Synology RT2600ac review: The best router any savvy user could ask for

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he Good The RT2600 has long range, fast Wi-Fi speed and plenty of features. The router can host more than one broadband connection, and also works as a robust network storage server More »

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TP-Link AP500 Home Wireless AC Access Point

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Best routers 2017: the best routers reviewed

PC Advisor reviews the best wireless routers you can buy in the UK in 2017. Also see: Best MiFi 2017.

Also see: Best Tech Deals

There are two types of routers, those with built-in modems and those without. Although we still call them wireless routers, there’s no need as there aren’t any ‘wired’ routers any more: all have built-in Wi-Fi. That’s what makes them wireless.

The type of router you need will depend on how your broadband is supplied. If it’s via your phone line, you’ll need a router with an ADSL or VSDL modem. ADSL is more common, but VSDL is used for faster connections which involve fibre, such as BT Infinity. The fibre optic cable doesn’t come to your house, but the nearest cabinet in your road (or an adjacent one). This is why it’s called FTTC – fibre to the cabinet.

If you have ‘cable’ broadband, from Virgin for example, you need a ‘cable’ router, i.e. one without a built-in modem. Sometimes you can use one with a modem, but it needs to specifically support cable broadband and have an RJ45 WAN port so you can connect it to your provider’s box. Read: How to improve Wi-Fi in the home 2017.

Best routers 2017 UK: Why an 11ac router is a good idea

802.11ac is better than every version of Wi-Fi before it. The principle benefits of 11ac are increased throughput and longer range. In other words, data can be sent much quicker, and you’re more likely to maintain a usefully fast connection when you’re further away – even several rooms or floors removed from your wireless router. Also see: Wi-Fi and networking reviews.

One way the latest wireless version been optimised is by using multiple aerials, as we’ve already seen with 11n Wi-Fi. But 11ac raises the speed again.

Best routers 2017 UK: Wireless bands and channels

Expanding on a technique actively in use with 11n wireless on the 5GHz band, two wireless channels can be bonded together to increase data capacity. The current draft of 11ac allows channels 80MHz wide (already four times that of 2.4GHz Wi-Fi); but there’s talk of expanding this to 160MHz-wide channels in the future.

Another trick used to good effect is beamforming, a way to aim radio energy more directionally from router to laptop. This is achieved through a phased-array technique, where signals from one aerial are fractionally delayed compared to another, to create areas of constructive interference in the direction required. Some of the latest routers support MU-MIMO, which means the router can communicate with multiple devices at the same time rather than having to quickly send data to different devices in turn, which is how all non-MU-MIMO routers do it. See more at What is MU-MIMO?

Best routers 2017 UK: Choosing the right router

Once you know the type of router you need, it’s then a case of deciding how much to spend and the technology you want. These days it makes sense to buy an 802.11ac router (as opposed to 802.11n) because in future devices will support this standard. You will save money, though, if you go for an older 802.11n model. However, that’s unlikely to be any better than the router you got with your broadband package, unless you’ve had it for several years.

Best routers 2017 UK: What to look for

For best results, look for an 11ac wireless router with at least three aerials – although, in some cases, these will be mounted discreetly inside, so check the specs or our expert reviews to be sure what you’re getting.

For the router’s hardware design, you may prefer something that looks less like GCHQ’s Bude listening station, and more like something you’d want in your lounge. Our extensive lab testing suggests that internally mounted antennas can be just as effective as routers that rock the stealth bomber look.

With many homes still finding a need for wired ethernet connections, it makes sense to have a good number of ethernet LAN ports. These are all, thankfully, at least gigabit spec nowadays, and four ports seems to be standard issue, with the exception of the Apple AirPort range which settles for just three. Even a limited array can be easily and cheaply extended though with a gigabit switch at any time, although that creates more wires and boxes and power supplies to hide.

Some brands are now touting ‘smart routers’, which can allow access to the router’s setup admin interface by people outside of your home network. Given the number of security vulnerabilities already included in most domestic routers, we would not encourage additional ways to compromise your home than is necessary.

Above all, a home router needs stability and security, as it’s the gateway to every wired and Wi-Fi-connected device you use at home. These are harder to gauge before you install and use the product, but it’s worth checking online forums for reported issues, and looking at the history of the manufacturer for timely patches and security updates.

The routers reviewed below are a mixture of those with modems and those without, so check before buying whether you need a modem or not. Also see: How to improve Wi-Fi in the home 2017.

Best routers 2017

1.

Apple AirPort Extreme 802.11ac

Apple AirPort Extreme 802.11ac

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 13 August 14
  • RRP: £169

The AirPort Extreme is superbly built from the outside and meticulously engineered on the inside, a solid-feeling piece of wireless router hardware that has the least router-like appearance of any such appliance. It lacks some of the more arcane setup options found in other flagship designs, trading these for simpler and more accessible options for the wider audience of non-network specialists. Its performance on 11n in particular is outstanding even if its 11ac speed was behind the current leaders of the pack. If you have a Mac or even just iPhone or iPad, it’s a doddle to set up and use, and is well supported with essential firmware and software updates.

2.

TP-Link Archer VR900

TP-Link Archer VR900

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 21 September 15
  • RRP: £139.99

Since the software is good and the performance is truly excellent, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Archer VR900. TP-Link has come a long way in a short time.

3.

BT Smart Hub

BT Smart Hub

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 8 July 16
  • RRP: £129.99 (Free for new or recontracting customers)

Upgrading to the Smart Hub is a no brainer, especially if you’re out of contract and aren’t planning to move to another broadband provider as it’s free. While it may struggle to provide a strong Wi-Fi signal in the largest houses with thick stone walls, it will fix Wi-Fi blackspots in the majority of normal-sized homes without having to resort to Wi-Fi range extenders or power line adapters. It’s still easy to recommend at £50 for BT customers already in a contract.

4.

Netgear Nighthawk R7000

Netgear Nighthawk R7000

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 12 August 14
  • RRP: £165

Netgear was one of the first companies to launch a draft 802.11ac wireless router in 2012, with the well-regarded R6300. Almost two years later, the fledgling Wi-Fi technology has only inched along but Netgear’s statement in noir seems to make good use of available components from its Broadcom supplier. Faster routers are available for 802.11n, but from every 802.11ac wireless router we’ve tested to date, the Netgear sets the benchmark of what is currently possible with the draft technology.

5.

TP-Link VR2600

TP-Link VR2600

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 11 August 16
  • RRP: £174.99, 279.99

We hope MU-MIMO performance can also be improved further and 2.4 GHz performance at a distance was middling. Aside from these caveats we were impressed with the TP-Link Archer VR2600. If you can stick with 5 GHz channels all the better but if not, you’ll still have a very strong all-round performer. If you’re looking for a one-box solution to replace a BT Home Hub we’d recommend the Archer VR2600.

6.

Synology RT1900ac

Synology RT1900ac

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 13 October 16
  • RRP: £129.99, 169.99

The Synology RT1900ac is a very good router marred slightly by occasionally inconsistent performance and occasional 5 GHz dropouts. That aside, performance is very good, which is impressive considering its compact size. It doesn’t feature cutting-edge tech such as MU-MIMO, but that’s still a work in progress and there are still very few phones and other Wi-Fi devices that can take advantage of it. Its reasonable price also works in its favour. But if you want to share files across the network, and even access them remotely, without forking out on a NAS, then the Synology RT1900ac will do the job. 

7.

Asus DSL-AC68U

Asus DSL-AC68U

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 3 September 15
  • RRP: £199.99

The Asus DSL-AC68U is a great 802.11ac modem router, with excellent software and decent performance at a reasonable price.

