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Wireless Reviews

Zyxel NWA1123-ACv2

802.11ac Dual-Radio Ceiling Mount PoE Access Point
At a glance
ProductZyxel 802.11ac Dual-Radio Ceiling Mount PoE Access Point (NWA1123-ACv2)   [Website]
SummaryQualcomm-based AC1200 2x2 PoE-powered access point.
Pros• Very small footprint
• Decent performance
Cons• No band steering
• Setup much more difficult than it should be
• Poor performance in multi-client load test

Typical Price: $100  Buy From Amazon

Last, but not least, in our alphabetic procession is Zyxel's NWA1123-ACv2. It's the most compact AP in the roundup at just over 5" in diameter, but also the tallest at a bit over 2". Its single gigabit Ethernet port supports 802.3af for power or you can use an included 12 VDC adapter.

Despite the small size, the Qualcomm-based design has the QCA9882 5 GHz radio on a mini PCIe board. This plugs into the main board that holds what appears to be an Atheros AR9344 2x2 abgn wireless SoC that serves as the main processor and 2.4 GHz radio.

ZyXEL NWA1123-ACv2 board

Zyxel NWA1123-ACv2 board (5 GHz modeule removed)

There are a pair of bent-metal antennas for each band, mounted to an aluminum plate that sits at the top of the AP.

ZyXEL NWA1123-ACv2 antennas

Zyxel NWA1123-ACv2 antennas

The whole assembly was too daunting to take apart for complete component identification, so you'll note there are guesses and missing information in the table below.

  Zyxel NWA1123-ACv2
CPU Atheros AR9344 2x2 802.11abgn wireless SoC
Ethernet AR8035 Gigabit Ethernet PHY
RAM 64 MB ?
Flash 32 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - In AR9344
- Unidentified front end/power amp (x2)
5 GHz radio - QCA9882
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz power amp (x2)
Firmware tested V5.10(ABEL.2)

The NWA1123-ACv2 is primarily managed by a web GUI that has a fresh, modern design. There is also a command line interface that can be accessed via SSH and Telnet or by opening a window in the web GUI. While the look is fresh, the object-based design may take some getting used to for non-professionals.

ZyXEL NWA1123-ACv2 web GUI

Zyxel NWA1123-ACv2 web GUI

The current feature set doesn't include roaming support via 802.11k,v or r, but does offer RSSI-based assistence. Client association limits are supported to control AP load, but band steering isn't supported. Per-station up and downlink bandwidth limits can be set for each SSID. Dig into the over 250 page User Guide to further explore the feature set.

ZyXEL NWA1123-ACv2 SSID bandwidth limiting

Zyxel NWA1123-ACv2 SSID bandwidth limiting

Zyxel plans to allow the AP to be managed by its Nebula Cloud Networking Solution in Q1 2018, with a free limited-feature version that can be upgraded to full-feature version with a license purchase. Right now, if you want to manage a group of NWA1123-ACv2's, you can use two free Windows-based applications, the Zyxel AC Configurator (ZAC) and Zyxel ONE Network Utility (ZON).

This is far from an integrated, easy-to-use system like UniFi or Open Mesh, so let's hope Zyxel follows through on Nebula support. I'm told Nebula will also add 802.11k,v,r, band steering and captive portal features, but it's not clear whether they will be in the free version.

Features
Port TypeGigabit Ethernet
Ports1
PoE 802.3af
CPUQualcomm QCA9557
SwitchAR8035 gigabit Ethernet PHY
RAM (MB)?
Flash (MB)?
FirmwareV5.10(ABEL.2)
Captive Portal
N
Cloud Mgmt
N
Web Mgmt
Y
S/W Controller Mgmt
Y
AP Controller
N
VLAN
Y
Wireless Backhaul
Y
Client Bridge
N
Mesh
N
NotesWireless backhaul uses WDS
Wireless
ClassAC1200
# of streams2
BandBoth
Band Steering
N
AP Load Limiting
Y
Roam AssistRSSI-based
Auto Tx Power
N
Auto Channel Mgmt
Y
DFS
N
MU-MIMO
N
Client Isolation
Y
Radio 12.4 GHz: in QCA9557 + unidentified front end/power amp (x2)
Radio 25 GHz: QCA9882 + Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz power amp (x2)
FCC IDI88NWA5123-AC
AntennaInternal bent-metal dipole (x2 each band)
Antenna Upgradeable
N
ConnectorN/A
RADIUS
Y
Schedule
N
SSID #8
Notes- Additional features supported by Nebula controller
QoS
TypeB/W
DirectionBoth
Auto
N
NotesPer-station bandwidth limits per SSID

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