With radio technology that provides enough range to cover a multi-level house with a throughput of 4.8Gbps at best, Zyxel’s NWA220AX-6E is value for money for a WiFi 6E access point.
Supports either 5GHz or 6GHz band
Why you can trust TechRadar
The Zyxel NWA220AX-6E WiFi 6E Wireless Access Point (WAP) increases the bandwidth of a home or small office network by more than twice that of a WiFi 6 infrastructure. The installation becomes simple through Zyxel’s mobile application, which can also manage other Zyxel network appliances. The NWA220AX supports PoE over a 2.5Gbps Ethernet uplink port and an additional 1Gbps port that can connect to nearby APs to extend the range of the network.
With an exceptional internal antenna offering up to 6dBi of gain and extra boost using an RF amplifier, the NWA220AX offers a range better than the competition, even at 6GHz. A 4x4 radio architecture yields an aggregated bandwidth of 4800Mbps on paper, but the hardware limits WiFi utilization to only one particular band, thus bringing the bandwidth to 2400Mbps. The lack of a power adapter decreases the out-of-box experience when used without a PoE switch.
Zyxel NWA220AX-6E: Availability
The Zyxel NWA220AX-6E access point is available for $150 on Amazon. The price includes access to the Nebula cloud, allowing monitoring of the WiFi network from any place at any time.
Zyxel NWA220AX-6E: Design
The NWA220AX ships only with a mounting kit and can be placed either horizontally on a ceiling or vertically on a wall. The white plastic case measures 180 x 180 x 42 mm for 650g. The passively cooled unit has tiny openings at the back to increase heat dissipation to the environment and draws a maximum of 21W over PoE.
CPU: Dual-core Qualcomm IPQ5018 CPU
Storage: 512MB NAND
Radios: Dual 4x4 for 5GHz and 6GHz. One 2x2 for 2.4GHz
Wireless throughput: Theoretical 4800Mbps, 2400Mbps practical
Ports: 2.5Gb Ethernet with PoE. 1Gb Ethernet
Dimensions: 180 mm x 180 mm x 42 mm
Power Consumption: 21W under full load
The NWA220AX has a single multicolored LED on the front, providing visual cues such as if the AP is accessible over the Internet or if clients connect to WiFi. The back holds three sockets, with two to connect to the LAN infrastructure. The primary uplink socket supports PoE at 2.5Gbps bandwidth. A second LAN port supports 1Gbps, and a third port provides power from a 12V DC source.
The Zyxel access point features a 1GHz dual-core ARM CPU with 1GB of DDR3 RAM and 512MB of flash memory as application storage. The star attraction of the NWA220AX is the WiFi 6E radio, providing over 2400Mbps over the new 6GHz band. The same radio is responsible for the 5GHz band but cannot cover both simultaneously. The internal PCB antenna offers a gain of 6dBi at 6GHz, translating to over ten meters range at over 200Mbps throughput.
The NWA220AX-6E access point boots quickly and emits SSIDs within one minute. The front LED tells the current status of the access point. For example, when clients connect to it, the LED will light as solid green; if there is a problem with the hardware, it will be solid red. The unit gets slightly warm on the bottom.
Zyxel NWA220AX-6E: In Use
Installing the Zyxel AP is as simple as connecting the device to a PoE switch with at least a 1 Gb Ethernet. The NWA220AX-6E performs best with a 2.5Gb connection. If using a low-quality Ethernet cable, the AP will throttle the link-up speed to 100Mbps. Competitive products are more forgivable and will link up to 1Gbps with the same low-quality cable.
Access point configuration is done through the mobile application or the Nebula webpage. The app, available on both Apple and Android stores, requires subscribing to Zyxel cloud first. A new unit is first registered by scanning a QR code at the back of the unit using the mobile app. In most cases, the user must upgrade the AP to the latest firmware.
The NWA220AX-6E is best configured through Zyxel’s cloud portal. Options such as radio bands are only available through the website and not on the mobile application. Other advantages of the cloud portal are controlling other Zyxel devices and a one-year license for the professional pack. Pro-pack increases the productivity of small businesses by offering Email alert notifications and automatic visual topology of the network.
The access point's performance was tested using a Samsung S23 Ultra smartphone with Iperf 2 running on the HE NET application. The Zyxel AP then connects to a Linux host running the server side of Iperf through a 2.5Gb Ethernet switch. The fastest throughput was obtained at one meter from the AP, at 1.15Gb/s. At 5m, the throughput drops to 600Mb/s, which finally reaches 200Mb/s at 10m. Tests were done using WiFi 6E with a 160MHz bandwidth.
Zyxel NWA220AX-6E: The competition
The NWA220AX-6E offers a combined bandwidth of 5400Mb/s and should be enough for small businesses or work-from-home individuals. Its low power consumption is also great, representing about $42 annually in North America when it is always on. Access points are available with similar hardware but priced much higher. With a good antenna and technical support, it is hard to find flaws in Zyxel's latest WiFi 6E offering.
The access point that resembles the most the NWA220AX-6E is the Ubiquity U6 Enterprise. At $279, it costs almost twice as much as the Zyxel AP and offers little improvement over the latter, except for the higher-power radio. As a result, the U6 will also consume more when compared to the NWA220AX-6E. The Zyxel AP compensates for a lower output power by having excellent radio receiver sensitivity.
|Header Cell - Column 0
|Ubiquity U6 Enterprise
|Max power consumption
|Number of Ports
|2.5Gbps PoE. 1 Gbps
Zyxel NWA220AX-6E: Final verdict
Zyxel’s NWA220AX-6E will get the job done on day one. It is on paper speedy with an advertised throughput of 4800 Mbps, but we could not get past 1.2Gbps even while using a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port. The access point also cannot have both 5GHz and 6GHz channels working concurrently, thus decreasing the utility of the AP in the new 6GHz bandwidth.
The NWA220AX-6E works smoothly in Zyxel’s Nebula cloud ecosystem. The user can also reach the device through the mobile application. Overall, at a price point of less than $200, Zyxel’s new WiFi 6E access point is worth getting to upgrade an existing network.
Buy it if
You need a fast WiFi access point that is reasonably priced while featuring cloud access.
Don’t buy it if
Your network contains a mixture of WiFi 6 and 6E devices since the NWA220AX-6E supports only one type when operating.
Jacques Laurent is passionate about electronics and semiconductors.