8.

Linksys EA9500

Linksys EA9500

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 10 August 16
  • RRP: £329.99, 399.99

If you have many devices currently attached to your network and need a more powerful router the Linksys EA9500 will fit the bill – but we just can’t recommend it at the price. It’s very impressive is certain areas – more clearly with four devices at once, but most people’s needs will be covered by much more reasonably priced alternatives.

9.

Asus RT-AC87U

Asus RT-AC87U

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 9 August 16
  • RRP: £159.99, 199.99

The Asus RT-AC87U combines smart design with a simple to use but featured-packed interface. Performance impresses, especially over 5GHz and also at distance. From our tests the MU-MIMO feature currently only offers a small speed increase but as a package, for the money, this router is an excellent buy.

10.

AVM Fritz!Box 3490

AVM Fritz!Box 3490

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 23 September 15
  • RRP: £135

Put it all together and the AVM Fritz!Box 3490 is a very strong offering. Great performance, great software, a good range of features and plenty of room for expansion with external storage. A winning combination.

11.

D-Link DIR-880L

D-Link DIR-880L

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 18 August 14
  • RRP: £173

The D-Link DIR-880L is an easy-to-configure wireless router with enough advanced features to also keep some power users happy. Its nearby wireless performance with 11ac was the best on test, and it also worked well at range, approaching one-third of 11ac’s rated three-stream speed in the 10 m test. The DIR-880L’s official price is £173 but at the £130 some shops are selling it, it earns a recommendation.

12.

TP-Link Archer C7

TP-Link Archer C7

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 21 October 13
  • RRP: £101

Respectable wireless performance and full list of features makes the Archer C7 a truly worthy purchase, especially if you don’t want to spend too much to try 802.11ac for yourself.

13.

AVM FRITZ!Box 7490

AVM FRITZ!Box 7490

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 1 April 14
  • RRP: £245

The FRITZ!Box 7490 is a hugely flexible and fast router. It provides a host of features that are easy to use. It’s expensive but in value-for-moeny terms this device could be a bargain at £245 for a business or power users that needs all its telephony functions too. If you only require good 802.11ac coverage without the bells and whistles there are cheaper options.

14.

Linksys EA6900

Linksys EA6900

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 15 August 14
  • RRP: £190

The Linksys EA6900 is a relatively competent draft-11ac router performance as good or better than its much dearer sister product, the Linksys WRT1900AC. It offers cloud access if you don’t object to Belkin’s current terms of use, and an attractive modern interface with which to configure the unit even if you use it without the Smart Wi-Fi cloud service.

15.

Linksys XAC1900

Linksys XAC1900

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 4 September 15
  • RRP: £175

Think carefully before buying the Linksys XAC1900. It’s a great performer, and the software is really good, but it lacks VDSL support yet still costs more than other routers.

16.

TalkTalk Super Router (2015)

TalkTalk Super Router (2015)

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 21 September 15
  • RRP: £79.99

TalkTalk claim its router is an improvement over BT’s Home Hub 5, and that much is true: we did see a slight improvement from our results. However, the bottom line regardless of who supplies your broadband, is that you’re better off upgrading to a router such as the AVM Fritz!box than paying to upgrade to the latest Super Router or Home Hub. But, if you’re given the Super Router for free with your broadband package, it’s not so bad that you need to ditch it and spend £130 on a Fritz!Box.

17.

BT Home Hub 5

BT Home Hub 5

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 18 September 15
  • RRP: £45

The Home Hub 5 may look almost identical to the previous model (it’s still compact and stylish) but a number of features make this a good upgrade for BT Broadband customers. It’s one of the cheapest 11ac routers we’ve seen and it comes with performance to match its value and good features.

18.

TrendNet TEW-818DRU

TrendNet TEW-818DRU

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 23 June 14
  • RRP: £120

The Trendnet TEW-818DRU looks better on paper than we experienced in practice. Thanks to its 3×3 MIMO configuration, its short-range performance is up there with some of the fastest 802.11ac routers, but it was less impressive at long range. The software has all the necessary functions buried within it, but it’s simply not as good as the interface found on more familiar models from Linksys, Asus and others. Its USB function didn’t work well, the software is rather basic. While some of the premium models cost over £150, the price of the TEW-818DRU is not that far behind. We’d suggest spending a little more for a router that manages consistently good results, such as the Asus RT-AC68U.

19.

Netgear D6400 AC1600

Netgear D6400 AC1600

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 8 September 15
  • RRP: £124.99

With both reasonable performance and pricing, the D6400 certainly isn’t a router for speed freaks who expect to be transferring hundreds of gigabytes of files across to a NAS wirelessly on a regular basis, but it works well as a relatively affordable entry-level 802.11ac DSL router.

Top 5 Affordable Wireless AC1200 Routers

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollar for high end router to build wifi network for small to medium homes should the network is to support your work something like email and internet browsing and activities in media social including twitter, Facebook, Instagram; as well as streaming video and online gaming in a certain level.

 

AC1200 Lower budget router

Spending wireless AC1200 router for under $70, or even under $50 is appropriate to support work and play in small to medium home. It is just wasting money to invest expensive high end router such as Linksys EA9500 or Netgear AC5400 router or new mesh wifi Linksys Velop unless you demand high speed and high bandwidth router for uninterruptable high intensive online gaming and 4K video streaming.

To support couple of Laptops and wired desktop as well as multiple mobile devices either Android or iOS based, installing a one of popular wireless AC1200 routers is enough.

Top Models

There are various models of wireless AC1200 router available in the market today from different vendors including from new comers in networking products you might not know them before. Wireless AC1200 router typically delivers speeds of up to 867Mbps @5GHz and up to 300Mbps @2.4GHz band.

  1. Wise Tiger WT-RT8501

Wise Tiger is one of Chinese vendors in mobile accessories and networking. One of its product in networking is Wise Tiger WT-RT8501 wireless ac1200 router.

The model is stylist, it is designed with white shiny color with desktop form factor and comes with four high power and low noise amplifier Omni-antennas that broadcast signal to any direction.

With high power and low noise amplifier antennas, the router delivers signal trough walls covering long distance area up to further corner of the house.

Wise tiger ac1200 router

Wise Tiger AC1200 Router

Highlights

  • Simultaneous dual band AC1200 speeds up to 866Mbps @5Ghz and up to 300Mbps @2.4Ghz
  • 4x 5dBi high power and low noise amplifier antennas
  • 4x Fast Ethernet LAN ports and 1x Fast Ethernet WAN port
  • Comes with mobile parental control app for either Android or iOS app
  • 2-year warranty

Cons

  • No USB port
  • Ethernet ports are fast Ethernet, not gigabit ports

Currently the product is tagged with the price under $50, actually the MSRP is $80.

  1. Wavlink AC1200 router

Generally you can find that the wireless routers are designed with square or oval shape or even like a round cube. Wavelink AC1200 router is designed with a flat round  shape with four external antennas like TP-link Archer C60 and Wise Tiger as shown above.

Wavlink AC1200 is like other wireless AC1200 routers, a simultaneous dual band router delivering total bandwidth up to 1200Mbps, ideal not just for work but it is also good for play.

