Zyxel WAX510D Unified Access Point review: A Wi-Fi 6-enabled wonder
A temptingly affordable Wi-Fi 6 upgrade with slick cloud management and a good turn of speed
Zyxel’s WAX510D makes an affordable entry point into next-generation Wi-Fi. Used with compatible clients, it offers speeds well beyond what’s possible with Wi-Fi 5, with a peak throughput of 1,200Mbits/sec on the 5GHz band and 575Mbits/sec over 2.4GHz.
Management options go the extra mile too. The WAX510D can work in standalone mode, team up with one of Zyxel’s on-premises NXC controller appliances or take its orders from the cloud via Zyxel’s Nebula Control Center platform (the price above includes a year’s Professional Pack licence). For smaller offices, the cheaper NWA110AX is functionally similar but doesn’t include the Nebula subscription and can’t be managed with an NXC controller. Its internal aerials are also optimised for wall mounting, while the WAX510D is equally at home on the ceiling.
Technically, the WAX510D is well equipped, with built-in power surge protection and integrated 4G/5G interference filters. A few features are reserved for the top-dog WAX650S model, however: for £515, this adds a third radio for rogue AP detection and multi-Gigabit networking support, while the WAX510D makes do with a single Gigabit PoE+ port.
Installation in standalone mode is swift, thanks to a wizard that runs you through setting the country and changing the admin password. A default SSID is enabled on each radio, but Zyxel picks up a minor black mark for using an easy-to-guess passphrase. You should change this immediately.
Profiles are used to configure other options such as hiding certain SSIDs, enabling QoS to prioritise voice or video traffic and applying upload and download rate limits. There’s a good set of security options too, including WPA3 encryption, MAC address filtering and Layer 2 isolation. Once you’ve set up a profile, you can select it from the AP Management page and assign it to a radio, after which it immediately becomes active.
As for performance, the WAX510D put in a creditable showing in our tests. Close-range file copies between a LAN server and a Windows 10 Pro desktop equipped with a Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 USB adapter completed at a speedy 82MB/sec at close range, dropping to 75MB/sec at 10m. You can expect even better speeds from Wi-Fi 6-enabled clients, but the WAX510D doesn’t support the ultrawide 160MHz channel option – which might be one reason why we found it around 18% slower overall than Zyxel’s WAX650S.
Getting set up for cloud management is wholly painless. After using Zyxel’s Nebula app on our iPad to scan the AP’s QR code from its box, we added the AP to our site with one tap. The unit then promptly rebooted and started presenting our cloud-managed SSIDs, with its local management interface disabled.
The main Nebula home page is very informative, with a site dashboard showing total traffic, APs by usage and all connected wireless clients, along with their detected OS. If you’ve invested in other Zyxel gear, you can also manage cloud-enabled firewall gateways and switches from here.
Selecting an AP presents live and historical traffic graphs, although rogue detection services are only available in standalone mode. Configuring your networks is a very familiar process: up to eight SSIDs per site can be created, each with its own encryption scheme, bandwidth restrictions and other properties. Nebula also takes care of firmware upgrades, which you can set to run at weekly intervals.
The Zyxel WAX510D may not be the very fastest AP of its type, but for £215 it’s a great leg-up into the world of Wi-Fi 6 networking. It’s versatile and easy to deploy, and thanks to the Nebula cloud portal it’s perfectly poised for multi-site wireless network management.
Zyxel WAX510D Unified Access Point specifications
Wave 2 AC1775 dual band 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ax wireless AP
2x2 MU-MIMO with internal smart aerials
Gigabit LAN/802.3at PoE+
Ceiling/wall mounting plate, 1yr NCC Professional Pack licence included
229 x 216 x 64mm (WDH)
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