Rivet Networks Announces the 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 Killer AX1650

Subject: Networking | April 15, 2019 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: wireless, wi-fi 6, killer ax1650, killer, 802.11ax

Rivet Networks, maker of the Killer line of networking solutions, today announced its first Wi-Fi 6 chip, the Killer AX1650. The new network controller is the second multi-gig-compatible update from Rivet this year after the company launched its 2.5Gbps Killer E3000 Ethernet controller in January at CES.

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Based on the new wireless specification formerly known as 802.11ax (hence the “AX” in Killer AX1650), the new 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 controller was built in collaboration with Intel and touts the significant performance and usability improvements promised by the emerging Wi-Fi 6 market. These include a theoretical maximum throughput of up to 2.4Gbps, up to 4 times increased throughput in dense environments, and improved power efficiency (thanks in part to the fact that faster speeds mean shorter time transferring data, allowing mobile devices to keep their networking chips in lower power states for longer periods of time compared to previous networking specifications).

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While these benefits are common to most upcoming Wi-Fi 6 devices, Rivet is aiming to distinguish the AX1650 by combining them with the existing Killer network and gaming optimization software, which has been tuned to take advantage of the new faster networking specification. Key Killer software features include:

Killer Control Center 2.0: The newest version of Killer Control Center, which launched alongside the E3000 in January, lets users monitor and control their networking experience with features such as the ability to visualize real-time and historical traffic data, configure app-specific bandwidth priorities and limits, and block unsafe or unknown networking traffic. This is also where users can configure Killer GameFast, which can automatically pause unneeded applications and Windows processes when gaming to ensure the best gaming performance, and Killer Intelligence Engine, which can automatically optimize the user’s network configuration or recommend changes for improved performance and reliability.

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Killer DoubleShot Pro: The Killer DoubleShot Pro technology, which can combine wireless and wired networking connections for improved throughput, is enhanced by the upgrade to Wi-Fi 6. When a device is equipped with both Killer Wi-Fi and Killer Ethernet chips, users can assign certain applications to either interface. Previously, users could assign their highest priority traffic to the Ethernet interface for the best speeds and reliability, while less important traffic, such as Windows Updates or background file transfers, could be routed to the wireless interface. With Wi-Fi 6 and the Killer AX1650, the wireless interface can often now be as fast or faster than the wired interface, giving users two high-speed options for independently routing network traffic.

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Killer Wireless xTend: The existing Killer Wireless xTend feature lets users configure their Killer network interface as a Wi-Fi extender in addition to a receiver, helping cover areas of weak wireless signals without the need to upgrade a router or purchase dedicated wireless extender devices. With the AX1650, this feature can take advantage of the benefits of Wi-Fi 6, including improved range and throughput.

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Based on the combined benefits of these software and hardware features, Rivet is touting significant performance improvements compared to devices based on the 802.11ac specification. This includes real-world bandwidth of up 1.8Gbps in ideal conditions (with 1.5Gbps typical), up to 75 percent lower network latency, and up to a 3x improvement in online game latency.

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The Killer AX1650 will be launching soon in high-end gaming laptops from Alienware. Exact models and availability have yet to be announced. Like all Wi-Fi 6 devices, the AX1650 is backwards compatible with 802.11ac/n, but you’ll need a Wi-Fi 6-capable router to take advantage of all of the AX1650’s features.

NVIDIA is ready to storm the server room

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Networking, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2019 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, t4, amazon, microsoft, NGC, Mellanox, CUDA-X, GTC, jen-hsun huang, DRIVE Constellation, ai

As part of their long list of announcements yesterday, NVIDIA revealed they are partnering with Cisco, Dell EMC, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Inspur, Lenovo and Sugon to provide servers powered by T4 Tensor Core GPUs, optimized to run their CUDA-X AI accelerators. 

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Those T4 GPUs have been on the market for a while but this marks the first major success for NVIDIA in the server room, with models available for purchase from those aforementioned companies.  Those who prefer other people's servers can also benefit from these new products, with Amazon and Microsoft offering Cloud based solutions.  Setting yourself up to run NVIDIA's NGC software may save a lot of money down the road, the cards sip a mere 70W of power which is rather more attractive than the consumption of a gaggle of Tesla V100s.  One might be guilty of suspecting this offers an explanation for their recent acquisition of Mellanox.