What makes it different with Wise Tiger is that Wavlink comes with only two LAN ports compared with Wise Tiger with four LAN ports. However, Wavlink is equipped with a USB 2.0 port for sharing storage or printer.

wavlink ac1200 router

Wavlink AC1200 router

Highlights

  • Based on simultaneous dual band AC1200 network segment
  • Speeds up to 866Mbps @5Ghz and up to 300Mbps @2.4Ghz
  • 4x 5dBi high gain foldable antennas
  • 2x Fast Ethernet LAN ports and 1x WAN port
  • 1x USB 2.0 port for sharing storage or printer/scanner etc
  • Supports WPS

 Cons

  • Two LAN ports instead of four

Wavlink AC1200 is tagged with the price under $50 similar as Wise Tiger, an addition of 1x USB 2.0 port is beneficial for either storage or printer.

  1. Medialink MLWR-AC1200

Remember that Medialink N150? It was very popular cheap wireless N150 router and you know the customer rating was above 4 out of 5 star rating all the time, and then it was followed by the faster one N300 router. And today you see Medialink wireless AC1200 router, it was released Jan 2017.

What this router does? The same as the other wireless AC1200 routers delivering dual band with total bandwidth of up to 1200Mbps like the other two products above Wavlink and Wise Tiger AC1200 routers.

medialink ac1200 router

Medialink AC1200 router

Highlights

  • Based on wireless AC1200 network segment
  • Dual band speeds up to 867Mbps @5GHz and up to 300Mbps @2.4GHz
  • 2x high power external antennas
  • Ready with Beamforming technology
  • Network management including parental control and schedule
  • Wireless router or range extender modes
  • 4x Gigabit LAN and 1x Gigabit WAN Ports
  • 1x USB 2.0 port

See that this Medialink AC1200 router has richer features compared with the other two products as shown above including Beamforming technology and Gigabit ports.

  1. Tenda AC9

Tenda AC9 is one of the best wireless AC1200 routers in the market following its success with Tenda AC15 wireless AC1900 router, affordable AC1900 router in the market. You can compare with Medialink as discussed above, see that the antenna design is the same – two high powered amplifier antennas. And this router is also ready with Beamforming antenna technology.

Today you can find lots of Chinese products in the market including Tenda, Wavlink and Wise Tiger, and they are all tagged with much lower price than any branded non-Chinese products.

tenda ac9 ac1200 router

Tenda AC9 wireless AC1200 router

Highlights

  • Based on 802.11AC with AC1200 network segment
  • Dual band speeds of up to 867Mbps @5Ghz and up to 300Mbps @2.4Ghz
  • Beamforming technology ready
  • 2x High powered amplifier antennas
  • 4x Gigabit LAN and 1x WAN ports
  • 1x USB 2.0 port for storage or printer
  • Powered by 900Mhz Broadcom ARM Cortex-A7 processor with 128MB DDDR3 flash
  • Smart wifi schedule

Designed nicely with stylist model, this Tenda AC9 wireless AC1200 router becomes one of best and affordable wireless AC1200 routers in the market.

  1. Asus RT-ACRH13

Asus RT-ACRH13 is one of Asus wireless AC1200 routers that is designed differently with high performance feature of Multi-User MIMO technology like those high end AC2400/AC2600  wireless dual band routers such as TP-link Archer C2600 router, or Netgear Nighthawk X4S or Linksys EA8500 AC2600 router. And even high end three band routers today come with MU-MIMO technology, as well as few models of mesh home wifi system such as Orbi by Netgear or Linksys Velop.

MU-MIMO  technology is high end feature that delivers streams of data to multiple devices at the same time. Non MU-MIMO routers deliver data to multiple clients one device to another device in series that contributes network latency.

asus rt-arh13 ac1300 router

Asus RT-ACRH13

Highlights

  • Designed based on 802.11ac AC1300 network segment
  • Dual band with speeds up to 867Mbps @5Ghz and up to 400Mbps @2.4Ghz
  • Comes with 4x external 5dBi antennas
  • Comes with high performance MU-MIMO technology
  • Powered by high speed Quad core processor with 128Mb Flash and 128Mb RAM
  • Gigabit Ethernet Ports (4x LAN and 1x WAN)
  • 1x USB 3.0 port

Cons

  • More expensive than others in its class

This is one of most powerful wireless AC1200 router, actually it is AC1300 with a bit faster speed @2.4GHz band. And what makes this router is different with other routers in its class is the MU-MIMO technology feature. no wonder that the router is tagged with higher price around $70, but it is worth of purchase.

Click here for more spec details (Asus ACRH13)

Asus RT-ACRH13 is the best Wireless AC1200 network segment in the market with MU-MIMO high performance feature you may consider for your home.

Amplifi Mesh Point HD Whole Home Wifi

Ubiquiti introduces Amplifi Mesh Point HD, it’s a home wifi mesh technology for whole home wifi network. This product is originally designed to pair with Amplifi home wifi system to cover up to 20,000 sq ft of your large home. however, you can pair it with any third party wifi router to act as wireless range extender.

Amplifi Mesh Point HD

You can pair Amplifi mesh point HD with any third party router, even though it is originally supposed to pair with Amplifi home wifi system. Actually when you start building new wifi system at home, or would like to upgrade your current aging wireless router, you may try this Amplifi HD mesh wifi system that pairs Amplifi router plus this Amplifi HD mesh point to cover up to 20,000 sq ft eliminating dead spots in your home and aggregated bandwidth up to 5.25 Gbps.

 

Competing products for Amplifi HD mesh wifi system are Orbi Netgear three band wifi system, or you may also consider Linksys Velop mesh wifi system which is also a three band system or you also consider Luma wifi system with integrated cyber security system.

Plug and play

Setup for Amplifi mesh point is quite easy with the included Amplifi app that allows you to manage the network via your mobile devices like mostly today’s wireless router and range extender that offer the easiness of network management via mobile devices with the app, Amplifi mesh point does the same.

3×3 MIMO

Amplifi HD mesh point is based on wireless AC1750 with 3×3 MIMO technology and wifi mesh technology, this product is like traditional wireless range extender when you pair it with any models of third party wireless router that require extending range coverage. However, ideally you should pair it together with its mesh wifi router – the Amplifi mesh wifi system for optimum performance.

The antenna pivots on a magnetic connector to let you adjust the direction of antenna for better performance and adjustability, it is designed with nice looking blending with your room décor.

amplifi hd mesh point

Amplifi HD mesh point

Highlights

  • Based on AC1750 with mesh technology
  • Dual band 3×3 MIMO technology with 6 MIMO chains
  • Dual band with tri-polarity
  • Can be pair to any third party router
  • Ideal to pair with Amplifi home mesh router

To learn more detail about this product, read more detail about manufacturer’s specification and description.

Click here for Amplifi HD Mesh point

Amplifi HD mesh point is based on AC1750 dual band, delivering total bandwidth of up to 1750Mbps, and when you purchase in a bundle which contains Amplifi mesh wifi system plus two Amplifi HD mesh points you can cover  the whole home with wireless coverage of up to 20,000 sq ft.

Click here for Amplifi HD mesh point in bundle

Comparison

Lots of wireless extender models available in the market today and Amplifi HD mesh point is one of them if you don’t connect it to the Amplifi HD mesh system.

Regarding the wifi technology, take a look at the following spec comparison table between Amplifi mesh point and some range extender including Linksys RE7000, Netgear Nighthawk EX6400 and the newer one is Netgear EX7300, and TP-link RE450. All of these products are wall-plug model for easy placement and plugged in power outlet.

