Zyxel Multy Plus review: SMB-friendly mesh Wi-Fi
A mishmash of management apps but Zyxel’s Multy Plus is easy to deploy and delivers superfast mesh networks
Zyxel's Multy X wireless mesh system has long been one of our favourite home networking upgrades. Now the business version aims to deliver the same blistering speeds and coverage, while adding a number of extra features designed specifically for SMBs. It comes in packs of two and your mesh network can comprise up to six stations.
Physically, the Multy Plus stations look identical to the domestic units, and inside the chunky casing lurk the same nine aerials, which include a dedicated 4x4 array for the 1,733Mbits/sec 5GHz backhaul connection. Disappointingly, Zyxel hasn't added support for PoE, but the design gives you plenty of options for mounting the Multy units on a wall or ceiling and there's a new plastic desktop stand as well.
The big changes are in the firmware. The Multy Plus can be managed from a mobile app, just like the home version, but it also offers a powerful web-based management portal. It can broadcast multiple networks too, so you can configure an administrative one, a separate one for employees and a third for guest access. You can even set up a captive portal for visitors with its own logo and AUP, apply a numeric access code and set a session time limit.
For extra security, the price includes a one-year subscription to Zyxel's AiShield service, which provides malware blocking, anti-botnet, IDP, anti-phishing and URL-filtering services. This can only be configured from the iOS and Android mobile apps, but you can set up to four profiles to restrict internet access for assigned devices. A list of around 100 apps can be blocked or allowed with a click, while web access is controlled by adding up to 53 URL categories to a profile.
Deploying the Multy Plus was simple: we cabled a Windows 10 desktop to a LAN port on the first unit, connected its WAN port to the internet and pointed a browser at Zyxel's setup portal. A wizard promptly appeared, offering options to name our first device and enter our desired SSID details.
Further management is carried out through the myZyxelCloud web portal, which provides an overview of your wireless networks along with mesh status. This isn't accessible from the employee or guest networks, but if you're on the administrative connection (or a cabled one) you can see which SSIDs clients are connected to, block them for a time period in hours or minutes and use profiles to set daily time slots for internet access.
You can also carry out some management and monitoring tasks from the mobile app for iOS and Android. We were able to use both to view connected clients, run diagnostics, modify our network settings and access the AiShield app.
When the time comes to add more Multy units to your mesh, that too is done from the portal. Each new unit must be temporarily connected to the primary AP's LAN port so it can be discovered and registered, after which it can be disconnected and placed between 10m and 15m away.
One of the things we liked about the consumer Multy X system was its excellent performance and the Multy Plus is just as good. Close-range file copies from a Windows 10 desktop equipped with a Linksys WUSB6400 802.11ac adapter completed at an average of 60MB/sec, which is as good as you could ask for; even better, we saw the same speeds from a system located on the next floor up, connected to a nearby mesh AP. And seamless roaming meant we could wander between floors with our iPad and enjoy a consistently fast connection without a hiccup.
The Multy Plus system may not appeal to larger businesses: they're likely to find the maximum of six stations limiting, and they won't love the lack of PoE support either. For small offices and retail outlets, however, the Multy Plus is a superb wireless mesh solution that's fast, well-featured and easy to install and expand.
The lack of PoE support and a maximum limit of six nodes per network make the business version of Zyxel's Multy mesh Wi-Fi system a poor fit for larger enterprises. It's ideally suited to smaller businesses, however, and the fast speeds and simple setup just add to the appeal.
Dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11ac 2x2 MU-MIMO (clients) 1,733Mbits/sec 5GHz (backhaul only) 9 x internal aerials 4 x Gigabit Ethernet (3 x LAN, WAN) desktop stand ceiling/wall mounting kits 1 x USB 2 (device charging only) external PSU with 180cm lead 236 x 178 x 51.5mm (WDH) 740g 2yr RTB warranty
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