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Ubiquiti’s UniFi Dream Router (UDR) Preview: $79 Totally Well Spent

In early October 2021, Ubiquiti quietly released its first Wi-Fi 6 router, the UniFi Dream Router (UDR), to its Early Access store. “Early” because the networking vendor often sells hardware that is still under development.

To get the router, you have to be an EA member, which is free to sign up. And after that, the UDR is a phenomenal deal, costing just $79, which explains why it has kept running out of stock.

I managed to get my hands on one, and after more than a week of trying it out strickly as a standalone router, I can say that this is the best $79 you can spend on a Wi-Fi 6 broadcaster, even in its current unfinished state.

Dong’s note: I first published this post on October 14, 2021, and updated it with more information on November 2. The UDR is currently under development, so everything I mentioned here is not final. That said, this piece is just my first impression of the new router — to confirm what Ubiquiti has already revealed in its YouTube video — and not an in-depth review.

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router UDR
The new Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router (UDR) comes with a tiny, helpful status screen on the front.

Ubiquiti Dream Router: Late to the game, but exciting nonetheless

There are a lot of things to talk about this router. But first of all, it’s late!

I started bugging Ubiquiti about it in the second part of 2019 — since then, I’ve reviewed dozens of Wi-Fi 6 routers from other networking vendors.

And secondly, it has a “wrong” name: UniFi Dream Router or UDR. Let me explain.

The new UDR is the successor to the existing identical-looking Wi-Fi 5 UniFi Dream Machine (UDM) — it has more to offer. So calling it a “router” and the predecessor a “machine” sounds slightly off the mark. If anything, the names should be in reverse.

But those two minor nerdy and personal points aside, the UDR is indeed an exciting router, though still far from perfect, as you will see in its hardware specifications below.

By the way, Ubiquiti has been tight-lipped on what exactly it can do. The company only told me, in effect, that it was still a work in progress.

And that seemed the case in my trial. For example, within the web interface and the UniFi mobile app, the UDR was sometimes referred to as the UDM. And in the Wi-Fi setting area of the mobile app, it is listed as a Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) router though it indeed broadcasts Wi-Fi 6 signals.

Overall, though, I can still confidently say that this router will make a lot of geeks happy. In fact, for the current cost, it’ll make anyone who wants a single Wi-Fi 6 router happy.

UDR vs UDM: Hardware specifications and more

It’s important to note right away that, unlike the UDM, the UDR does have top-notch Wi-Fi specs.

The new router features 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 with 160MHz channel width, which is excellent but unusual for an enterprise-grade device. Unfortunately, there’s no 6GHz band for Wi-Fi 6E.

What’s more, the UDR comes with as much storage space as a computer — all 128GB of flash — and then an SD card slot to host even more, significantly more than the UDM.

Hardware specifications: UDR vs UDM

Full NameUbiquiti UniFi Dream RouterUbiquiti UniFi Dream Machine
ModelUDRUDM
Product TypeDual-band AX3000Dual-band AC2000
5GHz band
(Channel Width)
4×4 AX: Up to 2.4Gbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4×4 AC: Up to 1.7Gbps
(20/40/80MHz)
2.4GHz band
(Chanel Width)
4×4 AX: Up to 576Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2×2 Wi-Fi 4: Up to 300Mbps
(20/40MHz)
CPUDual-Core Cortex A53
1.35 GHz CPU,
128GB Flash, 2GB RAM
Quad-core 1.7 GHz CPU,
16GB Flash, 2GB RAM
Dimensions 4.33-inch (110 mm) wide
7.25-in (184.2 mm) tall
4.33-inch (110 mm) wide
7.25-in (184.2 mm) tall
Weight2.54 lb (1.15 kg)2.32 lb (1.05 kg)
Gigabit Ports1x WAN
4x LAN
1x WAN
4x LAN
PoE Ports2x 802.3afNone
Power MethodStandard AC power cord Standard AC power cord
Power SupplyAC/DC, Internal, 50WAC/DC, Internal,14.4W
Supported Voltage 100 -240V AC 100 -240V AC
Max TX Power 2.4 GHz: 26 dBm
5 GHz: 26 dBm
2.4 GHz: 23 dBm
5 GHz: 26 dBm
Antenna Gain 2.4 GHz: 3 dBi  
5 GHz: 4.3 dBi
2.4 GHz: 3 dBi  
5 GHz: 4.5 dBi
Wi-Fi Standards 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ac-wave 2/ax 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ac-wave 2
Wireless SecurityWPA-PSK,
WPA-Enterprise
(WPA/WPA2/WPA3)
WEP, 
WPA-PSK,
WPA-Enterprise 
(WPA/WPA2, TKIP/AES)
Mesh ReadyTBDYes
Special FeaturesFront Status Screen
SD Card Slot