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NGC software offers more than just a platform to run optimizations on, it also offers a range of templates to start off with from classification, and object detection, through sentiment analysis and most other basic starting points for training a machine.  Customers will also be able to upload their own models to share internally or, if in the mood, externally with other users and companies.  It supports existing products such as TensorFlow and PyTorch but also offers access to CUDA-X AI, which as the name suggests takes advantage of the base design of the T4 GPU to reduce the amount of time waiting for results and letting users advance designs quickly. 

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If you are curious exactly what particular implementations of everyone's favourite buzzword might be, NVIDIA's DRIVE Constellation is a example after JoshTekk's own heart.  Literally an way to create open, scalable simulation for large fleets of self-driving cars to train them ... for good one hopes.  Currently the Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development utilizes these products in the development of their next self-driving fleet, and NVIDIA obviously hopes others will follow suit. 

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There is not much to see from the perspective of a gamer in the short term, but considering NVIDIA's work at shifting the horsepower from the silicon you own to their own Cloud this will certainly impact the future of gaming from both a hardware and gameplay perspective.  GPUs as a Service may not be the future many of us want but this suggests it could be possible, not to mention the dirty tricks enemy AIs will be able to pull with this processing power behind them.

One might even dream that escort missions could become less of a traumatic experience!

Source: NVIDIA

Rivet Networks Launches the Killer E3000 2.5Gbps Gaming Ethernet Controller

Subject: Networking | January 8, 2019 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: Rivet Networks, rivet, NiC, networking, killer e3000, killer, Ethernet, ces2019

Rivet Networks, maker of the Killer line of gaming-focused networking products, has announced the Killer E3000, a 2.5Gbps Ethernet controller that Rivet is calling the “world’s first” such product designed for gaming.

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The Killer E3000, launching today in select Dell-Alienware and Acer gaming laptops, features the same kind of gaming-prioritized traffic management found on Killer’s other products, but breaks the longstanding gigabit barrier to make the jump to 2.5Gbps.

Why 2.5Gbps? First, the increasing ubiquity of greater-than-gigabit networking technology for businesses and prosumers means that more and more routers and switches are supporting the faster speeds. Increases in WiFi performance, such as those introduced in the upcoming “WiFi 6” standard (a.k.a. 802.11ax), also means that wireless devices will be able to achieve real-world speeds in excess of 1Gbps in many cases, making the once-state-of-the-art wired gigabit Ethernet connection the new bottleneck.

One solution to impending limitations of gigabit Ethernet, including one we’ve pursued here at PC Perspective, is to adopt 10Gbps. And while prices for 10Gbps-capable equipment have fallen significantly in recent years, it’s still quite expensive, both for manufacturers and end users, compared to traditional gigabit options.

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2.5Gbps, however, can keep up with the forthcoming faster WiFi speeds, provide a boost in performance that is noticeable to many users, and is compatible with ubiquitous Cat5e networking cables, all for a cost that is about the same as a standard gigabit NIC.

Killer Control Center 2.0

On the software side of things, Rivet is also announcing an update to Killer Control Center, the company’s software utility that allows users to monitor their network traffic and configure prioritization profiles for certain games and applications. New features in Killer Control Center 2.0 include:

  • Killer GameFast Technology: this new feature in Killer Control Center 2.0 can automatically pause processes that are not needed when gaming. The software detects when a game is launched and pauses Windows and other application services that aren’t essential to system operation, unpausing them once the game is closed. Rivet says that this can free up to 10 percent of your CPU cycles and 20 percent of memory, helping to ensure that as much of your PC’s performance as possible is available to your games. Users can of course customize the list of paused processes so that an important app or background task isn’t affected.
  • Killer Intelligence Engine: this feature scans your current network settings and status and can automatically change network settings — bandwidth limits for certain devices, reprioritizing download vs. streaming traffic, etc. — for optimal performance. And if it can’t automatically fix a problem, such as intermittent wireless connectivity, it can explain the problem to the user and recommend potential solutions.

The Killer E3000 is initially launching in select Alienware and Acer gaming laptops, and will soon be available in additional laptop models as well as high-end gaming motherboards.

Author:
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

I Have a Need, a Need for Download Speed

Thanks to Wendell from Level1Techs for his all of his help on this project and pointing us in the right direction!

A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to get a fiber internet connection installed at the PC Perspective office. Capable of 1Gbps download speeds and about 250Mbps upload, we were excited at the possibilities that laid ahead.

However, when you have access to a very fast internet connection, you begin to notice that the bottleneck has shifted from your connection to the servers on the other side of the content delivery networks (CDNs) that power the internet. While these CDNs have very fast links to the internet, they generally limit bandwidth so that there is more speed to go around to multiple people at the same time.

