This post includes affiliate links, for which we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase using our links. Learn more.

Here are our recommendations for the best Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access points to eliminate dead spots and improve your overall Wi-Fi performance.

Wireless routers are the most commonly used devices to access the internet by small businesses and homes. But due to limited range and obstacles, the Wi-Fi signal might not reach every corner of your property. It’s the very reason you can’t make video calls in your bedroom, but it works flawlessly from the living room.

If you’re experiencing connection drops, slowdowns, or similar problems with your Wi-Fi signal, don’t despair. We have the perfect solution for you: wireless access points. But wait, we aren’t talking about any WAP, it’s the newest Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access points.

Wi-Fi 6, also known as “802.11ax” or “AX Wi-Fi,” is the latest generation standard of Wi-Fi technology developed in response to the increasing number of Wi-Fi devices. Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access points leverage 802.11ax Wi-Fi features such as OFDMA, TWT, BSS Coloring, to provide expanded Wi-Fi capabilities and better performance in crowded environments. Here are the best Wi-Fi 6 access points compared:

ImageProductDetailsCheck Price
EnGenius EWS377APOperating Mode: Managed Mode, Standalone
MIMO: 4x4 MU-MIMO
Wireless Speed: 2.4GHz: 1,148Mbps, 5GHz: 2,400Mbps
Power-over-Ethernet: Yes
Ethernet Port: 1x 10/1000/1000/2500 BASE-T
Check on Amazon
Aruba AP-515Operating Mode: Managed Mode, Standalone
MIMO: 4x4 MU-MIMO
Wireless Speed: 2.4GHz: 575Mbps, 5GHz: 4,800Mbps
Power-over-Ethernet: Yes
Ethernet Port: 1x 10/1000/1000/2500 BASE-T, 1x 10/1000/1000 BASE-T
Check on Amazon
Zyxel NWA110AXOperating Mode: Nebula Cloud managed, Standalone
MIMO: 2x2 MU-MIMO
Wireless Speed: 2.4GHz: 575Mbps, 5GHz: 1,200Mbps
Power-over-Ethernet: Yes
Ethernet Port: 1x 10/100/1000 BASE-T
Check on Amazon
Cisco Meraki MR56Operating Mode: Meraki cloud
MIMO: 8x8 MU-MIMO
Wireless Speed: 2.4GHz: 1,147Mbps, 5GHz: 4,804Mbps
Power-over-Ethernet: Yes
Ethernet Port: 1x 100/1000/2.5G/5G BASE-T
Check on Amazon
Cisco Meraki MR76Operating Mode: Meraki cloud
MIMO: 2x2 MU-MIMO
Wireless Speed: 2.4GHz: 573Mbps, 5GHz: 1,201Mbps
Power-over-Ethernet: Yes
Ethernet Port: 1x 10/100/1000 BASE-T
Check on Amazon
EnGenius EWS850APOperating Mode: Managed Mode, Standalone
MIMO: 2x2 MU-MIMO
Wireless Speed: 2.4GHz: 574Mbps, 5GHz: 1,200Mbps
Power-over-Ethernet: Yes
Ethernet Port: 1x 10/100/1000 BASE-T
Check on EnGenius

 

Wi-Fi Router Vs. Wireless Access Point

A Wi-Fi router and a wireless access point (WAP) may look similar and do the same thing, but they are very different. If you’ve got an internet connection at home, you may have already interacted with a router. On the other hand, WAPs are mostly used by medium to large organizations. To bring out the difference between the two, let’s first look at a Wi-Fi router:

A router enables wired and wireless devices to access a local area network. It connects to a modem through the internet (WAN) port and broadcasts the signal via Wi-Fi for wireless devices to connect to it. Routers also have an inbuilt switch that allows wired devices, such as desktops, to connect via Ethernet cables.

An access point allows wireless devices to connect to an existing wired network by transforming a wired signal into a wireless one. Access points connect to a router or switch via an Ethernet cable and broadcast a wireless signal for wireless devices to join the local area network. They are primarily used by medium to large organizations to extend a Wi-Fi network to cover the whole building/premises.

The reason for the increasing demand for access points is the growing number of Wi-Fi and IoT devices. A typical organization will have multiple APs placed at strategic positions to extend the wireless network and serve more clients. Therefore, you’ll have your wired devices connected to the router and wireless devices to the access points. If you’re wondering why organizations can’t just increase the number of routers, the answer is manageability.

