4 new access points deliver super-fast Wi-Fi

Linksys, Xclaim, Amped and ZyXel bring 802.11ac to SMB, enterprise markets.

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Access points put to the test

We put four new access points to the test, from Linksys, Xclaim, Amped and ZyXel, using the same test-bed and methods as our last review. The Linksys LAPAC1750PRO performed best in the throughput tests and was a feature-rich product. The Amped Wireless AP was a close second in the speed tests and is a solid business-class access point. The Xclaim unit did well given it’s only a two stream (2x2) AP. The ZyXEL unit was last in throughput, but has a number of advanced features in the areas of configuration, management and security. (Read our full review.)

Amped Wireless APR175P

Amped Wireless APR175P

Targeted at the SMB market, the Amped Wireless APR175P bills itself as a high-power long range access point. Priced at $299.99, it is a dual-band three stream (3x3) 802.11ac AP, offering theoretical data rates up to 1,300Mbps for 802.11ac. In our testing, the maximum throughput was 335.6Mbps. This is the only access point in the review that sports external antennas, which provides for either ceiling or wall mounting. In addition to the three external antenna, it has six high power amplifiers and six wireless reception (low noise) amplifiers.

Amped Wireless APR175P

Amped Wireless APR175P

This access point is the only one in the review that supports a router mode. Additionally, it's the only one that specifically touts being long range and high-power at 500mW output. The built-in controller functionality supports the central management of up to seven access points. This access point allows you to create up to 32 SSIDs with VLAN support. This unit offers load balancing and an intrusion detection system (when in router mode). It also offers an internal RADIUS server supporting the PEAP and TLS methods of 802.1X authentication, enabling the use of the Enterprise mode of WPA2 security.

Linksys LAPAC1750PRO

Linksys LAPAC1750PRO

The Linksys LAPAC1750PRO is targeted towards small and midsized businesses (SMBs) and is priced at $499.99. It is a dual-band three stream (3x3) 802.11ac AP, offering theoretical data rates up to 1,300Mbps for 802.11ac. In our testing, it maxxed out at 436.3Mbps. Inside the unit are three 4.4 dBi internal antennas for 2.4GHz and three 5.2 dBi gain antennas for 5GHz. On the back of the unit are two PoE Gigabit Ethernet ports (one with PoE), AC power jack, and a small reset button.

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Linksys LAPAC1750PRO

When using the Cluster feature, you can centrally manage up to 16 access points using the built-in controller functionality. Once you enable the clustering feature on one access point, others access points will join that cluster. You can centrally change the configuration settings of the cluster via any access point in the cluster. This unit supports the use of up to 16 SSIDs with VLAN support. In addition to traditional AP mode, you can use the unit in WDS and workgroup bridge modes. Its Captive Portal feature supports guest, local, and external RADIUS authentication and can do URL redirection upon authentication. This access point supports rogue AP detection, band steering, and beamforming. It also has basic load balancing functionality.

Xclaim Xi-3

Xclaim Xi-3

The Xclaim Xi-3 from Ruckus Wireless retails for $199 and is targeted towards small businesses and small office/home office (SOHO) environments and to the non-IT users. It's the only two stream (2x2) AP in this review, thus naturally offering lower maximum data rates than the other APs: up to 867Mbps for 802.11ac. It hit 315.7 Mbps in our testing. The Xclaim unit has a look and feel between a consumer router and a business access point. On the back/bottom of the access point you'll find one PoE LAN port, a secondary Ethernet port, small reset button, and an AC power jack. On the back/bottom of the Xclaim AP are the typical AP ports and buttons.

Xclaim Xi-3

Xclaim Xi-3

Unlike most other business-class products, this unit is primarily designed to be setup and managed via a mobile app, called Harmony for Xclaim. This unit only provides the traditional AP mode; no WDS or wireless bridging supported. The built-in controller functionality offers central management via the mobile app with a recommended maximum of 10 APs. You can create up to four SSIDs per access point with VLAN support. As far as advanced features, the unit has band steering, an enhanced QoS functionality called automatic traffic prioritization, and a feature called airtime fairness to help curve the negative impact from older or slower devices.

ZyXEL WAC6503D-S

ZyXEL WAC6503D-S

The ZyXel WAC6503D-S, priced at $899, is targeted towards the enterprise-level market. It is a three stream (3x3) 802.11ac AP and offers theoretical data rates up to 1,300Mbps for 802.11ac. However, in our testing, it only reached 232.6Mbps. The unit is designed for ceiling mounting, with the smoke detector look and feel.

On the front/top of the AP you'll find seven LED status lights. On the back/bottom you'll find three Ethernet ports: PoE port for uplink, secondary LAN port, and one for console access. You'll find a small reset button and AC power jack as well.

ZyXEL WAC6503D-S

ZyXEL WAC6503D-S

A separate NXC Series WLAN controller is required for full central management capabilities. In addition to the regular AP mode, this access point supports WDS and a monitor mode for rogue access point detection. This ZyXEL AP supports up to 16 SSIDs with VLAN support. It has load balancing and band steering functionality. This AP series has what the company calls its Smart Antenna technology, which dynamically chooses the best of more than 700 antenna patterns to use for transmitting to individual clients

Included free of charge is the ZyXEL Wireless Optimizer (ZWO) software, which is a mapped-based Wi-Fi simulation, planning, and surveying tool.