A look back at what once was

One of the services that we found would max out our connection was Steam. Since we download a lot of PC games at the office, it was a nice benefit to have an internet connection as fast as our NICs could handle, and that the Steam CDNs would serve us at our maximum potential. In fact, the bottleneck shifted over to storage performance, as the random writing nature of Steam thrashed our SSDs at the time.

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By no stretch of the imagination is 60MB/s slow.. but what happened to our 100MB/s!

Unfortunately, this has ceased to remain the case. At some point, Steam downloads started getting slower on our same internet connection. Not only did storage utilization during a Steam download start to increase, but also CPU usage, pointing to a potential change in how Steam distributed their data. While downloads on our high-end systems fell to around 50-60MB/s, systems with less CPU horsepower started to see speeds fall to 20-30MB/s. All hope was lost for fast game downloads.. or was it?

Recently, Wendell from Level1Techs mentioned on Twitter that they were running a local Steam caching server on their network with great success. After some guidance from Wendell, we decided to tackle this project and see if it would help our specific scenario.

Continue reading our experiences setting up a Steam cache!

CES 2018: Rivet Networks Partners with Intel for Killer Wireless-AC 1550

Subject: Networking | January 9, 2018 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: Wireless-AC 1550, wireless, wi-fi, Rivet Networks, networking, killer, Intel, CES 2018, CES, 802.11ac Wave 2

For their new wireless adapter Rivet Networks has partnered with Intel, producing "the worlds fastest 2x2 11ac wireless networking adapter" in the Killer Wireless-AC 1550. This new adapter supports the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard and offers up to 1.73 Gbps throughput using 160 MHz channels.

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"The first product to come out of Rivet Networks’ new partnership with Intel, the Killer™ Wireless-AC 1550 is the world’s fastest 2x2 11ac wireless networking adapter. The Killer Wireless-AC 1550 has been designed to combine the speed, intelligence, and control of Killer Networking products with the power and performance of the latest Intel wireless chipset. Delivering faster than gigabit Ethernet speeds along with the gaming functionality that gamers love, the Killer 1550 is the ideal wireless networking product for competitive gamers and performance users who demand the most from their computers."

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Killer Networking lists these features for the Killer Wireless-AC 1550:

  • Gigabit Wi-Fi Speeds: The Killer Wireless-AC 1550, featuring 160 MHz channel support, has a theoretical max throughput speed of 1.73Gbps when connected to a router that supports 160 MHz channels. This is faster than gigabit Ethernet and twice the speed of standard 2x2 11ac products.
  • MU-MIMO Support: Killer 1550 includes full MU-MIMO (Multi-User-Multiple Input and Multiple-Output) support, which dramatically increases network efficiency by working with a MU-MIMO enabled access point. MU-MIMO allows wireless access points to support multiple transmissions at the same time, versus a single transmission at a time like normal access points. This creates additional efficiencies that can provide up to 60% faster download speeds, lower latency, and a better overall connection.
  • Transmit Beamforming Technology: Killer 1550 also has Transmit Beamforming technology, which allows the Killer Wireless-AC 1550 to share location information directly to your wireless access point so that the access point can better direct its signals to you. This creates stronger wireless signals at all ranges and faster data transfers.
  • Complete 802.11ac functionality: Supports dual band (2.4 GHz and 5GHz), IEEE standards-based 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, and includes Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

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While the big news might be the Intel co-developed hardware, as this is a Killer Networking product the software is a big component in the overall experience. Options configurable via the Killer Control Panel include Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 for automated traffic prioritization for games and streaming, along with Lag and Latency Reduction Technology and Killer DoubleShot Pro support.

The first devices with the new Killer Wireless-AC 1550 adapter are being released this month.

CES 2018: Elgato Shows Off Portable Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Storage, Mobile | January 8, 2018 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2018, Elgato, dock, thunderbolt 3, adapter

Elgato is launching a smaller Thunderbolt 3 dock aptly named the Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock to its family of docks (how many times can I use dock in one sentence?). The portable dock comes with a tail Thunderbolt 3 cable that is permanently attached and stows away into a groove on the bottom of the dock when not in use.

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Using the single 40 Gbps connection provided by Thunderbolt 3, the Mini Dock offers up display outputs, USB 3.1, and network ports including:

  • DisplayPort 1.2 (4k60)
  • HDMI 2.0 (4k60 and HDCP 2.2)
  • RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps UASP and 0.9A of power).