Managing APs is straightforward as you only have to make changes to the router they are connected to, making it easier to manage multiple access points. However, for routers, the network admin has to login to each router to make the changes, which can be involving and time-consuming, especially for large organizations. That’s why organizations have single or fewer routers with multiple access points placed across the premises.

Now that we know what each device do, here comes the differences:

A Wi-Fi router has a WAN port for connecting to a modem (ISP), built-in switch for connecting wired devices, and DHCP server to automatically assign IP addresses. For a small office or home, a single router should suffice since most Wi-Fi 6 routers can simultaneously handle multiple wired and wireless devices.

A wireless AP is simply a wireless hub that extends a Wi-Fi signal and allows wireless devices to connect to a wired network. It does not have an internet port, built-in switch, nor DHCP server. Devices connected to an AP get their IP addresses from the router.

Best Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax Access Points of 2020

1. EnGenius EWS377AP Wi-Fi 6 4×4 Managed Indoor Wireless Access Point – The Best Wi-Fi 6 Access Point

EnGenius EWS377AP is our option for the best Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access point overall. It is a low-profile indoor access point supporting all Wi-Fi 6 features and does not cost a premium. EnGenius EWS377AP is suitable for enterprise-level deployment and densely populated environments.

In terms of design, the AP features a white finish, square shape with rounded corners, and measures only 1.96 pounds. It has a single 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port that supports Power-over-Ethernet (PoE+) (802.3at) for flexible power options. You can mount the EnGenius EWS377AP in different locations, such as drop ceilings, open ceilings, hallways, and rafters, and power it using an Ethernet cable.

EnGenius EWS377AP supports Wi-Fi 802.11ax standard and is fully compatible with older generations. Inside the AP is a Qualcomm chipset that delivers speeds of up to 1,148 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 2,400 Mbps on the 5 Hz band. Four integrated Omni-directional antennas offer stable and broader 360 degrees coverage.

The EnGenius EWS377AP can be managed as a stand-alone device or remotely via the ezMaster software or EnGenius switches, such as the Neutron Series Switch. With features such as OFDMA and 4×4 MU-MIMO, the AP can handle more devices simultaneously, improving the speeds and performance in busy networks. Setup up to eight SSIDs and leverage WPA3 and WPA2 Enterprise (AES) for advanced security, whether you’re setting up for home or enterprise use.

OUR TAKE
EnGenius EWS377AP is an outstanding Wi-Fi 6 access point built to extend your home and office network. It’s suitable for small to medium enterprises and indoor deployment. Unlike other 802.11ax access points, EnGenius EWS377AP doesn’t cost a fortune and yet supports all Wi-Fi 6 features and advanced specs, including four spatial streams, WPA3 encryption, and Power-over-Ethernet.
PROS

  • Great features for the money
  • Four spatial streams
  • Local and remote management
  • Supports PoE
  • WPA3 advanced security
CONS

  • Uses internal antennas
 

2. Aruba AP-515 Access Point – Best Indoor Wi-Fi 6 Access Point

Aruba AP-515 Access Point is a high-performance Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) access point perfect for enterprises with a high growing number of IoT and Wi-Fi client devices. With 2.69 Gbps real-world maximum speeds and advanced AX Wi-Fi features, Aruba AP-515 meets the requirements of most medium to large organizations.

There are two models of the Aruba 510 Series wireless APs with 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6). AP-514 with external antennas and AP-515 with internal antennas, the one we’re reviewing. The AP comes with two Ethernet ports with both supporting auto-sensing link speed and MDI/MDX. One the Ethernet jacks (EO) supports up to 2.5Gbps speeds (2500BASE-T) and 802.3af/802.3at POE for flexible power delivery. The other port only supports 1GBps with no Power-over-Ethernet.

Aruba AP-515 combines Wi-Fi 6 features such as OFDMA, multi-user MIMO for both downlink and uplink, and a wider 160MHz channel bandwidth to handle multiple clients and traffic types in high-density environments, such as enterprises, campus, and hotels. The AP improves the overall Wi-Fi performance by up to 4X compared to Wi-Fi 5 access points.

The 510 series supports up to 4.8 Gbps on the 5 GHz band and 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. With up to 512 associated client devices per band (1024 in total), and up to 16 BSSIDs on each band, Aruba AP-515 is ideal for busy networks and dense environments.

Besides Wi-Fi 6, Aruba AP-515 provides other advanced features, including WPA3 security, AI-powered RF optimization, always-on connectivity, and Zigbee and Bluetooth 5 for location services and IoT applications. This model comes with four built-in Omni-directional antennas for 4X4 MIMO with a peak antenna gain of 4.2dBi in 2.4 GHz and 7.5dBi in 5 GHz radio. Manage the AP on the cloud via Aruba Central or on-premise with Aruba AirWave (controller-less).

