Choosing the right Ubiquiti Access Point

 uap-ac-lite vs. uap-ac-pro

We’ve seen a lot of buzz since our announcement that we are now carrying Ubiquiti WiFi access points and other hardware.  Ubiquiti are relative newcomers in the WiFi game, but they’ve made a big splash in a very short time.  Why?  Because they offer enterprise-grade equipment at prices which are drastically lower than the competition.  So low that they’re competitive in the consumer market, while still delivering high-quality kit.

Now, obviously, there are tradeoffs.  Ubiquiti has what one might call a “minmaxed” or no-frills approach to their products, particularly when it comes to software.  Their equipment lacks the high-grade automation seen in competitors such as Meraki (which we are very fond of, but at considerably higher pricepoints), and also doesn’t have fancy features built into the firmware such as firewalls or anti-virus software.  When you buy Ubiquiti access points, you’re “just” getting an access point and little more.

However, when Ubiquiti costs a fraction of even their lowest-cost competitor, there’s still a lot of argument to be made in favor of buying them.  Plus, we provide a free Cloud Controller and device staging, which makes the UAP practically plug and play.

Nonetheless, with the newest AC-LR and AC-PRO models.  So we wanted to address that, as well as clarifying the differences between other common access point models.

Understanding The Main Ubiquiti AP Models

To make it easy, we’ve sorted this by price from lowest to highest.

UAP-AC-LITE

The AC-LITE is Ubiquiti’s entry level model, and retails for S$199 (S$159 for our preferred customers).  As such, it’s one of the most affordable 802.11ac APs on the market today.  However, it’s also the slowest model Ubiquiti makes, with maximum speeds of 300Mbps on 2.4G and 867Mbps on 5G – which isn’t too shabby if you mostly use 5G.

So, it’s more of a prosumer-level device which could also serve well enough for a single small office or home office that doesn’t have huge bandwidth demands.  At the price, it certainly isn’t a risky buy.  It’s also surprisingly small and can be attached practically anywhere, which could be a benefit to those working in tight quarters.

But, it’s not going to be capable of handling the workload of some of the larger models, so we recommend this for SOHO type setups (< 100 sq metres) with less than 10 concurrent devices.

UAP AC-LR

The AC-LR (retail – S$209) is a specialty device which is intended specifically for situations where you need to broadcast a WiFi signal for an extended range, using high-gain antennas.  It has a maximum range of about 200 metres, whereas most other models only broadcast up to around 125 metres.

However, there’s an important thing to keep in mind here: WiFi is a two-way street.  Many receiving devices, particularly smaller ones like cell phones, don’t have the transmitting capability to broadcast 200 meters back to the AP, and thus drop the connection.  Mostly, we would use this to expand coverage but with low density, so warehouse type setups (< 300 sq metres) with less than 10 concurrent devices.

UAP-AC-PRO

The AC-PRO (retail – S$319) on the other hand is limited to 400 feet, but it has a 3×3 MIMO array on the 5ghz band, as opposed to the AC-LR’s 2×2 array.  So, you get roughly 33% faster speeds 802.11ac speeds from the AC-PRO. The AC-PRO also includes a secondary Ethernet port for daisy chaining Ethernet (but not PoE). Generally, the AC-PRO is the sweet spot for an office up to 250 sq metres and around 30 concurrent devices

UAP-AC-HD

The top end of Ubiquiti’s line is the AP-AC-HD (retail, S$899), which costs roughly three times what the AC-PRO does.  Of course, even then, it’s still only about as much as the low end of most other brands’ product lines.

The key points of the AP-AC-HD are that it has superior speeds – up to 1.7Gbps total – as well as having more on-board software features than the other models.  It can handle tasks such as guest control and URL filtering.  The AC-AC-HD is a good choice for hospitality businesses, such as cafes or hotels, looking for a cost-effective solution for providing guest WiFi access.  It’s easily the most affordable product on the market for such applications. We recommend this for high-density public/guest use type setups with up to 60 concurrent devices per AP – in these situations, it is likely that distance between APs is down to as low as 25 metres.

Of course, it could certainly be used in an office as well, if you wanted to take advantage of its higher speeds.

If You Need Value-for-money Enterprise Wi-Fi, Look To Ubiquiti

Hopefully, you have a little better idea about the aims and capabilities of the main Ubiquiti access point models.  Enterprise features like 802.11r allow fast roaming, and the ability to have just one SSID over your whole office puts manageability close to the Cisco Meraki range at a fraction of the price.  For anything more complicated than a couple of APs, please do consult us on Facebook Messenger below to get a custom quote.