UniFi Next-Gen Gateway (UXG-Pro) Preview
Originally Posted: May 2nd, 2020
Last Edited: January 31st, 2021
Ubiquiti has announced their next generation of UniFi routers, starting with the UXG-Pro. The UXG-Pro is currently in the US Early Access store for $499. Here’s what we know from their original announcement:
UXG-Pro is a new gateway device that is aimed towards delivering performant and feature-rich gateway experience. It will support all currently available UniFi gateway features and even more!
Note: The UXG-Pro will be adoptable to an external controller and will not host any controllers on it.
With UXG-Pro, we want to make sure that we deliver what you, our community, needs.
As a step towards this, we're opening a software feature request poll HERE to see what you all want the most.
Top-voted feature requests will be considered for implementation.
A Proper USG-Pro Replacement
From all available information, this is a proper USG-Pro replacement. The biggest difference between the UXG-Pro and the UDM-Pro is the lack of built-in UniFi controller. The UXG line will function more like the USG, and it will be adoptable to an external UniFi controller. This change removes the biggest limitation of the Dream Machine line.
Some existing UniFi customers were turned off by aspects of the Dream Machines, namely the built-in controller, lack of existing USG features, and no way to replicate the features made available by manual JSON configuration file editing. The UDM and UDM-Pro are good devices, but they don’t fit every network. The Dream Machine line wasn’t what a lot of people wanted, especially those with an existing self-hosted UniFi controller.
Ubiquiti mentioned the UXG-Pro is part of new product line, so it’s a fairly safe assumption there will be a smaller, non-Pro model. The base UXG should be a replacement for the USG. There is no official announcement of any other UXG models besides the UXG-Pro yet, though.
There are a lot of details we don’t have yet. From what we do know, the UXG-Pro should be a cost-effective 10 Gbps router that will cover most basic functionality. It will fit in well with existing UniFi networks. Don’t expect it to replace a Cisco ISR, or Juniper MX.
Processor: Quad ARM Cortex-A57 Core at 1.7 GHz
System Memory: 2 GB DDR4
(2) 1/10G SFP+ WAN/LAN
(2) Gigabit RJ45 WAN/LAN
(1) RPS DC Input
(1) Smart Power 125VAC
(1) 1.3" Touch Display
UDM-Pro Vs. UXG-Pro
Both the UDM-Pro and UXG-Pro are routers that are meant to be used with other equipment in a rack, such as switches, with multiple access points or cameras. They are meant for more complex installations, like a medium-sized business or an enthusiast-level home network.
The UXG-Pro is a rackmount device with two 10 Gbps SFP+ ports, two gigabit Ethernet ports, support for the UniFi RPS for redundant power, and a 1.3” touch display on the front. This is the same display the UDM-Pro and 2nd Gen Switches have, which displays information on the device and the network. The UXG-Pro also supports UniFi AR.
The main difference between the UDM-Pro and the UXG-Pro are a few hardware features. The UXG-Pro lacks the built-in UniFi controller and the 3.5” hard drive bay for UniFi Protect. It also lacks support for UniFi Talk and UniFi Access, since those are part of the UniFi Controller. The UXG-Pro has most of the networking features of the UDM-Pro, including 10 Gbps SFP+ ports and multi-gigabit IDS/IPS performance.
The UXG-Pro has the same CPU as the UDM line, which should make it capable of very high throughput with IDS/IPS and other security features enabled. It also has half the RAM of the UDM-Pro, 2 GB vs 4 GB. This is disappointing, but it makes sense. The UXG-Pro doesn’t have to run any extra software like the UDM-Pro does. Some people have complained about the 2 GB of RAM in the UXG-Pro, but it should be more than enough for routing and firewall use. The base UDM gets by fine with 2 GB of RAM, and that has to run a controller. RAM utilization on the UXG-Pro is definitely something I would be interested in testing once the software is finalized.
UniFi OS and UniFi Controller Changes
The UDM and UXG run a different underlying operating system than the USG. The CPU is an easy way to tell. Older MIPS-based devices EdgeRouters and the USG run EdgeOS. ARM based devices like the UDM and UXG run UniFi OS. An ARM port of EdgeOS is unlikely. UniFi OS is a custom Linux distribution made with Buildroot Linux that mostly follows Debian standards. In their announcement, Ubiquiti said this about UniFi OS:
We are very excited to announce UniFi OS - a shared platform for all UniFi Controllers. Key features:
-Centralized user/access management
-Single sign-on to all controllers
-Single Remote connection and new Cloud portal
-Easy installation and management of different Apps (Controllers)
The first target device is UDM-Pro and it will be launched for general availability with UniFi OS pre-installed. The migration will not work for early access testers so you should export a backup from Network and/or Protect before upgrading.
