WiFi AP Recommendations

  • I work for a smallish web development company, with about 30 people, and we've been running Apple Airport Extreme access points for the last few years, but we're running into problems with them now.  Mainly, they have a limit of 30 connections per AP and any further connections think they are connected but their traffic just gets dropped.  I would like to upgrade to some better APs that support WiFi-AC and that don't have arbitrary connection limits…something more "enterprise", but I just don't know what is worth getting.  I've looked around at some of the big name access points and they sound good but they get pretty expensive and it's hard to judge if the $1000 one is better than a $500.  Overall, we don't need anything super fancy, just something that can handle a good number of connections (which many won't even be actively using data very often) and have good range/performance.

    Anybody have any experience with good APs that they would recommend?


  • Equipment from Ubiquiti seems to get mentioned a lot around here.


  • Yeah, I've looked at their stuff a bit…that's my problem, it all sounds good but what's the difference between one of their APs for $150 or $250 vs something from Aruba, etc for $1000?  I'd rather spend a bit more once and get something good that's going to cover our needs for a good amount of time rather than get something just because its cheaper, but I just don't know what's worth it.

    Thanks for the suggestion!

  • you want there newest generation UniFi AC LR  or  UniFi AC Lite  just avoid the square models  you can run controller software free windows linux or mac software only needed for setup or upgrade the newest gen also can be setup from ios or adriod app.  this setup would allow you to put AP in best location for AP RF characteristics not where the firewall is

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    I routinely have upwards upwards of 150 simultaneous associations on a particular Ruckus 7372.

    I swear by their gear.

    I have never had an opportunity to see first-hand high-density with any other manufacturer but all the big ones should be fine.

    Just get Ubiquiti or Ruckus/Aruba/Cisco. Make sure you test with 5GHz and build for that. 2.4 will cover better.

    Ruckus has a controllerless spinoff called Xclaim. Never tried it but I'm sure it works.

    I don't do anything with AC because I don't have enough channels to begin with. Last thing I want to do is introduce a bunch of co-channel interference on 5G. If you can cover your space in one or two radios you should be able to do full AC.

  • Thanks!  Have just been checking out Ruckus and their stuff looks pretty good.

  • We do a TON of public WiFi and have tried everything on the market…...Ended up standardizing on Engenius EWS360AP for indoors....EWS860AP for outdoors.  We use their cloud management and have hundreds deployed.  For us its been the best bang for the buck.....YMMV.

  • Never heard of Engenius before, but so didn't I some years ago with Ruckus.

    As Derelict wrote, Ruckus is highly acclaimed and has rock solid performance. 7372 is a work horse.
    Used XClaim gear in two single AP installs. Configuration is very consumer oriented with a tablet app for first setup. Performance is good and they are cheap. They don't come with Ruckus Beamflex and such great things, of course.

    I still have a Ubiquity AP laying around somewhere after I bought it for testing and was so disappointed with the result that I forgot about it for quite some time…

    Don't know where you come from ... Lancom is used in Germany quite often. Still can't figure out why. The top APs support up to a whopping 20 clients or so simultaneously.

    Pakedge had a niche in the AV market. After meeting them at trade shows I avoid their gear in general. They don't even want to understand installer's problems.

    Cisco is just Cisco. Expensive, snobby, but works.

    Aruba is now HP, there they go.

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    I swore off engenius in the early days. Ubiquiti's software/firmware blew the crap engenius was shipping out of the water at a similar price point. Haven't looked at them since.

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    Ruckus has also apparently rolled out a controllerless line based on their ZoneFlex APs. I haven't looked at it closely yet.

  • "Controllerless" is more like "Controller in the cloud". We don't have to love that, I prefer it in-house.
    But controllers aren't necessary at all. I wouldn't even consider them for single or dual AP installs (nor would Ruckus). Just to clarify for the OP.

  • Am I to assume that the "controller" would only be needed to set up the access point and not maintain it's operation?

