Best Wireless Access Points in 2021

Wireless access points aren’t as popular as routers, but they’re still quite widespread in the business sector. When you have lots of employees on top of numerous visitors, all using Wi-Fi, range extenders and mesh Wi-Fi systems just can’t cut it. Wireless APs are also handy for large homes since they have better wireless coverage than most long-range routers and can cost you less than a mesh Wi-Fi setup. For these reasons and many others, finding the best wireless access point for your particular needs can be quite tricky.

This is why we’ve created our list of the best wireless access points. Here you’ll find budget models but also APs that support hundreds of users and come with ultra-fast speeds. We’ve included both Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 models, as well as APs with and without PoE. Finally, we also have one model that can act as an AP or router. Let’s begin.

netgear wax204 wireless access point
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 6
  • Bandwidth: 600Mbps (2.4GHz); 1200Mbps (5GHz)
  • LAN Ports: Yes, Four 1Gb LAN Ports, One WAN Port
  • PoE: No
  • Maximum Number of SSIDs: 3
CHECK PRICES

The NETGEAR WAX204 is a 2-in-1 wireless access point and router. Instead of two devices (a router and an AP), you can just get one, this one. The issue is that, by default, the NETGEAR WAX204 works as a router. So, if you’re planning to use the device as a WAP, make sure it’s set to work as an AP.

The WAX204 supports up to 3 different SSIDs, which should be enough for homes and small offices. It also comes with four LAN ports, which can be handy for users looking for a WAP with more than one usable LAN port. As for the tech specs, you’re looking at two-band coverage and max speeds of 600Mbps (2.4GHz) and 1,200Mbps (5GHz).

Downsides include the requirement to create a Netgear account for setting up the device along with privacy issues that come with that. Also, its real-world throughput does not come close to the ones found on the product page. Finally the installation guide doesn’t include the tutorial for setting up the device as an access point.

Pros:
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Can Work As An Access Point And Router
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Four Gigabit LAN Ports
  • Dual-Band Support
Cons:
  • Requires Netgear Account For Completing Setup
  • Privacy Issues
  • Can Be Tricky To Set It Up As AP
  • Relatively Slow Transfer Speed, Compared To What’s Advertised

TP-Link Omada EAP245

The Best Wireless Access Point For Small Businesses

tp-link omada eap245
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 5
  • Bandwidth: 450Mbps (2.4GHz); 1300Mbps (5GHz)
  • LAN Ports: Yes, Two 1Gb LAN Ports
  • PoE: Yes
  • Maximum Number of SSIDs: 16 (8 For Each Band)
CHECK PRICES

The TP-Link Omada EAP245 is an affordable WAP that easy to install. It comes with dual-band Wi-Fi and PoE. There are two LAN ports on the bottom so you can connect one wired device along with the WAN cable. The AP supports seamless roaming, mesh mode, it comes with Mu-MIMO and beamforming, and up to 16 SSIDs (eight for each band), which is impressive.

You can manage the device in standalone mode via a web browser but also via the software controller locally or via the cloud. Downsides include occasional issues with the Wi-Fi connection and transfer speeds that are quite low over the 2.4GHz band (the 5GHz band can reach about 800Mbps over a 1Gbps connection).

Pros:
  • Excellent Speed Over 5GHz
  • Easy To Set Up
  • PoE
  • Competitive Price
  • Lots Of Extra Features
Cons:
  • Slow Performance Over 2.4Ghz Band

NETGEAR WAC540

The Best Wireless Access Point For Large Offices And Venues

netgear wac540
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 5
  • Bandwidth: 400Mbps (2.4GHz); 866Mbps (5GHz); 1733Mbps (5GHz)
  • LAN Ports: Yes, Two 1Gb LAN Ports
  • PoE: Yes
  • Maximum Number of SSIDs: Undisclosed
CHECK PRICES

With the ability to support up to 600 client devices at the same time the WAC540 from Netgear is great for larger offices and venues, and places like university campuses. You get three-band support (2.4Ghz and 2x5Ghz) and features such as assisted roaming, Wi-Fi bridge mode for extending the network, Mu-MIMO, instant mesh feature, as well as LAN aggregation.

