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Rant -Where to start?


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Good evening everyone, 


Long story short, this will be a bit of a rant.


The beginning - 


I initially purchased a modem and router to replace the leased equipment from the provider, cant remember modem but the router I still have. Archer C5. It served its purpose. More or less. 


Later I upgraded to the AX50, I was happy to have WiFi 6 as I upgraded my Ranger at the time to have the x1650x. This was after using of using the C5 along with a USB powered Wireless N hotspot/router that I used to boost the signal to my room. tl;dr stepping up from the band-aid fix.


I later replaced the C5 with the C9, mostly to get Gigabit speeds via ethernet, the C5 only has 100Mb ports.


With the understanding that the C5 and C9 could do Wireless bridge mode via WDS function, I erroneously purchased a second AX50. The thought process was that I could use the second AX50 in WDS mode while also using Link Aggregation on the workstation. Its a Precision 7810 that has a single Gigabit Ethernet port + 1Gbit NIC via PCI. The idea was to take advantage of the Intranet speed that this would in theory allow. The 7810 is my Plex server, that I was also entertaining the thought of turning into a steam stream system (or something akin to that).


Problem is, no AX router supports WDS. Okay, well that sucks. What about custom firmware perhaps? Nope. Closed source. Upon further research, I discovered this reddit thread here. A sort of twisting the knife to this little conundrum.


Tonight - 


My needs are beginning to go out of bounds of typical user I suppose? While I consider myself a hobbyist at best for hardware, I am more or less a laymen in the networking genre.


So heres my question to you guys. What would be a good hardware platform to build a network from? I get there is OpenSense. How would I go about building a network that I can expand on as time progresses? 


The needs are obvious basic 8080 traffic for the home users, Plex transcribing, potential for steam streaming.


What I would like to do is build an SCCM/MDT server and start a HomeLab revolving around that as that may be the direction my work goes into.


Thanks in advance everyone

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I can appreciate your dealings with hardware (read struggles) because I've been there myself.  I've never had luck with WDS or mesh or anything like that myself. 


Perhaps telling us the layout of your house and plans for connecting equipment.  How many wireless devices, how many wired, what is the desired wireless range? My advise is always do wired if able.  Are you considering 10/40/100Gb Ethernet in the future?  If so there are ways to do that for a reasonable price.  2.5Gb fits most people's current usage, but 2.5Gb switches are expensive. 


Things that I would look into: building a PfSense router - you can use older hardware but the amount of things you can do with it is amazing - but that needs a dedicated access point or converted wireless router.  I don't know much about TP link products, but after reading your link, I wouldn't keep them.  I'm a big fan of ruckus, but covid has made their prices skyrocket.  You can still find good deals on some Aerohive APs that perform really well.


In terms of a server, well the sky is the limit there.  I went from a mini-HP that held 3 HDDs to a Fractal Define R5 with a stack of HDDs to a supermicro case with room for 24 as my plex library expands. 

Desktop | Intel i9-12900k | ASUS ROG Strix Z690-F | 2x16GB Oloy DDR5 @ 6400mhz CL32 | EVGA 3080 FTW3 Ultra | AW3821DW| 980 Pro 1TB PCIe 4.0 | All under water |

Server | SM846 | Unraid  6.12.0-rc4.1 | AMD Epyc 7F52 | Supermicro H12SSL-I | Tesla P40 24GB | 256GB 3200MHz ECC 8-channel | 100+TB ZFS |

Backup Server | SM826 | Unraid  6.12.0-rc4.1 | AMD Epyc 7302 | Supermicro H11SSL-I | Tesla P4 8GB | 256GB 2133MHz ECC 8-channel | 100+TB ZFS |

Dell XPS 9510 | Intel  i7-11800H | RTX 3050 Ti | 16GB 3200mhz | 1TB SX8200 | 1080P |



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The home I am currently renting is 2 stories, is not wired up as of right now. 


The modem/router from AT&T is currently active though none of my personal devices are using it. 


Modem (Fiber)/ Router (broadcasting) with my AX50 connected to it, broadcasting its own network 2.4Ghz/5Ghz on Auto - 20Mhz / AC - 80Mhz. Its set to strict AC mode since the best I can get with the C9 is AC 80Mhz via WDS.


The Precision 7810 is a workstation which is located up stairs for now which is also a part time miner for at least until around Feb/March of next year when temperatures start to pick back up which is also why I was entertaining it to be used for steam streaming since its already a GPU heavy system. I am about to acquire 3x 7810's from work as well which is another motivating factor for overhauling the network infrastructure.


I have a couple of switches but I believe both are 1Gb, 1 smaller 8 port unmanaged and 1x 16 port unmanaged.


I also have 2x 4-port 1Gb NIC expansion cards and 1x 2 port 1Gb NIC. Perhaps I could pick up an SFP+ expansion card and wire everything straight into the PC running pfsense/opensense which would basically be a 7810. Its way more power consumption than a standard router of course but I figure I can worry about that later if needed after establishing a proof of concept first. I could move my storage there as well which is around 30TB over a bunch of older drives.


In total I'll have 4x 7810's but 2 of the them I will want to probably dedicate to HomeLabesque workloads. They are 20c/40t systems and I have 256GB RAM that I can give to 2 of the systems (128GB each), these will probably be located in the Garage. The only issue I'll probably have is getting decent storage for each system.

I also have a Precision 5820x which is much newer with a 9800x and 32GB of DDR4. Its not compatible with the DDR4 ram that I have for the other systems.


Oh and also want to set up an internet facing game server as @Hiew has challenged me to set up a Linux box. The hardware I have set aside for it is a Micro Optiplex 7060 i7 8700T with 32GB RAM.


I'll try and get a layout made of the home after work so that we have a visual aid.


Thanks @Custom90gt

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