    For example, I see people creating jails and installing controller software for the ubiquiti AP's. Wouldn't it just be prudent for the average home user that has a windows box to install the software to set up the AP and then just let it be?

    Sorry if these questions seem ignorant, I've never worked with any wifi AP's before.

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    Controllers do many things. They deploy and tear down SSIDs on many (hundreds) of access points automatically. They look at various metrics and do what they can to coerce the clients to choose the best AP and band based on those metrics. They upgrade AP firmware automatically. They can tell close APs to fire disassociations at anything connected to "rogue" access points. They can VLAN segment clients across multiple VLANs in what would normally be a big, flat network.

    They are worth every penny. Especially if there are any dynamics involved in your not-small wi-fi environment.

  • Thanks for that reply. I guess it makes sense to have the controller software runnning 24/7 then.

  • It all depends.
    If you only have one to three APs in your home/small business you can configure them by WebGUI or CLI and leave them alone afterwards. No controller needed at all.
    When you deploy in larger scales it absolutely makes sense to have a controller involved.

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    Yeah, sorry. I missed the "average home user" part.

    For the ubnt gear, yes. Have the controller installed on the desktop and start it when you need to make a change. Else kill it.

  • @Derelict:

    For the ubnt gear, yes.

    Just out of curiosity - would you really use a ZoneDirector with only 2 or 3 APs installed?

  • I would agree that the early Engenius products were not that great…But to be fair they were pitched at SOHO and not business/enterprise class.  However, the newer line of Engenius WAPs (EWS) is every bit as good as any of the big names...Trust me we've gone though them all.  I'm sticking to the Engenius EWS line of WAPs....with Meraki as our 2nd choice.  Aruba would be my last choice....we've had more failures with them then any other brand.

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    Just out of curiosity - would you really use a ZoneDirector with only 2 or 3 APs installed?

    Likely not but it depends on the dynamics of the environment and the needs of the site/customer. If those three APs are routinely handling 100+ associations each then maybe.

    For a typical install of that size I doubt I'd use Ruckus in the first place. Probably Xclaim or ubnt.

  • I use ubiquiti unify with controller I setup at OVH.  Works fantastic!!!  I manage 20 customer environments with some having 30 AP's across multiple offices.  For most environments unifi is more than enough.  These units auto configure when you drag them into a customer account.  You can apply multiple SSID on them and all use same WPA password so users can roam and if you need to change the password it pushes the change across all of the AP's!

    I have one customer that has 3 SSID on 3 separate vlan and since all switches in all offices use the same Vlan when I pull the AP in I don't have to do anything to setup the AP!  It's that simple.  Bye bye Cisco and overpriced solutions!!!

  • Not sure if you are still looking, but Cisco has an unbelievable deal on 2504 wireless LAN controllers, 25 AP license, and two access points. They price varies depending on the APs you get with the bundle, but the package with two top-end 3702i APs is only $2000. The APs alone cost almost that much. The 25 AP license is more than that.

  • Interested in this as well. If you get a Ubiquity AP are you required to use one of their their UniFi switches?

  • Rebel Alliance


    Interested in this as well. If you get a Ubiquity AP are you required to use one of their their UniFi switches?

    It's spelled "Ubiquiti"  :D

    And, No, you don't need to use their UniFi Switches

  • @ptt:


    Interested in this as well. If you get a Ubiquity AP are you required to use one of their their UniFi switches?

    It's spelled "Ubiquiti"  :D

    And, No, you don't need to use their UniFi Switches

    Arrgghh, I keep doing that!

  • Shameless plug for Ubiquiti.  Just pulled the trigger on one 2xAP SOHO setup and now have done a few more - all using the AC Pro APs.  Also love their 'cloud key' product.  Spend ~$80 once and get Meraki-esque remote access plus the bonus of having a local controller.  If only I could get back the hours of my life I spent configuring Cisco APs.

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