Recommended Access Point 2019: Ubiquiti AP AC Pro
Having a good router is important but sometimes that is not enough. Sometimes, your house is simply too big for the router to cover with WiFi. One solution would be to move to a smaller place, but another, more preferred, solution would be to get an access point.
The access point that I recommend you get is the Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Pro (link to Amazon). It’s a device that comes with more than you knew you wanted. Power over Ethernet for simpler installation, powerful software to track everything in your network and enterprise-grade features. Did I mention that the performance is great?
An access point might not be what most people think about having at home but in truth, a good access point can actually increase your WiFi speed quite a lot. Instead of buying an expensive router, you can buy a cheap router and a good access point. Most of the time, that’s still cheaper than buying the best routers.
Why I Recommend the Ubiquiti AP AC Pro
What hit me the most when I tested the Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Pro the first time was the speed. It’s not something noticeable when browsing some websites on the phone but running tests and getting some actual numbers made it more fun.
I have an Asus RT-AC68U that I believe is doing a good job in providing WiFi to us here at home. With that router, I got a download speed of 250 Mb/s, which isn’t bad, but when the AP AC Pro was installed, this number went up to 400 Mb/s. That is quite the improvement, but it also makes sense that an access point should be able to provide faster WiFi than a router since that is its only job.
Here are a few other reasons why I recommend the Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Pro as your next access point.
- The UniFi Software
The biggest reason for going with Ubiquiti UniFi is because of the software that’s included with their products. This is much like a dashboard where you can get a good overview of your networks like statistics, devices, and maps. You are also able to configure the settings that come with your access point.
It should be mentioned that Ubiquiti UniFi is also Enterprise-graded and thus, there are many features here that a normal user would never use. On the other hand, users like me, that like to tinker with more advanced stuff, will be happy. There is a demo site which you can click here to see.
- Fantastic Performance
The UniFi AP AC Pro does not only have a long-range, but it’s also fast as well. Ubiquiti is claiming up to 5 times the speed on their sales page and while I can’t confirm that, I can confirm that the AP AC Pro gives you what you pay for. Usually, you lose some speed when connected to a normal home router but as the AP AC Pro is Enterprise-graded, it needs to be better than home devices, which it also is.
- Power over Ethernet
The access point supports Power over Ethernet (PoE) which makes installation easy. What it means is that it will take power over the ethernet port so that you don’t need any extra power cable running to it. You just need to make sure that the other end of the cable is connected to a switch with PoE support. If not, you can use a PoE injector like this one on Amazon. This will add power to the ethernet cable.
- Clean Design
If there is one thing that I like with network and computer devices, it is when they look good. The UniFi AP AC Pro does that. There are no strong, blinking lights on it and it fits in everywhere (unless you don’t have a white roof). It’s a blue circle with the rest of the unit being white, much like the Google Mesh devices. No ugly antennas sticking out, simply clean design. I like it!
- Enterprise-Graded Features
I’ve mentioned this already but UniFi products are great for Enterprise. Many companies choose to go with UniFi for both switches and access points. When we switched out our WiFi, we went with Cisco Meraki but that’s because we had some hardcore Cisco-fans in the decision group. I would have preferred UniFi, as it’s a much more interesting product. Better for enterprise? I don’t know about that, but the UniFi-line filled our criteria’s.
You can click here to find the Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Pro on Amazon.
What Can I Do with the USB Port on the AP AC Pro?
One of the most common questions about the UniFi AP AC Pro is the USB port. What can that USB port be used for when it’s up on the roof? It’s actually there for a specific purpose and it’s not to connect your printer or an external hard drive.
As the access point can also be used for enterprise and school environments, the USB port is there to connect a speaker. Ubiquiti is selling the speaker as an accessory and when connected to the access point, you can have a functioning announcement speaker system that is connected through WiFi.
In other words, this is not a feature that you would use at home, as it’s more likely to be easier to just go to the person you need to talk to (or call them if you are lazy) instead of calling on them through a speaker system. Would be cool to announce your presence to other family members though…
If you are interested, Ubiquiti has a page where you can read more about it here.
The UniFi Controller is Required to Manage Your Devices
As the UniFi-series are Enterprise-graded, there are some negatives with as well. The AP AC Pro will require an UniFi controller in order to work. This is a piece of software that essentially holds the whole UniFi system. The access point doesn’t come with this software.
If you have a NAS or a home server, you can download the controller software to any of these devices and install it there. It’s also possible to install on Mac or Windows, however, since the software needs to be up 24/7, I wouldn’t recommend you install it on your normal computer.
If you don’t have NAS or a home server, you can get an UniFi Cloud Key. This is a device that holds the software and is powered via PoE, meaning that you can have it next to your switch (or PoE injector) and forget about it. The problem is that you have to purchase this hardware, and it adds extra cost just to get an access point.
The Precitech WiFI is a Budget-Friendly Alternative
Even if the Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Pro is a great access point, it does require a cloud controller to operate (more on this later). The AP AC Pro is also quite expensive and if you don’t need all the features an UniFi product offers, there are alternatives that are cheaper.
The Precitech WiFi range extender is not the type of access point that you mount in the ceiling and power through a network cable. This is a more home-friendly alternative that you put in one of your outlets in your home.
This range extender will pick up the wireless signal from the router and boost it. So, just when the signal starts to drop, you can place this extender and it will strengthen the signal so it will reach further. There is also an ethernet port on the bottom of the device so that you can run a cable from it to a device that doesn’t support wireless network.
You cannot expect to get as much speed out of a solution like this as the network travels through the air double the time than a normal access point. Normally, your device connects to the access point and the signal goes via cable to the router. Here, the signal goes through the air to the range extender and then over the air again to the router.
However, for the easiest solution to increase your WiFi, the Preschitech WiFi range extender is a good purchase. It doesn’t cost as the AP AC Pro and its simple plug and plays to get it working. You can click here to find the Preschitech WiFi Range Extender on Amazon.
Access Points Vs Routers
A router and an access point are two different things, where the router can do the job of the access point but not the other way around. A router is the main part of any network as this is the device that will give all your devices an address.
With the address, I am talking about IPs. Every device in your network will need an IP address in order to use the internet. However, since your ISP will only give you one address, something has to split up the connection. This is what the router does. It will create a LAN with local IP address your devices can use. The router will then translate the local addresses to the ISP’s address when your device connects to the internet.
The router will also act as a switch and an access point. A switch is a device that provides multiple ethernet ports so that you can connect a device with a cable. But you can also connect wirelessly, which is the job of the access point part of the router.
But sometimes, the router isn’t powerful enough and you find yourself having bad WiFi in parts of your home. What you can purchase then is an external access point. This device will connect to the router and will act as an extension of the router. The access point will not be able to give out any local addresses by itself and thus, you need to have a router for an access point to work.
To be fair, not many home users will get an access point without being at least a little interested in networking. For those of you, I would suggest getting the UniFi AP AC Pro and a controller. It’s so much fun playing around with, especially if you are not used to Enterprise-graded networking software.
The UniFi product line is quite massive and if you have the controller, you can keep building your home network, adding more switches, a router, and more access points, everything that makes a network a great network.
But if you are looking for the simple way to extend your WiFi, getting a range extender might be a better idea. Getting the best product isn’t always the best idea…
Enjoy your new access point!