IT Pro Verdict
Classy cloud management
As a member of Zyxel’s Extreme family of Wi-Fi 6 business access points (APs), the WAX610D has a sharp focus on wireless performance. It looks to have the right credentials: this AC3000 dual-band AP supports speeds of up to 2,400Mbits/sec on its 5GHz radio and 575Mbits/sec on the 2.4GHz radio.
A feature that adds extra appeal is Zyxel’s latest firmware upgrade, which enables support for the Wi-Fi 6 high-performance 160MHz channels. And unlike Ubiqiuiti’s U6-LR AP, which only has a Gigabit network port, the WAX610D can realise these higher speeds through its faster 2.5GbE multi-gigabit PoE+ port.
The WAX610D is solidly built and incorporates power surge protection, integral 4G/5G interference filters and internal smart aerials. The latter make it very accommodating for physical placement as the dual-optimised antennas allow it to be set for ceiling or wall mounting.
Triple-choice management is on the cards, too, as the WAX610D can function as a standalone AP, team up with Zyxel’s on-premises NXC controller appliances or be managed via the cloud using Zyxel’s Nebula Control Center (NCC) platform. The price includes a one-year NCC Professional Pack licence, which enables extra features such as email alerting, scheduled firmware updates and a rolling one-year log retention service (the Base Pack keeps only 24 hours of logs).
The WAX610D is easy to deploy in standalone mode, with its web console wizard guiding us through setting the country of operation and changing the default admin password. One SSID on each radio is enabled, but their default encryption keys should be changed immediately as they are easy to guess.
Further wireless settings are configured using profiles and objects, with both radios capable of broadcasting up to eight SSIDs. Each one can be assigned their own profile, with options for strong WPA3 encryption, QoS (quality of service) for prioritising voice or video traffic and custom upload and download rate limits.
Moving to NCC cloud management is equally undemanding. We used Zyxel’s Nebula app on an iPad to scan the AP’s QR code printed on the label underneath. We added it to our site with one tap, after which it rebooted, disabled its local interface and presented our cloud-defined SSIDs.
The Nebula home page presents a customisable dashboard showing total wireless traffic, APs by usage and all connected wireless clients along with their detected OS. Up to eight SSIDs per site can be created, with each one assigned their own encryption scheme along with upload and download bandwidth restrictions, a guest wireless network with captive portal, L2 isolation and a walled garden.
To speed-test the WAX610D, we hooked it up to a Zyxel XS1930-12HP 10GbE multi-gigabit PoE++ switch and connected a Dell T640 Windows server over 10GbE giving us a test bed supporting a minimum 2.5GbE throughput. Our client system was a Dell Windows 10 Pro workstation equipped with a TP-Link Archer TX3000E Wi-Fi 6 PCI-E adapter, which employs an Intel AX200 chip supporting all Wi-Fi 6 channels.
Starting with the 80MHz channels enabled on the WAX610D, close-range copies of a 25GB test file between the workstation and server averaged an impressive 107MB/sec. Moving the AP ten metres away from the workstation and into an adjoining room with a partition wall in the way saw copy speeds drop to 94MB/sec.
With the AP’s 160MHz channels turned on from the NCC console, the workstation reported a 2.4Gbits/sec wireless connection and our close-range copy test returned an amazing 180MB/sec. The good news continued with the AP placed ten metres away, as our copies mustered a very creditable 159MB/sec.
There are plenty of cheaper business-class Wi-Fi 6 APs but SMBs willing to pay a premium will love the WAX610D as it leaves the rest in the dust for performance. Support for the 160MHz channels delivers a big speed boost to clients that support it, it’s easy to deploy, and the NCC platform offers classy cloud management features.
Zyxel WAX610D Unified Pro Access Point specifications
|Band support||Wave 2 AC3000 dual band 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ax wireless AP|
|Radios||4 x 4 MU-MIMO with internal smart aerials|
|Ports||Multi-gig 2.5GbE LAN/802.3at PoE+, Gigabit LAN|
|Additional features||ceiling-/wall-mounting plate, 1yr NCC Professional Pack licence included|
|Dimensions (WDH)||180 x 180 x 39mm|
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.