MikroTik hAP ac3 Review
As I mentioned in the previous review, my experience with the MikroTik router that only supported wired networking encouraged me to look for a Wi-Fi one. After browsing the available models, the slogan of a particular one, the hAP ac3, caught my attention:
Forget about endless searching for the perfect router and scrolling through an eternity of reviews and specifications! We have created a single affordable home access point that has all the features you might need for years to come.
A highly configurable router, with gigabit wired networking and dual-band 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi at an affordable price (abroad, where it costs US$ 99, not here where it costs R$ 800)? It seemed like exactly what I was looking for.
After spending 3 hours configuring the wired router, I thought to myself: “Ah, now that I know how MikroTik works, it’ll be easy. 15 or 20 minutes and everything will be working.” What a mistake. The interface is literally the same with an additional
Wireless option in the menu, but even setting a password on the unprotected Wi-Fi network was challenging. I really scratched my head trying to understand how things worked and spent another 2 hours configuring it in the way I wanted.
Configuring the 5 GHz Wi-Fi transmission, in particular, was quite difficult. It has a “radar detection” system to use higher frequencies (5.5-5.6 GHz) that takes literally 10 minutes (!) on each boot to decide which one to use, time in which the wireless network remains unavailable during this process. To avoid frustration, I manually chose a lower frequency option (5.1-5.2 GHz).
After everything was configured, I noticed that the 5 GHz Wi-Fi signal was weaker in other rooms than it used to be with my TP-Link router. Weak enough for iOS to automatically fall back to 4G. Along with the weaker signal came a drop in connection speed. On my MacBook, it fell from 400 to 200 Mbps, and on my iPhone from 200 to 100 Mbps, both measured at Fast.com in other rooms, compared to the TP-Link router I intended to replace. Although that would be sufficient bandwidth to cover most of my use cases, it seemed unacceptable to downgrade the speed I was used to, given the price and quality I expected from the device.
The solution was to go back to a setup identical to the wired MikroTik: connecting the TP-Link router to the new MikroTik and using only the Wi-Fi from the former. In router mode, the speed loss was the same. In access point mode, I achieved the same speed as before when connecting the TP-Link directly to the modem or the wired MikroTik.
It wasn’t a very wise decision to buy a more expensive model because of Wi-Fi and ultimately not use it, but the experience was valuable. It still solves my Dual WAN support issue, albeit in a less than ideal way, and I could return the borrowed MikroTik. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint why its 5 GHz network was so much slower than the TP-Link, but I’ve encountered similar situations caused by software (as the same has happened to me with DD-WRT) in a not-so distant past. It’s not what I expected from MikroTik, a device whose software is precisely its selling point, but who knows. Today, if I were to set up the same system without having the TP-Link router available, I would get a simpler wired MikroTik and connect a Unifi AP to it. It would be the best of both worlds and the cost would be virtually the same.