Wireless AP selection

JayG30

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Feb 23, 2015
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Hi. I know a lot of people praise the Ruckus units with unleashed firmware. And I can understand why, especially if you could purchased something like an R710 a year or so ago for <$200. However that just doesn't seem like the market today. The best I've managed to find right now is $250 and routinely people are listing them for $300+ which is just crazy to me.

I'm wondering if perhaps it makes more sense to go with something from EnGenius (EWS377APv3) or TP-LINK (EAP660 HD) or even ubiquiti (if they have gotten their act together... probably not).

Both the EWS377 and EAP660 are WiFi 6, have a 2.5Gbps port, and 4x4 design (ews377 says 8 3dbi antennas, while eap660 says 4x4dbi/4x5dbi antennas). On paper that certainly looks better then the ruckus R710 (obviously ruckus have their magic). From what I can tell both look like they have no fee software controller options or no controller options. I'd assume they both have meshing capabilities, roaming, band steering, and the typical assortment of features.

Perhaps people with more research and experience with these can call out the issues and missing things? Reliability? Performance?

I am looking for something for home use that will have good performance, range, and stability. Probably 2 units, 3 at most. I'm not that concerned about a lot of the more serious business/enterprise features for my use case here (a vlan or 2 probably most businessy it would get). Just something that will just work and be fast and not cause me headaches. Been working from home more so need it reliable as well I do enough of this stuff at work where security matters and the features matter (like trying to use unifi with their half baked 802.1x implementation). So I get the draw to certain gear for the tinkerer and home lab user.
 

elvisimprsntr

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May 9, 2021
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@JayG30

I have a pair of EWS377APv3 covering 1900 sqft 3 story townhome. One on first floor, other on third floor. Even though the EWS377AP supports MESH, I use a wired backhaul. I set the same SSID on both bands and APs. Just make sure to put each AP on a different channel. Clients seamlessly switch between bands and APs without any disruption with the built in band steering. I have 40 clients (Macs, iPads, iPhones, TVs, printers, watches, IoT devices, cameras, etc.) that all connect without issue. The only issue I had was my 20+ year old HP Envy printer would not connect even with AX turned off on the 2.4 band, which I replaced with a more modern printer. Clients with older WiFi firmware may have trouble connecting to AX. This is not unique to Engenius.


FYI, don't buy a used one off evilBay, as you will likely get an older v1 or v2 HW version. V3 HW has a much larger ribbed heat sink. I bought mine off Amazon for $200. I also bought an EWS357APv3 2x2 version for my parents place. I spent a few months looking and even testing a few other brands before taking a chance on Engenius. Actually, there are a number of other OEMs that sell the exact same rebranded hardware (at least 4 that I found) at a substantial markup and with crippled capability. In some cases the OEMs didn’t even bother to remove the Engenius name from their FCC filings. Best bang for the $ IMHO.
 
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JayG30

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From what I've read the EnGenius and TP-Link are very similar hardware, identical in the core parts, but TP-Link is a bit cheaper. TP-Link is a much larger chassis. Reviews I've read have given performance results an edge to the TP-Link. Biggest negative of all these units that I've seen is no 160Mhz channel bandwidth. I can't really find a good reason to pick one over the other otherwise.

But do these units, with there newer tech, outpace the ruckus R710 at a price of $250ish? That's the real question for me.

My guess is the R710 probably can't hit the same peak speeds I'd assume? But the antennas and proprietary techniques they use might overall make them on par in more real world scenarios.

I don't have a ton of devices (not into IoT stuff). Most demanding stuff is streaming 4k high bitrate movies/tv from in home media server. Devices in the house are desktops, laptops, fire stick 4K/Roku TVs. Considering adding some outside cameras but they'll end up hardwired. Very rural area on 6 acres. 2 story home with attic and basement where I keep my rack and cabling. Cabling is a nightmare right now to 2nd floor which is why wifi there is heavily used. Plan os to put a AP on the 2nd floor a bit to one side where signal suffers and see how that covers the 1st floor. Then if needed it's easy to run a 2nd AP to the 1st floor.
 

elvisimprsntr

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May 9, 2021
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Isn't the R710 AC only? The R750 is 4x4 on both bands for a true comparison to the EWS377AP

EWS377AP $200 at Amazon
R750 $1382 at Provantage

I voted with my coin$. $1200 buys a lot of beer.

