Netgear WAX214 full review
The Netgear WAX214 is a WiFi 6 wireless access point aimed at small business and small office/home office workers.
Designed to be used in the office as well as commercial environments, from convenience stores to car showrooms, in a pinch, the WAX214 can be used to improve WiFi coverage in the home, too.
Costing around £110, the WAX214 is attractively priced, considering that it gives you access to some of the fastest WiFi speeds available and is highly configurable.
Design & Build
The Netgear WAX214 is a compact, plastic cuboid with a lightly textured finish on the top, and a metallic finish underneath.
Four status lights (for 2.4GHz, 5GHz, Ethernet, mains power) flash on the top, beneath the Netgear logo. Flip it around, and you'll see hooks for wall mounts, as well as a gigabit Ethernet port, a port for a mains adapter and a reset button.
The Ethernet port supports PoE (Power over Ethernet), so you can hook this up to an Ethernet switch, a neat solution if you want to hang or mount the WAX214 somewhere where mains sockets are scarce, or where a mains adapter won't reach.
Netgear expects that most buyers will be picking up the WAX214 with this kind of solution in mind as UK units don’t include mains adapters in the box. Fortunately, you can easily pick up an adapter – Netgear recommends a PAV12V or an MH18-7120150-B2 332-1065, both of which can be found on eBay and elsewhere – for around £20.
Set-up & Features
Setting the WAX214 up is straightforward. Once it's powered up for the first time, you'll need to connect to the configuration SSID that's broadcast and enter the password that's printed on the base of the device.
From here, you're able to assign a new network name, network password and an admin password. Should you need to access the control panel, you'll need to head to aplogin.net, or, if that's not working for you, just enter the IP address into your browser and log in there.
The dashboard of the WAX214 is best accessed here. There's no dedicated mobile app, so remote management isn't as convenient as it might be on a consumer-grade access point.
That said, the control panel boasts a sensible and logical layout with a clear design, which makes the finer points of the WAX214 very easy to get acquainted with, whether you're using a desktop or a mobile browser.
The Overview menu gives you, as you might expect, a quick look at everything that’s happening on the access point. You can see the MAC addresses of each client that’s connected, as well as the ability to kick any troublesome traffic hogs.
Oddly, you can’t name individual devices and tag a MAC address with a label, something like ‘Dave’s Mac mini’, so you’ll just have to keep tabs on which addresses refer to which clients yourself. The 'Realtime' panel lets you review CPU and traffic loads as they happen and the graphs start populating with data as soon as you open them.
One of the WAX214's key features is the ability to create up to four sub-networks with different SSIDs, for which can use either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band or both.
In the Network > Wireless menu, you can also specify that a sub-network uses WPA3 encryption, instead of the default WPA2. This is useful if you have devices in the workplace that can utilise this newer encryption standard. Client devices that use the older WPA2 encryption can't connect to a wireless network using WPA3, so this lets you neatly partition everything.
You can also easily create Guest WiFi sub-networks here and configure DHCP server settings for those Guest networks too if you wish.
If you want to go really granular on wireless channels, two Channel HT Mode drop-downs let you select 20MHz, 20/40MHz, and 40MHz on the 2.4GHz band and 20MHz, 40MHz, and 80MHz on 5GHz, and there’s a separate configuration menu, which lets you enable and disable specific channels on each band.
Other features available to you include the ability to schedule Wi-Fi availability time (should you want to disable access outside of work hours, a good idea if you're setting this up in a shop, for example), and schedule regular reboots for the device.
In the Management menu, you can also set up email alerts if you want an instant log of any changes made to access point settings to be created. SNMP settings can be configured from the Management panel, and you can toggle CLI and SSH here, too.
System Manager is the menu you’ll open to change the admin password and perform a factory reset. It’s here that you’ll install firmware updates (which can be downloaded directly from Netgear’s site) and access logs of all network activity which you can review in real-time, or download.
