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ZyXEL NWA1123-AC PRO review

Designed for standalone use in SOHOs and small businesses, ZyXEL's NWA1123-AC PRO aims to provide fuss-free wireless access. Costing less than £100, it's great value and made all the more tempting with the inclusion of a Gigabit PoE injector.

This AC1750 AP supports concurrent 2.4GHz 11n and 5GHz 11ac operations and presents up to eight SSIDs on each radio. It can be ceiling or wall mounted using the back-plate included in the kit but no T-rail clips are provided for hanging it from a suspended ceiling.

On installation, the AP defaults to enabling open SSIDs on both radios, so go straight to its web interface, which fires up a first-time wizard to sort this out. It helps set the correct country and presents both radios each with one active SSID and a security profile.

We upgraded the AP's firmware to the latest version, which delivers an improved web interface and more status information. The dashboard displays details such as AP resource utilization and WLAN interface status and each widget can be dragged around the page to suit.

We recommend familiarizing yourself with ZyXEL's profiles and objects, as it'll make it much easier to customize wireless services. The two radios are configured from the AP Management page where you enable or disable them and assign a radio and SSID profiles.

From the Object menu, you create a radio profile, choose 11b/g/n or ac bands and set the channel width. For SSID profiles, you enter the desired name, decide whether to broadcast or hide them, enable QoS to prioritize voice or video traffic and apply upload and download rate limits.

You then create separate profiles for encryption schemes and MAC address filter lists, plus Layer 2 isolation to stop clients from seeing each other, and then add these to the SSID profiles. Once your SSID profiles are to your liking, you pick them from the AP Management page and decide which radios they are assigned to, after which they immediately become active.

The interface has an option for changing one or both radios to monitor mode so it scan for other APs and create trusted and rogue lists. It worked fine as it detected 42 other APs in our office environment, but you'd be better off having another AP dedicated to this task.

The free ZON (ZyXEL One Network) utility searches the network for ZyXEL devices and lists them all in one interface for easy access. It had no problems finding our test AP and provided a direct link to its web page, along with options for updating its IP address, rebooting or resetting it to factory defaults and upgrading its firmware.

It teams up with the ZAC (ZyXEL AP Configurator) which provides direct access to AP configurations allowing them to be stored on the ZAC host and pushed to multiple APs remotely. Alas, we found it doesn't support the latest AP firmware and ZyXEL advised us a ZAC update won't be available until early 2018.

The NWA1123-AC PRO delivers good real world performance with close-range file copies from a Windows 10 Pro desktop equipped with a Netgear AC1200 USB 3 adapter averaging 55MB/sec and falling slightly to 50MB/sec at 10 metres. Coverage is equally good, as the SweetSpots app on our iPad registered a connection dropout only when 41 metres away and with five other offices between us and the AP.

Small businesses that want a simple, low-cost wireless network will find the NWA1123-AC PRO a worthy contender. It isn't the easiest to deploy but performance and range are good and including a Gigabit PoE injector in the box adds a lot to its value.

Specifications 

Dual band 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ac
3 x 3 MIMO
Internal aerials
2 x Gigabit (LAN and PoE/PoE+)
Gigabit PoE injector included
Ceiling/wall mounting plate
204 x 192 x 35mm WDH
445g
Limited lifetime warranty

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