Best Computer Networking Wireless Access Points in 2020



Ubiquiti Networks UAP-AC-PRO-US Unifi 802.11ac Dual-Radio PRO Access Point (2 Items) Review:


Used 2 of these to increase coverage in a bigger house. These are a huge improvement and reach even the far corners of the building. While not 100% required, I did install the UniFI software inside of a Linux Virtual Machine. The install process is pretty simple and the APs were discovered right away. I did have to do some research on how to reset the APs after moving them to a different network than the UniFI software. If you are not comfortable with command line and Linux, then I'd reccomend using the Phone App to set things up.

A big plus for the UniFI software was that I was able to setup a Guest network and Portal which is really nice for when I have company. It routes straight out to the internet and cannot see any internal network addresses. Perfect for what I wanted. I have Guest on a VLAN , and the APs can support up to 4 SSID each with a different VLAN number.



Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Lite - Wireless Access Point - 802.11 B/A/G/n/AC (UAPACLITEUS), White Review:


There are several models of the UniFi line of wireless access points (WAP or AP). The Amazon descriptions don't tell you everything so this review is intended to give an overview of the product line. These devices are made by Ubiquiti, a company mostly known for supplying wireless gear to the networking professional. Because of remarkably low pricing, high reliability, and marketing via consumer outlets such as Amazon, more and more folks are getting turned onto Ubiquiti gear. Although Ubiquiti has a track record of promising, and even advertising, features that materialize either late or never, UniFi still gives you great bang for the buck. :>

Be advised that you need to be tech savvy to configure Ubiquiti products. They don't have push-button setup and there is no telephone support. Most configuration questions are handled through the community forums. I'm going to tell you right now though that if you don't have some networking background the forums may put you off. It's frequented by folks who install UniFi for a living and they speak in techno-talk. No real hand-holding but rather, practical advice from people who do UniFi every day and speak the lingo of WiFi and RF (Radio Frequency). Having said that, if you are the Power User and learning/researching type you may get along with UniFi quite nicely.

Let's move on and point out the main features of UniFi. UniFi access points are often deployed as part of a "managed WiFi system", i.e. hotspot software (although a UniFi system can be a single access point). UniFi is often used in the hospitality industry where something more than a WiFi password scratched on a piece of paper is required. With UniFi you can set up a customized guest portal, place speed and/or data caps on each client's internet usage, track who is connected to your system, cut off usage hogs, and even charge a fee for access. UniFi even lets you print out uniquely numbered guest vouchers as opposed to handing out a single password for everyone. These features are all optional.

UniFi requires a program called the UniFi "controller". The controller must be run when first setting up the system in order to "adopt" each AP. After that the controller is required to be running 24/7 only if you wish to use the guest portal function. The controller can run on a local computer (PC, MAC, Linux box) or in an Amazon cloud. Ubiquiti has even released a small form factor product called "Cloud Key" that is sort of a hybrid gadget that is plugged into an open Ethernet port, but can be managed from the cloud (however at the time of this writing the Cloud Key firmware is still labeled less than version 1. Caution is advised).

Regarding the various UniFi AP hardware, they come in indoor or outdoor versions, 2.4GHz or 5GHz versions, and there is a model (both indoor and outdoor) that incorporates both 2.4 & 5GHz radios. UniFi devices operate as wireless access points only, meaning they deliver internet to connected client devices such as laptops and smartphones. If you are instead setting up a system to connect to an existing access point, or to make a point-to-point link, you should check out a cousin to the UniFi outdoor models designated as "Rocket" (Ubiquiti ROCKETM2 2.4GHz Hi Power 2x2 MIMO AirMax TDMA BaseStation), which has upgradeable antennas, or the Rocket’s [somewhat] equivalent with a fixed directional antenna, the NanoStation series (Ubiquiti NanoStation locoM2 2.4GHz Indoor/Outdoor airMax 8dBi CPE).

OUTDOOR UNIFI MODELS
UniFi AP Outdoor 2.4GHz (Ubiquiti UniFI AP Outdoor 2x2 MIMO Access Point 802.11bgn).
It's 2.4GHz only, but that will be most compatible with an array of wireless devices. 2x2 MIMO means up to 300Mb/s throughput.

UniFi AP Outdoor 5GHz (Ubiquiti Networks Unifi AP Outdoor 5GHz (UAP-OUTDOOR-5)).
Also 2x2 MIMO. Great in areas densely populated with 2.4GHz signals, but you must insure that all devices wanting to connect have 5GHz capability.

