UniFi Wi-Fi Access Point Buyers Guide

UniFi networks are modular, so you can choose the specific models that fit your setup. When people consider UniFi, they can usually make their own decisions for their UniFi router, UniFi switches, and UniFi Network controller. They often ask the same question — which access points should I buy? It’s hard to make specific recommendations.

Ubiquiti makes many different UniFi access points, spread over several generations. Refer to their help article for a list of all UniFi AP models and generations. You can safely ignore all the Generation 1 access points. Those should not be used, and should not be considered for new installations as they are all discontinued and End of Life (EoL). This means their firmware is not being upgraded patched for new security vulnerabilities, and they should be replaced with a supported model.

The main models to consider are all Generation 2 (AC Wave 1), Generation 3/4 (AC Wave 2), or Generation 5/6 (Wi-Fi 6 and 6E) models.

UniFi APs

There are a lot of models to cover, so it helps to clear away the specialty models first. Unless you have a specific need for them, you can safely ignore most of these.

  • UAP-AC-EDU was an AC-Pro with a built-in loudspeaker. This model was discontinued and stopped receiving software updates in March 2021.
  • UAP-AC-SHD is an AC-HD with a 3rd radio, dedicated to RF monitoring using Ubiquiti’s AirView and AirTime.
  • UAP-XG and UWBXG — The XG models are overkill for most networks, especially home networks.
  • UBB and UBB-XG — The UniFi Building Bridges are 60 GHz point-to-point bridges, meant for high-bandwidth links between two networks up to 500 meters away.

IN WALL

In-Wall models are meant to be mounted in a standard 1-gang wall box with Ethernet run to it. They provide Wi-Fi, and can also provide Ethernet connections for downstream devices thanks to a small built-in managed switch. They also feature PoE passthrough, which allows you to power a security camera, VoIP phone, or other PoE device.

  • AC-IW — 802.11ac Wave 1. The cheapest, oldest, and slowest model. One PoE passthrough and 2 gigabit LAN ports.
  • AC-IW-Pro — Discontinued and EoL.
  • AC-IW-HD — 802.11ac Wave 2. Higher performance than the basic AC-IW. One PoE passthrough and 4 gigabit LAN ports.
  • U6-IW — Wi-Fi 6. Updated version of the AC-IW-HD. One PoE passthrough and 4 gigabit LAN ports.
  • U6-Enterprise-IW — Wi-Fi 6E, 2.5 Gbps uplink, early access only. It’s much wider than the others, but still fits in a standard single (or double) wall box. One PoE passthrough and 4 gigabit LAN ports.

MESH AND FLEX

Mesh and Flex models are the best option for mounting outdoors, or an area without Ethernet. They allow you to extend a UniFi network with wireless backhaul — radio to radio, rather than with a cable. All 2nd generation or newer UniFi APs support wireless backhaul, but mesh models have antennas designed specifically for long range performance. Most of these also have weatherproof enclosures, making them ideal for outdoor use. Wireless backhaul will not perform as well as wired, but can be the best solution for certain situations.

Without Ethernet, wirelessly-connected access points act as a wireless bridge. One radio talks to your client device, while the other relays it to the next-closest AP. Sometimes a single radio handles both directions, which effectively cuts your potential throughput in half. This is why wireless backhaul will generally have higher latency and lower speeds than wired backhaul. Always run Ethernet to your access points if you can, even the mesh models. If you’re running Ethernet outdoors, make sure to use outdoor cabling, shielded RJ45 connectors, and properly ground your installation.

  • AC-Mesh — Outdoor, 2×2 802.11ac Wave 1. Features removable antennas with RP-SMA connectors for the UMA-D and other external antennas.
  • AC-Mesh-Pro — Outdoor, 3×3 802.11ac Wave 1. Still the highest gain of any UniFi AP, good for long range outdoor coverage.
  • FlexHD — Indoor/outdoor, 4×4 802.11ac Wave 2. Coke can style design with pole, ceiling, and tabletop mounting.
  • U6-Mesh — Indoor/outdoor, Wi-Fi 6 version of the FlexHD. Coke can style design with pole, ceiling, and tabletop mounting.
  • BeaconHD — Indoor only, 4×4 802.11ac Wave 2. No Ethernet, wireless backhaul only, plugs into a standard electrical outlet.
  • U6-Extender — Indoor only, Wi-Fi 6 version of the BeaconHD. No Ethernet, wireless backhaul only, plugs into a standard electrical outlet