Ubiquiti UniFi Controller
Ubiquiti UniFi Controller
US Cost
(at launch)
$79$299
UniFi Dream Machine vs UniFi Dream Router: Hardware specifications

UDR: Power over Ethernet for the win, no Multi-Gig port

What’s a novelty about the UDR is the support for Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) — the very first (home) Wi-Fi router I’ve known that does –, with two of its four LAN ports supporting 802.3af POE.

Consequently, the UDR works right away for at least two PoE devices, both as the power source and the network control center. This approach makes a lot of sense, considering Ubiquiti has a good selection of PoE smart home devices.

The way PoE works, you don’t need to use devices from Ubiquiti — any active PoE devices will be compatible with these ports. But those from Ubiquiti will likely become part of the UniFi system hosted by the router.

Unfortunately, the UDR doesn’t have a Multi-Gig port. As a result, you won’t be able to use it to host a true Gigabit or Gig+ Internet connection. For those looking to get ahead of the speed curve, this omission might be the biggest disappointment yet.

By the way, if you’re using the UDM and wonder if you can transfer its settings over to the UDR, the answer is no. At least currently, there’s no easy way for that.

The way this UniFi device works, it seems you can’t manually upload the backup files of your choice. Instead, you have to back them up to a Ubiquiti account and restore them directly from there. But of course, all that might change via future firmware updates.

UDR vs UDM: Detail photos

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router
The Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router (UDR) and its retail box

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router
Like the case of the UDRM, the Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router UDR is egg-shaped with a ring of light on top.

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router
Here’s the back of the Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router. Note its PoE ports and the SD card slot.

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router
On the underside, the current Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router comes with a note indicating its under-development status. It’s not ready for a product review, either.

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router vs UniFi Dream Machine
Here’s the Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router (right) next to my existing UniFi Dream Machine. The two are almost identical, except for the UDR’s little status screen on the front.

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router vs UniFi Dream Machine
On the back, the UDR (right) shares the same number of network ports as the UDM — all Gigabit. Here, the only difference is that the UDR’s LAN3 and LAN4 ports are now PoE-enabled.

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router Night Time
The Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router can be an excellent member of a Halloween party.

Ubiquiti UDR: A comprehensive enterprise-grade network hub to be

According to Ubiquiti, as an UniFi device, the UDR will support all UniFi-based applications. In other words, you can use it to host and manage IP phones, cameras, Wi-Fi access points, doors bells, and more.

As it seems, the UDR shares the same UniFi mobile app as other UniFi hardware, including the UDM. There’s also a comprehensive — maybe even too comprehensive — web interface for professionals who want to configure the local network to the max.

(Per my experience with the UDM, the interface has so much to offer that generally, home users should stay with the mobile app. And even then, the hardware can still be overwhelming. But you can always choose to set up just the Wi-Fi network and use it that way.)

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router App
The Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Router comes with an excellent mobile app.

Needless to say, as part of the UniFi family, the UDR requires a login account with Ubiquiti, and that implies privacy risks.

