New Gigabit Wi-Fi access points target SMBs

Cisco, D-Link, Edimax deliver impressive speeds, solid management tools

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Gigabit Wi-Fi access points

Last year, we reviewed five of the first Gigabit Wi-Fi access points to hit the market. This time around, we’re testing three new entrants: the Cisco WAP371, D-Link’s DAP-2695, and the Edimax WAP-1750. Each product is a three-stream (3x3) 802.11ac access point designed for small and midsized business (SMB) environments and up. Each includes a built-in controller to centrally manage multiple access points. (Read the full product review.)

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Cisco WAP371

The Cisco WAP371 is priced at $399. It contains one three-stream (3x3) 5GHz radio, and one two-stream (2x2) radio for 2.4GHz. The recommended number of active users is 64 per access point or up to 40 users per band/radio. We found the setup wizard, installation, and configuration processes to be straightforward. With Cisco's management solution, you can create a cluster on one access point, join up to seven more access points to that cluster and they’ll inherit the same configuration settings.

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Cisco WAP371

The web-based GUI supports wireless bridging and client bridge mode in addition to access point mode. It supports one management VLAN and up to 16 additional VLANs for use on up to 16 virtual SSIDs. We also found advanced features, such as band steering, load balancing, and rogue access point detection. The unit also has captive portal functionality for authenticating guests and a packet capture feature for advanced troubleshooting.

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D-Link DAP-2695

The D-Link DAP-2695 is priced at $389.99. It’s loaded with a three-stream (3x3) 5GHz radio and a separate radio for 2.4GHz. The recommended user limit is 100 users per access point with 50 users per radio/band. It sports six detachable dual-band antennas: three 4dBi antennas for 2.4 GHz and three 6dBi antennas for 5 GHz. On the top/front you have the normal LED status lights. Being pretty generous, D-Link includes both the AC power adapter and PoE injector along with a console cable.

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D-Link DAP-2695

You can centrally manage up to 32 access points with D-Link's controller-less access point management solution, called AP Array. The access point supports Wireless Distribution System (WDS) with Access Point, WDS/Bridge (No AP Broadcasting), and Wireless Client. It supports up to eight VLANs per band. We also found advanced features, such as band steering and load balancing. In addition to rogue access point detection, this unit provides ARP Spoofing Prevention and supports Microsoft's Network Access Protection (NAP).

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Edimax WAP-1750

The Edimax WAP-1750 is priced at $279.99. It’s loaded with a three-stream (3x3) 5GHz radio and another three-stream (3x3) radio for 2.4GHz. Edimax says it’s designed for high-density usage, supporting 100 simultaneous clients with 50 per band/radio. Edimax’s built-in access point controller functionally is called the Network Management Suite (NMS), which allows you to centrally manage up to eight access points. By default, any new additional access points you plug into the network will automatically inherit the settings defined by the controller.

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EDIMAX WAP-1750

The access point offers a simple load balancing feature and rogue access point detection. Like the D-Link access point, this unit has a built-in RADIUS server and supports up to 256 user accounts. Another useful feature is a built-in beeper so you can make access points sound from the web GUI and physically locate them. Unlike the two other units, this AP does not support band steering, but Edimax says that’s coming in the next firmware update. The access point doesn't do any captive portal or web redirection either, but Edimax says that’s in the next update as well.

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Performance Chart

The Edimax unit came out on top with an average throughput rate of 242.8Mbps, D-Link came in second with 235.4Mbps, and Cisco last at 173.6Mbps. If you compare these results with those from our previous two other round-up access point reviews, the Edimax unit places second out of the total nine access points, the D-Link unit third, and the Cisco unit seventh. Keep in mind, each review used similar testing procedures but the test clients varied.

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The specs

The net results box compares the pros and cons of each product.

Eric Geier is a freelance tech writer. Through On Spot Techs he provides Wi-Fi design and site surveying services