Access Point Recommendations -
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Author Topic: Access Point Recommendations  (Read 1242 times)
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« on: October 07, 2011, 11:24:42 AM »

Ok, it's finally happened. A good friend of mine has succeeded in twisting my arm enough that I'm going to help her (pro bono) with a complete IT overhaul of her small office.

I'm comfortable with everything she wants to do that's within her budget. But I'm up in the air about WiFi. So I'd like to get opinions on a good quality but reasonably priced Wireless-N access point.

Here's what I'm looking for: better speed, good range, and reliable connections. Period.

It will be needed for two (maybe three max) light-to-moderate bandwidth users. Nobody will be doing online gaming or watching HD movies. Just the usual accessing of internal file/print servers and browsing the web.

And that's about it. smiley

Since she already has servers I'm not interested in print or drive sharing features on the network device.

And since I've already done an industrial strength perimeter firewall (pfSense) for her, I'm not really interested in any router features the device may or may not have. That includes DHCP, VPN, port forwarding, bandwidth limiting, QoS, etc. Because none of that is going to get used. (The ability to set the device in "bridge mode" however would be a definite plus. Because that is how it will be used.)


All I care about is a good solid Wireless-N connection with decent range. (She has approximately 1800 square feet of space on two floors in a standard wood frame building.)

Ideally, I'd like a straight access point. But those have pretty much moved up into the "enterprise" end of the spectrum - both in price and capabilities. So I'm reluctantly realizing anything that's not going to be overkill (i.e. right-sized and affordable) for them will most likely be more along the lines of a consumer grade WAP/Router combo device.

I've looked at a lot of the "reviews" in various places up on the web. Most seem to either be a regurgitation of the product spec sheets or the rantings of the utterly clueless.

Enter the DonationCoder community...

My friend's budget is about $200-$250 for this piece of hardware since office WiFi is more a convenience than an absolute necessity. Her offices have at least two drops to every work area so they can always plug in if they have to. (Smartest investment she ever made IMHO. Hmm...I wonder who suggested that to her? ) So if push comes to shove, she's decided they can continue to live with the Wireless-G setup they presently have.

So...does anybody here feel serious love for any of the Wireless-N boxes out there in the $200-$250 range? Any input on dual-band boxes would also be appreciated. She's willing to budget for new adapters if there's a clear and demonstrable advantage to going over to the 5Ghz band right now.


Note: it is possible to set up pfSense to also act as an access point. But that's a bit of a hassle, and I'd rather have the flexibility of a separate 'radio box' I could more easily position in order to optimize wireless coverage. I also prefer to keep the firewall device locked up and out of sight for obvious reasons.
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2011, 12:19:03 PM »

A local magazine featured a short press release on the Cisco RV 110 w and it mentioned a price indication of ~€ 80,-

It has more features then you need, but it's Cisco, full of good features, and reasonably priced smiley

Ath's software collection, Quote: "A problem well stated is a problem half-solved." (Charles Kettering)
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2011, 06:56:37 AM »

I went to Wal Mart just the other day to get a wireless device to use on our school network ($80)  I finally settled on the Netgear N600 which is wireless N too.  Keep in mind that wallyworld only keeps the consumer devices, I should have known better to get one there.... but I couldn't wait to order one.

Everything was fine up to a point with the setup.  It only wanted to stay on the class c subnet (192.x.x.x) while we are on a class a subnet (10.x.x.x).  This was doing a manual setup using the web browser to program it.  I never could get it to go, no matter what I tried.

So I popped in the good ol' CD that came with it.  Not going to work this way either Angry  It finally shut down after it told me I was on a domain and therefore it couldn't help me.   GRRRRRR!

so now I will have to order a business grade model and wait a few days before it gets here.   Sad

sorry, I don't have any  "good" recomendations for you 40hz.  Just keep away from the local discount stores for your purchase.

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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2011, 08:31:11 AM »

@ath - I'm fairly familiar with the Cisco RV series. I thought that might be my choice since I've used them before. Unfortunately, some of them (the routers) seem to have a bad habit of either locking-up or intermittently stalling on the WAN side with large (500Mb+) file transfers.  I suspect it's a hardware manufacturing issue because newer firmware hasn't resolved it (to date) on the boxes I've experienced it on. And Cisco's tech support people seem to be stonewalling whenever I called about this issue even though they've been more than helpful with other problems.

@techidave - too true! Actually, I've declared a personal moratorium on anything from Netgear due to all the problems I've run into with just about every category of product they make. When one of their units is good, it's very good. But the minute it acts up - even once - it's all downhill. Their stuff also has a bad habit of failing after roughly the third year. And while their products are often packed with innovative features, many times they flat out don't work reliably. Part of the problem might be because they charge so little and something has to give.  I just don't think the hardware or build quality is there. And they're terrible about warranty claims.

Oh well... Thanks for the input. I've got about a week to identify something. If I can't we'll just leave her on 802.11G until something better becomes available.
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2011, 09:11:56 AM »

Last time I wen't looking at/for N devices I got the distinct impression that they really just weren't ready for prime-time yet. Every device I looked at top-shelf to bottom had user complaints of ill behavior (Signal drops, system hangs, self bricking, etc.). And really if the device(s) you're connecting to it with are not also N then they're totally pointless.

If you're covering both floors with a single device (couldn't tell by the discription) changes are you'd get a better performance-to-headach ratio if you just went with 4 G devices (2 per floor) and configured them for raoming. That way there would always be a short path the hardwire from anywhere in the building.
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