The new Meraki 802.11n access points, called the MR16 and MR12, offer better WiFi performance and a lower price than the old models.
The new Meraki MR16 802.11n access point delivers improved
performance at a much lower price point than its previous models, while
seamlessly supporting all the WiFi features offered via Meraki's Cloud
The MR16 is one of two new access points based on Atheros'
fourth-generation 802.11n chipset that Meraki released this month, the other
being the MR12.
Intended to replace Meraki's previous flagship indoor models
(the MR14 and MR11), the new APs are much more affordable while continuing to
deliver all the enterprise-oriented features Meraki has delivered over the last
year through its Cloud
I tested the MR16-Meraki's new dual-radio, dual-band 802.11n AP-which supplants
the MR14. Like the MR14, the MR16 features a 2-receive-by-2-transmit-chain MIMO
(multiple input, multiple output) implementation. The single-radio MR12 (which
I did not test) replaces the MR11 in Meraki's inventory.
The lower price is the most apparent advantage of the new models, as Meraki
lists the MR16 for $649 (compared with $799 for the MR14), while the MR12 lists
for $399 (compared with $599 for the MR11). As with the old models, however,
each MR16 also requires a license (which includes product support, maintenance
and upgrades) for use with the Cloud Controller, which needs to be factored
into the cost analysis. For each type of AP, Cloud Controller licenses cost
$150 for one year or $300 for three years.
The MR16 features a slimmer chassis design, measuring in at 7.3 by 5.8 by 1.0
inches and 17 ounces, whereas the old MR14 is 18.5 by 6.6 by 1.7 inches and 27
ounces. To make everything fit in the slimmer chassis, Meraki moved to a single
circuit board design inside. This reduced the component count from the old
model, which had a main board, a daughter card and a cabled connection to an
The MR16 is rated for a slight reduction in maximum power draw, specifying a
maximum power draw of 10.5 watts, compared with 11.6 watts for the MR14. Like
its predecessor, the MR16 supports 802.3af-compliant Power over Ethernet, but
the MR16 also adds a DC power port for use with an optional power adapter (sold
separately for $29).
The integrated omnidirectional antenna in the MR16 promises more gain than its
predecessor, as the specification sheet enumerates a 3 dBi gain in the 2.4GHz
band and 5 dBi in the 5GHz band (compared with 2 dBi at 2.4GHz and 4 dBi at 5GHz
in the MR14).
To glean some of the performance gains promised by the MR16, I used AirMagnet
Survey PRO 8.0 to take before-and-after measurements of a single-AP network
deployed in the harsh and busy RF airspace of eWEEK's San
Francisco offices. I first measured the performance of
an MR14 and then measured performance of a new MR16 deployed in the same spot
with the same configuration-measuring downlink PHY data rate and the download
iPerf performance delivered via both models.
In areas furthest from the AP (100 feet away or so), the
data rate oscillated between 24M and 48M bps in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz band
for the MR14, which returned around 10M-bps iPerf download performance for each
band. Conversely, for the MR16 in the 5GHz band, AirMagnet Survey PRO returned
data rates measured at 120M bps at the same distance, translating to iPerf
download performance between 16M and 20M bps (at right, in photo). However, the
MR16 fared worse at the longest distances in the 2.4GHz band.
Both bands saw increased download throughput performance
within 20 to 50 feet of the MR16, however, which likely will be the more
applicable data point for indoor enterprise deployments. The increase in PHY
was much more significant in the 5GHz band.
In my tests, the MR16 worked with my account on Meraki's
Cloud Controller, automatically deploying my network settings to the new AP
once I licensed it. The new AP also seamlessly worked with other recent Meraki
Cloud Controller features like the Lobby Ambassador or the application Traffic
Shaping feature that impressed me during a previous
According to Meraki officials, there are no new applications
delivered via the Cloud Controller that work only with the MR16 or MR12 at this
time, so administrators should be able to mix old and new APs in the same
network without worrying about feature parity.
The MR16 is already WiFi-certified, and the full
certification details can be seen
Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.