While doing research on the Ruckus website for the R710, I noticed the statement of “Up to 2 times extended range and coverage with Ruckus BeamFlex technology.” Challenge accepted! To evaluate this claim we used a distributed client test, which determines the AP’s downstream performance when its clients are spread near and far, from excellent to marginal signal strength and points in between. This test simulates the performance of the AP in a typical enterprise, carpeted environment.
The Distributed Client Throughput Test
In this test, ten identical 802.11ac clients (Samsung Galaxy S2 tablets) were placed at various distances from the AP. The signal strengths ranged from approximately -35dBm (right next to the AP) to -80dBm (about 60 feet away) at about 5 dBm intervals. Some locations were more challenged than others, due to interior walls and other obstacles between the client and the AP.
This test is different than the standard rate-at-range test, in which the throughput at each client location is tested independently. This test evaluates the throughput of each client at each location by using IxChariot to blast data to all clients simultaneously.
To be fair, this test doesn’t test the claim that BeamFlex provides “up to 2 times extended range and coverage.” I wasn’t sure two times what and didn’t evaluate the extent of the BeamFlex reach. I didn’t see the point. Testing out to -80dBm is already past the limit of good network design.
Ruckus R710 Benchmark Results
While the Ruckus R710 has better performance at the closer locations (1-5 & 8), it had worse performance most of the furthest locations (6, 7, 9, and 10). This is counter to what I expected. If you believe the BeamFlex claim, you expect it to assist the clients furthest from the AP, but it looks like it actually helped the performance of the closest clients.
Is BeamFlex Worth It?
The Ruckus R710 is known for its good performance. In this test where one would expect the R710 with BeamFlex to shine, we see that its highs were higher than the C-120, but the lows were lower. Overall, the Mojo C-120 performs on par with the R710, coming to within 5% of its aggregate performance.
This is no surprise, as the C-120 contains state-of-the-art components and design. If BeamFlex provided significantly better performance at the furthest distances, a case could be made that the R710 is worth the added expense. No one ever complains that their WiFi performance is too good. They do complain when it is too slow. Given that its performance at distance is worse and that it is significantly more expensive, why would you pay more for BeamFlex?