EnGenius ECW230 in the test: Fast, but not fast enough

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EnGenius was an early entry into the SMB Wi-Fi 6 market and made a splash with the enticingly affordable EWS357AP. The ECW230 costs almost £ 140 more, but the extra cash brings faster wireless performance.

In fact, you get twice the speed on paper as the ECW230’s AX3600 rating combines a top speed of 2,400Mbps on the 5GHz band and 1,148Mbps over 2.4GHz. So that you can get the most out of this performance, it has a 2.5 GbE multi-gigabit LAN port – and this is how the power supply is expected. However, if you don’t have a PoE + source, you can buy a separate power adapter and plug it into the wall outlet opposite. For testing we used the ECS2512FP model from EnGenius, which provides 802.3bt PoE ++ on all 2.5 GbE ports and can also be managed in the cloud.

For managing the AP itself, the ECW230 offers a simple web browser interface that provides LAN, internet and cloud connection status – but it’s really designed to work as part of a cloud-managed fleet of APs. We registered the ECW230 in our cloud account in seconds by using the Cloud To-Go iOS app on an iPad to scan the QR code on its base. The AP then automatically joined our organization, recorded our WiFi settings and started broadcasting as soon as it was online.

The cloud portal opens with a standard dashboard; You can’t customize this, but it has a good variety of metrics with graphs showing wireless throughput for all switches, APs, and wireless clients, along with details about the most important APs, clients, and SSIDs. A layer 7 traffic analysis diagram also shows the ten most frequently detected applications as well as the bandwidth usage for uploads and downloads.

Up to eight SSIDs per site are supported, and you can choose which radios are active for each one, enable band control and fast roaming, and set rate limits either for the entire SSID or on a per-client basis. WPA3 encryption is supported along with the older WPA2 standard, and the clever MyPSK service allows you to automatically generate unique WPA keys for specific users or groups.

Alternatively, you can enable a captive portal for specific SSIDs and use a number of other authentication methods including cloud user ID, radius, voucher, and Facebook account login. A splash page can also be displayed to users, and the cloud portal’s built-in HTML editor allows for easy customization with your own logo, welcome message and acceptable use policy.

Upgrading to the paid Pro version of the cloud portal brings you some additional security measures: The client timeline offers a seven-day view of all APs to which each device is connected and the authentication methods used, while the exposure analysis tool – originally as an aid Designed for Pandemic Contact Tracking – tracks other users who have recently connected to the same AP.

As usual, there is almost nothing to configure for the Wi-Fi 6 settings. All you get is a switch to enable or disable 802.11ax in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, although EnGenius goes further than most by allowing separate settings for indoor and outdoor APs.

The ECW230 doesn’t support the 160 MHz channel width either, but the performance is still pretty good. Large file copies were made over a Wi-Fi 5 connection to and from a Windows 10 Pro desktop equipped with a Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 USB adapter at 77MB / s at close range and 72MB / s 10 meters away . That’s better than the EWS357AP, which averaged 69 MB / s and 65 MB / s respectively – but far behind TP-Link’s Omada EAP660 HD, which delivered record-breaking speeds of 105 MB / s and 96 MB / s.

Therefore, if your focus is on performance, the ECW230 probably won’t be your first choice and it certainly isn’t the cheapest Wi-Fi 6 AP out there. Even so, EnGenius’ cloud portal offers an excellent selection of enterprise-class wireless management and security features that make this AP worth taking a look at.

EnGenius ECW230 specifications

Band support

AX3600 Wave 2 dual band 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz 802.11ax

Radios

4 x 2.4 GHz / 4 x 5 GHz internal antennas

Ports

2.5 GbE LAN / PoE +

Additional functions

4×4 MU-MIMO, Kensington Lock, 2 x ceiling / wall mounting plates

Dimensions (WDH)

205 x 205 x 41 mm

Weight

597g

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