Wifi speed comparison

Model Wifi technology Price
Amplifi HD mesh point AC1750 dual band MIMO mesh technology $128.00
TP-link RE450 AC1750 dual band  MIMO $98.99
Linksys RE7000 AC1900 dual band MU-MIMO with Beamforming technology $104.99
Netgear Nighthawk EX6400 AC1900 dual band MU-MIMO, Beamforming and FastLane technology $99.99
Netgear Nighthawk Ex7300 AC2200 dual band MU-MIMO, Beamforming and FastLane technology $145.00
D-link DAP-1860 AC2600 MU-MIMO, SmartConnect, Beamforming $147.99

 

See that when Amplifi HD mesh point is setup as the wireless range extender and connect to third party wireless router, there are competing products with better technology and higher speed products you may consider.

You may also consider Portal wave 2 mesh wifi router and for cable modem you may upgrade your aging one with new Netgear CM1000 DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem.

Portal Wave 2 Mesh Wifi Router

When you find that your wifi network experiences dead zones in farthest corners of your home knowing that couples of wifi network from your neighbors intercept your wifi network, your wifi network slows down.

It’s just like a highway in a single fast lane in rush hours, each devices compete each other to drive to their destination points via the same lane. The more devices connect to the network, the more devices share the same bandwidth that sometimes cause network bottleneck. The more networks share the same channel, your network slows down. So that’s why Portal Wifi introduces Portal wifi router to cut through interferences when other wifi networks try to bottleneck your network.

 

Portal Wifi router

Portal wifi router is designed with an elegant model with hard glossy plastic on top, square oval compact and is stylist.

Wave 2 AC

Portal is based on wave 2 4×4 Multi User MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology, 4x data streams delivering dual band wifi with Turbo-AC2400 with spectrum boost delivering your network 3x faster than ordinary AC3200 routers such as TP-link Archer C3200 and Linksys EA9200. Portal with its dedicated wifi engine delivers reliable and high performance internet speed in the whole home.

It comes with 9x powerful high gain internal antennas, more antennas than those ordinary dual band wireless routers such as Nighthawk X4s by Netgear, or D-link DIR-885 or new Linksys WRT AC3200 routers. Moreover, it is ready with Beamforming and MU-MIMO technology for solid clients connection and send data to multiple clients simultaneously for high data rate throughput.

Portal comes with wifi autopilot technology to have your wifi clients automatically connect all times in reliable solid connection.

Coverage

Portal provides a fast wifi that covers up to 3,000 sq. ft. for a single Portal system. it is ideal for small to large homes or apartment, and when larger coverage is required you can easily add another Portal wifi system.

portal wifi router

Portal Wifi router

Portal router is similar like those mesh wif system technologies available in the market today including Orbi by Netgear, Ubiquiti with its Amplifi mesh wifi system, Luma mesh wifi and Linksys Velop. As comparison between Portal and those mesh wifi network regarding the coverage and speeds, table 1 shows you speed and coverage comparison table as specified in the manufacturer’s datasheet.

Table 1 Speeds and coverage comparison

Model Speeds Coverage
Portal wifi (2 pack) AC2400 dual band 6,000 sq ft
Luma AC1200 dual band Unspecified
Netgear Orbi (1 router + 1 satellite) AC3000 three band 4,000 sq ft
Linksys Velop (2 pack) AC2200 three band 4,000 sq ft

 

A single Portal wifi router technically can cover up to 3,000 sq ft, larger coverage than other competing products. But all depend on the environment within your homes including number walls, concrete and else. Many people give their testimony that they are satisfied with the performance with this startup router.

Interfaces

Portal is like other standard wireless routers with gigabit Ethernet ports, it comes with 5x Gigabit (10/100/1,000Mbps) Ethernet ports for reliable wired connection. 4x Gigabit LAN ports and 1x Gigabit WAN port ideal for connecting to high speed cable modem such as new Netgear CM1000 DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem or Netgear CM7000 DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem.

In addition, two USB ports are also available for storage / printer connection.

Portal offers more Ethernet ports  than others, Orbi has four ports, Velop and Luma have two ports.

Take a look at the following introduction video by Portal wifi about this product.

BLE

Another feature that makes this product is valuable is the Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (aka BLE) to let you pair your mobile devices either Android or iOS devices in a secure way without interrupting your internet connection. This feature is also applied to Amplifi HD mesh home wifi.

Highlights:

  • Based on latest wave 2 4×4 MU-MIMO simultaneous dual band technology
  • Mesh 2 ready , MU-MIMO and Active Beam Steering
  • whole home wifi ideal for homes with 4K video streaming from everywhere within the house
  • Turbo-AC2400 with spectrum boost 3x faster than standard AC3200 router
  • Designed with 9x powerful high gain internal antennas
  • Comes with 5x Gigabit Ethernet ports (4x LAN and 1x WAN ports) and two USB ports
  • A single Portal covers up to 3,000 sq ft
  • Spectrum booster with 4x 80Mhz FASTLANES radio bands and 7x total bands
  • BLE support

Portal wifi is not just like ordinary wireless router, it’s a portal wifi system for whole home wifi network. To learn more about the product, the current price and rating click the following link.

Click here to learn more detail Portal Wifi router

You may also consider new generation of wifi technology – the wireless AD in Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 router and TP-link Telon AD7200 router.

Eero Vs Google Mesh Home Wifi System

We can say that Eero is the first model of mesh home wifi system available in the market, even though it says that Eero is a whole home wifi system but the concept is similar like combination of wireless router and wireless range extender. Whole home or mesh home wifi system is designed in a simpler way to work seamlessly. Since then, most all networking vendors introduce similar whole home wifi or mesh home wifi system products including Netgear Orbi mesh home wifi system, Linksys Velop three band system, Google mesh wifi system and still more.

 

What is Eero

The first time Eero is introduced it was said that system is like a combination of wireless router with range extender to cover dead zones in the further corners  of the house. With a combination of wireless router and extender, each unit Eero is claimed to cover up to 1,000 sq ft. You can start one unit Eero and add as many as you need.

The good thing is that Eero can update new software to get better, and it also works with Alexa. Eero is based on dual band wireless AC1200 standards delivering speeds up to 867Mbps @5Ghz band and up to 300Mbps @2.4Ghz band. Before comparing Eero with Google mesh home wifi system, take a look at the following lists of main features of Eero so you can see how it is compared with Google.

eero-whole-home-wifi

Eero Whole Home Wifi System

Main features

  • Easy to setup, works out of the box and it works with Alexa
  • It’s the first whole home wifi system replacing wireless router and extender
  • Dual band based on wireless AC1200 technology with 2×2 MIMO technology
  • Bluetooth smart ready
  • Speeds up to 867Mbps @5Ghz band and up to 300Mbps @2.4Ghz band
  • Two Ethernet Gigabit ports (1xWAN and 1x LAN) and 1x USB 2.0 port
  • Each Eero covers up to 1,000 sq ft
  • Hardware performance 1.0GHz dual-core processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB flash storage

Cons

  • Doesn’t support Beamforming
  • Doesn’t support MU-MIMO

By installing Eero in homes, it is replacing your wireless dual band AC1200 routers such as D-link 842 or Asus ACRH13 and your wireless range extender.

Comparison Eero vs Google

One of competing products for Eero is new product introduced by Google – Google mesh wifi system. This is reasonable since both products are based on the same network segment – AC1200 technology.

The other new products are higher speed products and thus more expensive, you can mention Linksys Velop and Orbi which based on three band technology.

goggle-mesh-home

Google Mesh Home Wifi System

Wifi

Both models of Eero and Google are based on the same AC1200 network segment, dual band speeds of up to 867Mbps @5Ghz and up to 300Mbps @2.4Ghz band. And both don’t support Beamforming and MU-MIMO. Compared with other competing products Linksys and Orbi which both are featuring Beamforming and MU-MIMO.