The Best UniFi Access Points

  • U6 Lite: The smallest, cheapest Wi-Fi 6 AP. The new baseline, offering fast 5 GHz speeds with a 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) 2.4 GHz radio.
  • AC-Mesh: Despite it’s age, a good basic option for longer-range wireless backhaul or outdoor coverage.
  • BeaconHD: If Ethernet isn’t available, this is a good indoor mesh AP if you can’t buy a U6-Extender, or want to save some money.
  • U6-Pro: My vote for the best value, and the best omnidirectional Wi-Fi 6 AP… if you can find it in stock.
  • nanoHD: The cheapest 802.11ac Wave 2 access point. The U6-Lite or U6-Pro offer better value, but the nanoHD still offers good performance, is usually in stock, and should be supported for years to come.
  • FlexHD : The same radios and capabilities as the nanoHD in a coke can style enclosure. The FlexHD is meant to be mounted on a desk or a shelf, and can also be used outdoors. It’s a good outdoor or mesh AP, especially if you can’t get your hands on the Wi-Fi 6 version, the U6-Mesh.
  • U6-LR: If range is the most important factor, this is a good option. It has more range and higher throughput than the U6-Lite. It still has an older 802.11n 2.4 GHz radio though, and it can’t quite match the throughput and value of the Qualcomm-based U6-Pro.
  • U6-Mesh: This is the Wi-Fi 6 version of the FlexHD, suitable for indoor or outdoor installation.
  • U6-Enterprise : The first omnidirectional Wi-Fi 6E model, offering a 6 GHz radio and a single 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port. If you have any Wi-Fi 6E devices and a 2.5 Gbps wired network, this is the best you can get.
  • AC-HD: It is getting older, but the AC-HD is a good option for high-density networks. You’ll lose access to the top Wi-Fi 6 data rate, but you’ll gain a 2nd gigabit port and an antenna suited for small cell sizes. The Wi-Fi 6 and 6E models are better values, but the AC-HD still has a place. The only step up from the AC-HD are the XG models, which are intended for places like an auditorium or sports venue.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO MIX AND MATCH

Since you can buy them individually, you may want a few different models. If you want maximum performance in one area, you can have a U6-Enterprise or AC-HD there, and then use a U6-Lite or a mesh AP to extend the network into less-used areas. If you want to expand coverage in the future, you don’t need to match the models you currently have. You can add any of them at any time, wherever you need them.

To be clear — Yes, you can mix Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6, and Wi-Fi 6E access points on your network. You’ll see the most benefit from Wi-Fi 6 when all of your devices support it, but there is no harm in keeping older models around or having a variety of models and wireless standards.


Wi-Fi Generations Explained, Briefly

802.11n vs. 802.11ac vs. 802.11ax

A full discussion of 802.11 wireless standards is beyond the scope of this guide. I’m going to highlight the main differences, and the parts that are important for picking an access point. Ubiquiti hasn’t officially certified any of their recent access point models, but it’s helpful to understand the features that come with each generation. Refer to the linked Wikipedia pages for more depth.

WI-FI 4

Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) focused on increasing speed. It was the first standard to leverage multiple antennas and break the 100 Mbps barrier. It brought higher data rates, frame aggregation, security enhancements, and many other improvements, the biggest of which was single user MIMO. With 40 MHz channels, MIMO, and multiple spatial streams, greater than 100 Mbps of throughput was finally possible. Wi-Fi 4 client devices are still around today, but mostly found in older or low-cost IoT devices.

All 802.11n UniFi APs are considered 1st generation models. They are all discontinued, and should no longer be used or considered for new installations. If you still have 802.11n access points in your network, upgrading will be a big improvement in network security, speeds, and capacity.

WI-FI 5

Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) also focused on increasing speed. It was a big jump for 5 GHz, offering up to 80 or 160 MHz channel widths, up to 4×4 MIMO, and even more-efficient encoding. This resulted in significantly higher throughput than Wi-Fi 4. It also significantly increased complexity, so the certification was broken up into two waves.

AC Wave 1 certifications started in 2013, and allowed many aspects of the standard to be optional. AC Wave 2 certifications started in 2016. It increased some limits, allowing for additional spatial streams, and downlink MU-MIMO. 802.11ac mainly applied to 5 GHz, although many vendor chose to unofficially extend it to their 2.4 GHz radios as well. For most, Wi-Fi 5 is still in the “good enough” category. Upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 will not be as dramatic as the jump to Wi-Fi 4 or Wi-Fi 5.

