I love the Ubiquti USG for home users (and even small businesses). It has good performance, offers all of the typical features that a home power user or small business would need (port forwarding with groups for IP phones, VPN, DHCP reservations) and it is very reliable.

One of the biggest problems with internet connections with unequal upload and download speeds (asynchronous) is buffer bloat. This is where the the buffer in your cable modem gets filled while it tries to upload data, so new internet requests take forever and often time out, even though there is plenty of bandwidth available. There are a few ways to tackle this problem:

  • Set an upload bandwidth limit in the router to prevent the modem’s buffer from being filled up
  • Set up QoS (Quality of Service) rules to prioritize traffic (must be done in conjunction with bullet point 1)
  • Set up a Linux tool called “Smart Queues” which prioritizes real-time traffic (voice over IP, streaming media) or non real-time traffic such as website requests. Again, this must be done in conjunction with bullet point one.

Most people can get away with setting their upload and download speeds in their router, and the USG is no different. The speeds can be entered manually or the router can run a speed test at specific intervals and set those speeds automatically. This prevents extreme buffer bloat issues but doesn’t prioritize types of traffic.

The USG has Smart Queues built in, but the router’s maximum throughput takes a big hit: I could only get 65-70 mbps download with this feature enabled. (This is because the hardware acceleration chip used for routing can no longer be used, so it must use software routing.) If you have a 50 mbps internet connection (or less), the USG is a great router. But if you have a faster internet connection and want to get every last megabit/sec out of it, then you’ll need something faster.

The Dream Machine Pro

The Dream Machine Pro was my choice as an upgrade from my USG. Yes, there are other options such as the USG Pro and the Dream Machine, but I chose to go with the Dream Machine Pro. Supposedly it can route up to 1300 mbps with Smart Queues enabled (I have no way to verify since my download speed is just 100 mbps) but it gave a significant performance improvement over the USG even on my connection. Ping times also dropped from 25-30 ms to 10-11 ms. I have tested the Dream Machine Pro with very heavy downloading and gaming while holding VOIP calls, and Smart Queues has always given me rock solid call quality even while saturating the rest of the network. I highly recommend it. (Oh, and it does all kinds of other things too such as acting as a DVR for Ubiquiti sercurity cameras, but I haven’t tried that yet.)