EnGenius ECW230S Review: A 4×4 Cloud Managed Indoor Wireless Access Point with WIPS radio and Zero DFS radio detection

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EnGenius ECW230S Review Rating

Summary

The EnGenius ECW230S is another excellent access point. Just like the more affordable ECW220S, this offers a relatively unique feature set that will be very appealing to many businesses that want to maximise network security.

Overall
85%
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  • Overall - 85%
    85%

Pros

  • High-end capacity access point with excellent throughput
  • Advanced security features that competing brands lack 

Cons

  • Business-focused functionality means premium pricing 

The EnGenius ECW230S is the bigger brother of the ECW220S I reviewed at the end of April.

Both these access points are designed with additional security features that use WIPS radio and Zero DFS radio detection interfaces which can be used to enhance network security via the AirGuard feature within the EnGenius Cloud interface.

The main difference is the underlying radio hardware. Though this is identical to the ECW230, I reviewed last year.

Therefore, nothing in this review will be particularly new. The EnGenius ECW230S is inevitably going to be an excellent high-end access point ideal for commercial applications where security is important.

EnGenius ECW230S vs ECW230 vs ECW220S Specification

The ECW230S is a massive access point

EnGenius have a handy product comparison table, I have just added the security data. It is quite an easy product lineup to understand.

 ECW230SECW230ECW220SECW220
Wi-Fi StandardWi-Fi 6 (11ax)Wi-Fi 6 (11ax)Wi-Fi 6 (11ax)Wi-Fi 6 (11ax)
Radio2.4 GHz & 5 GHz2.4 GHz & 5 GHz2.4 GHz & 5 GHz2.4 GHz & 5 GHz
Max. Data Rates(2.4 GHz)1,200 Mbps1,200 Mbps600 Mbps600 Mbps
Max. Data Rates(5 GHz)2,400 Mbps2,400 Mbps1,200 Mbps1,200 Mbps
Max. Data Rates(6 GHz)----
Radio Chains4 x 4:44 x 4:42 × 2:22 x 2:2
Transmit Power on(2.4 GHz)Up to 23 dBm23 dBm22 dBm22 dBm
Transmit Power on(5 GHz)Up to 23 dBm23 dBm22 dBm22 dBm
Transmit Power on(6 GHz)----
Antenna4 x 5 dBi (2.4 GHz); 4 x 5 dBi (5 GHz)4x 2.4 GHz: 3 dBi ; 4x 5 GHz: 3 dBi2 x 3 dBi (2.4 GHz); 2 x 3 dBi (5 GHz)2 x 3 dBi (2.4 GHz) ; 2 x 3 dBi (5 GHz)
BLEYesNoYesNo
WIDS/WIPS radioYesNoYesNo
Power-over-Ethernet802.3af/at802.3af/at802.3af/at802.3af/at
Ethernet Ports1 x 10/100/1000/2500 Ethernet Port (PoE+)1 x 10/100/1000/2500 Ethernet Port (PoE+)1 Gigabit port (PoE+)1 x 10/100/1000 Ethernet Port (PoE+)
Mounting TypeWall / CeilingWall / CeilingWall/ CeilingWall / Ceiling
Dimensions205 x 205 x 33.2 mm205 x 205 x 33 mm160 x 160 x 33 mm160 x 160 x 33 mm
Mesh TechnologyYesYesYesYes
On-premises (ezMaster)----
Cloud To-Go appYesYesYesYes
EnWiFi app----

Basically, the higher end ECW230S and ECW230 have 4 x 4:4 radios and 2.5Gbe, whereas the ECW220 and ECW220S are 2 × 2:2 with gigabit.

All the access points are limited to 80Mhz channel width. Therefore, even though the maximum data rate is advertised as 2,400 Mbps on the ECW230S, the maximum speed a client will see is 1,200 Mbps.

For a consumer, this may not be too appealing, but commercial applications will be able to handle a higher volume of users. The 160Mhz channel width is also problematic in denser environments.

Set-Up

As usual, set-up is incredibly straightforward if you already have an Engenius Cloud account. Using the Cloud to Go app, I just select add a new device, scan the QR code and add it to my network.

The new access point will then adopt all the settings pre-applied to the system.

EnGenius Cloud & AirGuard

EnGenius Cloud and AirGuard are identical to the previous review. With this review, I have the two AirGuard equipped access points running, and I also have the two POE switches I have reviewed running on the network, the small 8 port ECS1008P and the 8+4 port ECS2512FP 2.5GbE switch.

I covered AirGuard in more detail in my previous review. Basically, the two access points have dedicated hardware that scans for Rogue SSIDs, evil twins, malicious attacks and RF jamming.

Evil twins are likely one of the main concerns. An evil twin attack makes the rogue AP look virtually identical to the legitimate AP. Evil twins are rogue access points that can impersonate a legitimate network, simulating the same SSID and MAC address. Therefore if an employee connected to an evil twin they would expose themselves to a serious data breach.

WiFi Performance

As previously mentioned, with the channel width limited to 80Mhz, this is only capable of a 1200Mbps connection. However, it can maintain a high throughput for a larger number of people, something I am unable to test.

The performance was excellent. The ECW220S underperformed a little, whereas this achieved results up there with the best WiFi 6 access points and routers on 80Mhz.

Using iPerf, I was consistently able to achieve over 900Mbit/s at close range. Then in the room below, I achieved speeds of 629 Mbit/s.

On 5Ghz WiFi 5, the speeds dropped to 610Mbit/s, which, again, is significantly better than the ECW220S as well as many competitors.

For 2.4Ghz, things were less impressive, with speeds of around 110Mbit/s.

Unsurprisingly, these results are very similar to the EnGenius ECW230 I previously reviewed.

Price and Alternative Options

The EnGenius ECW230S has an RRP of $547.70 though I assume this is minus tax as I have found listings suggesting $699.00.

In the UK, BroadBandBuyer has it on backorder for £532.69 inc VAT.

The EnGenius ECW220S is also available via BroadBandBuyer for £382.01 inc VAT.

The standard ECW230 without the AirGuard functionality is £409.70 inc VAT.

As I highlighted in the ECW220S review, there is not much competition. Fortinet has an access point with dedicated security scanning, but it is twice the price of the EnGenius. Ubiquiti has also done them, but they have not released a WiFi 6 model yet.

Overall

The EnGenius ECW230S is another excellent access point. Just like the more affordable ECW220S, this offers a relatively unique feature set that will be very appealing to many businesses that want to maximise network security.

While this is not a cheap access point, I think it offers relatively good value compared to the ECW220S, providing significantly more capacity for environments with a large number of users.

While I appreciate some people dislike the trend toward cloud management, I am fond of its convenience. As I have continued to use Engenius Cloud, I would say I am growing to prefer it over Zyxel Nebula. Other competing brands all have some sort of price associated with cloud management, and this gives both Engnius and Zyxel a competitive edge, especially for small businesses.

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