Test and review of 4 Wi-Fi 6 routers: Who's the fastest?

We tested Wi-Fi 6 routers from Extreme, Cisco, EnGenius and Meraki to find out whether these access points deliver on the latest standard's promise of better throughput, and we reviewed each device.

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The controller’s web GUI didn’t have any tooltips or any explanation near the settings but did have a help icon up on the main menu. Clicking that brings up the documentation to the settings you’re currently viewing, but the explanation of help is very brief.

We found the AP and controller highly configurable. Like most other Cisco enterprise solutions, the configuration process is much easier for those with Cisco experience and certifications. A general IT admin will likely find the process difficult. 

EnGenius EWS377

The EnGenius EWS377 AP is one of a couple of Wi-Fi 6 APs from EnGenius. This is the On-premises version of their currently highest performance AP model, and is available only with internal antennas. IT supports WPA3, but at the time of this writing WPA3 support was only working with their cloud-management solution and not via their other AP management options.

engenius product EnGenius

EnGenius EWS377 AP


The AP weighs about 1¼ pounds and is about 8 inches square and 1.3 inches high. It has LED status lights on the front surface for power, LAN connection, 2.4GHz, and 5GHz. On the bottom you’ll find a reset button, 1G/2.5G LAN port (802.3at PoE compatible), and a DC power input. Along with the AP comes basic mounting hardware plus a printed quick-install guide.

This AP can be managed individually in standalone mode, or centrally with a controller from one of their switches or with their free ezMaster software running on a virtual machine or in the AWS cloud.

We evaluated via the AP’s web GUI in the standalone mode. It has a navigation menu on the left side broken up into categories. The first category, Overview, allows you to see the device and client statuses. No frills there; you’ll find the typical details and stats.

engenius wireless Eric Geier

This EnGenius AP isn’t as configurable as most enterprise APs, but has a simple easy to navigate and understand GUI as seen here with the wireless settings.

 

In the Network category you find the basic network settings and wireless settings. We found that the AP has a Management SSID setup by default. This can be convenient when you don’t have LAN access and are in the process of setting up the permanent SSIDs.

engenius managementssid Eric Geier

By default, EnGenius has an admin SSID broadcasting and turns off if the SSID is idle for more than 15 minutes.

In the Mesh category, you can configure and see the details for any APs you have connected to the network via wireless mesh to other APs. It also has tools to help test and troubleshoot the mesh links, such as ping, traceroute, and throughput.

In the Management category you can setup the AP for management via a controller, configure CLI and SSH access, and setup email alerts. In addition to the Wi-Fi scheduling feature, which sets the times when Wi-Fi is turned on, is an auto-reboot feature. Ideally power cycles shouldn’t be required, but the feature can be helpful to refresh hardware regularly. The Systems Manager is for configuring the admin credentials, managing firmware, and checking logs.

engenius auto reboot Eric Geier

A small simple feature offered by EnGenius allows you to select days and times to auto power cycle the AP.


We found the GUI and configuration process to be simple and easy to understand. However, it lacks some of the configuration power seen in other enterprise APs, which could be an issue with larger deployments. Some of the settings in the GUI have tooltip icons you can hover over to get some explanation, but it includes no links to the full documentation. The guide also lacked documentation on the mesh and controller settings and other details.

Cisco Meraki MR55

We evaluated Cisco Meraki’s MR55 AP with its cloud-management platform and fitted with three different Wi-Fi radios (one for wireless IDS/IPS) plus a Bluetooth radio.

It’s their highest performance indoor Wi-Fi 6 AP, though it lacks external antenna support that some of their other models have. It supports up to eight MU-MIMO streams in 5GHz only, which is the highest number of streams supported by the APs in this review. It also has the fastest multigigabit LAN port at 5 Gbps.

meraki product Cisco Meraki

Meraki MR55

The Cisco Meraki MR55 looks more like a wide patch antenna then an AP.

This AP weighs just over two pounds and measures about 13 inches by 5.5 inches by 1.75 inches tall. On the right side of the AP is an LED status light. On the back/bottom is the 1G/2.5G/5G LAN port (supporting PoE 802.3at) and a DC power input. The AP comes with standard hardware for wall, ceiling and ceiling-tile rail mounting and even includes a nifty bubble level on the mounting cradle.

On the Meraki Dashboard you can group APs into different networks to apply per-network policies. Each network has different categories of settings on the menu to the left based upon other network components deployed, such as security appliances, switches, and cameras. Here we are concentrating on the wireless functionality of their cloud platform.

The first tab, Network-wide, supports packet capturing on the wired and wireless sides, shows details on the Wi-Fi clients and event logs, and gives access to stored network maps and floorplans. It also supports configuring general network settings, setting up alerts, defining group policies, managing users for internal 802.1x authentication, and adding APs.

meraki ap list Eric Geier

Within the Wireless tab are the main Wi-Fi settings and features showing a list of theAPs. From it you can configure Air Marshal for wireless IDS features, and review the PCI DSS compliance report. It shows the RF spectrum and wireless health details. You can configure the SSIDs, access control, splash pages, firewall and traffic shaping, and the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radio settings.

meraki airmarshal Eric Geier

Meraki dedicates a whole 3rd dual-band Wi-Fi radio to their WIDS/WIPS solution called Air Marshal.

The Organization tab contains stats, logs, and settings across all your networks, and includes the basic up/down stats of APs, plus the ability to generate usage reports. You can create organization-wide configuration templates and compare the settings between networks to see how they differ.

meraki configsync Eric Geier

This is a neat function provided by Meraki to compare settings between networks to see what differs and sync them if desired.

The GUI does a good job explaining settings throughout. Some items are explained at first glance and others have tooltip icons giving an explanation in a brief pop-up that includes a hyperlink to the full documentation. The configuration process went smoothly. The GUI includes profile schemes that are useful for large deployments, and were easy to understand and edit.

Summary chart

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