UniFi AC Wave 1 Models

UniFi AC Wave 2 Models

  • nanoHD
  • FlexHD
  • AC-HD
  • AC-SHD
  • BeaconHD
  • In-Wall-HD
  • UAP-XG
  • BaseStation-XG

WI-FI 6 AND 6E

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) focused on efficiency and multi-client performance rather than increasing single-client speed. Wi-Fi 6 supports up to 8 spatial streams, MU-MIMO in both directions (uplink and downlink), up to 1024-QAM modulation, and WPA3 support for increased security. Wi-Fi 6 also supports OFDMA, which allows for channels to be divided into smaller units, similar to how cell phone networks operate.

Wi-Fi 6 certifications started in 2019, and most Wi-Fi devices sold today support this standard. Wi-Fi 6 operates in 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and now 6 GHz thanks to Wi-Fi 6E. Wi-Fi 6E is still 802.11ax — it just extends the standard into the newly unlocked 6 GHz spectrum. There is also Wi-Fi 6 Release 2, which mandated support for a few optional features including uplink MU-MIMO and three power saving features: broadcast target wake time (TWT), extended sleep time, and dynamic multi-user spatial multiplexing power save (SMPS). The 802.11 standard is more complex than ever.

The gain in single-client speeds is minimal, but Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E offer many advantages, and the best overall performance. Support for Wi-Fi 6 should be strongly considered when searching for new wireless networking equipment.

UniFi Wi-Fi 6 and 6E Models

  • U6-Lite
  • U6-LR
  • U6-Pro
  • U6-Mesh
  • U6-Extender
  • U6-In-Wall
  • U6-Enterprise — Wi-Fi 6E
  • U6-Enterprise-In-Wall — Wi-Fi 6E, early access only
  • U6+ — early access only
  • U6+ Long-Range — early access only

Antenna Differences

Another thing to consider: some models have equivalent radio specs, but differences in their antennas and how those antennas perform. An important part of picking the right model is understanding what kind of antenna you need, and how to mount it. Refer to Ubiquiti’s radiation patterns for more details.

  • Standard dome-shaped access points like the nanoHD and U6-Lite feature omnidirectional antennas which radiate in all directions. These are the best option for broad, even indoor coverage. Ideally, these should be mounted on a ceiling facing down, as they focus more of their signal out of the top of the dome. Mounting them on a shelf or vertically on a wall is OK, too.
  • The antennas for the In-Wall models, BeaconHD, and U6-Extender are designed to be mounted vertically, in an electrical box or outlet. These focus their signal in front and behind the AP, making them better at covering the floor they are on than the floors above or below. The In-Wall models also feature a small Ethernet switch inside, making them a good option for hotel rooms or a home entertainment center.
  • Mesh APs like the AC-Mesh and AC-Mesh-Pro offer slightly more directional antennas, making them suited for long range wireless backhaul. These are usually used outdoors, but can also provide long-range indoor coverage, especially in hard-to-cover spaces like a large warehouse.
  • The FlexHD and U6-Mesh are meant to be mounted vertically, either on a tabletop, a pole, or in the ceiling with their ceiling mounting kit. They also make good mesh APs, and can be used indoors or outdoors.

Basic — Lite and Long Range

AC-Lite

Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Lite

Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Lite – Wireless Access Point – 802.11 B/A/G/n/AC (UAPACLITEUS), White

AC WAVE 1
2X2 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 300 MBPS
2X2 MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 867 MBPS
INDOOR ONLY
POE REQUIRED: POE/802.3AF (15W) OR PASSIVE 24V

The AC-Lite is a basic omnidirectional AP, offering good-enough performance for most networks. It’s dual-band, supporting 2×2 SU-MIMO and data rates up to 867 Mbps. Like all 2nd generation or newer UniFi APs, it’s capable of functioning as a mesh AP using wireless backhaul. The AC-Lite used to be a good default option, but it’s old enough now that I wouldn’t recommend it for new installations.

The Wave 1 APs like the AC-Lite are older, but they aren’t dead yet. Ubiquiti is still selling them, and probably will for a while as the Wi-Fi 6 models roll out and have limited availability. Even after the are removed from sale, software support should continue for the foreseeable future. The last AP EoL announcement gave over a year of notice, and I expect the same for the Wave 1 APs. The AC-Lite is still a decent basic access point, but newer models like the U6-Lite are the better investment.


