UniFi Access Point Comparison: UniFi AC LR vs U6-Lite

UniFi Access Point Comparison: UniFi AC LR vs U6-Lite

How does our most popular Ubiquiti Access Point, the UAP-AC-LR compare to Ubiquiti's WiFi 6 counterpart, the U6-Lite? We wanted to find out and did some of our own testing. In the video below, Tim, Scoop’s CTO, shares the test results and some insight.





WiFi 6 Technology

WiFi 6 is becoming increasingly popular as more vendors are ramping up production to make way for the latest WiFi standard. The reason WiFi 6 is so welcomed is that it provides better performance on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. In addition, it uses a brand new modulation and coding scheme called OFDMA which is better suited for higher density WiFi environments.




Ubiquiti is no exception to the list of vendors moving to WiFi 6 and they have launched a few products under their popular UniFi brand. Ubiquiti has a couple of different models available and in the pipeline.

U6-LITE U6-LR
Speed 2.4GHz: 300 Mbps
5GHz: 1200 Mbps
2.4GHz: 600 Mbps
5GHz: 2400 Mbps 
Users 300+ 300+
MIMO 2x2 MU-MIMO OFDMA 4x4 MU-MIMO OFDMA
Ethernet Ports 1x Gigabit 1x Gigabit
PoE Input 802.3af/at PoE or 48V Passive PoE 802.3at PoE or 48V Passive PoE
Max Power Consumption 12W 16.5W
Antenna Gain 2.4GHz: 2.8 dBi
5GHz: 3 dBi
2.4GHz: 4 dBi
5GHz: 5.5 dBi



Ubiquiti U6-Lite Specifications

Ubiquiti's U6-Lite really grabbed our attention, as it competes directly with the most popular entry-level WiFi 5 UniFi AP’s. We wanted to find out which of these entry-level AP’s provided the best value-for-money, and this is what we found...

The first thing we noticed was that the name ‘U6-Lite’ didn’t accurately represent this AP’s abilities. Looking at the technical specifications, it's actually more comparable to the UAP-AC-LR. The antennas are similar at around 3dBi but there are clear differences in transmitter power levels which will directly influence distance to clients.

UAP-AC-LITE UAP-AC-LR U6-LITE
Gain 2.4GHz / 5GHz 3 / 3 dBi 3 / 3 dBi 2.8 / 3 dBi
TX Power 2.4GHz / 5GHz 20 / 20 dBm 24 / 22 dBm 23 / 23 dBm
PoE 24 V or 48 V 24 V or 48 V 48 V
Max Bandwidth 80 MHz 80 MHz 80 MHz
Max Data Rate 867 Mbps 867 Mbps 1.2 Gbps



Ubiquiti U6-Lite Testing

We wanted to find out which UAP provided better overall performance as well as signal coverage on 5GHz. In order to do so, we installed the units on the ceiling at our offices in an open plan office location for a performance test. To make things more 'real-world', we connected an additional 4 devices but later found this did not influence the results at all. The speed tests were done using Iperf on a WiFi 6 compatible Macbook Pro about 5m away from the AP to a cabled Iperf server using the cleanest possible 80MHz channel at around +50dB SNR.

We also wanted to see how the U6-Lite would perform with a WiFi 5 client so we ran a separate test with another client.

As expected, the U6-Lite outperforms its counterparts when using a WiFi 6 client by around 20% which is excellent news for clients compatible with 802.11ax. WiFi 5 users don’t appear to get any benefit from the new chipset on the U6-Lite.

UAP-AC-LITE UAP-AC-LR U6-LITE
Iperf – WiFi 6 Client 496 Mbps 487 Mbps 609 Mbps
Iperf – WiFi 5 Client 471 Mbps 473 Mbps 476 Mbps
Signal in dBm @ 5m -51 -48 -45
Signal in dBm @ 15m + Wall -66 -62 -60


Next up was our signal test where we measured the signal using Ubiquiti’s WiFiMan App. We measured at the same distance as our performance tests and then through a closed room with a single brick wall. This is where we expected the UAP-AC-LR to shine as it is well-renowned for its good antenna design and has been tried and tested in the field for some time now. We were very surprised to see that the U6-Lite outperformed our best selling UAP.




Conclusion

Apart from the higher speeds and better signal, we found the U6-Lite was capable of maintaining higher data rates at longer distances. This is great for clients that are further away but also reduces rate flapping for mobile users.

The U6-Lite is a clear winner for us and knocks the UAP-AC-LR off its perch as the undisputed king of entry-level UAP’s. With both products being similar in price there is little reason to buy UAP-AC-LR. Even if you are not planning on upgrading your clients to WiFi 6, you can future-proof your network and have a better product for almost the same amount of money.

Blog post by Guy Perry

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