IT Pro Verdict
Extensive management options
Minor performance drop in mesh mode
We’ve praised DrayTek in the past for its knack of turning out high-quality kit at prices that SMBs can afford – and with the VigorAP 1000C it’s done it again. This slim plastic slab can function as a simple range extender, work as a standalone AP or use DrayTek’s VigorMesh technology to create a self-healing, easy-to-extend mesh network – all for just £167.
It’s a tri-band design, offering connections on the 2.4GHz band alongside twin 5GHz radios. These can be used together in regular Wi-Fi configurations, while switching to mesh mode turns one into a dedicated high-speed backhaul link.
Another premium feature is dual Gigabit Ethernet ports: one of these connects to a PoE+ power source, while the other allows you to connect devices such as IP cameras. For mesh setups, you can use a cable for wired backhaul between units, allowing you to extend your mesh over distances and past obstacles that a wireless connection would struggle to cover.
Management options abound: the 1000C can be auto-provisioned from any DrayTek router that supports the firm’s Central AP Management (CAM) feature, and the unit also offers its own web interface for standalone management. Cloud management is possible too, courtesy of DrayTek’s optional VigorACS 2 service.
In use, the VigorAP 1000C presents up to four SSIDs on each radio, each with its own encryption scheme (now including the option of WPA3) and security settings such as L2 isolation to stop wireless clients on the same SSID from seeing each other. Each SSID can have its own upload and download rate limits applied, and DrayTek’s Airtime Fairness feature aims to give each client a fair slice of bandwidth, even if some devices are using a slower connection mode than others – an attractive feature if you’re using a mix of older and newer hardware.
You can use the web console to set up one AP as a root for mesh mode operation. Having done this, we configured the rest of the mesh system using DrayTek’s Wireless iOS app, which allowed us to identify other APs on the network and add them to the mesh with a single tap. Once a node has been added, it receives all of its settings from the root AP, and broadcasts the preconfigured SSIDs. Up to seven node APs can be connected, with mobile clients able to transparently roam across them, and it’s possible to locate mesh nodes up to three “hops” away from the root, allowing for some quite expansive topologies. It’s easy to keep an eye on your mesh status too, as both the root AP’s web console and the mobile app show all members of the mesh and highlight any APs that have disconnected.
Performance in standalone mode is pretty good. We measured an average file-copy speed of 62MB/sec at close range from a Windows 10 desktop equipped with a Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 USB adapter. When we moved to 10m away, speed fell to a still-speedy 53MB/sec. In mesh mode, things were predictably slower, although not disastrously so: with our test desktop connected to a node AP 15m away from the root node, we saw an overall wireless performance drop of around 15%.
Automatic roaming between nodes, meanwhile, works seamlessly; we tested this by connecting two iPads to a node AP, simultaneously setting both to stream HD video from YouTube, then turning off the node AP. Both iPads silently jumped over to the root AP and our videos continued to play with no interruptions.
DrayTek’s VigorAP 1000C is a great choice for small businesses seeking a professional-grade wireless solution. Performance and range are good, and the cherry on top is the mesh option, which is impressively powerful for the price and makes it easy to manage and expand your wireless network.
DrayTek VigorAP 1000C specifications
|Wave 2 AC2200 tri-band 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ac
|MU-MIMO internal aerials
|2 x Gigabit Ethernet (LAN, LAN/PoE+), 1x USB 2
|External PSU, ceiling/wall mount kit
|176 x 176 x 30mm
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.