Monday, May 2, 2016

Ubiquiti UniFi AC Pro Wireless Access Point – Finally Outstanding

All my UniFi posts so far:

Ubiquiti UniFi AC Pro Wireless Access Point
Ubiquiti Unifi Security Gateway (USG)
Moving my Unifi Controller to my Synology Rackstation

When we renovated, I wanted our home to have great wireless performance with no dead spots and great speeds.  A company called Ubiquiti had made a bit of a name for themselves with their UniFi access points, and had just introduced an 802.11 AC version.

I jumped on board.  I looked at our layout and initially decided to install 3 ceiling mounted access points to make certain I had great coverage everywhere.  In the end, mostly because the 802.11ac UAP (UniFi Access Point) AC wireless access points were a little pricey, I decided I didn't need 3 and I pulled Cat 6 cable for 2 locations, one at each end of our house, and I bought a cool Netgear JGS516PE Power over Ethernet Switch to run everything in my house.

I installed everything, got it up and running.  The basic setup went without a hitch.  The controller software is night and day beyond what you have with your typical WiFi enabled router, and I was pretty excited -- and then the disappointment began.

First off, the PoE switch supported the 15.4W 802.3af PoE standard, not the 25.5W 802.3at PoE+ standard.  The UniFi AC's were power hogs and would boot from the switch, but would intermittently shut down.  This was my mistake, as I hadn't carefully read the spec sheets, but I ended up having to use extra little power adapter boxes (included) to power them, which was kludgy, but was hidden in my network closet.

One of the cool features that existed on the basic 802.11n routers (Zero-Handoff seamless roaming between the access points), didn't yet exist i the AC, so I downloaded their latest beta software.  They still were on the "future release" list, but I waited and watched the beta forum.  And I waited.  And I read the beta forum comments and found that:
  1. Zero-Handoff wasn't that great and forced some configuration settings that aren't necessarily desirable.
  2. The UniFi AC's were using a Broadcom chipset, which was different supplier from the Atheros chipsets in their earlier UniFi products, and they were having trouble getting what they wanted out of the product.
In short, what sounded good on paper wasn't so good, and the product was just OK, not great.  Turns out I ended up with some weird dead spots and mediocre to bad coverage even though I'd spent a lot of money and put in a lot of effort.  Geez.

Fast forward and Ubiquiti introduced a set of 2nd generation products, the UAP AC Lite, UAP AC-LR, and UAP AC-Pro.  They went back to Atheros, the chipset vendor that they were more comfortable with, and they have more experience.  The product shows it.  Power requirements are down, so they offer 802.3af PoE on the UAP AC-Pro.  The other units include their non-standards compliant passive PoE, which will mean you need to either use them with a Ubiquity switch to provide power, or the little injector bricks that they include.  I'm really a fan of standards compliance, so I would think twice before going that route.

The Rounder and Faster UAP AC-Pro is what you want.

I've replaced one of my UAP AC's with a UAP AC-Pro and now can recommend this wholeheartedly.  The difference is night and day, and I'm waiting for the second replacement unit to arrive so I can begin testing their 802.11k/802.11r/802.11v implementation, currently in beta only on the second generation products, that allows standards compliant seamless roaming between the access points for seamless Voice Over IP (VOIP) phone conversations.

UniFi AC Wireless Access Point -- Don't buy the square ones!

Products referenced in this post:


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