There’s no Wi-Fi 6 support, only Wi-Fi 5. On the flipside, maximum throughput is pretty solid with the 2.5GHz band topping out at 400Mbps and two 5GHz bands topping out at 866Mbps and 1733Mbps. The NETGEAR WAC540 also comes with cloud and local management and supports the guest network. On the other hand, the AP can be difficult to set up, and when in mesh mode the AP can be managed only via the Insight app.

Pros:
  • Three-Band Support
  • Amazing Range
  • Lots Of Extra Features
  • Supports Local And Cloud Management
  • Supports Separate SSIDs On Separate VLANs
Cons:
  • Can Be Tricky To Set Up
  • Using Wi-Fi Mesh Mode Requires Insight App
  • We Would Like To See Wi-Fi 6 Support On A High-End Device Like This One

Ubiquiti UniFi UAP-AC-PRO

The Best Wireless Access Point For Home And Small Offices

ubiquiti unifi uap-ac-pro
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 5
  • Bandwidth: 450Mbps (2.4GHz); 1300Mbps (5GHz)
  • LAN Ports: Yes, Two 1Gb LAN Ports
  • PoE: Yes
  • Maximum Number of SSIDs: Undisclosed
CHECK PRICES

If you want an access point that’s simple to set up and just works in 99 percent of the cases, get the Ubiquiti UAP-AC-PRO. It supports Ubiquiti’s Unify network system that makes adding new devices easy. Unify comes with advanced management features, and a number of extra options. The device itself supports PoE, features dual-band support (450Mbps 2.5GHz, 1300Mbps 5GHz), 3×3 MIMO, and is weather resistant making it one of the best outdoor wireless access points.

Speed is near the advertised numbers, the range is great, with this AP being a great starting point for building a WAP network. Downsides include the high cost of building such a network as well as potential issues during installation if you’re not used to dealing with Ubiquity devices. You also don’t get Wi-Fi 6 support.

Pros:
  • Simple To Set-Up If You Have Experience With Ubiquity
  • Seamless Integration Into Ubiquity Unify System
  • Great Range
Cons:
  • Can Be Difficult To Set Up If You Never Used Ubiquity Products
  • A Bit Expensive
  • Lacks Wi-Fi 6 Support

Zyxel NWA210AX True WiFi6 Wireless Access Point

The Best WAP For Those Looking For Ultimate Speed

zyxel nwa210ax true wifi6 wireless access point
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 6
  • Bandwidth: 575Mbps (2.4GHz); 2400Mbps (5GHz)
  • LAN Ports: Yes, Two 1Gb LAN Ports
  • PoE: Yes
  • Maximum Number of SSIDs: Undisclosed
CHECK PRICES

The Zyxel NWA210AX comes with Wi-Fi 6 and incredible wireless speed that reaches 2,400Mbps over the 5GHz band. The 2.4GHz band has a max bandwidth of 575Mbps, which isn’t record-breaking but is quite fast for the 2.4GHz frequency. In reality, you can get almost 900Mbps over a 1Gbps connection, which is very, very fast.

The AP also has an amazing range, better than most long-range routers. There’s also PoE support, the ability to manage the AP locally (standalone mode) or over the cloud, MU-MIMO, OFDMA, and fast roaming (same feature as seamless and assisted roaming). Finally, there’s support for multiple SSIDs over multiple VLANs. Downsides include high price and potential issues when using custom DNS servers.