So far the devices that run UniFi OS are:
The UniFi controller changes are slightly confusing, but going forward, all UniFi controllers will run UniFi OS. With it’s current beta firmware version 0.5.0, the UXG-Pro lacks the UniFi OS environment for running the UniFi Talk, Access and LED applications. Since it doesn’t run a UniFi controller, it’s not likely to add those features in the future. Those features will require a UDM-Pro or a Cloud Key.
UXG vs USG Networking Features
Many of the USG's more advanced networking features come from the fact that it's an EdgeOS device under the hood. EdgeOS was built on the open-source Vyatta router codebase. Ubiquiti originally created the UniFi line by wrapping a pretty user interface around Vyatta, and adding the UniFi controller software for configuration. With the UDM, they’re making a completely new OS, with their own code and some standard Linux packages. There are no Vyatta networking features to fall back on. Because of this, UniFi OS have more limited routing functionality, but long-requested features like multiple WAN IPs are slowly being added.
This underlying OS difference causes some other differences. The UDM and UXG lines do not support editing the config.gateway.json file. By editing the configuration file manually, you were able to access features that Ubiquiti doesn’t put in the controller GUI. It also let you access hidden settings, and tweak features to work how you want. Normally, behind the scenes, the UniFi controller edits your configuration files for you. That only works with the features that Ubiquiti officially supports. If you’ve ever had to deploy a UniFi network, you know there are a many features not in the GUI. Unfortunately there is nothing like this going forward, and you are limited to what Ubiquiti shows in the controller.
I think long term, it will be better to move away from that system. Manual configuration file changes were unsupported, poorly documented, and your changes could be removed with firmware updates. Ubiquiti has promised full feature parity (and more!), but we will see. It will take a lot of development work to get parity with the officially supported USG features.
Since the UXG-Pro has the same processor and 10 Gbps ports as the UDM-Pro, we should expect similar performance. This graph shows it all.
A bunch of things about this graph are interesting. Starting from the bottom, the USG is only capable of 40 Mbps IPSec VPN and 85 Mbps IDS/IPS. This shows how weak the processor in the USG is, and that it has no specialized hardware to accelerate those tasks. The USG is capable of deep packet inspection at roughly line rate speeds, however. The USG-Pro hits 150 Mbps IPSec VPN and 250 Mbps IDS/IPS, with 930 Mbps DPI. The UDM can hit 600 Mbps IPSec and 850 Mbps IDS/IPS.
What’s really interesting to me is that the UDM-Pro, with the same CPU as the UDM, has such higher throughput. It appears the main thing holding back the UDM is the 1 Gbps port, not the CPU. I’m not sure what else could be explaining that. Either way, the performance of the UDM-Pro is impressive for it’s price point. The UXG-Pro should be as well.
UXG-Pro Deficiencies vs Marketing Hype
One potential problem with the UXG-Pro is the current state of the UDM-Pro and UniFi OS. Some features on the UDM-Pro are not working, incomplete, buggy, or just missing. Development for the Dream Machines has been steady, but after 9 months, the UXG is still on on beta firmware version 0.5.0.
Some common networking features currently missing on the UDM and UXG: dynamic routing protocols (BGP, OSPF) , policy-based routing, VLANs on the WAN port and bridge mode. Some features that are there, like OpenVPN or IPv6, lack the options and flexibility to be truly useful. The list of missing features is long. Worst of all is Ubiquiti’s record on software development and abandoning promising hardware, leaving it with rough edges. If you need a reliable and flexible routing platform, UniFi might not be it.
Ubiquiti Strategy Tax
Ubiquiti have always released hardware before the software was complete, but that's also why they can get hardware out quickly and cheaply. Many of their devices have been released with many things not finished or not working. The core functions are there, which makes them work for the majority of users. The other features (sometimes) come later.
Only time will tell how the development goes for the UXG-Pro. If you have an existing UniFi network with your own controller, this is probably going to be a better fit that the UDM or UDM-Pro. The unannounced base UXG should be a good little router, if Ubiquiti can get the software right.