Also, keep in mind that you will likely be replacing your kit in 3 years when WiFi 7 devices hit the street.
It's like the expensive Nest smoke detectors. I have 9 total wired residential smokes in my home, which are required by NFPA code to be replaced every 10 years. I can either spend $900+ to replace every one with a Nest or spend $90 on wired residential smokes.

Reddit thread asking a similar question.

https://www.reddit.com/r/HomeNetworking/comments/jf5ncy
 
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JayG30

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Yes, the R710 is only a wifi 5 wave 2 device. However, you can find a lot of people say they rather have a enterprise quality device like the 710 over wifi 6. Which is the reason for the question. You can find multiple threads in the past 2 years (including on this forum) about using the R710 when these other wifi 6 APs have been available. So why would that be?

Ruckus is a whole different class of device. It's hard for me to believe the 750 wouldn't demolish the other devices mentioned. In capacity, throughput, stability, features, etc.
 
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ms264556

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Sep 13, 2021
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If you currently have no dead spots then you could make the assumption that the non-ruckus AX APs are going to perform similarly to an R610 or R710 to calibrate your pricing decisions.

The latest AX APs have really closed the gap in range performance vs Ruckus.

(I don't trust the reviews in that reddit thread. The max throughput numbers seem wrong - for sure I see much better max Ruckus throughput).

I've pulled donated R600s out of a couple of houses which had a new EAP660 & an ISP provided AX3500 Arcadyan 4G router (branded as a Spark Smart Modem 2). For both houses the range and throughput from several rooms away was very similar between the new AP and the R600. Unfortunately I didn't have time for proper tests, and their wireless internet topped out at ~400Mbps, so I can't say how much better the ax throughput would be in the same room.
 

zer0sum

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Mar 8, 2013
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I just bought a pair of R710's off here for less than $200 each and they're rock solid AP's.
Unleashed is trivial to get working and they have provided excellent coverage of all of my mixed clients

Yes, they're only AC wave 2 and 4x4:4 SU-MIMO 4x4:3 MU-MIMO, but how much speed do you really need for each individual client that's connected?

My phone or laptop can get 550+ Mbps upload and download, and I'm not sure when I'd ever need any more than that. haha :D

I might pick up one of the EWS377AP or EAP660 AP's to test it and see what my real world results are like
 
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oneplane

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A lot of the prosumer/consumer hardware is just copies of one and the same reference implementation with some checkbox-based options like stream configuration and ethernet configuration. The main parts are nearly always the same because there is almost no way to make money off of them otherwise.

The biggest differences are found in the additions they made to the branded version of the white label firmware the reference designs come with, especially the parts that require a form of central management to work well (even simple things such as automatic minRSSI configuration).

A step up from that is a vendor that maybe makes some changes on high-end reference designs and instead of using a generic (but branded) firmware actually has in-house development that can simply use a BSP or device driver package and build highly optimised and targeted software that makes full use of the physical hardware (both in terms of I/O as well as locations of ports, antennas, hot parts etc.).

Beyond that you get vendor-dedicated SKUs and ASICs with custom drivers and custom radio firmwares. This is generally the territory of Aruba/Ruckus/Cisco etc. they do still make white label generic branded prosumer devices as well, but they can go beyond that because of the integration with their other products and more enterprise requirements.

In general, I'd either get UniFi or 'better', below that it's mostly just a race to the bottom and the most value then would be had in OpenWRT-compatible devices.
 

JayG30

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In general, I'd either get UniFi or 'better', below that it's mostly just a race to the bottom and the most value then would be had in OpenWRT-compatible devices.
I've used UniFi for over 10 years in deployments. The UniFi AP Pro (pre AC devices) was a big one that I had deployed way back. Things were great. Then in the past, I'd say, 5 years I've been rather unhappy with them. I had horrific experiences with their devices and windows DHCP servers. Randomly (week, 3 weeks, 2 months) devices would just stop getting new DHCP addresses. They would show as "connected" on the devices, in UniFi, DHCP, DNS, etc. But the devices wouldn't work until I cycled the AP's. Went through a bunch of firmware with no real lasting resolution, it would always come back. Ended up moving off of them and no more issues. I was extremely unhappy with the whole thing. How they handled the initial reports of issues. The legions of UniFi forum fans ignore data and blame users while the individuals in the company that sometimes used to reply in the forums stay silent on the issues. Until the noise becomes so overwhelming and they were forced to look into it and found that, yes there was indeed problems. Then the firmware would role out with promises but no actual results. I swear this went on well over a year. I remember some of their staff saying something to the effect of "it was hard to test" since they didn't have a windows DHCP server and I thought, are you kidding me? This is all made worse because of how they handle support and issues...basically they don't. And from what I can see from the forums and changes in staff it looks like it's just become worse. So, yea, I'm not that "keen" on them. Outside of that, in the networking world I have dealt a lot with Cisco from work. I have no real issue with their hardware or support, except the fact you have to pay for it.