AC-LR

Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Long Range

Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Long Range – Wireless Access Point – 802.11 B/A/G/n/AC (UAP-AC-LR)

AC WAVE 1
3X3 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 450 MBPS
2X2 MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 867 MBPS
INDOOR ONLY
POE REQUIRED: POE/802.3AF (15W)

The AC-LR has a more sensitive antenna and higher transmit power than the AC-Lite, which increases range and improves performance for far away clients. It also has a slight edge in 2.4GHz performance, supporting up to 3×3 SU-MIMO.

Just like the AC-Lite, the AC-LR is nearing the end of the line. The same advice applies here. For around $100 the U6-Lite is the better overall option, and the U6-LR or U6-Pro is the better option if you need the range. Oddly enough, the AC-LR does have a better 2.4 GHz radio than the U6-Lite, due to Ubiquiti’s odd choice only upgrade the 5 GHz radio to Wi-Fi 6.


U6-Lite

Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Long-Range Access Point

Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Lite Access Point | US Model | PoE Adapter not Included (U6-Lite)

WI-FI 6 (5 GHZ RADIO ONLY)
2X2 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 300 MBPS
2X2 MU-MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 1200 MBPS
INDOOR ONLY
POE REQUIRED: POE/802.3AF (15W) OR 48V PASSIVE
POE INJECTOR NOT INCLUDED

The U6-Lite is the entry model for the new Wi-Fi 6 lineup. It’s the same size as the nanoHD, and uses the same mounting equipment and skins. It only supports Wi-Fi 6 on it’s 5 GHz radio. 2.4 GHz still uses a 2×2 802.11n/Wi-Fi 4 radio, which is disappointing.

My biggest complaint about the U6-Lite is that Ubiquiti dropped the included PoE injector. Make sure you have a switch capable of delivering standard 802.3af PoE, or 48V passive PoE. If not, any standard 802.3af PoE adapter will work.

Another thing to note about the U6-Lite is Ubiquiti recently made a hardware revision which reduced it’s 5 GHz transmit power from 23 dBm to 17 dBm. The U6-Pro and U6-LR now offer significantly more range, but the U6-Lite is still a good AP for covering smaller spaces, or for fitting into a multi-AP network.

Note: Most of the PoE injectors that Ubiquiti make support passive PoE, which can damage equipment if you’re not careful. If you don’t have one already, I’d recommend Ubiquiti’s U-PoE-AF, a PoE switch, or a standard 802.af PoE injector from a reputable brand for the U6-Lite.


U6-LR

Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Long-Range Access Point

Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Long-Range Access Point | US Model | PoE Adapter not Included (U6-LR)

WI-FI 6 (5 GHZ RADIO ONLY)
4X4 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 600 MBPS
4X4 MU-MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 2400 MBPS
INDOOR ONLY
POE REQUIRED: POE+/802.3AT (30W) OR 48V PASSIVE
POE INJECTOR NOT INCLUDED

Besides the new U6-Pro, the UniFi 6 LR is the best Wi-Fi 6 model available right now, if you can find it in stock.

It’s the same size as the AC-HD, and uses the same mounting equipment. Like the U6-Lite, it only supports Wi-Fi 6 on it’s 5 GHz radio. 2.4 GHz still uses a 4×4 802.11n/Wi-Fi 4 radio. It also drops the included PoE injector. It boasts a wider range than the Lite model due to it’s higher EIRP limits and higher gain antenna. It also went through a hardware revision, removing the RGD LED but retaining the same transmit power and EIRP.

The U6-LR requires a separate PoE+ power supply. Use a PoE+ switch, the U-POE-AT, or a 30W 802.3at injector from a reputable brand.


Advanced — Pro and HD

AC-Pro

Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Pro Access Point

Ubiquiti Networks Unifi 802.11ac Dual-Radio PRO Access Point (UAP-AC-PRO)

AC WAVE 1
3X3 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 450 MBPS
3X3 MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 1300 MBPS
2 ETHERNET PORTS. 1 FOR UPLINK, 1 FOR BRIDGING
INDOOR/OUTDOOR (NOT FOR DIRECT WEATHER RESISTANCE)
POE REQUIRED: POE/802.3AF (15W) OR 48V PASSIVE

The AC-Pro was the flagship of the AC Wave 1 lineup. The AC-Pro includes 3×3 SU-MIMO radios for both bands, and adds a 2nd Ethernet port for bridging to another device. It also has the benefit of being mounted outdoors — think under a porch roof, not somewhere directly exposed.

