TP-Link EAP-225 v2
|At a glance||All Wireless Performance|
|Product||TP-LINK AC1200 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Ceiling Mount Access Point (EAP225 v2) [Website]|
|Summary||Qualcomm-based AC1200 class 2x2 PoE-powered access point.|
• Great performance
• Excellent multi-client performance
|Cons||• No roaming assistance|
• No client bandwidth controls
Typical Price: $60 Buy From Amazon
The EAP-225 is an inoffensive, chunky rectangle. It's neither particularly attractive nor particularly ugly; just kind of a bland off-white box on the wall. Instead of the more typical RJ-45 access ports on the back, the EAP-225 places them on its bottom edge—which could be a boon in a chaotic SMB environment (easy to get to!) or a curse in a more tightly-managed enterprise environment (easy to get to).
The first thing I noticed about the EAP-225 was how complete, functional, and usable its standalone web interface is. I'm most familiar with Ubiquiti's UAP line—and with those, you really need to set up their Unifi controller to access more than a tiny fraction of the functionality of the access points. Not so with the EAP-225. Logging into a single EAP's web UI presents you with everything from multiple SSIDs to VLANs (with rudimentary QoS!) to working captive portal—all with no controller required. All the functionality was well laid-out and easy to find, and the UI was quite responsive.
TP-Link EAP225 web GUI
The only place I could really ding the EAP-225's interface is in trying to identify the hardware version. This model has three hardware revs—v1, v2, and v3—and they have separate firmware lines. I eventually had to give up and go look at the physical label on the access point. The upgrade process itself is the oldschool "go hit the internet in another tab, see if there's a download available, download it, extract the .BIN from the .ZIP you just downloaded, then go back to the firmware UI and click browse and find the .BIN" fandango. Painful. Most vendors really need to do a better job here, and TP-Link is unfortunately no exception.
The EAP-225 did a flawless job on 2.4 GHz. Spoiler alert, this is as good as it gets for this round-up; do not expect to find a better set of 2.4 GHz curves for any other kit. Our STA lines here are tightly grouped, well below 1500ms for most of the x axis, and increase smoothly and incrementally instead of suddenly and drastically. This represents a very predictable usage experience that makes users comfortable. While STAs A and D did both take a noticeable sharp uptick at the 99th percentile, neither failed to load a page, with a worst case return of 3150ms.
TP-Link EAP-225 v2's 2.4 GHz application latency curves
Things don't look much different on the 5 GHz spectrum. We've still got four tightly grouped STA lines, smooth, incremental increases in value across the spectrum, and worst-case results in the 3000ms range. This is a really predictable, consistent set of results—once again, the best set of results in the round-up.
TP-Link EAP-225 v2's 5 GHz application latency curves
The EAP-225 posted excellent scores for 2.4 GHz throughput, neck-and-neck with NETGEAR's top-scoring WAC-505. Its 5 GHz maximum throughput scores were middling, roughly on par with Ubiquiti's UAP-AC-Lite. Environments that expect to actively use the 2.4 GHz band as well as 5 GHz would have a tough time finding a better-suited AP.
TP-Link EAP-225 v2's single-client throughput
Moving on to the management and roaming tests, I downloaded and installed TP-Link's free "AuraNet" controller that comes in Windows, Linux, and MacOS flavors. I installed it on a crappy little six-year-old Windows laptop I had lying around and had a pretty seamless experience. The controller, which calls itself Omada more frequently than Auranet, needs Java and prompted me for a Windows Firewall exception for the same, which I granted.
TP-Link Auranet controller
Once inside the Auranet/Omada controller, everything went pretty smoothly. I had a little trouble figuring out WLAN grouping, but I got there eventually. It's just a little confusing figuring out when to hit the APs from the controller's center dialog, vs. when to expand the system dialog, which lurks along the bottom of the screen. Adopting APs was quick and seamless. There is a single button marked "Forget All APs" that does exactly what it says on the tin... so don't click it unless you mean it. It does leave the APs in functional standalone configuration once forgotten, thankfully.
Firmware upgrades are still the EAP-225's Achilles' heel, even when managed from a controller. You can batch apply firmware upgrades to multiple APs, but you still have to do the find-it-download-it-extract-it-browse-to-it fandango from the controller first—a sharp contrast to Ubiquiti's model, which automatically discovers and notifies you of firmware upgrades, and optionally allows them to be automatically applied without any admin intervention as well.
With the second AP adopted, recycling the WLAN on the four test STAs distributed them evenly between the two APs, but all on 5 GHz, despite attaching to a dual-band SSID. I'm not sure if a greater number of STAs would ever result in any being automatically attached on 2.4 GHz. The channels did not overlap on either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz between the two APs.
The EAP-225 doesn't support 802.11k,v, or r. I found roaming with the EAP-225s was passable, but not world class. The Intel AC 7265 stubbornly maintained association with AP1 while walking behind AP2, and while walking to the farthest corner of the house on the bottom floor. It roamed to 5 GHz on AP2 shortly after I reached the far corner downstairs, and from there to 2.4 GHz on AP2 a few seconds later, without any network activity (read: without iperf3 runs) on the STA. The STA hopped back to 5 GHz on AP2 as I reached the top of the stairs, and stayed associated with AP2 after being returned to the test stand near AP1.