Review: Gigabit Wi-Fi access points for SMBs

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

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In addition to the regular access point mode, this Edimax unit supports WDS with or without the access point functionality running concurrently. It supports up to 32 SSIDs, 16 for each band. The access point also 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 so you can easily utilize enterprise-class Wi-Fi security. However, the Edimax unit supports up to 256 user accounts. Another simple yet potentially very useful feature is its built-in beeper so you can make access points sound from the web GUI and physically locate them in the building.

Unlike the two other units, this access point does not support any band steering functionality, but Edimax says that’s coming in the next firmware update. Though there’s a guest network feature, the access point doesn't do any captive portal or web redirection, but Edimax says that’s in the next update as well.

How we tested 802.11ac Access Point performance

For the performance part of the testing, we used IxChariot to run throughput tests on the access points with three different clients:

  • ASUS PCE-AC66 Dual-band Wireless PCI-E Adapter (three stream 802.11ac) connected inside the Windows 7 PC, using the provided antennas attached directly to the adapter on the back of the PC tower rather than using their base extender.
  • Netgear A6200 (two stream 802.11ac) plugged into a USB 2.0 port on the back of the same Windows 7 PC.
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (two stream 802.11ac) Android phone sat on top of the same PC during testing.

On the access points, we enabled WPA2/AES security and 80 MHz channel-width support, and set the 5Ghz channel to 153. All wired connections between the access points, wireless controllers, and testing endpoints were made via Gigabit Ethernet ports with CAT-6 cables. These connections were all tested and confirmed to be running near Gigabit speeds. During the testing, the distance between the access points and clients was about 25 feet with one wall and a closet partially blocking the line of sight (both made of drywall material).

We ran the tests with the IxChariot High_Performance_Throughput.scr script for one minute with each client individually in the 5GHz band. It simultaneously tested both the TCP uplink (client to access point) and downlink (access point to client), which I add to show the total simultaneous throughput. We ran each access point/client test three times and recorded the average and maximum throughput for each.

The Edimax unit came out on top with an average throughput rate of 242.8 Mbps, D-Link came in second with 235.4 Mbps, and Cisco last at 173.6 Mbps. 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.

Eric Geier is a freelance tech writer. Through On Spot Techs he provides Wi-Fi design and site surveying services. He’s also the founder of NoWiresSecurity, a cloud-based Wi-Fi security service.


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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