Jan 17, 2024
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Ubiquiti Networks Introduces U7 Pro: First UniFi Wi-Fi 7 Access Point Scores on Affordability

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The market launch of Ubiquiti's first Wi-Fi 7 product in their UniFi lineup has been hotly anticipated since its FCC filings became public late last year. Unlike traditional consumer gear, Ubiquiti's UniFi lineup of software-defined networking products targets prosumers, businesses, and enterprises by splitting the functionality of a traditional home Wi-Fi router into separate gateways, switches, and access points. This allows end-users to update different components at different points in time based on requirements. This makes sense for many large-area deployments, as the pace of technological advancements in the wireless space and wired space are quite different.

Ubiquiti's UniFi lineup is generally not known for being on the cutting-edge, which makes it suitable for scenarios where stability and scalability are more important than raw performance. Wi-Fi 7 products have been around for a while, even from vendors operating in the same space as Ubiquiti Networks. Ubiquiti is taking a very different approach to Wi-Fi 7 by introducing an affordable model first up.

The U7 Pro, priced at just $ 189, eschews the 4×4 radio configurations driving up the price of other Wi-Fi 7 APs / wireless routers. Instead, it opts for 2×2 radios in 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz bands, allowing it to retail at a sub-$ 200 price point. This ceiling-mount AP covers up to 1500 sq. ft, and supports more than 300 clients. It is equipped with a single 2.5 GbE port and uses the same port for power. A PoE+ switch is required on the uplink side, as the U7 Pro has a maximum power consumption of 21W.

The 2×2 configuration in each radio allows up to 688 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band, 2882 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, and up to 5765 Mbps on the 6 GHz band. The 6 GHz band supports the high throughput thanks to the use of 240 and 320 MHz-wide channels as per the 802.11be (Wi-Fi 7) standard.

The UniFi U7 Pro utilizes a Qualcomm Wi-Fi 7 chipset – most likely the Networking Pro 620 series with the IPQ9554 WiSoC (quad-core Cortex-A73 @ 1.5 GHz) and the QCN9272 / 6272 Waikiki series of radios. There is an Immersive Home Wi-Fi 7 platform from Qualcomm with similar radio support for 6 streams, but using a quad-core Cortex A53 @ 1.5 GHz. We have reached out to Ubiquiti to confirm the actual platform, though our educated guess leans towards the Networking Pro 620.

The U7 Pro requires either a UniFi Console running UniFi OS v3.2+ with UniFi Network application v8.0.7 or newer, or a self-hosted controller running UniFi Network v8.0.7+. Bluetooth is notably absent from the specifications, which may be an impediment to some users who have adopted Ubiquiti's line of Bluetooth-enabled sensors that rely on APs with BT support to integrate with the rest of the UniFi network. Another aspect to keep in mind is that the 2×2 operation in the 5 GHz band means that the theoretically available bandwidth in that spectrum (2882 Mbps) is lower than the equivalent in the U6 Pro (which has a 4×4 configuration in the same band for 4.8 Gbps). This may influence deployment choice based on the mix of client devices expected to connect to the AP. Multi-Link Operation (MLO), which is one of the key advantages of Wi-Fi 7 over Wi-Fi 6, is also scheduled to appear only in a later firmware update even though the product is available for purchase today.

AnandTech

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