Pros:
  • Very Fast
  • Excellent Range
  • Wi-Fi 6 Support
  • Lots Of Extra Features
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Potential Issues When Using Custom DNS Servers

Linksys LAPAC1200C

Solid WAP For Smaller Spaces

linksys lapac1200c
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 5
  • Bandwidth: 300Mbps (2.4GHz); 866Mbps (5GHz)
  • LAN Ports: Yes, One 1Gb LAN Port
  • PoE: Yes
  • Maximum Number of SSIDs: 8
CHECK PRICES

The Linksys LAPAC1200C is a Wi-Fi 5 WAP that’s great for smaller spaces, but not as great as a base for a larger WAP network. Since there are multiple reports of Linksys dropping support for current products after only a couple of years, we cannot recommend this AP to users who plan on expanding their network in the future. Everyone else will get a reasonably fast AP that’s easy to set up and has competitive price.

As for the specs, the WAP comes with dual-band support (300Mbps over 2.4GHz, 866Mbps over 5GHz), local cloud management, eight unique SSIDs, guest mode, assisted roaming, and advanced security features. The range is pretty good. When it comes to downsides, aside from the support issues this AP isn’t a speed champion. Also, by default the AP isn’t set at full power, which may lead to a weaker wireless signal.

Pros:
  • Great Range
  • Easy To Set Up
  • Supports Up to Eight SSIDs
Cons:
  • Isn’t Great As A Base For WAP Network
  • Can Have Signal Issues
  • Comes With Only One LAN Port
  • Many APs Come With Faster Speeds

How To Choose A Wireless Access Point

If you’re a business user there are lots of variables to account for when planning to buy a new wireless access point. If you already have WAPs in your offices the new one has to work fine with the existing ones. Next, there’s the question of futureproofing and whether the new WAP can handle a potential increase in users. Then there’s the guest mode, the question of how many SSIDs you need to set up on each WAP, and more.

Home users, on the other hand, usually want a simple, worry-free, and fast setup as well as great Wi-Fi range. For larger homes, multiple LAN ports could be a major plus. Next, when you’re picking a WAP for your home, you don’t want to overspend because you easily can. Also, APs can be handy for creating multiple SSIDs to control bandwidth on different sets of devices, in case you’re data limited. Finally, while cloud control is desirable in the business market, home users prefer local AP control. Let’s cover each of these points in detail.

Local And Cloud Management

You want an AP that’s easy to use, set up, and manage. It’s always a plus when an access point supports standalone management via web UI instead of requiring users to create online accounts and access an AP they own exclusively via the cloud.

The best case is the combination of local and cloud management. This way you can stay local and use your web browser if you’re a home user or at work, and switch to the cloud when needing to manage the AP when on-field or out of work.

Get An AP That Can Handle Increase In Users

This is an extremely important thing to consider, especially if you’re buying multiple APs at once. They aren’t cheap and can be a pain to replace with new ones (especially if you change manufacturer) so calculate a potential future increase in users and make sure your next AP or APs can handle it.

Make Sure You Get An AP From Manufacturer With Great Product And User Support

Not only your next AP should be able to handle potential increase in users, but it should also come from a manufacturer with great product and user support record. There’s a good chance you’ll run into issues so responsive and helpful user support is a must.

Next, we have product support. You don’t want to get an access point that has limited support or one that will have its support dropped after a year or so. Wireless access points usually target businesses and you don’t want to get a device that won’t work with future AP models from the same brand. Because, in that case, either get ready for regular upgrades or switch the supplier.

Assisted Roaming Can Be A Godsend In Larger Homes And Offices

Assisted, or seamless roaming is a very handy feature to have in an environment covered by multiple access points. It makes switching from one network to another seamless and without a single signal drop. Great for online-oriented businesses where constant internet connection is a must. Imagine dropping from an important Skype meeting just because you had to switch offices and APs.

Home users don’t usually require assisted roaming since most APs can cover an entire home singlehandedly. But if you have a larger house with multiple APs, seamless roaming is definitely one of the features you should look for in your next wireless access point.

