It is good to know the ins and outs of anything that can improve your internet performance and knowing more about the best wireless access point for your home will help you give your home network the boost it needs.
What is a Wireless Access Point (WAP)
Firstly, new users shouldn’t confuse this with an actual wireless router. In essence, a wireless access point is basically just a configured node or a device on a LAN that can connect your device to a wired network via a wireless signal that it transmits. Also popularly known as a ‘hotspot’, a wireless access point has features such as antennas, Bluetooth capabilities and radio transmitters to help facilitate the transfer of data.
Where Can a Wireless Access Point Be Used?
Wireless access points are popularly used in larger homes or office spaces to expand the network connectivity so that work can continue seamlessly no matter the location in the office space. Wireless access points are also popularly used in public spaces to provide wifi to the consumer - like cafes, and places of transport such as airports and metro stations. Wireless access point extends your network coverage around your office space or home and help to eliminate dead spots.
Stable internet connectivity has become a vital requirement for businesses as they expand and although you may need only one access point in your home, a business may need to use multiple wireless access points to extend the coverage. This can be a challenge in figuring out the best locations to install your WAP.
We Tested 5 Wireless Access Points
The BlueGadgetTooth team has looked into a number of Wireless Access Points to determine which is the best wireless access point for your home or business, with each representing popularly searched for categories.
Best Wireless Access Point For Your Home & Office in 2017
1. Ubiquiti Pro
2. TP-Link AC1200
3. Linksys Business
4. Securifi Almond
(4 in 1)
5. D-Link DAP1650
(For Small Apartment)
What Features To Look For In The Best Wireless Access Points
When you are looking to buy the best wireless access point for home, there are certain key points you must keep in mind when it comes to the tech department. While brand name and cost can be a deciding factor, before you make the final purchase, check if your WAP has the following features.
- Advanced Security: Check if your WAP has pre-installed security and firewall features as a lot of sensitive data could be transmitted over your wireless network, which could be susceptible to being intercepted by people who mean to use that information against you.
- Advanced management options: Having enhanced options can help boost your network’s performance, increase network stability and more.
- Should be 802.11AC: It should have the latest wireless standard and be backwards compatible to accommodate any older devices in your home or office space.
- Dual GbE ports: Having two Gigabit-Ethernet ports can boost your network when present on any dual-radio AP.
- Beamforming & MU-MIMO technology: For a stable connection and strong coverage
- External Inter-changeable antennas: Never underestimate the power of antennas. They are a long overlooked feature, but being able to adapt different types of antennas to work in a certain environment will help give you the best performance for your network and a good range in all directions.
- Guest Access Options: Whether it is your home or business space, you are bound to have visitors or clients. Being able to offer them wifi is a bonus that they will appreciate and having a guest network will help protect your home network where sensitive data can be present.
- Easy Hardware Deployment: When you buy your wireless access point, you want it up and running as soon as possible, instead of waiting to read through all the instructions and days later, have it working. Even though every model is different from the other, fast and simple deployment is a must for any business to be efficient.
- Limiting licensing frustrations: This happens when there are limits placed on the licenses which could throw your tech department into a tizzy. The best wireless access points for you would be ones that have cheaper licenses or no licenses at all. You should be able to make decisions on what you want to do with your hardware.
- Cost effective controller pricing: Prices can vary considerably when you look at controller costs, ranging from none to thousands of dollars. But if you are a small business, a home, or even a larger company who want to save, look for wireless access points with affordable controller costs.
1. Ubiquiti Wireless Access Point (UAP-AC-PRO-US)
Best Wireless Access Point (Editor's Choice)
Testing out the Ubiquiti UAP-AC-PRO-US made us feel like we were diving into the deep end of a pool. Using this gadget will make you rethink ever considering a consumer wireless router alone again because it has the best performance to price ratio.
We start out with the design, seeing as that is the most visual aspect of this WAP. Sleek, all dressed in white, the waterproof UAP-AC-PRO-US seems to be like the USS Enterprise, boldly going where nothing has gone before. It is important, however, to keep in mind that this cannot replace your existing router. What it can do, is knock your socks off.
After removing it from the box, you can clearly see that they can be ceiling mounted, and in all honesty, this may give you the best range. However, with the amount of gadgets we test, if we drilled holes in the ceiling and walls for every single gadget we test, it would look like we work in a piece of holey cheese (like the ones you see in Tom & Jerry.)