OUR TAKE
Aruba AP-515 is a high-performance indoor Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access point perfect for schools, retail branches, and medium to large enterprises. It supports all 802.11ax features and Aruba exclusive capabilities for improved overall network performance. Aruba AP-515 meets the needs of home and offices with a growing number of Wi-Fi and IoT devices. It’s the best wireless AP for your smart home.
PROS

  • Can be configured through the cloud or locally
  • Delivers 2.69 Gbps real-world speeds
  • Zigbee and Bluetooth 5 for IoT devices
  • High gain antennas
  • Supports PoE and auto-link sensing
  • Supports WPA3 for advanced security
CONS

  • Internal antennas don’t have the best coverage
 

3. Zyxel 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) Dual-Radio PoE Access Point (NWA110AX) – Best Budget Wi-Fi 6 Access Point

Zyxel NWA110AX is a dual-band 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) wireless access point ideal for businesses and homes looking to upgrade the newest generation of Wi-Fi technology on a budget. It is the cheapest Wi-Fi 6 access point available. NWA110AX brings uplink OFDMA and MU-MIMO to handle multiple devices and traffic types for improved network performance and flexible management options.

Featuring a built-in 2nd Generation Wi-Fi 6 (Qualcomm 802.11ax 2.0) chipset, NWA110AX supports essential AX Wi-Fi features, including MU-MIMO for uplink, which allows multiple users to stream and upload content from a crowded area easily, addressing air time contention. It has integrated 4G/5G filters that limit interference from 4G/5G antennas and signal boosters to ensure seamless coexistence with cellular networks.

With support for PoE 802.3at, you can install the AP in performance-critical areas and locations where power outlets are few or unavailable. Power the AP via an Ethernet cable without changing your existing infrastructure. The Zyxel NWA110AX AP is engineered to provide the best performance and superior service quality without costing eating much on your budget.

In terms of performance, NWA110AX provides a maximum data rate of 1775 Mbps1200 Mbps in the 5 GHz band and 575 Mbps in 2.4 GHz. It’s not the fastest Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access point, but it provides a 25% faster performance than Wi-Fi 5 APs. The AP uses integrated 2X2 MIMO optimized antennas with a peak gain on 5dBi in the 2.4 GHz and 6dBi in 5 GHz.

Zyxel NWA110AX supports other advanced features, including WPA3 security for safer connectivity and NebulaFlex, which allows you to manage the AP on the cloud, with Nebula Control Center, or as a stand-alone device. Choose the best way to manage the AP according to your needs or organization’s policy.

OUR TAKE
Zyxel NWA110AX implements essential Wi-Fi 6 features to deliver improved network performance on a budget. With 2X2 MIMO and 1775 Mbps maximum data rates, this AP is ideal for homes and small offices with fewer devices. The flexible management options, PoE, WPA3 advanced security, and 4G/5G filters, make the Zyxel NWA110A easy to recommend as the best budget Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access point.
PROS

  • Great value
  • Cheap and affordable
  • Supports PoE 802.3at and DC input for flexible power options
  • Latest WPA3 security
  • Cloud-managed and stand-alone management
CONS

  • Uses 80 MHz bandwidth
  • Not the best for highly-populated environments
 

4. Cisco Meraki MR56 – Ultra High Performance Wi-Fi 6 Access Point

Cisco Meraki MR56 is a feature-rich and enterprise-grade 802.11ax access point suitable for high-density environments. With support for 8×8 MU-MIMO 802.11ax, advanced enterprise security features, and up to 5.9 Gbps maximum data rates, MR56 makes the best high-performance access point for deployments in medium to large organizations, schools, hospitals, and hotels.

The AP comes with a 5G Ethernet port that supports 1x 100/1000/2.5G/5G BASE-T networks and Power over Ethernet (802.3at). It has four radios; two client access radios for 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands, a dedicated radio for 24×7 wireless security and RF management, and a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radio with Beacon support for location services. Multiple radios ensure concurrent operations, such as real-time security assessment and location-based tasks with BLE Beacon, without impacting client traffic and AP performance.

Cisco Meraki MR56 delivers up to 4,804 Mbps in the 5 GHz band and 1,147 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz, for an aggregate of 5.9 Gbps blazingly fast speeds. With beamforming and enhanced receive sensitivity, the AP can handle more devices simultaneously with high-improved performance per device.