NOTE: Unique to the above models are detachable antennas. The provided omni-directional antennas give these radios good range in all directions. However if you need even more distance, or coverage only in specific areas Ubiquiti has an amazing line of high gain directional antennas designed specifically for these Outdoor APs. For example, I have an installation where the client devices are over 500 ft. from the UniFi Outdoor 2.4GHz AP (it's a motel) and my customer never gets complaints about weak WiFi signals. We are running an airMAX 120 degree Sector Antenna (Ubiquiti Airmax 2.4GHz 15dBi 120 degree Sector Antenna). A well designed antenna like this makes the AP a very good *listener*, allowing it to receive the relatively weak signals generated by most consumer handheld devices. Without a proper antenna the AP can put out all the power in the world, but users won't get a good connection at such distances because their [relatively weak] signal has trouble making it back to the AP. By the way, the Outdoor UniFi AP is designed to fit snugly into the airMAX antenna, providing a clean and attractive installation.

UniFi AP AC Outdoor (Ubiquiti Networks UniFi UAP-AC Outdoor Enterprise WiFi System).
Incorporates both 2.4 and 5GHz radios. Best of both worlds, but cost is substantially higher and the omni antennas are fixed. This "AC" model is 3x3 MIMO with throughput up to 450Mb/s. Fixed antennas.

Indoor UniFi models come in several flavors, but they tend to match the specs of the outdoor models. Most come in an attractive round “smoke detector” form factor with fixed antennas. The best way to see the lineup is to go to the Ubiquiti product page here: ubnt dot com /products/#all/wireless. I tend to skip any versions with “LR” (long range) in the model number. Experience indicates that it is preferable to have a greater number of medium range APs indoors as opposed to a smaller number of high-powered APs. Again, the AP must be able to receive a signal from lower powered client devices.

Finally, when purchasing a UniFi AP be advised that there are two generations of the APs. The second generation have "AC" in the model name and are capable of higher speeds. They AC models have been a bit problematic so be sure to download the latest firmware for the model you purchase.

Hope this helps!



Ubiquiti UniFi nanoHD Compact 802.11ac Wave2 MU-MIMO Enterprise Access Point ( UAP-NANOHD-US) Review:


Update 12/7/18 - Ubiquiti has been great about pushing new firmware every few days with a ton of bug fixes in each release. Since the ~4.0 release, this AP has been rock solid and I'm comfortable recommending it now to anyone looking for a top of the line AP in small form factor. There are still a few quirks and limitations surrounding edge case features like wireless uplink but the core functionality of the AP works great and all my wireless devices have no trouble now getting and staying connected. If you have any devices that can take advantage of the 4x4 MIMO, the speeds you can achieve are incredible. I also want to reiterate how great the Ubiquiti engineering staff is. They are highly engaged on the support forums and are always looking for feedback on bugs and feature suggestions that are more often than not implemented sometimes days or weeks later. I'm really invested in this ecosystem and would recommend these products to anyone who has a solid networking background and likes to tinker.

I've been working on cutting my home network over to Ubiquiti gear and was excited to get my hands on the spiritual successor to the UAP-AC-PRO. I've read that Ubiquiti gear requires a fair amount of tinkering to get everything just right and I'd say that is a fair statement after wrestling with the nanoHD, USG and the USW switches. The nanoHD is apparently still in the early stages of firmware development and has a fair number of bugs and instability compared to the other APs in the fleet. I have had a hell of a time trying to keep my devices on the 5GHz band and found that the UBNT forums are flooded with users with the same issue. I've had to resort to loading up the latest beta firmware just to stabilize things, but it still isn't perfect. Support has been great so far, they really want to stabilize as quickly as possible but I cannot give this thing a thumbs up in its current state. If you are in a saturated RF environment, I'd recommend you stick with the stable UAP-AC-PRO for now and give the nanoHD some more time to cook.



Ubiquiti Networks UniFi Cloud Key Gen2 (UCK-G2) Review:


Finally got the controller to use dhcp, as the default IP range is local 192.168.x.x. Once it was able to see my 10.x.x.x network, adopting most of the previously adopted APs was hassle free. For those that didn’t accept my inform request while SSH’ng into the unit, better to factory reset the AP. Also works a lot better than controller software on a PC and easier to share access. Managing 10 devices in the same subnet. Setting up another that I will move to a different subnet but has access to the controller to see if it can be discovered so I don’t have to have a controller at each location. *crossing fingers*



Ubiquiti UniFi UAP AC Long Range UAP-AC-LR Single Unit U.S. Version Review:


I purchased this access point on November 28, 2016. It took some time to install it and set it up, but it was worth it.

Set up: I'm a simple consumer, not an IT professional, but I have experience with network setups that goes back to the days of dial-up. In the past I've used combination wireless routers such as the Asus RT-N16. After one too many times troubleshooting the network I decided to go with a more complicated setup: the Ubiquiti UniFi UAP connected to a wired TP-LINK TL-R860 router, which is, in turn, connected to a ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 cable modem. After taking a few hours setting it all up and mounting them, I haven't had a single issue.

