Case gets hot
Operating over the speedy 802.11ac spectrum band, this WAP from EnGenius Technologies features optimal bandwidth support. Designed to be used as an outdoor bridge in locations where cabling isn’t possible or practical, secondary IP device can be connected to allow for high bandwidth coverage over long distances. Because of this, it has IP55-rated housing and comes with integrated or detachable antenna options.
January 13, 2020
The best wireless access point is a networking device that can keep up with the fast pace of tech development by implementing some of the latest technologies suitable for both small and medium businesses (allowing the creation of large scalable networks), as well as for the home user, especially as an equivalent to the mesh WiFi systems (for people with larger homes or simply, for tech enthusiasts). Considering that the demand for such devices is very high, there is now a large variety of wireless access points to choose from and, based on the wireless performance, the amount of features, the user-friendliness of the UI, the design and the aforementioned scalability factor, I chose the best Wi-Fi access points on the market, by taking into account both the older 802.11n standard and the newer 802.11ac standard (the 802.11ax is not quite there, yet).
While the main purpose of an AP is to extend your network, some manufacturers have taken up to a new level, adopting the mesh networking technology, so you can use one or two small devices in your home (which are usually very easy to setup) or you can use a bunch of them and create a mesh network, where your clients can seamlessly roam the building and have uninterrupted access to the Internet and a steady, strong signal. Note 1: This article addresses both consumer and small business wireless access points (WAP). Note 2: If you have an old router laying around, you may try to convert it to an access point and save some money in the process. Note 3: I purposely left out the Outdoor Access Points, which will be the subject of another article.
Zyxel NAP30Nebula Wireless Access Point
The Zyxel NAP30is an AC1750 Cloud-Managed wireless access point which was developed to offer a solid wireless performance, relying on the Smart Antenna technology to eliminate any interference (the antenna pattern keeps on adjusting depending on the client connection), on the mesh technology to create a larger network of compatible access points and it immediately integrates within the Nebula management platform, so it can be remotely managed and monitored alongside other Zyxel devices (including switches, gateways and Nebula / NebulaFlex access points).
Afterwards, I switched to the 5GHz network (802.11ac standard) and, from the client to the server, at feet, I measured an average of 53Mbps, while at 1feet, I got around 52Mbps. Afterwards, I increased the distance to 30 feet and the speed decreased to 25Mbps. From the server to the client, I measured an average of 30Mbps at feet, around 29Mbps at 1feet and an average of 170 Mbps at 30 feet.
Ubiquiti UAP-AC-PRO Wi-Fi Access Point
On the inside, the Ubiquiti UAP-AC-PRO is equipped with a 775MHz Qualcomm Atheros QCA956chipset (MIPS374K series processor), 12MB of RAM, 1MB of flash memory and a Qualcomm Atheros AR833switch chip. Furthermore, the UAP-AC-PRO is also equipped with a Qualcomm Atheros QCA988x 802.11a/n/ac chipset for the 5GHz radio and a Qualcomm Atheros QCA956b/g/n for the 2.4GHz radio (there are also three dBi Dual-Band Antennas).
So, I first connected the devices to the 5GHz radio band and I tested the client to server performance: at close range (no more than feet), I measured an average of 440 Mbps, while at no more than 30 feet, the speed decreased to 30Mbps. Afterwards, I tested the server to client performance and, at feet, I measured an average of 25Mbps, while at 30 feet, the speed went down to 170 Mbps. You can try these out. Next, I switched to the 2.4GHz radio band and, testing the client to server performance, I got the following results: at around feet, I measured an average of 10Mbps, while at 30 feet, the speed remained consistent and I measured an average of 10Mbps. Testing the server to client performance, I got the following results: at feet, I measured around 10Mbps, while at 30 feet, the speed slightly decreased to 90.Mbps.
ZyXEL Communications is one of the main suppliers of networking products in the world (both wired and wireless) and in the span of two decades it not only became dominant in Asia, but it also successfully branched towards Europe and North America. Of course, my main focus is not really towards its top-tier corporate devices, but on the more SMB and possibly consumer-friendly networking equipment which borrows some of the professional-level functionality, but keeps the price as affordable as possible.
Note: Some of the devices that I managed to test are the ZyXEL PLA5456KIT AV2000 HomePlug AV2, a great powerline adapter and the ZyXEL ZyWall USG40, a professional dual WAN router.
Next, I switched to the 5Ghz radio band and, as expected, things stand a lot better. From the client to the server, at feet, the NWA1123-AC HD managed throughput of 48Mbps and then, at 1feet, the speed decreased to 460 Mbps and lastly, at 30 feet, it managed an average of 30Mbps. The server to client performance at feet was around 26Mbps and then, it slightly decreased to 24Mbps at 1feet. At 30 feet, I measured an average of 190 Mbps. If used in standalone mode, the ZyXEL NWA1123-AC HD features a Web Configurator that allows you to easily manage the access point (you can also use the Command-Line Interface CLI, SNMP or FTP).
The Object sub-tab allows you to create, manage and change the settings for all your users, as well as create and manage wireless radio settings and wireless SSIDs. Additionally, you can create and manage rogue AP monitoring files, WDS profiles and setup trusted certificates. The System sub-tab is where you can configure the system and the domain name for the NWA/WAC (it also includes SSH, TELNET, FTP and SNMP). The Maintenance menu consists of File Manager, Diagnostics, LEDs, Antenna, Reboot and Shutdown.
TP-Link EAP24Access Point
Similarly to most other ceiling wireless access points, the TP-Link EAP24went with a minimalistic design, the case having a rectangular shape, resembling some flush mount ceiling lights (or smoke detectors?). The entire device is covered by a white matte finish, but, on the top, there is a rectangular glossy band to break the monotony; while the Ubiquiti UAP-AC-PRO positioned the LED within a recessed area on the top surface, the TP-Link EAP24was a bit more conservative and it put a single small LED light to show the status of the device and network..
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