With 802.11ax, Cisco Meraki MR56 leverages multi-user MIMO with eight spatial streams to support up to eight simultaneous devices, for a significant capacity boost over 802.11ac APs. It’s suitable for very busy networks and high-density environments with many mobile and Wi-Fi devices. It is the only wireless access point that implements 8-stream MU-MIMO for both downlink and uplink in this roundup.

Meraki MR56 supports WPA3 for advanced encryption and authentication on personal and enterprise networks, and WPA3-Enhanced Open for improved data encryption on public and open networks. The AP implements other enterprise-grade security measures, including an integrated Layer 7 firewall and real-time WIDS/WIPS and spectrum analytics with a dedicated radio.

The AP’s best security feature is guest access, which provides secure and internet-only access for visitors.

Manage the Meraki MR56 AP via Meraki cloud for easy configuration and deployment without on-site IT staff. The AP is self-configuring, and it automatically downloads its settings and any updates when plugged-in. Perform any monitoring, troubleshooting, and fix bugs vie the web-based cloud platform. This AP does not support controller-less management.

OUR TAKE
A feature-packed and truly secure Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access point, Meraki MR56 offers the best solution for enterprises and large businesses looking for the best Wi-Fi and network performance. With features such as MIMO and OFDMA, multiple radios, robust security, and cloud management, the AP is the best high-performance access point available. It is costly, but worth it. Add 5.9 Gbps and 8×8 MIMO to enjoy the features Wi-Fi 6 has to offer.
PROS

  • 8-stream UL/DL MU-MIMO
  • Impressive performance on busy networks
  • Robust security features
  • Multiple radios including real-time security and Bluetooth
  • Supports Power over Ethernet
  • Feature-packed
CONS

  • Only supports controller management
  • External antennas have better coverage
 

5. Cisco Meraki MR76 – Best Outdoor Wi-Fi 6 Access Point

Cisco Meraki MR76 is a high-performance Wi-Fi 6 access point optimized for outdoor deployment. It combines the advanced features of 802.11ax and Meraki cloud to deliver improved network performance for enterprises and large organizations. Meraki MR76 is ideal for harsh and industrial outdoor environments, thanks to its robust build and weather-resistant capabilities.

Like most APs, Meraki MR76 comes with an Ethernet port (Gigabit) that supports power over Ethernet (802.3af). This AP has many features in common with the Cisco Meraki MR56 access point. It has four concurrent radios, including 2.4 GHz and 5GHz client access radios, and an additional two for WIDS/WIPS and Bluetooth scanning and beaconing. However, it uses external antennas for better signal coverage.

The AP is rated IP67 for resistance against dust, moisture, shock, and vibration to withstand the harsh environments of outdoor deployment, without affecting its performance. So, you can install Meraki MR76 in any location without worrying about the rain or extreme weather changes.

In terms of performance, the AP delivers up to 1,201 Mbps in the 5 GHz band and 573 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz. It supports essential 802.11ax features, including MU-MIMO with two spatial streams OFDMA to transmit to multiple clients. Meraki MR76 combines beamforming and improved receive sensitivity to handle more devices in buys traffic with better performance for each device.

Besides the dedicated WIDS/WIPS radio for real-time security scanning and RF management, the AP supports WPA3 (personal, enterprise, and Enhanced Open) for advanced encryption and authentication. Other enterprise-grade security features include Layer 7 firewall, guest access with integrated Facebook Wi-Fi login, and active directory integration.

Like the MR56 AP, management of Meraki MR76 is through the Meraki cloud. It does not support on-premise management; all policies and configurations are enforced via the web-based cloud platform.

OUR TAKE
Cisco Meraki MR76 is another high-performance Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access point for outdoor deployment. Built with external antennas and robust design with IP67, the AP can withstand extreme weather conditions and provides wider coverage to extend your router’s signal. While it may be costly compared to other Wi-Fi 6 access points, the reliable security, Bluetooth radio, and water and dust resistant are worth paying extra.
PROS

  • IP67 rating for dust and water resistance
  • Supports Power over Ethernet
  • Robust security features with guest access
  • Multiple radios
  • External antennas
CONS

  • Only supports two spatial streams
  • Can only be managed via the cloud
 

6. EnGenius EWS850AP 2×2 Outdoor Wireless AP – Best Budget Outdoor Wi-Fi 6 Access Point

EnGenius EWS850AP is a budget outdoor Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access point capable of handling busy networks and crowded environments. It comes with the same 802.11ax features and waterproof design like the Meraki MR76, but it lacks multiple radios and Meraki differentiated capabilities. EnGenius EWS850AP is currently available on preorder from the EnGenius website.