All of my advice about future support on Wave 1 APs applies to the AC-Pro as well. Unless you find it for a steep discount, any of the Wi-Fi 6 models are a much better investment.


U6-Pro

Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Pro Access Point

Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Pro Access Point | US Model | PoE Adapter not Included (U6-Pro)

WI-FI 6 (802.11AX)
2X2 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 573.5 MBPS
4X4 MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 4800 MBPS
1 GIGABIT ETHERNET PORT
INDOOR ONLY
POE REQUIRED: POE+/802.3AT (30W) OR 48V PASSIVE

The U6-Pro was Ubiquiti’s first model that supported Wi-Fi 6 on both the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands, giving it an advantage over the U6-Lite and U6-LR. The U6-Pro includes a 4×4 radio for 5 GHz, and a 2×2 2.4 GHz radio. In my testing it offered more throughput than the U6-LR, and only slightly less range. For most networks, the U6-Pro is the one I’d recommend.

Like the other Wi-Fi 6 APs, the U6-Pro requires a separate PoE+ power supply. Use a PoE+ switch, the U-POE-AT, or a 30W 802.3at injector from a reputable brand.


nanoHD

Ubiquiti UniFi nanoHD Compact 802.11ac Wave2 MU-MIMO Enterprise Access Point ( UAP-NANOHD-US)

Ubiquiti UniFi nanoHD Compact 802.11ac Wave2 MU-MIMO Enterprise Access Point ( UAP-NANOHD-US)

AC WAVE 2
2X2 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 300 MBPS
4X4 MU-MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 1733 MBPS
1 ETHERNET PORT
INDOOR ONLY
POE REQUIRED: POE/802.3AF (15W)

The nanoHD is the entry model for 802.11ac Wave 2, and it’s place in the lineup has largely been replaced by the Wi-Fi 6 models mentioned above. For $179, the U6-LR is a much better option. With the U6-Lite and U6-Pro being available for less, the nanoHD isn’t a great value anymore.

If the Wi-Fi 6 APs aren’t available, the nanoHD is a decent compromise between the cheaper Wave 1 APs, and the more expensive AC-HD. The nanoHD is still a good AP with a lot of life ahead of it, but it isn’t the default recommendation it used to be.


AC-HD

Ubiquiti UniFi HD 802.11ac Wave 2 Enterprise Wi-Fi Access Point (UAP-AC-HD)

Ubiquiti UniFi HD 802.11ac Wave 2 Enterprise Wi-Fi Access Point (UAP-AC-HD)

AC WAVE 2
4X4 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 800 MBPS
4X4 MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 1733 MBPS
2 ETHERNET PORTS. 1 FOR UPLINK, 1 FOR BRIDGING OR UPLINK
INDOOR/OUTDOOR (NOT FOR DIRECT WEATHER RESISTANCE)
POE REQUIRED: POE+/802.3AT (30W)

The AC-HD is the flagship of the AC Wave 2 line, exceeded only by the specialty UAP-SHD and UAP-XG. The AC-HD was made for networks with a lot of devices in a small area, and features an antenna specifically designed for small cell spacing and vertical coverage. The AC-HD also has dedicated hardware offload for QoS, Guest Control, and Client Management.

The antenna difference is important. The AC-HD will not cover as widely as other omnidirectional APs. It is meant for dense multi-AP deployments, not broad coverage. In most cases, especially home networks, any of the Wi-Fi 6 models are better options.

It’s worth noting the AC-HD is one of the few models with two gigabit Ethernet ports. The 2nd can be used to bridge to another device, or combined into a 802.3ad-based link aggregation to support 2 Gbps uplink. The AC-HD requires 802.3at PoE+, so make sure you have a PoE+ switch or use the included power injector that is capable of that.


