Best Wireless AP

  • Hi,

    First of all I would like to say that I'm done with the crappy wireless access points like linksys. On the second note, I would like to choose the best AP solution for a small company with the potential to grow - the AP will be connected to the pfsense box I bought last year. I'm choosing between the following companies:

    • Ruckus
    • Aruba
    • Cisco
    • Ubiquiti
    • Meraki
    • Aerohive

    I'm currently evaluating company-wise, after choosing the company I'll choose a product. I'm interested in the following criteria, which interest me:

    Separate VLANs: I would like to have the following ESSID names: admin, users, guests, each having a separate VLAN to keep things secure. Additionally, I would like DHCP to be managed by Pfsense (to which the AP will be connected). Basically, the AP should be set to send a DHCP query tagged with specific ESSID VLAN to the Pfsense, which will return the appropriate IP based on VLAN tag. Therefore, no need for dozens of APs, the three will do for now.

    • Open Source: Is any of the OS/firmware that's running on the AP's open source and has active community?
    • Programming Language: In which programming languages is the OS written. I would particularly like to stay away from Java based web interface.
    • CLI: Does any of the OS's use a fine CLI support - I've worked with Cisco commands on switches and found them quite handy, since once you get the hang of it, you can set things quickly and it will work! Instead of tirelessly clicking on the web interface - which is fine when you want to do certain things quickly.
    • Connected Clients: There won't be more than 20 clients connected to all APs at any given time.
    • Money: Not important, whatever the cost.

    I would like to choose a company that I can use in the years to come. This is because I'll probably have to get used to managing the device, which will take valuable time, and after the company grows, I would just like to add more APs and everything should work OK.

    Thank you for all the comments.

  • Galactic Empire

    I'd go for Ubiquiti, they are simple to configure, cheap, support multiple SSIDs on diferent VLANS, get a Cloud Key controller.

  • Family was constantly whining about wifi until I got a Ubiquiti AP AC LR and I haven't heard a peep since.

  • If u like CLI so much, Cisco is king of CLI and there is nobody more scalable than Cisco, only thing is their stuff not open source.

  • @SammyWoo:

    If u like CLI so much, Cisco is king of CLI and there is nobody more scalable than Cisco, only thing is their stuff not open source.

    Hi, is the software for any of the above open-source?

  • is the software for any of the above open-source?

    Ubiquiti likes to talk about open source but it doesn't really deliver from what I understand.  However, the UniFi controller software is available via their repo.

  • I'll also recommend Ubiquiti.

    You can have up to 4 SSIDs with associated VLANs. I use the AC Lite APs and have zero issues.

  • I’ve just dropped a Ubiquiti AP AC Pro into my home network - one of the best decisions I ever made (after installing pfSense, natch).

    I have a couple of words of warning:  There is a learning curve to the Ubiquiti, expect to invest some time in making it right.  And the controller runs on Java, so may be better off in a VM…

    Aside from that they are fantastic, especially for the money.

  • Just bought the Ubiquiti AP AC, so thank you for all the suggestions. However as far as I understand you don't need a controller to set a single AP, which can also be configured by itself in standalone mode?

    Thanks for letting us know about your decision about Uniquiti+Pfsense!

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    "Money: Not important, whatever the cost."

    Then go with cisco - the old saying nobody ever gets fired for buying cisco ;)

    Their wireless is rock solid, just not cheap… But clearly you have no budget to worry about.  Can tell you for sure if you make any other choice and something even something small is a problem you will get why did you go with them.

    If you get cisco then, your ass is covered ;)

    At home I run unifi - very solid.. CHEAP!!!  doesn't even really hurt a home budget.. Controller can run or not.. Can run on pretty much anything.  VM, windows, linux - they sell a little cpu they call their cloud key.  like $80..

    Price out a cisco controller ;)  Which you prob want 2 of them, etc..

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    I know Ruckus has a standalone mode. Pretty sure you need to run the controller software to configure just one Ubiquiti.

    I'd get a cloud key if you can't run a lightweight VM or a Pi or something.

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    You do not need the controller for a handful of AP from unifi - you can use their phone ap for android or ios..
    The UniFi Mobile App allows UniFi Users to manage their network from a variety of platforms and locations. The UniFi Mobile App allows users to manage access points any of three ways:

    Manage APs directly via Standalone Mode.
        Controller Mode via Direct Access.
        Controller Mode via UniFi Cloud.

    But sure you can fire up the controller and then turn it off if you don't want any of the features the controller brings.

  • @johnpoz:

    But sure you can fire up the controller and then turn it off if you don't want any of the features the controller brings.

    Right, this is what I'm using. 2x AC Lite, controller is running on-demand on my Linux desktop.

  • I only run their app to make a config change.  Otherwise I don't really see any benefit.

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    "Otherwise I don't really see any benefit."

    All the info about your devices, which AP they are connected to (if you have more than 1) how much data they have moved, their signal strengths, etc..

    If you have 1 AP, and a couple of devices prob not that big a deal.  But My house has like 32 wifi devices if you count up everything including phones, tablets, iot devices.. So being able to see where they are connected and how much data they are moving and their signal can be very informative.  If your into all the geek info ;)

  • If you have 1 AP, and a couple of devices prob not that big a deal.

    That's me.  I only have the one AP and there are less than 10 devices in the house total.  I don't really care about those metrics to the point of running a VM 24/7.  I only care when I hear whining.

    But My house has like 32 wifi devices


  • I have a couple of Unifi AC PRO APs. Very happy with them.

  • I'm a bit astonished that Ruckus doesn't get more coverage here.
    Their APs can be used in "stand alone" mode with webGUI configuration, have a CLI and VLANs were never an issue with them. I run a few in some installs this way. If you have more than one APs to manage then get a controller, called "ZoneDirector" with Ruckus.

    Ubiquity seems often used by ambitious home users, probably because of costs. I've never seen them in commercial installs with more than 3 APs.

    A bigger local venue (10.000 capacity) just dumped Aruba and installed Aerohive and they seem quite happy. I'm not involved in WiFi there, just reporting. I would have installed Ruckus, the client density per AP is impressive.

    Cisco is Cisco - solid work, solid price, nothing fancy.

  • If cost isn't an issue then most of the vendors have demos you can log into and check out.  If you just want simple networking with basic statistics and such the Ubiquiti is nice.  I've also had great success with OpenMesh and their cloud controller.  Neither are on the level of something like a Meraki.  The big guys let you do things like require a PC to have AV installed to connect to the network, have each AP scan traffic for virii, and application reporting so you can see what programs a user is running to pass the traffic.  It's been a couple of years since I took the training but it's just page after page of features.  They cost a lot more and have annual fees but there are a lot more features.

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