Guest Mode And Ability To Create Multiple SSIDs Are Important

If you have a business, especially retail or a venue business, the guest mode is a must. Now, most APs do support this feature but you shouldn’t take it for granted. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

In addition to the guest mode, you also want the ability to create enough SSIDs to suit your needs. This is where you should talk with your IT personnel or the company that handles your IT needs and ask them how many different SSIDs they prefer having. If you’re a home user without lots of devices, even two SSIDs (one for the regular and one for the guest network) should be enough, in most cases.

If you, for instance, have a limited internet plan, the ability to create more than two SSIDs could massively help you in controlling your data consumption. Hooking different devices to different networks, each with its own speed and data caps is the best way to monitor and limit data consumption for every connected device in detail. More than two SSIDs are also great if you want to create a separate network for your children, with parental control, or for any other use case where you need more than two Wi-Fi networks.

If You Need LAN Ports, Make Sure The AP You’re Looking To Buy Has Enough

Most wireless access points come with two LAN ports, or one WAN and one LAN port. One port will always be used for connecting to a router or server so you’re usually left with one port for a wired LAN connection. But some APs come with just one LAN port, or more than two LAN ports.

If you don’t need an extra LAN port, going for a one-port AP could save you some cash. On the other hand, if you need more than one LAN port for your devices, make sure to do your research before ordering a new AP. Home users should also look out for LAN ports, especially if your router is in an unreachable place and you’re using a WAP to connect your devices to the Internet, among which are desktop PCs.

PoE Can Make Installation Much Easier

Power over Ethernet allows certain APs to use the Ethernet cable both for data and power. This is a must for most businesses because it greatly simplifies installation. Instead of two cables and a socket for the power adapter, you only need access to an Ethernet cable.

If you’re a home user, PoE may be important if you’re using a WAP in your backyard where there are no power outlets, or for various other reasons. Maybe you have an outlet outside but don’t want to risk getting it wet; or you don’t have space for two cables during installations.

Whatever’s the case remember that most wireless access points come with the PoE feature but not all of them support it. Further, there are multiple PoE standards. Not all APs support PoE+, which is needed for an 802.11ac-based network (Wi-Fi 5). Research is recommended before pulling the trigger.

Not All APs Are Made For Outdoor Use

Wireless access points are great for outdoor use. They usually have a much better range than most modems, can work only with an Ethernet cable, can be managed via the cloud in most cases, and support multiple SSIDs in case you’re sharing a connection with a neighbor, or a neighboring venue in case you’re a business user.

The issue is that most APs aren’t weather resistant. They can break if left out in the open and they definitely hate rain. So, make sure you get a wireless access point that is certified for outdoor use. Even if the AP is protected from the elements, it’s best to get weather resistant; if it’s outdoor it can get wet no matter how well protected it is.

If You’re A Home User, Think About Getting A Range Extender Or Mesh Wi-Fi Instead Of A Wireless Access Point Wireless Access Points are great, but most models are made for business applications. Support can be too technical for someone who isn’t an IT expert, it may be hard to get features you need (like multiple LAN ports), and the price can be quite high. Installation can also be complex for someone who isn’t experienced in setting up APs.

So, if you want an AP for your home, think about do you really need it. If your router works fine and your Wi-Fi network isn’t congested, getting a range extender may be a cheaper and simpler way to increase wireless coverage.

Next, if you need at least one LAN port in each room in your house again, a range extender or maybe an affordable Wi-Fi Mesh system may be a better solution. Maybe you just need a new router with faster Wi-Fi speed, Wi-Fi 6, or dual-band support.

Now, if your wireless network has dead spots even with added repeaters or range extenders, investing in a wireless access point could be a smart choice. APs usually have a stronger signal than any router and are great for houses with multiple Wi-Fi dead zones or large backyards.

About The Author

Goran Damnjanovic

Goran studied psychology but video games and PC hardware were much more interesting. On top of that he likes writing so he decided to become a writer. And it was the right choice. Other than games and hardware, Goran is interested in basketball, Sci-Fi literature, and music.

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