If you struggle with WiFi coverage at home or office, you need to either upgrade your router or if you’ve already done that, start adding access points, to significantly increase your signal to those hard to reach places. The Zyxel NWA1123-AC HD does exactly that, it’s a commercial grade access point, capable of offering 2.4 & 5gHz connections and is compatible with Zyxel’s new NebulaFlex solution. We got sent one to try out.
Inside the box you get the unit itself, power adapter, wall bracket and instructions. No Ethernet cable was provided, which was a surprise as you will need one of them. The unit itself is circular in shape, constructed from plastic and is about 200mm circular. Connections on the back into the power port, LAN in, LAN out and a reset button. To the front, is a single Indicator light, which goes red, blue or green, depending on what’s happening. There is a wall bracket given, as access points are typically ceiling mounted, especially in the work place. Very simple and crude bracketry, but it works just fine.
When setting up the access point, always refer to the instructions , as you will need to know IP address etc for set up. Note, make sure your computer IP address is in the same subnet as the NWA1123-AC HD’s. Simply plug the unit into your router, and power up. It does feature PoE support, so no need to provide power, if your network switch or router includes PoE. It will then appear on your network as an unsecured, open WiFi point. To set up the access point, either connect to it via your wireless device (ideally laptop) or hard wire via a separate Ethernet cable into your desktop. You can then input the IP address (http://126.96.36.199 – User = admin Pass = 1234) and you will be greeted by a set up screen. Initially, you will be asked to select location, time and more importantly, a password for your new WiFi hotspot. Set up was very easy, it’s plug and play if you’re happy with an open network, but we highly recommend you password protect your network!
It’s quite a technical piece of kit, so here’s some of its features:
- 2.4GHz: 2×2 MIMO with two spatial stream (SU-MIMO)
- 5GHz: 3×3 MIMO with three spatial stream (SU-, or MU-MIMO) (MULTI USER!)
- IPv6, VLANs & DHCP Client Supported
- 802.11ac beamforming (transmit beamforming)
- Maximal ratio combining (MRC)
- Low End Sensitivity Improvements (LESI)
- Time Domain Channel Smoothing
- 20-, 40- and 80-MHz channels
- PHY data rates total up to 300 Mbps (11n) + 1300 Mbps (11ac)
- Packet aggregation: A-MPDU (Tx/Rx), A-MSDU (Tx/Rx)
- Cyclic Delay diversity (CSD) support
- Maximum Likelihood Demodulation (MLD) support
- Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) support
- Supports upto 16 SSID (WPA/WPA2-PSK)
- 3G/4G interference immunity
Performance wise, it performed well. I did two speed tests, via my normal router, a D-Link one and the NWA1123. Same device, same distance from the routers, using the same speed test, just one minute apart. As expected, the NWA1123 performed better than my existing router (15% speed increase), offering me quicker WiFi speeds. I am limited by my line speed, but the NWA1123 is capable of data transfer rates of upto 1.6Gbps, which is great to see. Coverage wise, I couldn’t find any area sizes quoted from Zyxel but it easily covered the immediate area and some, where I set it up.
NebulaFlex, great name, is one of Zyxel new services. NebulasFlex is for the commercial market, and it allows the user to switch between standalone and Zyxel license free cloud management platform. It allows you to manage your network anytime, from anywhere and could be a real asset to you & your company. It’s easy to set up and Zyxel have several tutorials to help. There is difference between the free and professional versions, so it’s worth checking those out if you’re interested.
Overall, it’s a big unit, It’s quite unsightly, but it packs a punch and offers great wireless connectivity, for multiple users at any given time. It may be a little overkill for your home, but within your workplace, mounted at high level on a wall or ceiling, it will work wonders. It currently retails about just over £150 and is available now. For more information on the access point, visit this Zyxel webpage, or Zyxel NebulaFlex.