Ubiquiti UniFi HD 802.11ac Wave 2 Enterprise Wi-Fi Access Point (UAP-AC-HD)

Ubiquiti Networks Networks UniFi Wave2 AC Ap, sec and Ble

AC-SHD

AC WAVE 2
4X4 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 800 MBPS
4X4 MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 1733 MBPS
2 ETHERNET PORTS: 1 FOR UPLINK, 1 FOR BRIDGING
INDOOR/OUTDOOR (NOT FOR DIRECT WEATHER RESISTANCE)
POE REQUIRED: POE+/802.3AT (30W)

The AC-SHD is similar to the AC-HD, but adds a 3rd radio for real-time monitoring. It was originally designed to monitor for security issues with UniFi’s Wireless Intrusion Prevention System, but that feature was never implemented in the UniFi controller. That makes the AC-SHD kind of an awkward product. I’d generally never recommend the AC-SHD, especially for


Specialty — In-Wall and Mesh

AC-In-Wall

AC In-Wall

Ubiquiti Networks Networks Networks UniFi AP AC In Wall

AC WAVE 1
2X2 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 300 MBPS
2X2 MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 867 MBPS
3 ETHERNET PORTS. ONE FOR UPLINK, TWO FOR BRIDGING
INDOOR ONLY
POE REQUIRED: POE+/802.3AT (30W)
POE PASS-THROUGH: (1) 48V PASSIVE, CANNOT BE DISABLED

For some reason, this model hasn’t been discontinued yet. If mounting an AP inside a electrical wall plate is what you are looking for, the In-Wall HD is a better option.

I wouldn’t recommend the regular AC In-Wall unless you’re OK with its limitations, or you really need one 48V passive PoE out port. This model is coming up on it’s end of life, and shouldn’t be considered for most new installs.


In-Wall HD

In Wall HD

Ubiquiti Networks UniFi in-Wall Wi-Fi Access Point 802.11AC Wave 2 (UAP-IW-HD-US), White

AC WAVE 2
2X2 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 300 MBPS
4X4 MU-MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 1733 MBPS
5 ETHERNET PORTS. ONE FOR UPLINK, FOUR FOR BRIDGING
INDOOR ONLY
POE IN REQUIRED: POE/802.3AF (15W)
FOR PASS-THROUGH: POE+/802.3AT (30W)
POE PASS-THROUGH: (1) 48V PASSIVE

If mounting an AP inside a electrical wall plate is what you are looking for, the In-Wall HD is the best option right now. The HD model has 4 Ethernet ports, 1 of which supports 802.3af PoE passthrough. It’s AC Wave 2, meaning it offers more performance and has more future software support than the regular AC-In-Wall.

For PoE passthrough to work, you need to provide the In-Wall HD with PoE+, so make sure your switch or PoE injector supports that. The In-Wall HD doesn’t come with a power injector and is meant to be installed in a electrical wall box with Ethernet run to it, so make sure to consider that before purchasing. The U6-In-Wall is in early access, but for now the In-Wall-HD is still king for a little longer.


AC-Mesh

AC Mesh

Ubiquiti UAP-AC-M-US Unifi Mesh Access Point, White

AC WAVE 1
2X2 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 300 MBPS
2X2 MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 867 MBPS
1 ETHERNET PORT
INDOOR/OUTDOOR (WEATHER RESISTANT)
POE REQUIRED: POE/802.3AF (15W)

If you are looking to mount an access point outdoors, the AC-Mesh is the oldest, most basic option. All 2nd generation and newer UniFi APs can use wireless backhaul to function as mesh APs, but the AC-Mesh has detachable antennas that are well suited for the task. These antennas can also be swapped out for the UMA-D, giving it even better long-range coverage over a 45 to 90 degree area.

As with all APs, wireless backhaul will result in some trade-offs in performance. If you want the best performance, always run an Ethernet cable to your access points, including the AC-Mesh. The AC-Mesh is among the oldest UniFi APs. In most situations the FlexHD or U6-Mesh are the better options for new installations.


AC-Mesh-Pro

AC Mesh Pro

Ubiquiti Networks UAP-AC-M-PRO US UniFi AC Mesh Wide-Area Outdoor Dual-Band Access Point

AC WAVE 1
3X3 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 450 MBPS
3X3 MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 1300 MBPS
2 ETHERNET PORTS: 1 FOR UPLINK, 1 FOR BRIDGING
OUTDOOR (WEATHER RESISTANT)
POE REQUIRED: POE/802.3AF (15W)

If you need more outdoor Wi-Fi range and performance, the AC-Mesh-Pro is another old, but decent option. The AC-Mesh-Pro offers 3×3 radios for both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, and has a 2nd Ethernet port for bridging. According to Ubiquiti it has a ”proprietary, MIMO-optimized, omnidirectional Super Antenna for exceptional 360° coverage, providing symmetrical long-range communications of up to 183 meters.”