Placing it strategically, we discovered that it had a low power draw – which is good news! They take their power from the Ethernet connection, so the point of connecting them to a plugged in power source is moot.
Next came the set up process, for people who are not very tech oriented, it can be a little tricky. If you are a power user of all things tech, you may love the advanced options the Ubiquiti UAP-AC-PRO-US offers. It took us approx 5 minutes to get it up and running, with devices connected to the network as well as getting the SSID set up.
The performance of this gadget is noticeable, so much so, that you will appreciate the purchase within a short while of using it. As all our devices use up a lot of bandwidth, being a small office space, we knew we needed something that could handle all we threw at it. From HD streaming on multiple devices, to running heavy programs – this outperformed certain high performance consumer routers.
The WAP radios’ configuration can be tweaked as per your requirements, and even though the auto setting worked like a charm, the two bands as well as the channel width of 2.4GHz and 5GHz could be adjusted. Recent updates made this WAP better for knowing more about the 2.4GHz and 5GHz space around you while also getting recommendations for which channel would suit you best, in manual selection mode.
3 Dual band antennas and a backwards compatible wifi standard made this a true contender for being Editor’s Choice and guess which one won??!!
- Waterproof design, but we didn’t go overboard and dunk it in a bucket of water.
- Very attractive design
- Easy Navigable software
- No controller is needed
- Simple set up process
- Package includes everything you need to get it up and running
- Advanced Guest wifi features
- Great range
- Could get a little more warmer than other tested WAPs
2. TP-Link AC1200 Wireless Access Point (EAP 225)
Low Budget Wireless Access Point
If you are looking for a great deal for your money, the TP-Link EAP225 may be the wireless access point for you. TP-Link is known for making great cost effective products, and they definitely top our list for the best low budget wireless access point available. Many times, saving on a product leads to many features being omitted from the product itself, but the TP-Link EAP225 happily has all that we were looking for.
Supporting 802.3AF, this dual band wireless access point has the latest wifi standard of 802.11AC. Designed in a beautiful white rounded square form, you won’t want to keep this hidden in the back of your shelf – we’re happy that manufacturers are paying close attention to the form of the device as well as the functionality.
But this nifty gadget doesn’t only look good, it also delivers on performance. When we connected our devices, we noticed that there was a smart connect where faster devices were automatically allocated to the faster 5GHz and so streaming could be done faster. We like that intuitive smart technology.
In fact, the WAP worked so well, we’re considering removing the extra router we have and simply using WAPs and a POE switch to eliminate all the dead spots. For one thing, it’s cheaper to buy a wireless access point than a consumer router. The coverage on this model was superb and while our router was placed on one end of the office space, we placed the EAP225 on the far end, and all our dead spots vanished!
For those wondering about the controller, the Auranet Controller software is free, so you can manage a whole bunch of EAPs easily from one point – this makes for super easy management. If you have guests visiting or clients coming over, like how we do, then the Guest Network settings will keep your mind at ease with guest authentication.
If you’re wondering if this is for you – it works really well in a business setting as well as a small home due to the enterprise and residential settings which are very easy to configure.
The easy mount chassis makes it great for wall mounting and to blend in well with your home decor. The 2x2 MIMO technology ensures you get superior wireless speeds and better coverage than before on both bands. Load balancing feature helps to avoid one device from being burdened with too much traffic while the dual band ensures that your fast and slower devices are all connected to a network that is optimal for the speeds they can handle.
The 4 internal antennas help direct the connection to your device and we must mention this – having 24/7 support is a huge plus – because many WAP manufacturers don’t offer this, leaving you to mostly figure stuff out on your own.
TP-Link AC1200 WAP Pros
- Great coverage
- Simple GUI
- Free controller software
- Easy configuration process
- Advanced features for businesses and simple set up for home networks
- Great budget performance
- Efficient Wifi management
- Convenient guest authentication
TP-Link AC1200 WAP Cons
- Have to drill holes in the ceiling for a ceiling mount
3. Linksys Business AC1750 Dual-Band Access Point (LAPAC1750)
Best Wireless Access Point For Business
If you want to increase your wifi coverage and signal strength in your business space, the Linksys LAPAC1750 would be your best go-to wireless access point. All the other WAPs mentioned have great features, but apart from having all of those features, it has additional security which would keep your confidential company information secure.
