Friday, February 20, 2015

Cisco Meraki MR34 review


1)Intro
2)Features
3)Setup
4)Wireless configuration
5)Throughput tests (Wireless/Wired)
6)Firmware notes
7)Closing Notes
Intro: The Cisco Meraki MR34 is a enterprise level wireless access point that is affordable for small to medium businesses, has lots of features, is cloud managed so it can be controlled and administrated from any computer with an internet connection, and can tolerate a lot of heavy usage that enterprises require.  
Features: The MR34 features the following:
1) Dual band 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz operation with 3 x 3 MIMO connectivity at up to 1.75Gbps with dedicated 3rd radio for Air Marshall/WIDS/Spectrum (Note: 3rd radio only works in 802.3at mode and NOT in 802.3.af mode!)
2) 1 wired Gigabit LAN/PoE port (802.3at/af)
3) 4 3x3 mimo  x 5dBi  dual band internal antennas with 20dBm output power for great wireless coverage
4) SSIDs with configurable VLANs for each one providing more security then standard guest networks
5) Full VLAN configuration
6) Full and extremely detailed traffic shaping (QoS) and firewall controls (L3 and L7)
7) Fixed and DHCP client address assignments
8) Fully customizable user/group policies
9) And lots more
Setup:
1) Power is over injector or PoE ports
2) Setup is done over Meraki cloud controller and is able to be done before you get the AP so it’s plug n play!
Let's take a look at the really helpful status page that tells us all our status.

Wireless Configuration:
Here’s the WLAN config screens:
Radio Settings:

Security Settings:

The MR34 supports WPA/WPA2 and supports PSK and Enterprise authentication types that can be different for each SSID. Selecting “Enterprise” allows you to use Meraki Authentication, which allows you to define a username and password rather then a static key, allowing for more fine control over your wireless network. User based controls allow you to define limits PER USER so that if let’s say, they get fired, you just delete thier user account and not have to change the ENTIRE NETWORK’S encryption key.
Traffic Shaping:
You can do traffic shaping to make sure each client has equal bandwidth and also to make sure certain clients that are more important have more bandwidth then other clients like important servers, mission critical workstations, etc. Very useful.

RF analytics:
Note: There is a 3rd radio for spectrum, however you need an 802.3AT power source and will NOT work with 802.3af
This is a very neat feature of the MR34. You can see a real time spectrograph of the RF!
Pros: awesome display and eliminates the need to always have spectrum tools all the time
Cons: does not list sources of non 802.11 interference like bluetooth, xbox, cordless phone, baby monitors, etc
 



Updated note: I just got a response from someone at Cisco Meraki and here's what they do have to say about the RF monitor:

The RF Spectrum page DOES show all the interference, it's just that it's not deciphering those into various types in the UI. However, interference from non 802.11 sources IS included in the Auto RF channel assessment.
Throughput Tests: (Wireless)
I will be using LAN Speed test for the throughput tests and PRTG to generate the graphs. It also is a comprehensive enterprise level network monitoring software and it can record uptime, transfer rates, errors, etc.
Test environment: (Set 1)
Specs of Building: This is going through about 32 ft through 2 walls, a solid all-wood dresser, and a chimney. The room has plaster walls in some places.
Specs of server :(my machine in the same room as theMR34): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client: (remote machine in other room): AGNXAndrakon/AMD Phenom 9650/4GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Amped Wireless ACA1 USB WLAN connection:USB3 via a PCI-Express addon card.
5Ghz 802.11anac mode: Channel 149+ -52dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 34Mbytes/sec or 272Mbits/sec

2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 11 -45dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 10Mbytes/sec or 80Mbits/sec

Test environment: (Set 2)
Specs of Building Test Run 1: 16Ft away thru a wood door hallway right outside the office where the MR34 is located.
Specs of server (my machine in the same room as theMR34): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client: HP2000-412NR/AMD E300/8GB DDR3 RAM/300 GB HDD/AMD RADEON 6310/Windows 7 x64 Home Premium/RalinkRT5390 WLAN

2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 11 -27dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 6Mbytes/sec or 48Mbits/sec

Same laptop with Edimax AC600 (channel 149+ -51dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 12Mbytes/sec or 96Mbits/sec

Test environment: (Set 3)
Specs of server :(my machine in the same room as theMR34): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client (Downstairs 35ft thru 3 walls and a staircase): HP /Core 2 Duo/2GB DDR2 RAM/20GB HD/Intel GMA/Windows 7 x64 Home Premium/NETGEAR A6200 WiFi USB3.0 Adapter
5Ghz 802.11anac mode: Channel 149+ -42dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 16Mbytes/sec or 128Mbits/sec

2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 11 -52dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 8Mbytes/sec or 64Mbits/sec

Conclusion:
Pros:

  • Excellent management software with lots of options
  • Very solid connectivity
  • Very high throughput
  • Cloud controller makes stuff easy as plug in play with remote deployment
  • Very robust security controls and options



Cons:
  • No non-802.11 RF interference in spectrum analysis
  • No error rate details on clients

Rating:  9/10
Recommended: Yes

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