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DrayTek Vigor AP-910C review

A speedy and affordable dual-radio AP that works seamlessly with a wide range of DrayTek routers

Price
£125
  • Excellent connectivity; Loads of useful tools;
  • Works best with other DrayTek gear;

DrayTek is a popular brand among small businesses, offering a fine range of networking products with a sharp focus on value. The Vigor AP-910C is no exception: this smoke alarm-style AP supports concurrent 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11ac operations, offers a heap of business features and costs a reasonable 125.

The unit comes with a sturdy backplate for mounting directly to a ceiling, as well as a set of clips for hanging it from T-rails. The included power supply has a short 1.5m cable, however; you'll almost certainly find it more convenient to power the AP-910C via its Gigabit PoE port.

The DrayTek AP-910C can be used as a standalone access point, but a major part of its appeal is the fact that centralised management controls are built directly into DrayTek's Vigor 2860, 2925, 2952 and 3220 router series. We chose a Vigor 2860 model to use in our tests: this model only costs around 148, but nevertheless provides a solid set of firewall and routing features, along with support for up to three WAN connections.

One thing the Vigor 2860 lacks, though, is Power over Ethernet. As such, you'll need a separate switch to power the access points. DrayTek's VigorSwitch P1090 supports both PoE and the higher-wattage PoE+ on its eight Gigabit ports, but adds 138 to your bill. If you don't need PoE+, third-party options can be much cheaper.

With the Vigor 2860 fronting our lab network, we found AP deployment a doddle. The router automatically discovered our APs as soon as they came online, and added them to the Central AP Management section of its web interface. This opens with a straightforward dashboard that shows coloured icons for AP status, latest log entries and graphs of traffic for each access point, along with the number of connected clients. It supports up to five wireless profiles, which can then be used to define up to four SSIDs, enable each radio and also apply a desired encryption scheme.

Profiles are also used to set bandwidth restrictions, assign VLANs, isolate clients on the same SSID from each other and enforce MAC address blacklists and whitelists. Once you've set up your profile, it can be pushed to all selected APs with a single mouse click.

Other handy tools include station count graphs, lists of detected neighbour APs and quick links to each AP's local web interface. You can create a simple site survey by importing a map and positioning APs on it to view their coverage.

Moreover, for a trifling 35 a year you can add the Cyren threat-detection service and web-content filtering. The AP Maintenance screen makes light work of configuration management: we rolled out a firmware upgrade to all our APs with a only a couple of mouse clicks.

From a desktop PC connected over a 5GHz 802.11ac connection via a Netgear AC1200 adapter, we saw our test file copies average 50MB/sec over the network at close range, dropping to 46MB/sec at 10m. Using the SweetSpots wireless performance app on our iPad, we were able to wander 40m down the corridor of the main building before the signal eventually dropped out completely.

While SweetSpots was running its performance test, we also tried unplugging the AP, to test how smoothly we'd be switched over to another unit. We were pleased to see that the iPad connected automatically to the next available access point, with the app showing that we were offline for fewer than five seconds.

Getting the best from the AP-910C does mean going all in with DrayTek but it makes sense to team up your access points with a router that's designed to work with them. What you get in return is an easily managed wireless network with plenty of business-class features. We found the complete solution pleasantly simple to deploy, and good value as well.

This review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 264

Verdict

The DrayTek Vigor AP-910C is an easily managed wireless network with plenty of business-class features. It works best with other DrayTek products, but found the complete solution pleasantly simple to deploy, and good value as well.

Ceiling/wall-mount AP
802.11ac
Concurrent 2.4/5GHz radios
Gigabit PoE port
External PSU, back-plate and ceiling-mount clips included
162 x 162 x 42mm (WDH)
2yr RTB warranty. Options: DrayTek Vigor 2860 router, £148
VigorSwitch P1090, £135 (all exc VAT)

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