Specifically designed for businesses, the LAPAC1750 upgrades your connectivity and take sit up a whole new level. Setting it up was a breeze and we felt quite confident that anyone can handle this process, without having to call in tech support.
In terms of performance, we wanted to test two at the same time, instead of just the one as our office space was rather large. One became the master while the second AP was the slave and both provided excellent coverage throughout the space.
You have the option to deploy it as an access point or as a workgroup bridge for extending your network’s wifi range. As it supports PoE+, you don’t have to worry about connecting it to the main as a switch or even a router can do the job, which is perfect for wall or ceiling mounts.
When you look at the size, it’s definitely not the smallest you’ll see, but as the white sleek body hides 3 MIMO antennas, you know that the wireless access point is a powerhouse of performance. Running a business is no easy task, but having multiple teams handling different tasks can be a problem, but with the LAPAC1750, you can segment each team into a specific SSID. This is possible because each band – the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz can support 8 individual SSIDs, which means you can create up to 16 wireless networks.
The speeds were always consistently above 250 Mbps, and we’re sure if your ISP gives you better speeds, which ours doesn’t as yet, you can probably access better speeds too.
The specs of the LAPAC1750 are quite impressive. Sporting 3x3 internal MIMO antennas, supporting dual band connections across 2.4GHz and 5GHz in a combined theoretical speed limit of 1750Mbps to being 802.11AC and backwards compatible, this wireless access point can handle anything your business needs.
Before we forget to mention, the security features on this gadget is brilliant, with a plethora of network security and config settings that will keep your business protected.
Linksys Business WAP Pros
- Easy set up
- Impressive range and network coverage
- Fair price for product features
- Sleek design, created to blend in well
- Great feature set for those who can access them
- Simplified deployment due to full 802.3at PoE option for powering up the device without extra cables
- Minimal learning curve
- Multiple SSIDs
- Highly customizable
- Advanced security features
Linksys Business WAP Cons
- Little room for improvements in usability during the config process, but it’s no big deal
4. Securifi Almond 4 in 1 Wireless Access Point
4 in 1 Router / Extender / Access Point / Wireless Bridge
If you’re in the market for a device that can act as a router, a wireless access point, extender or wireless s bridge, the Almond is the product or you. What ups the cool quotient in the Almond is the touchscreen feature that will make you feel you’ve finally stepped into the future. The first 4-1 internet tech gadget, the Securifi Almond merges home automation and wireless technology.
Want to suddenly make your TV come alive or play a song as someone walks into a room – this gadget is perfect for a few fun pranks. We’ll be honest, it doesn’t have the best range or even the fastest speeds but it offsets those disadvantages by offering more for its design. Think of it as an overall package.
The size is just about the size of a book, so it’s not large like other wireless access points mentioned in this guide and can be right at home on the wall or placed on a shelf –with no ugly antennas that poke out of it – everything is in built and packaged into a sweet size.
It took us just short of 4 and a half minutes to set up the Securifi Almond, and it is reputed to take 3 minutes thereabouts, so this didn’t happen as advertised, but the process was rather easy and straightforward, so we don’t count this as a big worry.
Once you get it plugged in, it connects to your internet connection and then you can select it to be a router, extender, or wireless access point. As we mentioned earlier, speeds were great, but nothing to write home about – it does the job well, and we got about 218Mbps throughput combined. The speed dropped to 176Mbps throughput combined at a distance of 15 feet.
However, what really got our brains drooling over this gadget is that it can handle multiple connected devices. And when we say multiple, we don’t mean 10 or 30. In fact, believe it or not, we didn’t have enough gadgets to really test it out to the limit!
From your garage door, to your windows, thermostat, lighting and more – this is really home automation. Best of all, you can manage all this from your Smartphone, so that your home is cooled down before you come back from a hot day outside.
As it runs on WRT open source firmware, you can tweak it around a bit. One slight drawback is that QoS is missing from the features, but we see that being worked on for later updates.
Touchscreen features with 3 non removable in built antennas, and z-Wave antennas that help you connect hundreds of smart home devices.