I think the marketing department went a little far there, but it does offer additional performance over the standard AC-Mesh. With that extra performance comes a much larger size. The AC-Mesh is easy to hide, but the Pro model is more like a big white lunch tray. Seriously, It’s huge. For most installs I’d recommend the FlexHD or U6-Mesh instead.


BeaconHD

Ubiquiti Unifi Access Point Beacon HD

Ubiquiti Unifi Access Point BeaconHD | UDM-B-US

AC WAVE 2
2X2 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 300 MBPS
4X4 MU-MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 1733 MBPS
NO ETHERNET PORTS
INDOOR ONLY
POWERED BY STANDARD AC WALL OUTLET

The BeaconHD is an indoor mesh model, designed to work with the UniFi Dream Machine or any other dual-band UniFi AP. It consumes an electrical outlet and turns it into an access point and night light. The light can thankfully be disabled. There are no Ethernet ports, so it cannot be wired, or provide a bridged connection to another wired device.

The BeaconHD has 4×4 5 GHz radio, and 2×2 2.4 GHz, roughly equivalent to a nanoHD. It does have higher-gain antennas than the nanoHD though, which make it better suited for a mesh network. The U6-Extender is a Wi-Fi 6 replacement for the BeaconHD, currently in early access. Once the U6-Extender is available it will be the better option.


FlexHD

Flex HD

Ubiquiti Networks UniFi FlexHD 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi Access Point (UAP-FlexHD)

AC WAVE 2
2X2 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 300 MBPS
4X4 MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 1733 MBPS
1 ETHERNET PORT
INDOOR/OUTDOOR
POE REQUIRED: POE/802.3AF (15W)

The FlexHD is another AC Wave 2 AP, but it comes with a unique form factor. The FlexHD is still a good AP with a lot of life ahead of it, and strong availability. For the price though, newer and better options are available.

The best thing about the FlexHD (and the U6-Mesh) are the flexible mounting options. It can be used indoors and outdoors, and tabletop, wall, and pole mounting brackets are Included. Ubiquiti also sells an optional Ceiling Mount kit. If you’re looking for something to be used outdoors, the new U6-Mesh is the better option. If you’re considering the FlexHD, look for the U6-Mesh instead. Only settle on the FlexHD if you find it at a discount.


U6-Mesh

U6-Mesh

Ubiquiti Networks U6-Mesh Access Point

WI-FI 6
2X2 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 574 MBPS
4X4 MU-MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, UP TO 4800 MBPS
1 ETHERNET PORT
INDOOR/OUTDOOR (IPX5)
POE REQUIRED: POE/802.3AF (15W)

The U6-Mesh is basically a Wi-Fi 6 version of the FlexHD. It’s the same shape and size, and can also be mounted indoors or out. The U6-Mesh is also one of the newest and hardest to find in stock. Availability is limited, but this is arguably the best UniFi AP to use outdoors because of it’s support for Wi-Fi 6. It’s also a good option for indoor coverage, if mounting an omnidirectional AP on the ceiling or wall isn’t possible.

Worth noting: the U6-Mesh does come with a PoE injector, unlike the U6-Lite, U6-LR, and U6-Pro.


XG and Small Cell — You (Probably) Don’t Need These at Home

UAP-XG

Ubiquiti UniFi XG Quad-Radio 802.11 ac Access Point - UAP-XG

Ubiquiti UniFi XG Quad-Radio 802.11ac Wave 2 Access Point with Dedicated Security Radio (UAP-XG)

AC WAVE 2
4X4 MIMO FOR 2.4 GHZ, UP TO 800 MBPS
DUAL 4X4 MU-MIMO FOR 5 GHZ, BOTH UP TO 1733 MBPS
2 ETHERNET PORTS. 1 WITH SUPPORT FOR 10 GBPS
INDOOR/OUTDOOR (NOT FOR DIRECT WEATHER RESISTANCE)
POE REQUIRED: POE++/802.3BT (60W)

Need is always a tricky word when discussing purchasing advice. For all I know, you might actually need 10 Gbps uplink, dual 4×4 5 GHz radios, a 4×4 2.4 GHz radio, a dedicated security radio, and support for up to 1500 clients. Of course, if you just want to set some money on fire, there is the UAP-XG-US.