Users will need a newer laptop or desktop with Thunderbolt running Mac OS Sierra 10.12 or Window 10 operating systems or newer. The compact dock will be available in the sping with as yet unanounced pricing. It should be cheaper than Elgatos larger docks (currently their Thunderbolt 3 Dock is $291) though since it is not powered and offers fewer ports.

As notebooks continue to get thinner, these docks (along with ones based on USB Type-C) are going to become more useful in getting the most out of our faster mobile hardware.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES news as it develops!

Also read:

Source: Elgato

CES 2018: ASUS Announces 802.11ax Router and Lyra Voice, a Combination Mesh Hub and Smart Speaker

Subject: Networking | January 8, 2018 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: smart speaker, router, mesh network, mesh, asus lyra, asus, 802.11ax

ASUS today announced new products in its Lyra brand of connected devices. The Lyra Voice is a multi-featured device that acts as both an 802.11ac mesh Wi-Fi hub as well as a voice assistant-enabled stereo speaker.

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The networking side of the Lyra Voice integrates with ASUS's existing Lyra mesh networking system with a tri-band AC2200-class radio, while the personal assistant side relies on integration with Amazon Alexa, allowing users to play music, check the weather, control smart devices around the home, and all of the other Alexa-enabled capabilities.

For those looking for networking without the personal assistant features, the ASUS Lyra Trio is a dual-band, multi-hub mesh Wi-Fi system that features a design with unique antenna placement to increase wireless range and speed.

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Both the Lyra Trio and Voice can be used together to form a home mesh network and are controlled and configured via the ASUS Lyra mobile app. Detailed technical specifications for both products are not yet available.

Finally, ASUS didn't forget about its traditional RT-series of wireless routers. The company also announced the RT-AX88U, an 802.11ax router with maximum throughput of up to 6000Mbps. The RT-AX88U also includes 8 Gigabit LAN ports for wired connections, and utilizes MU-MIMO technology to provide maximum performance to all connected devices.

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Like the Lyra products, detailed technical specifications for the RT-AX88U are not yet available. All three products are expected to be available in the first half of the year, with pricing to be revealed closer to launch.

Source:

Just Picked Up: Google Wifi x4

Subject: Networking | December 28, 2017 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: just delivered, google wifi, google

While our house isn’t particularly large, there were quite a few wireless dead zones with our previous setup. For several months now, we’ve been patching it with a Linksys wireless extender that we move around the house to extend the network in a single direction. That had a few drawbacks, and the signal wasn’t too strong to begin with, but it worked okay.

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Out with the old, and in with the new.
4x Google Wifi routers + 1x Cisco 8-port Gigabit switch

I’ve now picked up a three-pack and a one-pack of Google Wifi devices, after having it recommended to me by some coworkers in my software development job (and a Boxing Week sale at BestBuy Canada). The internet comes in from the basement, so I figured that one on each floor (roughly in a vertical line) and a fourth near the deck (with rough line of sight to the middle one) would provide optimal coverage. Each Google Wifi device can only drive a single wired device, so I opened a Cisco gigabit switch that I purchased several years ago to increase that to seven.

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Setup was quite easy – just plug the first one in and follow the directions on the Google Wifi app. One step will ask you how many more hotspots you have, excluding the one connected to the internet modem. I answered three, so it asked me to set them up one at a time. I needed to scan the QR code on the first of the three pack, and the QR code on the fourth (which came from the one-pack).

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Yeah, I totally need to clean up these wires...
... some day.

When it was all done, everything had internet except the wired devices; that was automatically resolved by the Windows networking troubleshooter, though, so it wasn’t really a problem. Now, as I walk around the house, I see the Wi-Fi drop for an instant (seems like literally a second or two) and reconnect as it chooses a new access point. I suppose this could be annoying if you’re on a Skype chat and walking from room-to-room. The wired devices are getting the full 125/10 that my internet provides, so that’s good.

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One interesting note is that, while I have the option to prioritize devices using my phone, there doesn’t seem to be a “permanently prioritize this device until further notice” option. All I can select is one hour, two hours, or four hours. Seems like an odd omission, but I almost never use prioritization in real-world scenarios anyway.

Source: Google

AmpliFi Announces Teleport, a Zero-Config VPN For Travelers

Subject: Networking | November 7, 2017 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: wi-fi, vpn, ubiquiti, networking, mesh, Amplifi HD, amplifi

Earlier this year we took a look at the AmpliFi HD Home Wi-Fi System as part of our review of mesh wireless network devices. AmpliFi is the consumer-targeted brand of enterprise-focused Ubiquiti Networks, and while we preferred the eero Mesh Wi-Fi System in our initial look, the AmpliFi HD still offered great performance and some unique features. Today, AmpliFi is introducing a new member of its networking family called AmpliFi Teleport, a "plug-and-play" device that provides a secure connection to users' home networks from anywhere.