Sad to say that I've actually had better support for hardware returns, software bugs, etc from tp-link in the very few rare occasions I've purchased something from them.

As for OpenWRT. Haven't bothered with that stuff for ages. Back then performance was not that great and I don't think it's worth it anymore.
 

JayG30

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I just bought a pair of R710's off here for less than $200 each and they're rock solid AP's.
Unleashed is trivial to get working and they have provided excellent coverage of all of my mixed clients

Yes, they're only AC wave 2 and 4x4:4 SU-MIMO 4x4:3 MU-MIMO, but how much speed do you really need for each individual client that's connected?

My phone or laptop can get 550+ Mbps upload and download, and I'm not sure when I'd ever need any more than that. haha :D

I might pick up one of the EWS377AP or EAP660 AP's to test it and see what my real world results are like
I am big on used enterprise gear and have multiple servers, switches, etc that I use for personal and commercial environments. I know the Ruckus stuff is good. But it sure seems like some of the new WiFi 6 stuff is as good or better performance, while being enough feature rich and stable enough that idk if it makes sense to have to pay a premium and overpay for old used Ruckus gear.
 

oneplane

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I have never had a DHCP server from Microsoft on the network, whenever someone suggested it, we canned it and they either get nothing, or a DHCP relay. That said, while I never had any DHCP problems with the stuff from the UniFi range, I do know that there are plenty of unresolved problems which is very weird considering their global footprint.

Unless EnGenius (or Senao, I never know which one is the actual company and which one is just a brand) has upped their game in the network management space (still cloud-only management IIRC) I'd just stick with Ruckus. I did use Aerohive as well, but that's pretty much as smelly as Cisco.
 

LodeRunner

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Apr 27, 2019
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I have never had a DHCP server from Microsoft on the network, whenever someone suggested it, we canned it and they either get nothing, or a DHCP relay. That said, while I never had any DHCP problems with the stuff from the UniFi range, I do know that there are plenty of unresolved problems which is very weird considering their global footprint.

Unless EnGenius (or Senao, I never know which one is the actual company and which one is just a brand) has upped their game in the network management space (still cloud-only management IIRC) I'd just stick with Ruckus. I did use Aerohive as well, but that's pretty much as smelly as Cisco.
I think the only time I had DHCP issues with my UniFi setups was when the block broadcast traffic option got turned on somehow (I believe one of the controller updates accidentally set this to on for existing networks). DHCP being broadcast and all, wireless clients promptly stopped pulling leases. Whitelisting the MAC of the DHCP server was unreliable. Otherwise they've done well enough for me, but my neighbors have some very noisy APs that are on auto-channel with the maximum width set, so my clients wind up taking a lot of interference.

I'm looking at Ruckus to replace them because UniFis area just a stripped down reference radio with a shiny management plane and a marginal antenna. If UBNT didn't seem so scattered brained in recent years, I'd still recommend them as a cost-effective entry in non-challenging RF environments.

As far as Windows DHCP server, I've never had any issues with it since I started using it with the release of Server 2000, beyond Linux clients not registering DNS because of permitting only secure updates and most recently with networkd/NetworkManager/NetPlan/whatever new-fangled thing a given distro chooses that sends something other than the MAC address when pulling a lease (specifically, when needing to make reservations for them). If your environment already has DHCP, then yeah, no reason to let someone setup another one. If you're an all AD environment, then using Windows DNS and DHCP is simplest and effective, saving one the hassle of trying to setup secure DNS updates between a non MS-DHCP server and AD-DNS. Though I suppose an appliance like an InfoBlox has this sort of thing well in hand.