I’m not a fan of vendor-connected remote (or local) management, but it’s worth noting that, compared to the AmpliFi product line — represented by the Alien — the UDR uses an enterprise-grade web portal that’s supposedly more secure. Most importantly, it doesn’t compromise network settings and customization.

Ubiquiti UDR: A fun and potentially reliable Wi-Fi box

So far, I’ve had a good time with the UDR. Turning it on alone is fun.

In general operation, the new router is very similar to the UDM with a minor improvement: It seems to have no internal fan — there’s no revving sound when I turn it on or any humming ambient coming from it.

Other than that, it has the same big blue cool-looking status light (which can be turned off) and airplane-like chimes. The whole thing looks like an exciting toy, at least according to my toddlers.

So at the current state, unfinished or not, the UDR sure is a fun box, a conversation starter. And while I’m not supposed to test it as a final device, I can say that I’ve used it for days on ends with no unexpected issues.

And that included the fact I was able to connect my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients to it at 2.4Gbps of negotiated speed — a clear sign that the router features the 160MHz channel width or the “fastest of wireless connectivity” per Ubiquiti.

By the way, the UDR indeed comes with a Protect section that allows you to add a host of Ubiquiti security devices (cameras, doorbells, floodlights, door locks, etc.) to the system. That is likely why it has so much built-in storage and the ability to host more via the SD card slot — you can manage recorded footage within the router.

That said, if you intend to be part of the company’s ecosystem on the Protect front, the UDR is a naturally fitting router. Going forward, it’s safe to assume that the UDR will host more types of devices, including Wi-Fi broadcasters, like the BeaconHD.

Before Image After Image
The UDR comes with two sections, one for the router itself and another for the Protect function, allowing Ubiquiti's security devices to be of the UniFi system hosted by the router.

The takeaway

It’s unclear when Ubiquiti will finalize the UDR and sell it at the retail store and how it will be then. But as it is right now, this is a hell of a deal at $79. So get it when you can.

As to why the new router is so “cheap,” again, Ubiquiti is tight-lipped about it. But my take is there are two possibilities.

The first and most likely is that Ubiquiti sells only so many units at the current affordable price for public testing purposes. Its final retail cost will be similar to the UDM, which currently still costs $300.

So, if you’re looking for a standalone broadcaster right now, the UDR is the best deal among existing Wi-Fi 6 routers — that is, if you can get one. And keep in mind that it can (and will be able to do) a lot more than just being a simple router.

And the second possibility is the final pricing of the UDR will remain competitive, though likely higher than currently at EA store. It seems the UDR will be a platform on which Ubiquiti hopes to sell more hardware and services.

In any case, the UDR would indeed be my actual dream router — or “machine” — if it had two or more Multi-Gig network ports. And I wouldn’t mind paying extra for those.

But as they say, you can’t have everything, and the current friendly cost alone is enough to make the new UniFi broadcaster of the best standalone Wi-Fi 6 routers, if not the best, on the market.

After all, despite the unknown, the UniFi Dream Router is intended to be an improved version of the UniFi Dream Machine, which itself has remained one of the best (Wi-Fi 5) routers you can find.

I’ll test and do a full review of the UDR when it’s finalized — check back in due time for that. In the meantime, check out the review of lesser but very similar UDM below. Among other things, you’ll have some concrete ideas of what the UDR is likely going to be.

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine's Rating

8.9 out of 10
UDM Port
Performance
8/10
Features
9.5/10
Design and Setup
9/10
Value
9/10

Pros

Built-in UniFi Controller with lots of useful features

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance

Beautiful design, responsive web user interface, excellent mobile app

Mesh ready

Cons

Threat Management feature reduces Wi-Fi speeds

The many settings and features, some still in beta/alpha state at review, can be overwhelming for home users

Requires an account with UniFi

No Wi-Fi 6, not mountable

See also  Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine (UDM): The Ultimate Wi-Fi 5 Router for Nerds
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38 thoughts on “Ubiquiti’s UniFi Dream Router (UDR) Preview: $79 Totally Well Spent”