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Essentially a zero-configuration hardware-based VPN, the Teleport is linked with a user's AmpliFi account, which automatically creates a secure connection to the user's AmpliFi HD Wi-Fi System at home. Users take the small (75.85mm x 43mm x 39mm) Teleport device with them on the road, plug it in and connect it to the public Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and then connect their personal devices to the Teleport.

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This provides a secure connection for private Internet traffic, but also allows access to local resources on the home network, including NAS devices, file shares, and home automation products. AmpliFi also touts that this would allow users to view their local streaming content even in locations where it would otherwise be unavailable -- e.g., watching U.S. Netflix shows while overseas, or streaming your favorite sports team while in a city where the game is blacked out.

In addition to traveling, AmpliFi notes that those with multiple homes or a vacation cottage could also benefit from Teleport, as it would allow you to share the same network resources and media streaming access regardless of location. In any case, a device like Teleport is still reliant on the speed and quality of your home and remote Internet connections, so there may be cases where network speeds are so low that it makes the device useless. That, of course, is a factor that would plague any network-dependent service or device, so while it's not a mark against the Teleport, it's something to keep in mind.

Teleport's features, while incredibly useful, are of course familiar to those experienced with VPNs and other secure remote connection methods. In terms of overall functionality, the AmpliFi Teleport isn't offering anything new here. The benefit, therefore, is its simple setup and configuration. Users don't need to setup and run a VPN on their home hardware, subscribe to a third party VPN service, or know anything about encryption protocols, firewall configuration, or network tunneling. They simply need to plug the Teleport into power, follow the connection guide, and that's it -- they're up and running with a secure connection to their home network.

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You'll pay for this convenience, however, as the Teleport isn't cheap. It's launching today on Kickstarter with "early bird" pricing of $199, which will get you the Teleport device and the required AmpliFi HD router. A second round of early purchasers will see that price increase to $229, while final pricing is $269. Again, that's just for the Teleport and the router. A kit including two AmpliFi mesh access points is $399. There's no word on standalone pricing for the Teleport device only for those who already have an AmpliFi mesh network at home.

Regardless of the package, once you have the hardware there's no extra cost or subscription fee to use the Teleport, so frequent travelers might find the system worth it when compared to some other subscription-based VPN services.

The AmpliFi Teleport is expected to ship to early purchasers in December. We don't have the hardware in hand yet for performance testing, but AmpliFi has promised to loan us review samples as the product gets closer to shipping. Check out the Teleport Kickstarter page and AmpliFi's website for more information.

Source: Kickstarter
Author:
Subject: Networking
Manufacturer: Ubiquiti Networks

Ubiquiti Upgrade

For longtime readers, it should come as no surprise the robustness of our internal network at the PC Perspective offices isn't necessarily our primary focus. We spend a lot of time here dealing with misbehaving hardware and software, so when something works, we tend to stick with it—especially when our day-to-day workflow depends on it.
 
However, I have recently taken it upon myself to make some changes. The main impetus for this project was our desire to move to a mostly 10 Gigabit-enabled network. With the release of lower cost NICs such as the ASUS XG-C100C, it finally started to seem like the right time to 
upgrade our network.
 
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Previously—and try not to laugh too hard—the backbone of our production network was the Zyxel Gateway included with our Gigabit fiber service from our ISP. Honestly, this piece of hardware worked surprisingly well. We were able to get full Gigabit download speeds (our upload speed is restricted at the ISP level to about 300Mbps), and it worked without much of a fuss. The router interface was fairly awful, and confusing at times, but it worked. Additionally, we were using an ASUS RT-AC66U as an access point, not the built-in wireless from the Zyxel.
 
In the past few months, we started to see some odd performance issues with our network and streaming video. While we could do standard file transfers and HTTP traffic at the full 300Mbps upload speed, video streaming from applications like Plex seemed to stop working at about 4 or 5 Mbps. After diagnosing our internal network performance, we started to place blame on the ISP-provided Zyxel gateway.
 
After talking to a few friends who are invested into the HomeLab communities and doing some additional research, I decided that while roll-your-own solutions like pfSense are compelling and have come a long way, they weren't quite right for us. We were looking for more of a turnkey solution that remained flexible, but would also require less initial setup.
 
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