The UAP-XG will require a 10 Gbps capable infrastructure to support it, though. You should also be aware that the software features for the security radio have not been implemented, and likely never will be. I get the feeling that Ubiquiti tried to do too much with the UAP-XG, and they either changed priorities or didn’t sell enough of these to justify the development cost. Selling hardware before the software is ready is a topic for another post, but it’s frustratingly common with Ubiquiti.


WiFi Basestation XG (UWB-XG)

WiFi Basestation XG

AC WAVE 2
SMALL CELL FOR LARGE, DENSE VENUES
NO 2.4 GHZ RADIO
(3) 4X4 MU-MIMO 5 GHZ RADIOS, UP TO 1733 MBPS EACH
2 ETHERNET PORTS. 1 WITH SUPPORT FOR 10 GBPS
INDOOR/OUTDOOR (IP67)
POE REQUIRED: POE++/802.3BT (60W)

If you’re building a Wi-Fi network for your house, this model makes no sense. If you’re designing a Wi-Fi network for a stadium, this is an interesting option for high gain, small cell coverage. The BaseStation XG features three 5 GHz radios, each of which are 4×4 802.11 AC Wave 2. This allows you to broadcast on three unique channels, allowing more many more clients to be served by a single AP. With multiple UWB-XGs, you can scale up to an auditorium or stadium-sized wireless network with hundred or thousands of clients.

These are the most specialty of specialty models, and require careful planning, installation, and optimization. If you are planning a network which requires the use of the UWB-XG, you probably don’t need advice from me about model selection.


All-In-One — UniFi Dream Machine and Dream Router

UDM

The UniFi Dream Machine (UDM,) is an all-in-one UniFi OS Console. It combines a 4×4 AC Wave 2 access point with a 4-port gigabit switch, and router/firewall capable of IDS/IPS performance around 850 Mbps. The UDM also has a built-in UniFi Network controller and support for UID, Ubiquiti’s new identity management service. The UDM is a convenient and easy way to get into the UniFi ecosystem, and can be a good starting point for a new home or small business network.

Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine | UDM-US

UDR

The UniFi Dream Router (UDR) is another all-in-one, similar to the UDM. It includes a wireless access point, 4-port gigabit switch, router/firewall, and UniFi Network controller. The UDR also features an upgraded 5 GHz radio supporting Wi-Fi 6, two PoE out ports, and UniFi Protect support with 128 GB of internal storage and an SD card slot for expansion. The UDR is an upgrade from the UDM in some ways, but is limited by its dual-core CPU vs. the quad-core CPU in the UDM. This results in less than gigabit performance in a lot of scenarios, especially when using IPS/IDS or a PPPoE WAN connection.

For $199, the UDR is a cheap and easy way to get started with a small UniFi Network and a few UniFi Protect cameras, but you’ll probably run into the performance limits as you expand.

ALL-IN-ONE LIMITATIONS

For larger networks or networks spanning several locations, an all-in-one is likely not the best solution. It’s usually a question of scale: if you plan for dozens of switches, APs, or UniFi cameras, look elsewhere. You could consider the more powerful UDM-Pro or USM-SE, which offer most of the benefits of these small all-in-ones, while raising some of the performance and management limits. Refer to Ubiquiti’s UniFi OS Console resource calculator for more specifics.

One issue with all of the UniFi OS Consoles (UDM, UDR, UDM-Pro, UDM-SE) is that they run the UniFi Network Application themselves, and they can’t be managed by a hosted UniFi controller. Those that need the scale of a hosted controller should consider the UXG-Pro or a 3rd party firewall, with UniFi just handling switching and Wi-Fi. Building a UniFi network that way opens up a lot of options, and is usually a better fit for MSPs or larger multi-site networks.

For those looking to build a small UniFi network, all-in-ones can be a good option. My home network for a long time has been a UDM, with a few additional UniFi switches and UniFi APs to expand my wired and wireless network.

Wi-Fi 6E — Enterprise

UniFi’s first omnidirectional Wi-Fi 6E access point, the U6-Enterprise, is now available. There is also a U6-Enterprise-In-Wall model in early access. See my U6-Enterprise preview and Wi-Fi 6E deep dive for more details.

Some of Ubiquiti Unifi Access Points Stocked by Dataworld

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