Network coverage

Technically Eero cover less distance than Google. With typical home, three units of Eero can cover up to 3,000 sq ft and compared with 3 units of Google mesh wifi system that can cover up to 4,500 sq ft.

Take a look at the comparison table below for better insights of spec comparison between the two products.

Table 1 Comparison Eero vs Google

Model Eero whole home wifi Google mesh home wifi
Wifi network segment AC1200 dual band with 2×2 MIMO technology AC1200 dual band with 2×2 MIMO technology

Wave 2 wifi

Beamforming N/A N/A
MU-MIMO N/A N/A
Ethernet Ports 2x Gigabit Ports 2x Gigabit Ports – 1x Gigabit WAN and 1xGigabit LAN on primary AP

Both acts as LAN ports on additional wifi points

USB Port 1x USB 2.0 N/A
Coverage Up to 1,000 sq ft each device Up to 1,500 sq ft each device
Hardware 1.0GHz dual-core processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB flash storage Unspecified
     
Price / 3 APs $398.00 $298.00

 

To learn more details each of the products, more details manufacturer’s description, current price and rating click the links below:

  • Click here for Eero whole home system
  • Click here for Google mesh home wifi system

You may also like to try Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD wireless ac access point or the lite one UAP-AC-LITE instead of mesh home wifi system. It’s one of the best business class wireless ac access point in the market. You can use it start from one device at home.

Summary

Eero is the first model of mesh home wifi system – a combination of easy to setup wireless router and wireless range extender. The new introduction of Google mesh wifi system becomes its competing product for Eero knowing that Google cover longer distance coverage and cheaper product than Eero.

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD Wave 2 Wireless AC Access Point

With the emerging of advanced wifi mobile devices that join the business or corporate network in addition of laptops and other wired-based computers, high performance and low latency bandwidth is required to support them all securely. It is therefore Ubiquiti introduces business class wireless ac access point – Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD Unifi wave 2 wifi ac access point, one of best business class wireless POE access point with ac-based technology.

 

What this product does

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD is one of Unifi AP series designed for businesses that combines enterprise security that can be scaled up unlimitedly both local and remote sites. You can manage easily with Unifi central management controller software deployed locally on a single computer of any platform or via either private or public cloud.

Highlights

  • Wave 2 four stream 802.11ac technology
  • Simultaneous Dual-Band 4×4 Multi-User MIMO
  • (2) Dual-Port, Dual-Polarity Antennas, 3 dBi each @2.4 GHz and @ 5 GHz (2) Dual-Port, Dual-Polarity Antennas, 4 dBi each
  • Business class wireless ac access point with enterprise performance and unlimited scalability
  • Central management controller with Unifi controller software for local administrator or remotely via the cloud
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet Ports with POE 802.3at support

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD is tagged with the price almost the same as those competing product Linksys LAPAC2600 wave 2 access point.

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD

Wave 2

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD is based on wave 2 wireless 802.11ac technology with Multi User MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology that delivers data streams to multiple wifi devices simultaneously. Standard MIMO devices deliver data streams to multiple users one by one that cause network latency instead of sending data to those devices in one go like in MU-MIMO technology.

Not many business class wifi access point that come with the latest wave 2 wifi technology that support MU-MIMO, you can mention one of them is Linksys LAPAC2600. See also comparison between Linksys LAPAC2600 and Netgear WAC740.

Speeds

The speed of this wave 2 product is much higher than its predecessor Ubiquiti UAP-AC-PRO which is still based on standard wireless AC1750. UAC-AC-HD delivers dual band speeds of up to 1733Mbps @5Ghz band and up to 800Mbps @2.4Ghz band. See the following table for spec comparison with the AC-PRO model.

Table 1 Ubiquiti AC-PRO vs UAP-AC-HD

Model Ubiquiti UAP-AC-PRO Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD
Speeds @2.4Ghz band 450Mbps 800Mbps
Speeds @5Ghz band 1300Mbps 1733Mbps
POE mode 802.3af PoE/802.3at PoE+ 802.3at PoE+
Ethernet Port 2x 10/100/1000 Mbps 2x 10/100/1000 Mbps
Wifi users Up to 200 users Up to 500+ users

 

UAP-AC-Pro is currently very popular and one of best POE wireless access point in businesses, economical price and yet good performance. See that speed of UAP-AC-HD is much higher than the PRO series, more over it is MU-MIMO ready like those emerging mesh home wifi systems such as Linksys Velop and Ubiquiti Amplifi HD system.

Comparison Product

One of competing products for UAP-AC-HD is Linksys LAPAC2600 which has the same technical speeds. Have a look at the following spec comparison table between the two products (table 2).

Table 3 Ubiquiti Vs Linksys

Model Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD Linksys LAPAC2600
Wifi technology Wave 2 802.11ac technology

4×4 MU-MIMO

Wave 2 802.11ac technology

4×4 MU-MIMO

Wifi speeds Up to 800Mbps @2.4Ghz band and up to 1733Mbps @5Ghz band Up to 800Mbps @2.4Ghz band and up to 1733Mbps @5Ghz band
Antenna design (2) Dual-Port, dual-polarity antennas, 3 dBi each @2.4 GHz and (2) dual-Port, dual-polarity antennas, 4 dBi each @5Ghz band High power antenna amplifier 4.4 dBi @2.4GHz; 5.2 dBi @5GHz
Ethernet Port 2x 10/100/1000 Mbps 1 x Primary Gigabit LAN Port with IEEE 802.3at PoE+

1 x Secondary Gigabit LAN Port for Link Aggregation

POE Yes, 802.3at PoE+ Yes, 802.3at at primary port
Management Centrally, Unifi controller software, local or via cloud remotely Single point management with clustering
Price $345.00 $392.00

 

To learn more detail about the product click the links below, current price and how good the rating is:

  • Click here for Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD
  • Click here for Linksys LAPAC2600

To upgrade your aging cable modem, you may consider new DOCSIS 3.1 technology – click here for new Netgear CM1000 DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem, 10x faster than DOCSIS 3.0. For small to medium home, you may also consider best medium class router – Asus RT-ACRH13 wireless AC1300 router, or high performance MU-MIMO Linksys EA7300 router.

Best POE Wireless AC Access Point


Overview

There are bunch of wireless ac access point products available in the market today you can find to support your business wifi network. In business class wifi network you have to choose the best wireless access point product that can support large number of wifi clients connect to business network solidly, easy to install and scalable to large numbers of APs to deploy.

 

POE

In corporate network, deploying wireless access point is easier when your AP supports POE that allows you install the AP by running a single UTP Cat 5e or Cat 6e category cable to the POE switch to eliminate power cable to the AP. Most business class wireless AC access point products support POE, so assure that your choose POE wifi access point model for your businesses.

Various models

It depends on how large is your network scale, you can choose business class wireless AP products – the best wireless access point that meets your business need including budget, scale and IT support you have. Knowing that the emerging of Smartphone devices that come with high end wifi ac adapter, deploying wireless ac access point for your businesses is a must to accommodate all of those IoT devices to connect to the network.

The following lists top POE wifi access point, best wireless access point products for businesses ranging from small to large scale multi sites wifi network.

