IT Pro Verdict
Simple cloud mangement
No ultrawide 160Hz channels
Wi-Fi 6 is gaining momentum in business networks, and if you’re ready to upgrade then TP-Link’s Omada EAP660 HD access point (AP) is a classy way to do it. It’s a dual-band AP that can be fully cloud-managed and promises excellent speeds of up to 2,402Mbits/sec on its 5GHz radio and 1,148Mbits/sec on the 2.4GHz band. Its 2.5GbE LAN port supports either PoE or PoE+, but for those who don’t have an available power source, there’s an external PSU in the box.
If you’re deploying the EAP660 HD in standalone mode, the web console has you covered: the quick-start wizard walks you through setting up admin access and configuring your first two SSIDs, out of a maximum of eight per radio.
For cloud management, TP-Link takes a similar tack to Ubiquiti Networks, focusing on software-defined networks. Each site to be managed requires an Omada cloud controller: TP-Link provides the controller software as a free download for Windows and Linux, or you can buy a preconfigured hardware appliance running the Linux version.
For testing, we used the OC300 model, which costs around £107. We were also supplied with TP-Link’s JetStream TL-SG2428P Gigabit PoE+ switch, which was spotted by the controller and added to its managed devices list. Frankly, though, if you’re kitting out a network we wouldn’t recommend this particular switch, as it doesn’t support the full bandwidth of the AP’s 2.5GbE port – the TL-SG3210XHP-M2 would be a better choice.
Available controllers can be viewed from the cloud portal, and selecting one transports you to the relevant management console, from which you can set up your site SSIDs. All APs on a site present all SSIDs, so clients can connect to the nearest one and roam between them as they move around.
Each SSID can support both WPA2 and the stronger WPA3 encryption, with optional upload and download rate limits. If you designate a particular SSID as a guest network, clients only get internet access, and captive portals can be enabled with custom pictures, logos and policy statements. Authentication can be enforced by simple password, local user, voucher, Radius or Facebook. The one thing you won’t find is any Wi-Fi 6-specific settings to play with – this side of things is all handled in the background,
Adding the EAP660 HD to our site was all but effortless. After we’d plugged the AP into the switch, it promptly appeared in the controller’s console as “pending”. From here it was a matter of a few clicks to adopt it, after which it disabled its local web interface and took all wireless settings from the controller.
As well as wireless configuration, the web interface provides a customisable dashboard showing useful information such as wireless summaries, client distribution, most active clients and wireless traffic. There are options to monitor internet capacity and usage too, but these require a SafeStream VPN gateway fronting your site network.
As is usual for APs in this price range, the EAP660 HD doesn’t support ultrawide 160MHz channels, but it still mustered a very creditable performance in our Wi-Fi tests. Large file copies between a Windows 10 Pro desktop equipped with a Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 802.11ac USB adapter and a server on the LAN averaged 105MB/sec at close range and 96MB/sec at 10m. That top number isn’t far off the maximum throughput of the supplied Gigabit switch, and makes this one of the best-performing business APs we’ve seen.
The Omada EAP660 HD is a great choice for SMBs that want top-performing wireless networks at a fair price. It’s fast, simple to deploy, offers plenty of business features and can be easily cloud managed using your choice of hardware or software controllers.
TP-Link Omada EAP660 HD specifications
|AX3600 dual-band 802.11ax
|2.5GbE LAN/802.3at PoE+
|Ceiling/wall mounting plate
|243 x 243 x 64mm (WDH)
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.
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