Why I chose this: Previous issues include general wireless instability when streaming Hulu (less occasionally Netflix), and reduced range (several walls between the office and the living room). I live in an apartment complex with plenty of interference. This has solved all my problems in those departments. While my new setup requires more maintenance if there is a problem, issues are much rarer and all of them have been caused by me getting used to the new setup. Issues are also easier to troubleshoot because the different networking aspects have been distributed.

Software: I encountered one problem that frustrated me, early on: I power-cycled the access point at one point and when it came back up it was blinking a slow blue. I consulted everything I could, and had a difficult time pinpointing the problem, since the access point requires "controller software" and can't simply be logged into via a browser like combination routers. Eventually, it seemed to allow me to reset it to factory defaults (it took a few tries), and then I set it up again. I worry about another power outage forcing me to do that again, but I'm hoping I'll understand what happened better next time, so I can't fault the product for that. The controller software is extremely powerful and allows for more options than I need, but it's very nice to know it's in there if I ever want it.

Hardware: The item is visually appealing and low-profile. I don't even notice it anymore, except when I remember how nice it is to not have to power-cycle the wireless router anymore. Then it's nice to be able to look over and see that solid blue ring.

Summary: It's the perfect access point if you're willing to put in the time as a consumer. If you're an IT pro, I imagine you already know how great these are. Paired with a quality wired router, they make magic together.



TP-Link Long Range Outdoor Wifi Transmitter – 2.4GHz, 300Mbps, High Gain Mimo Antenna, 5km+ Point to Point Wireless Transmission, PoE Powered w/ PoE Adapter Included, WISP Mode (CPE210) Review:


I purchased two of the 2.4 GHz 9dBi antennas. I needed to send high-speed Broadband internet to a family members house who was only capable of receiving DSL. I've had them installed now for a week and I'm beyond pleased with their function. First of all, the setup is super simple. If you get stumped, however, TP-Link has a great tutorial video on their website and YouTube. The main reason for my decision of choosing this product over others was due to a review I read where a user was able to get an excellent signal through woods. In my application, I am transmitting a little over 800' away and mostly through thick woods between our two houses. I am able to reliably get 60%-70% signal with zero reduction data transfer rates. Here are my testing procedures and setup for this system.

First of all, I have a Gigabit 1000x40 internet service through Spectrum. Hardline test right off the modem I'm realistically getting 860Mbps-900Mbps. I am using a Netgear Nighthawk R9000 router. As for the CPE link, I do not have ethernet cable ran through my house so on the transmitting end I am supplying a connection between my router and the AP via the TP-Link AV2000 powerline adapter. These are advertised at a theoretical connection speed of 2000Mbs. Realistically I'm getting 436Mbps as you can see from the utility screenshot. When performing a wired internet speed test of the PLA connection I'm getting a download speed of 61Mbps and an upload speed of 40Mbps. On the receiving end, the client antenna had an internet speed check of 61x40. This antenna is connected to another series of Powerline Adapters. This time I chose the TP-Link AV1000 due to its build in WiFi capability. The end WiFi connection speed check is still 61x34 with is very impressive to me. I realize that there is a huge reduction in speed from my connection at 900Mbps but what surprises me is the bottleneck isn't THESE antennas transmitting through the woods. That's the reason for me giving them such an excellent rating. On top of the strong connection from point to point, these antennas also provide WiFi coverage to most all of my 2-acre yard at full signal. I realize they are supposed to be directional antennas, but the signal does propagate outwards. I realize some people might not like the thought of their WiFi signal being within reach of their neighbors, but that's why you use a strong password. I personally like being able to get internet on my phone 500' from my house.



NETGEAR AC1200 Dual Band Wireless Access Point (WAC104) Review:




TP-Link Wireless N300 2T2R Access Point, 2.4Ghz 300Mbps, 802.11b/g/n, AP/Client/Bridge/Repeater, 2x 4dBi, Passive POE (TL-WA801ND) Review:


Was perfect for what I wanted to do. I have a shop away from my house. The shop has metal siding and so it's kind of black hole for the house's wireless router and the shop isn't wired to my internet in the house. So I used a couple Ubiquiti NBE-5AC radios to make a wireless bridge (virtual wire) from the house's router to the shop. Out in the shop I set this up in AP mode so I could have a bunch of wireless devices in the shop. I gave the TP-Link a different SSID than the house to keep things clean. The TP-Link has a nice option to use the house's router as the DHCP server when in Access Point mode. So this makes it easy to connect stuff in the shop on the same LAN as the house. Now I can watch my 3D printer from the house while it runs out in the shop.