Performance overall is very good. The Netgear WAX214 is a Wi-Fi 6 AX1800 device, and so theoretically capable of giving you maximum wireless speeds of 1201Mbps on the 5GHz band, and 600Mbps on 2.4GHz.
It's theoretically capable of talking to up to 128 clients in total – 64 on the 2.4GHz band and 128 on the 5GHz band – but I wasn’t able to get anywhere close to simulating this level of activity when testing the WAX214 out in a domestic environment. I don’t even have 64 Wi-Fi-enabled devices to hand, let alone 128, so I can’t comment on how this stands up to maximum strain.
What I can comment on are the overall wireless speeds I enjoyed on two phones, one with a Wi-Fi 5 radio (an ancient Huawei Mate 10 Pro) and one with a Wi-Fi 6 antenna (a more modern Realme X50 Pro). While I did register a top link speed of 1200Mbps on the X50 Pro when stood one metre away, below are the average speeds I recorded when taking several speed tests, in a two-up two-down terraced house in South London.
I set up the Netgear WAX214 as if it were a Wi-Fi extender, connected directly to my usual router via Ethernet. As I didn’t have a PoE switch available, I’ve not been able to see how this would operate connected to one of those, but the wireless speeds I recorded should give you an idea of how this will perform in your home/your place of work:
|Wi-Fi 6 test||2.4GHz||5GHz|
|5m with a wall||117Mbps||635Mbps|
|Upstairs, near the read of the house||22Mbps||126Mbps|
Oddly, given that 2.4GHz WiFi is generally better than 5GHz in terms of wider coverage, as higher radio frequencies are less able to penetrate walls and floorboards, I was actually able to pick up and maintain decent connections on the 5GHz band more easily than I could on the lower frequency, on both the Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 client devices.
The first test was taken in the living room, where the access point was set up. The second test was taken out in a hallway, five metres away from the WAX214 behind a hollow non-load bearing wall, with the door shut.
The Upstairs test is taken one storey up and roughly 15 metres away from the access point, with another wall in between. The Garden tests were taken roughly 20 metres away from where the WAX214 was set up, with two doors and a wall in the way.
A lot of the time, I’d fail to pick up a connection, but when I did, I saw some OK results on the Realme – I couldn’t connect to the WAX214 on my Huawei at all in the garden.
If you were in any doubts about the benefits of getting WiFi 6 networking gear for the home or the office, the results above and below ought to do the trick – the latest WiFi standard offers both faster wireless speeds and greater range.
|Wi-Fi 5 test||2.4GHz||5GHz|
|5m with a wall||160Mbps||566Mbps|
|Upstairs, near the read of the house||78Mbps||67Mbps|
The Netgear WAX214 is available to buy now for around £110 or US$120.
Buyers in the US can pick up the WAX214 for US$119.99 from Amazon and again, you can pick up a WAX214 with a mains adapter bundled in for US$129.99. If both Netgear and Amazon’s out of stock, Newegg has it for US$119.99, but apparently without a mains adapter included.
Check out our chart of the best Wi-Fi routers.
The Netgear WAX214 represents great value for money. It’s easy to use and configure, and offers impressive Wi-Fi 6 speeds, especially on the 5GHz band.
Drawbacks include no mobile app support, although this will likely not bother everyone, it means you can’t get a quick, at-a-glance look at your network from your phone.
Plus, the fact that UK units don’t give you the option to bundle in a mains adapter if you need one. Most people buying this likely won’t need one, but it’d be nice to have the option.
Small, lightweight and discreet, the Netgear WAX214 could comfortably moonlight as a Wi-Fi extender for the home too, although unless you’ve got an Ethernet switch, or are prepared to invest in a really, really long Ethernet cable, a mesh Wi-Fi system like the Netgear Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 might be more of what you’re after.
Netgear WAX214: Specs
- 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) 2x2 dual-band
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- Guest Wi-Fi
- Up to 4 SSIDs
- Wi-Fi management (Channel HT modes, wireless channel management)
- Traffic management
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