  1. TP-link EAP-245

The first affordable business class wireless ac access point product is TP-link EAP-245 POE wifi access point. This model is based on standard wireless dual band AC1750 delivering dual band speeds of up to 1300Mbps @5Ghz band and up to 450Mbps @2.4Ghz band. EAP245 doesn’t feature Beamforming and Airtime fairness like the EAP320 and EAP330 series, thus this model is cheaper than the other two EAP series. See also comparison between Ubiquiti UAP-AC-PRO and TP-link EAP320.

tplink eap245

TP-link EAP-245 AC1750 AP

TP-link EAP245 is an affordable business class POE wifi access point compared with products from other vendors such as Netgear and Linksys. See also Linksys LAPAC2600 vs Netgear WAC740.  For small business you can start from couple of this models and grow easily with free EAP controller software.

Highlights

  • Based on wireless AC1750 delivering speeds of up to 450Mbps on 2.4GHz and 1300Mbps on 5GHz totals 1750Mbps
  • Internal Omni antennas, 2.4GHz: 3* 4dBi, 5GHz: 3*4dBi
  • 1x Gigabit Ethernet Port with POE support
  • Band steering to force 5Ghz based devices to connect to 5Ghz band for faster connection
  • Load balance ensures large numbers of users have smooth network experiences in high density business networks
  • Free EAP controller software for central network administration either local or remote sites

Cons

  • Doesn’t support beamforming technology
  • Doesn’t support MU-MIMO

The best thing with affordable business class POE wireless access point is that you can manage your large network, hundreds of AP devices  using free EAP controller software either AP devices in your local site or remote sites centrally. This is one of best wireless access point for small businesses.

With this software you can view real-time monitoring of traffic status of each AP, analyze network traffic statistic and as well as user activity and still more as to enhance network efficiency. See also comparison Ubiquiti Pro vs TP-link EAP220 AP.

Click here to learn more detail TP-link EAP245

  1. Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD

For larger scale wifi network with higher clients density, you may consider Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD wireless ac access point. Each AP can support up to 500 wifi clients, and you can expand to unlimited numbers of POE Ubiquiti POE wifi access point products spread across the sites or remote sites.

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD is high performance wave 2 wireless ac technology that supports Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology to allow the system to send data streams to multiple client devices simultaneously as opposed with non MU-MIMO devices that send data one device to another device. It delivers speed dual band simultaneously with total bandwidth of up to 2600Mbps, speeds of up to 1733Mbps @5Ghz and up to 800Mbps @2.4Ghz band.

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD

Like TP-link EAP series, Ubiquiti offers similar free controller software – Ubiquiti Unifi controller software to allow you manage the network locally or remotely via the cloud.

Highlights

  • Based on four streams of 802.11 ac wave-2 technology
  • Speeds of up to 1733Mbps @5Ghz and up to 800Mbps @2.4Ghz
  • Simultaneous Dual-Band 4×4 Multi-User MIMO
  • Dual port dual polarity antennas, 3 dBi @2.4Ghz and 4dBi @5Ghz
  • Business class wireless ac access point, ceiling mount and scale up unlimitedly with enterprise performance
  • Central Unifi controller software for easy management either local or remotely from a single AP and can be controlled remotely via the cloud
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet Ports with POE 802.3at support

Not just hundreds of AP you can deploy, even you can deploy unlimited scalable AP products easily and you can manage those Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD series spread all over the sites both local and remotely using central Unifi controller software. This product is one of best wireless access point for large businesses with multi-sites network.

Click  here to learn more details Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD

For small business that require unlimited scalable POE wifi access point devices with affordable budget, you may consider best seller Ubiquiti UAP-AC-PRO wireless ac access point with 3×3 MIMO technology.

  1. Netgear ProSafe WAC740

Both the above two wireless ac access point products come with 10/100/1,000Mbps Ethernet ports with POE supports. This port is a gateway to deliver wifi traffic from all the connected wifi clients to the wired network. For higher clients density, 10/100/1,000Mbps could not be fast enough for higher traffic. It is therefore Netgear introduces new high speed wave 2 ProSafe WAC740 wireless AC2300 business class access point with 10/100/1,000/2,500Mbps ideal for fast lane of higher density wifi clients traffic. That’s what wave 2 technology is used for to handle multi-gig traffic.

netgear wac730 ap

Netgear WAC-740 Wave 2 AP

Netgear WAC740 is based on wave 2 wifi technology with Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology similar as Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD and other wave 2 products with 4 data streams delivering aggregated data throughput of up to 2.3Gbps. it is dual band router with speeds of up to 1733Mbps @5Ghz band and up to 600Mbps @2.4Ghz band.

Highlights

  • Based on wave 2 wifi technology with 4×4 data streams
  • Dual band speeds of up to 1733Mbps @5Ghz band and up to 600Mbps @2.4Ghz band
  • MU-MIMO ready for delivering data streams to multiple clients concurrently
  • Wireless Controller managed with WC7500 for scale network, or WC7600 for medium scale and WC9500 for large scale deployment.
  • 1x Multi-gigabit Ethernet port (2.5Gbps) with POE support and 1x 1Gbps Ethernet port
  • Enterprise security protection
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Requires separate hardware based wifi controller
  • Requires Multi gig POE Switch for optimum data throughput

Unlike the other two POE wifi access points TP-link EAP245 and Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD which are managed easily with software controller, with WAC740 you require hardware based wireless controller instead of software based controller. This will add another budget for your business, more over the price of Netgear WAC740 is more expensive than the other two products.

Summary

For small businesses, start with couple of TP-link EAP245 wireless ac access point, it is best wireless access point appropriate for starting businesses. For larger multi-site businesses, Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD POE wifi access point is ideal solution with central management software. For larger scale and higher density clients, WAC740 with multi-gig Ethernet port is appropriate.

Click the following links to learn more details about each of the products, current price and rating or purchase in Amazon:

  • Click here for TP-link EAP-245
  • Click here for Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD
  • Click here for Netgear WAC740

For homes, when your current router is aging and would like to taste how good the mesh home wifi system is, you may consider Linksys Velop three band system for large home or you may consider Amplifi HD wifi system.
Ads:

UAP-AC-LITE Ubiquiti Vs TP-link EAP245

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE is one of most popular wireless ac access point products either for homes or small to enterprise businesses due to its simple management with its Unifi controller software.

Why UAP-AC-LITE

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE is international version of wireless AC access point in addition of its US version UAP-AC-LITE-US which both have the same technology – based on wireless AC1200 access point delivering total bandwidth of up to 1200Mbps simultaneous dual band. This is the lite version of Ubiquiti Unifi AP lines of products, and the ultimate version is Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD wireless AC access point one of best wireless AC access point for businesses.

 

Lower budget

The UAP-AC-LITE is  the economical budget product for starting the wifi network for small businesses with lower clients density, and can be scaled up easily by adding large APs or adding the ultimate version UAP-AC-HD. Ubiquiti lines of Unifi AP products come with Unifi controller software to let you easily manage any scale of wifi network across multiple sites centrally, remotely via the cloud.

The other competing product is one of TP-link EAP series – TP-link EAP-245 with AC1750 technology. This product is also one of best seller products for businesses with economical budget.

Comparison Ubiquiti Vs TP-link

Both Ubiquiti and TP-link introduce various models of wireless N and wireless AC access point products which are targeted for small to medium business wifi network or even for enterprises with multiple sites.

Many people are wondering which product is better between Ubiquiti and TP-link since both vendors offer affordable products compared with other vendors including Netgear, Aruba or Meraki wireless access point products. See also Ubiquiti vs Linksys wave 2 AP and Cisco Meraki MR32 wireless AC AP.