  1. Hi Dong, I appreciated your recommendation of the Asus and thus far have found it rather daunting to navigate the set-up process right out of the box… I’m used to ridiculously simple interfaces such as, say, the Airport Extreme I’m attempting to replace. I wanted to ask you about the Ubiquiti UDR relative to that, but also a note that i wondered whether you could clarify. The 86U, during the attempted set-up, generated some very low level but constant sort of audible ticking through my Mac’s sound-output while connected. It seemed highly peculiar that a router would produce some processing ‘noise’ (or whatever it was). Just a curiosity.

    Would the UDR perhaps be more straightforward to set-up? I need to have some special configuration for a real-time audio software app in a studio that calls for static-IP and port forwarding. I have to assume that most routers can accommodate that these days but equally interested in how the Ubiquiti stuff, UDR or otherwise stacks up performance wise to the 86U Asus as far as wifi speed, processing power et.al. Not entirely ruling out the Asus but for some like me, a lot of this back-end knowledge is daunting and a foreign language as it’s simply not in my wheelhouse of expertise and given the opportunity i’d have someone set it up for me: ) That said, I really want the maximum bang for buck in terms of robust wifi, optimal up/download speeds to get the most out of a 400mbps plan with 20mbps upload. With the old Extreme, the upload even on ethernet devices is throttled at around 300mbps at best…although it’s getting the full 20mbps upload speed and then some – which actually is an important factor for the audio streaming software i’m using…optimal upload-speed is equally vital to stable connections with radio and TV stations I work with when doing broadcast-quality transmission back/forth Thanks for any thoughts! I’m back on the old router til i can sorta sort things out…

    Reply
    • That’s your Mac’s issue, Mike. Generally, if you’re so hung up with your Mac, you’ll have problems with Wi-Fi since Apple’s devices are pretty horrible — they are designed to work well only with other Apple devices. If you put Windows on your Mac, chances are you’ll see the noise go away. The UDR is not for somebody who wants a “straightforward” setup; it’s a very advanced router. To be honest, from the way you asked your questions, I’d say that it’s tough for you to get what you want since you seem to have wrong expectations (typical case of Mac users — not necessarily their fault) without understanding how things are supposed to work. 🙂

      I’d say spend some time figuring out your 86U. You’ll learn a lot. Again, don’t take Apple as the standard of anything other than forcing users into using Apple products. And Apple got out of networking years ago, for good reason.

      Reply
      • Thanks Dong, I get the sense though, that the ubiquiti could have a friendlier interface but still be as robust and powerful as the Asus — just in terms of actual distance and connection speeds. Too late for me to reverse course on Macs. I have three studios with multiple Macs, Mac-native audio ware and while i absolutely have a love-hate relationship with Apple – can’t foresee a Windows platform in my future for the rest of my career. That said, I can understand where you’re coming from on the matter. I gotta believe others have had no issues with an Asus in a Mac OS environment – this was just an incidental thing i noticed. For all i know once it’s set up properly the ‘noise’ thing would go away…(whatever it is?) – Still, seems it could be worth ordering a UDR and at least checking it out. I’ll look for anyspeed /range testing comparisons you might have up on this one. Likewise if you have any comparable-to models that rival the Asus but are generally easier to navigate internally, i’d be super-interested in trying other options out too. Thanks as always! Mike in Mich.

        Reply
  2. Hello, thank you for this excellent article. You have UDR so is it possible for you to do a throughput test with IDS enabled, please?

    Reply
    • Yes, it is, Franck. But I agreed with Ubiquiti not to publish any testing until the router is finalized. I kind of already pushed it to publish this preview…

      Reply
  3. Thanks for the write up. One note for your readers who are outside the US (I’m in Canada)
    Ubiquiti will very very very often cancel shipments to freight forwarders.
    I use 3 different ones and I have had shipments from them cancelled multiple times. Some folks seem to have luck with EA products but I have never pulled it off (not for lack of trying)

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the review. I am really keen to get this router and I am from NZ. Would you say this unit is good enough for day to day use?
    I have a strange question, would you be able to measure the box please? I need it for the courier company which can redirect parcel from US to NZ. Length x Width x Height
    Much appreciated!

