|At a glance|
|Product||Linksys AC1200 Dual Band Access Point (LAPAC1200) [Website]|
|Summary||Qualcomm-based AC1200 class 2x2 access point with PoE|
|Pros||• Built-in cluster controller|
|Cons||• Physically large|
• Relatively expensive
• No roam assistance
• Very poor 2.4 GHz multi-client test performance
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The LAPC-1200 is an unusually large hexagon with obnoxiously bold LINKSYS branding in the center. It comes with a printed paper drilling template, which is pretty nice.
There's no configuration URL for an LAPC-1200; you'll need to find the AP's IP address by way of an nmap scan, dhcp logs, "attached devices" interface in your router, Fing or what have you in order to configure it. You also need to avoid connecting to the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz open SSIDs it provides in its factory condition. The manual makes no mention of this, but while a STA connected to one of these factory SSIDs can hit your LAN just fine, it can't hit the web UI for the AP itself—you'll need to be connected directly to the LAN, upstream of the AP, for that.
Linksys LAPAC1200 admin GUI
Once you've connected to the LAPC from the LAN, you can log into it using either HTTP or HTTPS with no issues. First stop is a firmware update. The LAPC1200 can be fed an upgrade package from a local file, from TFTP, or from the internet with an easy "Check for Upgrades" button. I updated mine from the "Check for Upgrades" button, with no problems.
The initial configuration, by Quick Setup wizard, was fairly painless. The radios are labeled "Radio 1" and "Radio 2" with no actual indication of band, but the factory default SSIDs are named "SMB24" and "SMB5" or similar, so it's pretty easy to figure out that Radio 2 is the one on 5 GHz. You can set up to four SSIDs per radio, via a primitive here's-your-four-text-boxes type interface. There is no obvious way to actually disable any of your four SSIDs; all you can do is leave their text boxes blank. This did not inspire a lot of confidence for me that there's no accidental back door left into the system. VLAN configuration per SSID is available.
The less said about the LAPC-1200's 2.4 GHz performance, the better. Only a single STA even made it onto our standard graphing space, which ends the Y axis at 3000ms—and even then, it only stayed there briefly. Anyone attempting to make significant use of these APs on 2.4 GHz is going to have a Very Bad Time indeed.
Linksys LAPC-1200's 2.4 GHz application latency curves
The LAPC-1200 did significantly better on 5 GHz, with low, tightly grouped STA lines that didn't really begin to diverge until around the 82% mark. Two of the four STAs did fail on a number of attempts, which produces the sharp knee at the 95th percentile you see for STAs C and D.
Linksys LAPC-1200's 5 GHz application latency curves
The LAPC-1200 performed very poorly on 2.4 GHz in single-client, maximum-throughput testing. Its 22.0 Mbps score for 2.4 GHz at STA A is particularly bad, but both STAs scored more poorly than any other AP tested on this band. Its 5 GHz numbers were markedly better, placing it in the top four on the difficult-to-reach STA A, and giving it top honors at 140.3 Mbps on the extreme close range STA D.
Linksys LAPC-1200's single-client throughput
Moving on to testing with multiple APs, the LAPC-1200 takes a different approach to most kits. Instead of a controller, it opts for "cluster mode". Cluster mode is quite simple to set up; you just set your first AP's operation mode to Master, set any others as Slave, and you're done. The configurations you set on the Master AP will be automatically replicated to all of the others. An auto channel configuration feature allows you to select how frequently the APs will scan their RF surroundings to look for the least congested channel, which is a nice touch.
Despite manually enabling band steering, none of the eight connections across four STAs went to 2.4 GHz—even STA A, where the 5 GHz connection is quite dicey for these APs. All eight of my NICs (one WUSB-6300 and one Intel 7265 in each STA) went to 5 GHz, although they did spread evenly across available APs. The channels auto selected by the APs did not overlap; AP 1 took Ch1/Ch44 and AP2 took Ch6/Ch157.
The LAPC1200 does not support 802.11k,v or r. On leaving the test stand near AP1, my laptop roamed to AP2/5GHz before even reaching the top of the stairs, let alone walking around behind AP2. Upon reaching the far corner downstairs, it hopped from AP2/5GHz to "not associated" to AP1/5GHz to "not associated" and back to AP2/5GHz—six roaming events in six seconds. It really, really did not want to try 2.4 GHz at all, even after a manual disconnect and reconnect. It finally hopped to AP2/2.4 GHz about ten seconds after being manually reconnected, and seemed content to stay connected once there.
Moving back up to the top of the stairs near AP2, it did not roam easily back to 5 GHz; even after thirty seconds' wait followed by a complete and very sad iperf3 run of 3.5 Mbps. Some time after the iperf3 run, it finally hopped back to AP2/5 GHz, on which connection an iperf3 run produced 65 Mbps. Finally, it roamed back to AP1/5GHz after ten seconds on the test stand at STA A.
There was no doubt that the LAPC-1200s were "assisting" my test laptop in roaming events—but while they did a good job of steering between APs, they did an absolutely awful job steering between bands. To be fair, the LAPC-1200's horrible 2.4 GHz performance probably doesn't help that any; I'm not sure when you'd actually want to be connected to one on 2.4 GHz in the first place.