IT Pro Verdict
Robust management platform
No 160MHz channel option
Netgear is making a name for itself in the world of affordable Wi-Fi 6 access points (APs). The WAX610 impressed us with mesh networking plus cloud management support for just £131; now, the WAX620 offers even more wireless goodness for only a few pounds more.
To wit, for £157 this AX3600 dual-band AP offers a speed doubling over the WAX610, promising up to 2,400Mbits/sec on its 5GHz radio and 1,200Mbits/sec on the 2.4GHz band. To get the best performance, we recommend you use a PoE+ power source; the 2.5GbE LAN port also supports regular PoE, but using this incurs a performance penalty of around 40%. Alternatively, you can pay £13 for the official Netgear power adapter and use the dedicated socket.
The WAX620 has a low-key design, with a finned metal back plate that acts as a heatsink. You can mount it more or less anywhere: the box includes two brackets to suit various types of T-bar, ceiling or wall.
Once you power up the AP, the quickstart wizard prompts you to choose a management mode. If you opt for standalone operation, you’ll first be required to change the admin password; then the console opens up with a smart dashboard showing details such as connection status, client distribution by OS and traffic trend graphs.
You can now create up to eight SSIDs, decide which radios are active on each one and choose between WPA2 and the stronger WPA3 encryption. Advanced features include client isolation, rate limits, URL tracking and captive portals using click-through and Facebook or external authentication.
To get the most from the AP, however, you’ll want to manage it through Netgear’s Insight Pro cloud portal. The price includes a one-year subscription, which opens up mesh networking – which isn’t available in standalone mode – and permits central management of all wireless networks, as well as other Netgear switches, routers and NAS appliances.
Adding the WAX620 to our Insight cloud account was a doddle. You can use network discovery, scan the barcode on the box or manually enter the device’s serial number; we used the iOS app on an iPad to scan the QR code on its base and the AP was recognised immediately. Once we’d assigned the WAX620 to our organisation, local configuration was disabled (although the dashboard remained accessible for monitoring and troubleshooting), the firmware was automatically upgraded to the latest version, and – without any further involvement on our part – the AP began broadcasting all the SSIDs we had configured previously for our site.
You can keep tabs on network activity from the Site page of the portal. This shows a summary of all cloud-managed Netgear devices and can be customised to suit your priorities. We arranged it to show daily Wi-Fi traffic volumes, the number of APs, SSIDs and connected clients and overall network health, with a topology map showing which APs clients were connected to.
The Wireless page, meanwhile, gives an overview of all APs, with more detailed traffic graphs for each radio, plus detected OS and traffic statistics. Standard captive portals can be assigned to specific SSIDs; for £62 a year, the RaGaPa-powered Instant Captive Portal option uses a range of social network platforms to engage users and gather analytics.
To test performance, we connected the WAX620 to an EnGenius ECS2512FP PoE++ multi-Gig switch, and tried copying a 25GB test file between a Windows 10 Pro workstation equipped with a TP-Link Archer TX3000E Wi-Fi 6 PCI-E adapter and a server on the LAN. This AP doesn’t support the fast 160MHz channel width option, but it still delivered excellent speeds, averaging 106MB/sec at close range and dropping to 93MB/sec when we moved the AP 10 metres away.
For an AX3600 Wi-Fi 6 AP, the WAX620 is remarkably good value. Performance is hard to fault, and Netgear’s Insight cloud portal integrates it into a powerful all-round management platform, making this a fine choice for SMBs looking for high-speed, easy-to-manage Wi-Fi at a reasonable price.
Netgear WAX620 specifications
|AX3600 dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ax
|4 x 4 MU-MIMO, internal aerials
|2.5GbE LAN/802.3at PoE+
|2 x ceiling/wall mounting plates
|206 x 206 x 34mm (WDH)
|5yr hardware warranty
|Insight Premium, 1yr, £9 per device exc VAT
Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.
Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.