Securifi Almond Pros
- Touch screen
- Phone and tablet apps
- Control over smart home gadgets
- Remote AC outlet
- 4-1 device
- Small size and smart design
- Perfect option for those who want to control their home without paying an exorbitant amount
Securifi Almond Cons
- If you have bigger fingers, you may have a slight problem in tapping items on the small screen. Fortunately, you do have a stylus to use
- Is not the fastest or best range in the market
5. D-Link Wireless AC1200 Dual Band Extender & Access Points
Best Wireless Access Point For Small Apartment
Sometimes most wireless access points are overkill if you live in a small apartment. If you reside in an urban environment where living space is a premium, chances are, you are in a cozy apartment which would not need a super powerful device to reach the far ends of the known universe. By understanding that you need a little less power, you can also save big bucks while getting good value for money.
Small and sleek, it almost resembles a very futuristic cool can of beer. To begin with, the DAP-1650 is CD-less. That’s right. No CD, which is great because honestly, CDs are slowly becoming obsolete. Why, one of my laptops doesn’t even have a CD drive! Anyway, it’s a simple one step button away from getting connected to your existing network.
For those of you who don’t have a computer or your laptop suddenly went bonkers and refused to work, you can use the Quick Router Setup Mobile app to get connected. And honestly, this is a lot more common than you would think. Another app that makes your life easier is the Shareport Mobile app where you can stream you data and other personal media in your network.
They really have thought about making it more convenient for users to handle and manage the network without having to constantly access a computer to do simple tasks. The installation process itself was very simple and the WPA2 and WPA will keep your network protected.
The DAP-1650 has all the features you would need in an extender/ wireless access point such as essential security features, support the latest wireless standard of 802.11AC and also be backwards compatible for older devices, while enjoying minimal interference due to the dual band connectivity.
D-Link AC1200 WAP Pros
- Minimized desktop footprint due to cylindrical form
- Power and reset button
- Vertically stacked 4 gigabit Ethernet ports
- Powerful internal antennas
- Targeted for small apartments and desktop users
- Can work as an Access Point, range Extender or media bridge
- Simple channel configuration
- Offers media server capabilities
- CD-less installation process
- QRS Mobile app and Shareport Mobile App
- Great bandwidth, coverage and connectivity
D-Link AC1200 WAP Cons
- Can’t wall mount due to shape
- No USB 3.0 port
- Vertical Gigabit ports could be a problem with storage devices with short cords
- No support for guest networks
What To Consider Before Choosing Your Wireless Access Point
- Price: Your budget is a huge deciding factor in what you buy
- Number of obstacles: Determine how many walls stand between your device and the WAP/ router. This will help you decide how many wireless access points you may need or what kind of wireless access point will be suited to your working space.
- Number of connected devices: You should have a clear idea on how many connected devices there are on any given day. Preferably, you should take count on a day that has peak connected devices – don’t forget to tally in your various smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices that will be connected to your network.
- Type of usage: By this we mean, how do you use your network – is it to transfer large data files or for video or audio? Video take sup more bandwidth and your device will need stronger wireless technology.
- How many WAPs do you already have: Are there other wireless access points connected in your existing network? What brand are they? Will they be compatible together? Check to make to ensure that there are no work interruptions.
- Site of WAP installation: Is there a power source there? If not, you may need to invest in a PoE switch.
- Location for optimal connectivity: Ensuring that your location of your wireless access point is to be away from objects of potential interference such as microwaves, cordless phone and more. Angling your wireless access point to hit the wall directly makes it more effective than keeping it at an angle where the signal is bound to dissipate.
- Temperature of location: The space of installation needs to be at average room temperatures – places with extreme temperatures may affect the performance of your WAP – you may have to choose something that is suitable for the environment you work in.
- Dual Band: As most gadgets manufactured in recent years support 5 GHz, you need something that runs that frequency, but as many household gadgets and smart devices run on 2.4GHz, you should make sure that all bases are covered.
Buying the best Wireless Access Point doesn’t have to be a confusing affair – but understanding your own space before considering WAP options is something you need to do so that you can get the best wireless access point for you.
It is easy to go in for first impressions, whether it is based on the sleek design or ads on storefronts. But knowing the pros and cons of the various wireless access points will help you make the best choice for buying the best wireless access point for home needs.