Until then, I have a lot of other posts where I discuss UniFi hardware and software:
Other Ubiquiti Guides and Reviews
If you have more questions about Ubiquiti or anything in this post, leave a comment or contact me. I will do my best to point you in the right direction, or help in any way I can.
Update 9/9/2020 – Updated comparison chart. Added external modem power feature as difference between UXG-Pro and UDM Pro. Also added wishing feature of “gateway mode”.
For some of Ubiquiti fans, this has been a long waited product. There are certainly people who were very excited about this product as it had quickly sold out from the early access store though it looks like many EA products sells out quickly.
However, there was a bit of surprise to community for its price. UXG-Pro’s spec has been available for awhile on the official forum, which looked trimmed down version of UDM-Pro. Also UXG Pro stands for UniFi NeXt Gen Gateway. So many were expecting this to be priced below UDM-Pro and perhaps similar to its predecessor USG-Pro-4. However, to the everyone’s surprise, UXG-Pro is priced significantly higher than USG-Pro-4 and UDM-Pro.
I have created above comparison chart. From the spec, UXG-Pro has less memory and LAN ports than UDM Pro. Counterintuitively, the lack of built-in controller could be a benefit to those who prefers controller unit being separate from the gateway unit. Technically speaking, I do not think there is anything that prevents from UDM Pro to act as stand alone gateway i.e. disable built in controller function, but this is not something UniFi currently allows and with the release of UXG-Pro, I believe such feature may be further restricted on UDM Pro in order to separate the two models.
So besides software induced feature restriction on UDM Pro, what else explain the added $120 cost on UXG Pro? The extended/additional hardware features I see on UXG-Pro is a built in Smart Power outlet for External Modem, which can be purchased as a separate add-on for $19 and use with UDM-Pro, which in fact the setup I do have.
So I am not sure where the $120-$19 = $100 difference coming from. One thing to note is that for UXG-Pro to function as UDM Pro, one still needs to purchase a controller unit. So we are looking for additional ~$200. After seeing UXG Pro spec, I believe UDM or UDM Pro remains the top choice for home users/prosumers.
Although I certainly wish Ubiquiti will give a choice to user by creating a “gateway mode” to UDM Pro/UDM Base where UDM lines can be turned into a gateway/router i.e. UXG Pro equivalent. For the majority of home users including myself such feature is unlikely to be utilized at least for awhile, but imagine someday new, more powerful feature rich UniFi Controller device Cloud Key # comes out, we can purchase the new controller unit and make UDM to just gateway. The modularity and scalability are one of the major attraction of UniFi line when compared to typical consumer graded gears.
I see the humor in that (for some of their products)...but my ER12 has been completely stable and reliable, very happy w/it.
It's definitely a tweaker's playground, via CLI more that GUI, and I had a learining curve to get a handle some parts of what I bought it for (VLANs/IoT isolation, WireGuard VPN, etc.). The forum can be very helpful, lots of seriously skilled networking people there.
LOVE their AP - I have a NanoHD AP and it covers my entire house and outside where before I always needed multiple units to make it work.
Seems like EdgeRouter line is getting pushed to the side going forward due to other prioritites, like the new UNMS product line (WISP focus). It feels like EdgeRouter line will get squeezed for resources in the future, so I'm not as bullish on the future of EdgeRouter as I might have been. And agree very much that from what I've read the UDM line has been very problemmatic due to serious and long-lasting FW issues.
Overall I've been very happy w/my setup (ER12+NanoHD AP) but obviously it's a very simple config and I haven't had to deal w/potential issues that multi-AP installs can bring.
One thing I forgot to mention, Unifi APs require a controller, either on their hardware controller, or many run the controller like I do on a Pi - it's required for all config, FW updates, maintenance, etc. ER line has pretty robust GUI, but you can do anything you want in the CLI. (Good and bad...ask me how I know. ) ER line and Unifi line are separate - they can and do work together very well, but you manage the Unify APs from the Unify controller, and the ER from its GUI or CLI, and to some extext from the UNMS controller. It's a little odd...
Another half step, the Master quietly demanded, forcing Lena to come to the very edge of the road. As if she was going to cross it. Pick up your skirt. was about to object to Elena, but Benedict cut her off immediately. I count to three, he snapped.
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