The easiest way to see the differences is by presenting the spec comparison table between the two products as a start. Take a look at the following spec comparison table between most popular high rating Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE and TP-link EAP-245 wireless ac access point.

ubiquiti uap-ac-lite

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE

Table 1 Comparison Ubiquiti vs TP-link

Model Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE TP-link EAP-245
Wifi technology Based on wireless AC1200 technology

2×2 MIMO

Based on wireless AC1750 technology

3×3 MIMO

Wifi speeds 867Mbps @5GHz and 300Mbps @2.4GHz 1300Mbps @5GHz and 450Mbps @2.4GHz
Beamforming No No
MU-MIMO No No
Band steering No Yes
Antennas 2x 3dBi dual band 3x 4dBi dual band
Ethernet Port 1x 10/100/1000Mbps 1x 10/100/1000Mbps
POE supports Yes, Passive POE (24V) Yes, POE 802.3at (12VDC)
Power consumption 6.5W 12.7W
Physical security N/A Kensington lock
Network management Unifi controller software – manage multi sites, distributed deployment and multi-tenancy EAP controller software for centralized management
Price $99.99 $99.99

 

Wifi technology

Basically each of the two products are categorized at different network segment, Ubiquiti is in AC1200 while TP-link is in AC1750 network segment. The difference is the speed @2.4Ghz band, Ubiquiti with AC1200 delivers speed up to 300Mbps and TP-link with AC1750 delivers speed up to 450Mbps. While @5Ghz band, Ubiquiti delivers speed up to 867Mbps (two data streams 2×2 MIMO technology) and TP-link delivers speed up to 1300Mbps (three data streams 3×3 MIMO technology).

tplink eap245

TP-link EAP-245 AC1750 AP

The latest products are based on wireless AC2600 technology with 4×4 MU-MIMO technology delivering bandwidths of up to 1733Mbps @5Ghz plus 800Mbps @2.4Ghz band such as Linksys LAPAC2600, Netgear WAC740 and Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD.

It seems to be unfair comparing two products in different network segment, however the price of the two products are almost the same, that’s would be a good thing for consideration.

Band steering

Both wireless ac access point products don’t support Beamforming and MU-MIMO technology, two features that mostly applied to high end wireless ac products including business class Linksys LAPAC2600 and Netgear WAC740 access points. However, TP-link EAP245 supports band steering to force dual band capable clients to connect to 5GHz cleaner band.

Network management

Ubiquiti offers powerful central controller management software to help you manage all of the Ubiquiti AP devices across multiple sites, distributed deployments and multi-tenancy via the cloud.

Similar software is also introduced by TP-link to allow you manage hundreds of EAP series products and is also efficient authentication captive portal to manage your guests to access the network.

Power

Power consumption would be one most important lists to consider in deciding which product to choose to save the power. Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE is designed to save power consumption up to only 6.5W each unit, compared with TP-link that consummate power twice as much as Ubiquiti does.

To learn more detail about the specs, features and current price and customer rating click the link below:

  • Click here for Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE
  • Click here for TP-link EAP-245

Summary

Ubiquiti EAP-AC-LITE is one of best business class wireless ac access point products available in the market today with its powerful and intuitive Unifi controller software to allow you manage AP devices across multiple sites via the cloud. Faster product by TP-link EAP-245 is also one of its competing product you may also consider.

TP-link Deco M5 vs Eero vs Luma vs Google

Competition of mesh home wifi systems is very tight in the era of no more range extender but whole home wifi system. Each of networking vendor offers a specific whole home wifi system model including Netgear, Linksys, Ubiquiti, Google, Luma, Eero and TP-link.

TP-link Deco M5

The new introduction of new model of whole home wifi system by TP-link is Deco M5 that is supposed to compete with other similar products including Eero, Luma and Google. There few models have been around in the market with higher speed including Netgear Orbi; Linksys Velop wifi system, tree models offered by Ubiquiti with Amplifi mesh series including Ubiquiti Amplifi HD home wifi system and still more.

 

Two bands AC1300

Velop and Orbi are two models of three band mesh home wifi system, the others are two band models including this TP-link Deco M5. Deco is based on wireless AC1300 instead of AC1200 like other existing models including Luma, Google and Eero.

With Deco M5, the system delivers dual band wifi speeds of up to 867Mbps @5Ghz band and up to 400Mbps @2.4Ghz band. With the three pack, they will cover up to 4500 sq ft where each Deco M5 can cover up to 1,800 Sq ft of your home. Deco cover longer distance than Eero, and is slightly the same as Google mesh home.

TP-Link ARTTM

TP-Link ARTTM stands for Adaptive Routing Technology, a system that automatically chooses the best path for each of the device to connect to the best connection to Deco unit. It works like based on complex metric calculations in modern routing technology.

tplink deco m5

TP-link Deco M5

Home Care

When you compare Deco with Luma whole home wifi system regarding internet threat treatment, Luma comes with built-in hacker protection. While TP-link Deco comes with built-in Home Care powered by Trend Micro (an anti-virus and internet threat protection hat cost $360 value). It will protect all connected devices to your home network against any internet threats.

Hardware

TP-link seriously designs this Deco M5 to be able to compete with other similar products that have been around in the market for a while. The hardware is built up powered by Quad core processor, so does Luma. Eero is powered by 1.0Ghz dual core processor.

Deco M5, Google, Eero are embedded with two Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Features

Like other mesh home wifi systems, they are all based on recent wireless AC (802.11ac) standard even though they are might be in different network segment. As mentioned earlier that TP-link introduces Deco M5 by completing richer features that other similar products are absent.

Compared with other competing devices including Eero, Luma and Google, Deco M5 have the following features:

Wifi features

  • AP Steering
  • Band Steering

Ease of use

  • Mobile app
  • Bluetooth onboard
  • Speedtest
  • Device list
  • Easy guest wifi sharing

Software security

  • Firewall security
  • Parental control (time restrictive)
  • Auto Firm Ware update

Most of mesh home wifi systems are easy to deploy with the included free mobile apps, and can work stand alone. And even Ubiquiti Amplifi mesh point that works as the satellite of the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD wifi system can work universally as the range extender of third party wireless router.

Richer features

TP-link is smart, introducing the mesh home wifi model in the last time when other vendors have released the products in the market. TP-link completes Deco M5 with some features that other competing products are absent.

Take a look the following table to help you understand what features TP-link add features to Deco that might be absent to others.

Table 1 Deco vs Eero vs Luma vs Google Feature differences

Model Deco M5 Eero Luma Google
MU-MIMO Yes No Yes Yes
Beamforming Yes No No Yes
Location assistant Yes No Yes Yes
Network scanning Yes No Yes Yes
Router-based antivirus Yes No Cloud-based No
QoS by device Yes No Yes Yes
QoS by application Yes No No Yes
Device activity report Yes No Yes Yes
URL filter Yes No Yes No
Monthly usage report Yes No No Yes
         

 

See that TP-link Deco M5 adds more features, richer features compared with Eero, Luma and Google. To learn more in depth insights each of the products, click the following link to also see the current price and rating.

  • Click here for Deco M5 (3 pack)
  • Click here for Eero wifi system (3 pack)
  • Click here for Luma whole home system (1 pack)
  • Click here for Google mesh wifi (3 pack)

For businesses, you may consider wireless AC access point for businesses such as Ubiquiti UAP-AC-Lite and TP-link EAP245 affordable business class AP; or one of best POE wireless AC AP including Ubiquiti UAP-AC-HD wave 2 access point.

BT Smart Hub review

The new BT Smart Hub isn’t your run-of-the-mill ISP router offering. No, this is a major upgrade from its predecessor, the Home Hub 5, that’s a compelling reason for BT customers to recontract. Here’s our BT Smart Hub review.

