Netgear Insight Managed WAC510 review: Cloud networking in a jiffy

It’s only an AC1300 AP, but offers good performance and slick cloud management

Price
£80
  • Good value; Easy cloud deployment options; Well-rounded monitoring capabilities
  • URL filtering is somewhat lacking; Free Insight subscription only covers two devices

The WAC510 makes wireless network deployment a breeze, snapping in neatly to Netgear's Insight cloud management portal. You can use it in standalone mode but integrating it into the Insight platform gives businesses full visibility into their wireless networks along with all Insight-capable Netgear switches, routers and NAS appliances.

At 80, the WAC510 looks very good value but the Insight Basic service is only free for the first two devices. This provides access to the Insight mobile app but features such as the desktop browser portal and WiFi roaming require a Premium subscription with a 25-device pack costing around 379 per year.

This Wave 2 wireless AP offers both standard and PoE+ Gigabit LAN ports, but you'll need a power source as Netgear doesn't include an external PSU. It supports concurrent 2.4GHz and 5GHz operations but only offers 2x2 MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) and its AC1300 rating means 5GHz speeds are pegged at 867Mbits/sec.

Real world performance is good though, and our Linksys WUSB6400 equipped Windows 10 desktop averaged a decent 54MB/sec when copying a file to a server on the LAN. At 10 metres there was no appreciable drop in speed and the AP's long range allowed our iPad to be taken 43 metres down the main building corridor before the SweetSpots app warned us of a signal dropout.

Cloud deployment options are manifold: you can add the AP's serial number in the Insight portal or access it directly over the LAN or its default SSID and tick the Day Zero Easy Setup option from its local web interface. Netgear's Insight iOS app makes it even easier - as soon as we loaded it on our iPad, it showed the AP as available and unclaimed.

Tapping the AP took us to a registration page where we chose a site in our Insight organisation and named the AP. For our first AP, we were presented with options to create secure SSIDs while additional APs are linked to the chosen site and present existing SSIDs, with up to four on each radio supported.

From the Insight cloud portal, you can choose a site and see everything that's occurring within it. The site page presents a summary of all cloud-managed Netgear devices and uses widgets so it can be easily customised to suit.

We could see daily wireless site traffic, the number of APs, SSIDs and connected clients, which radios clients were connected to and data usage for each AP. Choosing the wireless option reveals all APs, more detailed traffic graphs for each radio and a list of all connected clients along with the detected OS and traffic statistics.

Site wireless networks are easily created from the portal where you enter a name, choose the radios and define an authentication scheme. You can broadcast SSIDs, enforce MAC address filtering and enable client isolation to stop wireless guests from seeing each other.

Upload and download rate limits can be applied but the URL filtering feature isn't up to much, as all you can do is create a blacklist of domain names. Captive portals using your own logos and AUPs can be presented and if Facebook's shenanigans aren't a concern, you can enable the Facebook WiFi hotspot service and trade Likes for free internet access.

The WAC510 and Insight partnership is a great choice for SMBs that want to remotely manage all their Netgear devices from a single cloud console. The Insight Premium service is chargeable but the low price of the WAC510 makes it more palatable and it delivers good performance plus plenty of business-class wireless features.

Verdict

The WAC510 and Insight partnership is a great choice for SMBs that want to remotely manage all their Netgear devices from a single cloud console. The Insight Premium service is chargeable but the low price of the WAC510 makes it more palatable and it delivers good performance plus plenty of business-class wireless features.

Wave 2 AC1300 dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ac 2x2 MU-MIMO 3 x 2.4GHz/5 x 5GHz internal aerials 2 x Gigabit (LAN and PoE/PoE+) Kensington lock Ceiling/wall mounting plate 175 x 165 x 35mm (WDH) 256g 5yr hardware warranty

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