The Datto Networking AP42 is our new generation 2 x 2 WiFi access point. It is an 802.11ac Wave 2 WiFi access point purpose-built to elevate the performance of the Datto Networking WiFi line up. As you’ll see in the table below, the AP42 features a quad-core processor, dual-band 802.11ac Wave 2 WiFi, multi-user MIMO, and four internal antennas. This represents a significant performance improvement over the previous model, the AP40.

Model

AP40

AP42

Speed

2.4 GHz, 2 × 2 - 300 Mbps

5 GHz, 2 × 2 - 867 Mbps

2.4 GHz, 2 × 2 - 300 Mbps

5 GHz, 2 × 2 - 867 Mbps

CPU

Qualcomm Scorpion QCA9557 (single core)

Qualcomm Dakota IPQ4018 (quad core)

Band

2.4 + 5 GHz 802.11ac

2.4 + 5 GHz 802.11ac Wave 2

MIMO

Single-user MIMO

Multi-user MIMO

Antenna

Three antenna internal

Four antenna internal

So, what does that mean in the real world? To find out, we recently conducted testing to quantify its performance against the AP40. Our testing was designed to determine: the maximum number of connected clients; UDP combined throughput with 20 clients; UDP deep packet inspection with 20 clients; and TCP combined throughput with 20 clients.

Maximum recommended connected clients (usable)

The first round of testing was designed to determine the number of clients that can be connected to a single access point before performance dips below an acceptable level for typical Internet browsing. To simulate this, we used a UDP (user datagram protocol) flow of 5 mbps to each client. This would equate to roughly 2.5 to 4.5 mbps over the more commonly used TCP (transmission control protocol). TCP uses error checking to ensure that no data is lost or corrupted in transit, which incurs some latency.

Results: Testing found that the AP42 reliably supported 105 clients vs. the AP40’s 70, representing a 50% increase in supported users. As such, the AP42 is better suited for high density environments than the AP40. The AP42 not only outperforms the AP40 in smaller deployments with a few clients, it’s multi-core processor and multi-user MIMO allows it to scale and provides service to a much larger number of users than the AP40.

UDP combined throughput with 20 clients (with and without deep packet inspection enabled)

This round of testing was designed to compare the ability of the AP42 and the AP40 to support 20 users. First, we analyzed the throughput increase associated with the AP42’s multi-core processor when compared with the AP40’s single core. Additionally, we wanted to better understand the impact of deep packet inspection on access point throughput. The access points we tested were running the same firmware, were directly wired to the test equipment via conductive cable, and we used a frame size of 1518.

Results: Our testing found that the AP42 is 40% faster than the AP40. However, when deep packet inspection (DPI) is enabled the increased throughput has a much greater impact on performance. With DPI enabled, the AP40 realized a performance degradation of 60%, while the AP42 only realized a 4% performance degradation. In other words, the performance gains of the AP42 multi-core processor make DPI much faster than on the AP40—three times faster, in fact. DPI provides visibility into how bandwidth is being used—allowing MSPs to better manage and troubleshoot network performance. The increased performance of the AP42 allows MSPs to take advantage of DPI for reporting by application or web service without taxing hardware resources.

“When we launched Datto Networking in early 2017, we set out to deliver a networking product line that is purpose-built for the MSP,” said John Tippett, VP of Datto Networking. “That means the products have to perform, especially when configured the way MSPs use them. In the AP42, we deliver our most performant 2 x 2 access point to date, as this test demonstrates. In fact, the performance of the AP42 nearly approaches that of Datto Networking’s current top of line 3 x 3 AP60. With both the AP42 and the AP62 (which is currently in development), we continue to push the performance of our wireless access points to better serve our MSP partners and their SMB clients.”

While this round of testing was limited to the AP40 and AP42, it is worth noting that the next generation of Datto Networking access points will continue to ramp up performance. As noted above, the single-core, single-user MIMO AP60 (450+1300 Mbps) is currently available and the multi-core, multi-user MIMO AP62 is slated for release later this year.