    Reply
    • It’s a rectangle box that measures 9.1 x 5.1 x 5.1 inches, Mac. It’s the same as the size of the UDM.

      By the way, this is not a review of the UDR.

      Reply
  5. Do you have any updates on this? Been patiently waiting for stock update…
    Would you recommend a product currently available that matches these specs in the meantime? Is there any WiFi extenders available that could extend WiFi range but still use the isp’s WiFi router/gw?

    Reply
    • The router has been restocked and out of stock a few times since I last updated the post, C. You have to keep checking. I’d say get this one. As for your other question, I can’t confirm or deny it.

      Reply
  6. Thanks for the tip, I feel I’m pretty knowledgeable on networking gear but was unaware of this product. Can it do dual WAN? (Convert one of the LAN ports to secondary WAN)

    Have been impatiently waiting for a WiFi6(e) successor to the Synology RT2600ac and thought maybe I could try this.

    Reply
    • It can do a lot, Aaron, similar to the Synology but different. I can’t say much since it’s not finalized yet. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Thanks for the quick followup on this! I was waiting for it to be in stock and signed up for email alert (of course didn’t get notification of in stock..)

    Luckily your article link was to live product and I snatched one up asap. For $79, it sounds like it’s going to be a steal especially if v2 is going to replace UDM.

    Reply
  8. Hi, been reading some reddit reports that it cannot handle gig internet speeds, maxing out at ~700Mbps. Have you been able to confirm this?

    Reply
    • That’s generally the case of most Gigabit routers, Paul — you need a router with a Multi-Gig WAN to get true Gigabit Internet. More in this post. Also, the UDR is not final yet so it’s hard to confirm anything. 🙂

      Reply
      • Thanks for the reply. I probably should have been more specific that reports are saying that its slower than the Dream Machine which only has Gigabit as well. I knows its EA so perhaps something that will be worked out in future software updates…?

        Just managed to snag one so guess I’ll find out soon enough 🙂

        Reply
  9. Hi, I’ve been doing research to find a router that has a bandwidth limit feature like there is on Ubiquiti products but did not find any. The only option that I have is to do open-source firmware. Do you know any routers out there that have the same features as Ubiquiti? btw great article, hope to be able to purchase this as a EA user.

    Reply
  10. Hi Dong,

    I have UDM currently and ordered the UDR. Do you know if we can migrate the current configuration & settings to UDR from my UDM ? I don’t want to setup UDR from scratch.

    Thanks in advance !

    Reply
  11. hello, I am curious if UDR will offer IPS / IDS. in the online store they do not write anything about it and the processor has only a dual-core. UDM with enabled IDS have bandwidth of 850 mbps so I suspect that in the case of UDR it will be around 500 mbps ..: /

    Sorry for the poor English and best regards from Poland;)

    Reply
    • Like I said in the post, Bartosz, the details are not all available yet. I’ll update the post as I know more. 🙂

      Reply
      • Generally, all Wi-Fi routers can work as an access point, it’s a matter of how to set that up. Most have the AP mode themselves. I’ve not gotten my hands on the UDR, yet, though.

        Reply
        • Hi new to the realm here and appreciate all your great info. I’ve had a few suggestions of the Ubiquiti to replace my Airport Extreme just when I was kind of leaning in the direction of the Asus that you’ve had a lot of praise for. I’d also be interested in a comparison. My priority per another post is stability and capability for live audio streaming software that my studio relies on. I’m guessing either model would be better than adequate to support stable 200/20 ethernet connected machines.. and offer optimal wifi coverage for the home/office. Tough call for me now!

          Reply

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