See also: Best 802.11ac routers to buy

BT Smart Hub review: Price

Here’s the good part. The Smart Hub is free. Or at least it is if you’re a new BT customer: you’ll get a free Smart Hub included in your broadband package. If you’re an existing customer on BT Infinity 2, 3 or 4 and out of contract, all you need to do is recontract for 12 months you can get one free. However, as a reader has pointed out, you’ll only be eligible if you’re paying full price. If you have any discount for BT TV, Caller Display or anything else, you will have to pay £50, plus £8 delivery.

If you’re in contract but still want to upgrade, the Smart Hub will cost you the same (but this time reasonable) £50 plus postage, a huge £79.99 discount on the standard price of £129.99 that non-BT customers will pay. However, it’s hard to imagine that anyone will ever pay full price, as the Smart Hub only works with BT broadband, so you can’t buy it and use it with TalkTalk or any other ISP.

 

BT Smart Hub review: Features and design

The big upgrade Wi-Fi. Although the Home Hub 5 has 802.11ac, the Smart Hub (which really should be called the Home Hub 6) has the latest version of 802.11ac which BT calls ‘wave 2’.

Without getting too bogged down with the technicalities, BT has brought its router up to date by adopting the Wi-Fi tech that’s also offered by the main players in the home router world such as Linksys, D-Link and others.

BT Smart Hub review 

The Smart Hub has more antennae – seven to be precise – which generate better Wi-Fi coverage – and it also supports MU-MIMO. Unfortunately this isn’t switched on yet, but will be in a future software update.

 

Those updates are installed automatically, and only when you’re not using the internet. So MU-MIMO will be enabled without you having to do anything. It’s worth noting that there aren’t all that many devices which support MU-MIMO, but it will be a standard feature soon. The Nexus 5X, Galaxy S7, Nexus 6P and the Microsoft Lumia 950 (and XL) all have MU-MIMO compatible Wi-Fi, and you’ll really see a benefit when using multiple these simultaneously.

 

You may think the Smart Hub’s styling is bland, but plenty of thought has gone into the design. For one thing, it has the same upright form factor as its predecessors. This is ideal for placing on a shelf or table as it has a small footprint. It also has ports and connectors in the same places as the previous few Hubs, so you can easily upgrade – the Hub 5’s power supply is the same so swapping over takes less than a minute.

 

Since no user details are needed, the hub will automatically connect to BT’s servers and you’ll have Internet access a couple of minutes later. (As mentioned above, you can’t use the Smart Hub with other providers: it’s preset for BT’s services.)

 

The thin design also means the package should fit through your letterbox, and while we wouldn’t usually mention packaging in a review, the Smart Hub’s box is recyclable and has instructions for fitting your old hub in it, and includes an address label so you can post your Hub 4 or 5 back to BT for recycling totally free.

 BT Smart Hub review

Around the back you have a quartet of Gigabit Ethernet and, a USB 3 port for printers, storage or even power for other USB gadgets, and an RJ11 socket for broadband. Naturally, the Smart Hub supports VSDL for BT Infinity. The WAN port from the Hub 5 has gone, but few people will notice as virtually no-one will need it. (You can use one of the network ports as a WAN port if you do need it.)

 

As before, there’s a removable card with the Hub’s Wi-Fi network details and admin password. It’s good that every BT router uses different details, rather than some ISP routers which still ship with the same default username and password for admin access. 

Usefully, the button – for Wi-Fi setup using WPS – is on the opposite side to the removable card so you won’t accidentally press it when taking out the card.

If you do need to change any settings (there’s certainly one we recommend) then the user interface is easy to use. It has been improved since the Hub 5, with the main screen showing a series of purple boxes giving you a handy at-a-glance overview of broadband status, Wi-Fi status, connected devices and quick options for the router’s LED, which can be dimmed or turned off on a schedule – a thoughtful inclusion.

 BT Smart Hub review

The Broadband performance test button is a bit misleading as it simply links through to BT’s website rather than offering an immediate option to test your connection speed.

 

Clicking on any box gives you a more detailed breakdown, and you’ll need to enter the password to change anything in the Advanced settings section.

BT Smart Hub review

If you don’t fancy changing the Wi-Fi password on the phones, tablets and other Wi-Fi gadgets in your home to connect to the new router, it’s easy enough to change the Smart Hub’s SSID and password to match your old router: most devices will reconnect without any problems.

As well as the router, BT bundles in a few extras including parental controls, antivirus and at least 100GB of free cloud storage. Each time a new device connects the Smart Setup automatically kicks in – it’s easy to disable this from the router’s home screen in your web browser.

Although the settings aren’t as extensive as some routers, there’s still enough here for people who like to tweak. Most people will never need to change any settings, but you can assign specific IP addresses to devices, such as a NAS drive or network printer.

We recommend you go into the Wi-Fi settings and toggle the ‘Separate bands’ button. By default, the Smart Hub gives both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks the same name, so you never know which one your device is using. Although the Hub has an improved smart channel selection, it can be better to choose between 2.4GHz and 5GHz yourself, especially if you’re having problems.

BT Smart Hub review

BT Smart Hub review:  Performance

It’s unlikely that you will, though, as the Smart Hub has by far the best Wi-Fi performance of any Home Hub – and most likely any current ISP router. Even without MU-MIMO enabled, we saw superb speeds in our tests, particularly using 802.11ac.

On 2.4GHz, we saw 85Mbit/s at 2m, and 28Mbit/sec two floors above the router. By comparison, the Hub 5 could only manage 34- and 21Mbit/s respectively.

In our long range test, through two walls and 30m away, the Hub 5’s speed dropped to 10.8Mbit/s and the signal was very weak. The Smart Hub’s signal was still pretty good, and it still achieved 21.4Mbit/s at this range.

Switching to 5GHz, the Smart Hub maxed out out Acer laptop’s Wi-Fi capabilities, so we installed a TP-Link 802.11ac USB adaptor. At 2m, the Smart Hub sped up to 239.5Mbit/s and was still delivering 220Mbit/s two floors up. Highly impressive. (The Hub 5’s speeds were 88.9- and 19.3Mbit/s.)

At long range, the Hub 6 was able to transfer at 31Mbit/s compared with the Hub 5’s 8.3Mbit/s.

While we didn’t extensively test the USB port’s capabilities, it’s worth noting that there’s no security for any devices connected: if you give someone your Wi-Fi password they would be able to access the contents of a USB hard drive. It’s a shame there’s no separate guest network, although as with all BT routers, there is the separate Fon network which guests can sign into using their own BT username and password.

Read next: How to improve Wi-Fi in your home

BT Smart Hub: Specs

  • Wireless protocols: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Radio bands: 2.4 & 5 GHz
  • Antennae: 7 internal
  • Modem: ADSL, ADSL2+, VSDL
  • WAN port: None
  • LAN port: 4x Gigabit
  • USB: 1 x USB 3.0
  • Wireless protocols: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Radio bands: 2.4 & 5 GHz
  • Antennae: 7 internal
  • Modem: ADSL, ADSL2+, VSDL
  • WAN port: None
  • LAN port: 4x Gigabit
  • USB: 1 x USB 3.0

OUR VERDICT

Upgrading to the Smart Hub is a no brainer, especially if you’re out of contract and aren’t planning to move to another broadband provider as it’s free. While it may struggle to provide a strong Wi-Fi signal in the largest houses with thick stone walls, it will fix Wi-Fi blackspots in the majority of normal-sized homes without having to resort to Wi-Fi range extenders or power line adapters. It’s still easy to recommend at £50 for BT customers already in a contract.