It’s a question that needs to be asked: when you’re looking to upgrade your network, why wouldn’t you immediately choose Cisco? For the second straight year, Cisco 802.11ac Wave 2 Access Points crushed their competitors in an independent test.

Miercom, a nonpartisan testing lab, recently pit the Cisco Aironet 2800 and 3800 Access Points against the Aruba AP-335 APs to see which company has the better 802.11ac Wave 2 device. The answer: it’s not even close.

When testing, Miercom focused on five distinctive areas:

• Throughput with up to 150 clients
• Maximum video-streaming clients
• Multi User-Multi Input, Multi-Output (MU-MIMO) support
• Auto radio frequency assignment abilities
• Ability to assess and adjust to interference

The Cisco Aironet 2800 and 3800 proved that it was the right access points for all of these jobs. The Aruba AP-335 wasn’t anywhere near the Aironet 3800 in terms of maximum AP throughput. In its dual-band mode, the Cisco Aironet 3800 measured 1014 Mbps of throughput compared to 717 Mbps for Aruba. When both radios supported a 5GHz band, the Aironet 3800 “achieved an impressive 1,688 Mbps throughput with two 5GHz clients,” the report stated.

In testing geared to supporting 150 clients, the Aironet 2800 trounced the AP-335. The Cisco AP’s aggregate throughput was 807.5 running on dual 5GHz radios and 558 running on dual 2.4/5GHz. The Aruba throughput was 484.5 running on dual 2.4/5GHz, the Aruba throughput was limited because Aruba APs do not support both radios operating in 5GHz.

Unwanted interference can greatly harm the quality of the Wi-Fi network. Out of four non-Wi-Fi interference sources, Aruba only identified two. The Cisco Aironet 2800 found all four sources, and adjusted the channel accordingly to avoid to the interferer.

When it came to assessing and adjusting for unwanted Wi-Fi interference aka excessive coverage, Miercom stated, “Only Cisco’s dual-band Cisco Aironet AP can dynamically reconfigure its 2.4GHz radio to be a 5GHz radio and run both simultaneously, significantly increasing channels and 5GHz device throughput.”

Aruba’s Adaptive Radio Management (ARM) doesn’t come close to matching the awesomeness that is Cisco’s Flexible Radio Assignment (FRA). Miercom reported that Aruba’s distributed ARM produced “inconsistent results”. Using FRA, Cisco found additional channels by automatically switching radios from 2.4GHz to 5Ghz. Also, each access point makes Aruba’s ARM decisions, while Cisco’s FRA decisions are made at the Wireless LAN Controller. This resulted in “a more stable set of channel choices across all six cooperating APs.”

Even when Aruba holds the edge, Miercom concluded that it wasn’t a big deal. For instance, the Aruba AP-335 supports four MU-MIMO spatial streams to the Cisco Aironet 2800 Access Point. But Miercom said, “this [feature] offers no advantage over the Cisco 2800 AP.”

Last year Miercom found that the Cisco Aironet 1830 and 1850 Access Points were demonstratively better than the Aruba and Ruckus access points.

To read about this year’s results, please click here to visit Miercom’s site and download the report for yourself.


Byron Magrane

Product Manager, Marketing