The AP is built to withstand extreme weather conditions and harsh climates with IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating. Mount the AP anywhere outdoor and forget about sunlight, heat, rain, and snow affecting the signal strength and coverage. With four Omni-directional, 5dBi dBi MU-MIMO external antennas, the AP eliminate all dead spots and cover large outdoor areas.

With support for PoE (802.3 at/af), you can mount the AP anywhere from outdoor poles to walls without the need for power outlets. PoE provides power to the AP via the Ethernet cable.

As an 802.11ax device, the AP supports OFDMA and MU-MIMO for uplink and downlink, BSS coloring, and 1024-QAM to allow the transmission to multiple clients and improves overall network performance by 25% over older 802.11ac devices. EnGenius EWS850AP leverages Wi-Fi 6 to ensure efficient channel use with longer OFDMA symbols, which reduces wait times and air time contention.

The EWS850AP access delivers the same aggregate data rates as the MR76. It supports up to 1,200 Mbps in the 5 GHz band and 574 Mbps in 2.4 GHz. With two-stream MU-MIMO, the AP provides the same performance as MR76 on a budget, making it the best deal for outdoor Wi-Fi 6 access points.

Onboard security features include the advanced WPA3 encryption and MAC address filtering to meets the demands of most medium to large enterprises. The AP has a secure guest access feature, which provides encrypted, internet-only access to visitors while blocking access to corporate computers. Guest access is ideal for hotels, shops, and restaurants. The access point can be managed as a stand-alone unit or through the ezMaster software and SkyKey Controller.

OUR TAKE
There is no better deal for an outdoor Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax access point than the EnGenius EWS850AP. It’s a less-expensive AP with all 802.11ax features and advanced security. With an IP67 rating, mounting the AP outdoors becomes easier with no worries of harsh and extreme climate affecting the network performance. The AP brings advanced Wi-Fi 6 specs to handle high capacity environments and weather-proof enclosure for outdoor deployment. It’s more than what you can ask for at that price tag.
PROS

  • Great value
  • IP67-rated waterproof and dustproof
  • WPA3 advanced security
  • External antennas
  • Supports Power over Ethernet
  • Cloud-managed and stand-alone management
CONS

  • Only supports two spatial streams
 

Things to Consider When Choosing Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax Access Point

Dual-Band Support

The newest Wi-Fi 6 standard works on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. The 2.4 GHz band supports many older devices and even some of the latest gadgets, including phones. As such, the 2.4 GHz band is very crowded and becoming less functional. Most advanced access points combine 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band for compatibility with older and the newest devices.

Therefore, for the best performance and speeds, ensure to go for a dual-band access point. Luckily, all the access points featured in this roundup support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

More Spatial Streams!

Wi-Fi 6 introduced 8×8 MU-MIMO in both downlink and uplink, enabling APs to handle up to 8 users simultaneously for a significant capacity boost. MUMIMO allows transmission of data to multiple devices, which improves the network’s throughout, ideal for high-density networks.

8×8 MU-MIMO provides eight streams of data which is suitable for crowded environments. Some APs feature four or even two spatial streams. For small organizations and homes, a 2×2 MIMO AP should suffice. However, if you’re buying access points for very busy networks and large organizations, try to go with at least 4×4 radio.

Power over Ethernet (PoE)

PoE is an efficient way to provide power to the AP via an Ethernet cable. It reduces electric hazards due to its low power and, most importantly, prevents unnecessary costs. It allows you to place access points in critical areas with scarce or no power outlets.

Best Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax Access Points FAQ

What’s the difference between a router and an access point?

A router combines a WAN port, built-in switch, and DHCP service to connect to a modem (ISP) and create a local area network for wired and wireless devices to access the internet. An access point connects to a router via Ethernet and creates a wireless local area network (WLAN) for wireless devices to connect or extend the network coverage. An AP can’t connect to the ISP nor create a wired network.

What’s the difference between a Wi-Fi extender and an access point?

A Wi-Fi extender (range extender) repeats the wireless signal from a router by creating a second WLAN to boost its coverage. On the other hand, an access point relies on a wired network from a router to create a WLAN for wireless devices and increase the network coverage.

When do I need a wireless access point?

If you have a router with no Wi-Fi capabilities, you need an access point to create a wireless network. Also, access points come handy to extend the wireless signal if it does not cover all the parts of your house or organization.

Categories: Reviews