi 6 and upgrading to one of Ubiquiti’s latest routers to expanding my storage pool and doubling down on UniFi Protect, there is a lot planned on the horizon for my homelab. Head below for all of the details.

Planned upgrades for my UniFi setup

In the last addition to our ongoing UniFi Diary series, I detailed everything in my current setup. Now I’m back to go over all of the areas that could use a bit of attention throughout the rest of the year. 

While I’m more or less happy with the backbone of my network, a lot of gear is either beginning to show its age or hitting bottlenecks I didn’t originally have. Since then, my setup has grown significantly both in terms of the number of devices I’m supporting and the overall network traffic passed through the system.

Let’s start with the Ubiquiti gear

Falling into both of these categories is the center of my Ubiquiti setup, the UniFi Security Gateway. When I first picked it up in 2018, it was a rock solid base for a homelab. But now that my entire setup has grown significantly, it’s one of the main components holding the rest of the network back as I have things set up now.

One of the major perks that the UniFi ecosystem brings with it is all of the monitoring functionality, and that’s helped me realize that my system is maxed more often than it should be. Between Plex, backups, and other file transfers, the the USG just can’t keep up like it could back when I build my system. 

This all leads me to the UniFi Dream Machine Pro, arguably the best starting point in Ubiquiti’s lineup for homelabs. I’ve already compiled all of my thoughts on the standard UDM, with the Pro variant taking that all-in-one design and incorporating UniFi Protect support, eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, and additional performance gains. 

I’ll be excited to see how this performs to the USG already in my setup, but I’m already anticipating the upgrade lending a big helping hand to the bandwidth issues I’ve been facing recently. 

Wi-Fi 6

Access points are another element of my setup that could use an upgrade. While the nanoHD configured in my office is handling just fine, the main access point in my setup, the AC Pro, will certainly benefit from being swapped out with one of Ubiquiti’s new Wi-Fi 6 offerings. I’ll have a more detailed write-up on this in the future as I actually put the 802.11ax connectivity to the test. 

UniFi Protect

To round out the actual Ubiquiti side of my setup, I’m planning to further grow the coverage of my UniFi Protect system. I originally took the brand’s home security ecosystem for a spin in 2019, and having used it since, am ready to expand. While I won’t be replacing any of the cameras, there are a few recent releases from Ubiquiti that have caught my eye to supplement the current arsenal of cameras.

There are two in particular that I’ll be checking out, which are highlighted by Ubiquiti’s affordable and compact G3 Instant Camera. This miniature camera still sports 1080p feeds and takes on Wyze and the other budget brands with a $29 price tag. Not to mention, with all of the privacy features and other functionality offered by UniFi Protect.

There’s also the G4 Bullet Camera, which enters with a weather-resistant design. I’m hoping this one will help supplement my existing outdoor setup for monitoring package deliveries and the like, given that I can’t install the G4 Video Doorbell that was launched last summer.

NAS and backup 

Changing gears a bit, a portion of my homelab expands beyond just UniFi gear, with various NAS and other gear to support the network. I just recently detailed what Synology models are currently wired into my 80TB setup, but there’s plenty of room for expansion. Last week, I slotted a pair of Seagate’s 14TB drives into the existing Expansion Unit, which should bring the total storage pool up to around 95TB once it finishes reformatting the partition.

This year also has some additional hardware upgrades to make as well. Even though I just reviewed the Synology DS1520+ in December, I still have yet to fully integrate into my setup, which will be first up on my plate here as I replace the very first NAS from the brand that I bought back in 2018.

Time to score an actual server rack 

Sure this isn’t the most existing or flashiest of upgrades to make, but my UniFi setup and homelab is starting to outgrow the shelf everything has been sitting in. Aside from just the fact that I’m rocking a storage shelf that probably wasn’t the most ideal option to go with from the beginning, I’m officially out of space. So when it comes to all of the expansions I’m looking to make down the road here, the only way to accommodate them is to actually pick up a server rack. 

As of now, there’s not a particular brand or size I’m looking for, but it’s certainly going to have to be an adjustment that’s made sooner than later to accommodate all of the other upgrades.

What’s next for my UniFi setup?

With plenty of plans on the horizon to grow my UniFi setup, I’ll be walking through many of the upgrades over the next few months. First up, I’ll be taking a look at one of the most recent additions to the UniFi Protect lineup in the form of the new G3 camera.

Until then, if you have any questions about my setup, feel free to let me know in the comments below, or say hi over on Twitter.

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