Best Budget Access Point – Top Picks & Expert Guide 2024

These days we basically can’t do without a wireless network in our house. An access point is often built into a router, but its range might not be sufficient. To expand your wireless network, you will need an access point, but what are the best budget access points on the market?

I often recommend UniFi network gear for home networks, they make great access points, but prices start around $100. You don’t always need or want to spend that much money for an access point. Luckily, some budget models are also a great option.

In this article, I will explain what features the access point needs to have at least, list some of the best budget access points, and also give you some alternative options.

What Makes a Good Budget Access Point

Before we are going to take a look at the best budget access points, let’s first take a look at some features that we need to look for. Because even though we are on a budget, we still want to have the best performance possible for our access point.

The first is really a non-negotiable feature, dual-band capability. This allows devices to connect over the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequency, resulting in optimal bandwidth distribution and reduced interference.

Access points that support Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) are usually the baseline because of their enhanced speed and reliability over the older Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) technology. Even when looking for the best budget access point, we look for Wi-Fi 5 support to ensure a future-proof investment.

And the last important feature we will be looking at is the user-friendliness. An ideal budget access point should also offer a straightforward setup process and be user-friendly, so you don’t need advanced technical skills to manage it.

Best Budget Access Points

Below you will find the best budget-friendly access points that you can buy at the moment. Each of them offers a great throughput (speed), is easy to install, and doesn’t cost more than $50.

TP-Link EAP223

TP-Link EAP223 – AC1350 Gigabit Wireless Access Point
  • 【Superior Speeds with MU-MIMO】Designed with the latest 802.11ac Wave 2 MU-MIMO technology, the EAP223 reliably delivers dual-band Wi-Fi speeds up to 1350 Mbps to multiple devices simultaneously.

If you are looking to extend your wireless network without breaking the bank, then the TP-Link EAP223 is a great choice for its performance and value.

The TP-Link EAP223 has been nothing short of impressive. Installing the access point is a breeze, and its support for both 802.3af/at PoE, allows you to connect to the access point with only an ethernet cable. (you will need a PoE-capable switch, however)

You have a couple of options when it comes to configuring the EAP223. For large installations, the best option is to use the Omada SDN Controller. But for small home networks, you can install and configure the access point with the free Omada App or by using the browser.

Also worth noting, while some additional features such as Mesh WiFi and Seamless Roaming add value, they do hinge on having other SDN-compatible devices. This could mean additional investments if you’re planning to leverage everything the EAP223 has to offer fully.

Pros

  • Multi-device support with MU-MIMO technology
  • Easy to manage with the Omada App
  • Simplified installation thanks to multiple PoE options
  • Supports wireless mesh network

Cons

  • No PoE adapter is included in the package

This access point is really one of the best budget access points on the market. It’s affordable, has great coverage and it’s easy to manage, and the price is below $50.

TP-Link AC1200

TP-Link AC1200 WiFi Router – Dual Band Wireless Internet Router
  • Simultaneous 2.4GHz 300 Mbps and 5GHz 867 Mbps connections for 1200 Mbps of total available bandwidth¹.Processor : Single-Core CPU. Buttons : WPS/Wi-Fi Button, Power On/Off Button, Reset Button.
  • 4 external antennas provide stable wireless connections and optimal coverage
  • Supports IGMP Proxy/Snooping, Bridge and Tag VLAN to optimize IPTV streaming
  • Access Point Mode – Supports AP Mode to transform your wired connection into wireless network, an ideal wireless router for home

If you’re in need of expanding your wireless coverage without stretching your wallet, the TP-Link AC1200 should be on your radar. The AC1200 is a router and access point in one. This means that it can replace your router as well. But it also has an Access Point Mode, which turns this device into a full access point

The TP-Link AC1200 offers a fast and stable WiFi network throughout your house. The inclusion of MU-MIMO technology means that multiple users can browse or stream without interruption.

The AP’s multiple modes, including range extender and multi-SSID, give you the versatility to shape your network in a way that best suits your needs. Configuring the device is intuitive; even without the manual in the box, the QR code setup gets you up and running in minutes.

Pros

  • MU-MIMO technology allows efficient streaming on multiple devices
  • Multiple operation modes
  • WPA3 support

Cons

  • Initial firmware may require updates for optimal performance
  • The absence of a manual could be a challenge for non-tech-savvy users
  • Dependence on external antennas might limit placement options

The access points wireless coverage and the breeze of setup confirmed its value. Despite some drawbacks, such as the potential need for firmware updates and the reliance on external antennas, makes the TP-Link AC1200 a worthwhile investment for anyone keen to extend their home network on a budget.

Amazon Eero Mesh WiFi

Amazon eero mesh WiFi router
  • FAST STANDALONE ROUTER – The eero mesh WiFi router brings up to 1,500 sq. ft. of fast, reliable WiFi to your home.
  • WORKS WITH ALEXA- With eero and an Alexa device (not included), you can easily manage wifi access for network profiles to take focus away from screens and back to what’s important.
  • EASILY EXPAND YOUR SYSTEM – With cross-compatible hardware, you can add eero products as your needs change.
  • WORKS WITH YOUR INTERENT SERVICE PROVIDER- eero replaces your wifi router and works with most major internet service providers.

The Eero Mesh WiFi Router from Amazon is also a great option when you are looking for a budget access point. We are looking at the older model of the Eero, the newer one, the 6+, costs more than $100, so that is not really a budget option.

The Eero system gives you a hassle-free experience. Right out of the box, the Eero app leads you through a streamlined setup process. Within minutes, you will have a robust wireless network signal throughout your house.

However, it’s not without its limitations. For users with advanced networking needs, eero’s more complex features are part of a paid subscription, which might not sit well with everyone. But even without a subscription, you still get a powerful access point, that is easy to configure.

Pros

  • Setup is a breeze, taking mere minutes with the intuitive app.
  • Alexa integration allows for seamless voice control and smart home integration.
  • TrueMesh technology effectively reduces dead zones and drop-offs.

Cons

  • Advanced network features are locked behind a subscription service.
  • Compatibility limitations with certain existing hardware setups.

The Eero Mesh WiFi offers a straightforward setup and reliable performance. It’s geared towards users who value ease of use and are okay with the coverage area or buying additional units for larger spaces. Just be prepared to invest in a subscription if you need the advanced features.

UniFi 6 Lite

Sale
Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Lite Access Point | US Model | PoE Adapter not Included (U6-Lite-US)
  • 2×2 high-efficiency Wi-Fi 6
  • 5 GHz band 2×2 MU-MIMO and OFDMA with radio rate of 1.2 Gbps
  • 2.4 GHz band 2×2 MIMO with radio rate of 300 Mbps

This access point costs more than the $50 I mentioned in the beginning. But I just wanted to show you what you can get for a price of around $100. The UniFi 6 Lite is really the entry-level access point from Ubiquiti, but it’s a powerful one.

UniFi access points offer great performance and are easy to manage. You can install the access points as a standalone device, or use a controller, like the UniFi Express to manage your entire network.

Pros

  • Compact design and aesthetics blend seamlessly into the environment
  • Efficient Wi-Fi 6 technology ensures fast and reliable connectivity
  • Installation is straightforward and supports various mounting accessories

Cons

  • A power over Ethernet (PoE) adapter is required but not included
  • Expensive compared to the other access points in this article

The Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Lite’s small stature hides a powerful performance that has easily managed to keep all your devices connected without a hitch. Whether you are streaming, gaming, or transferring large files, the speed and stability never fails.

It supports the new WiFi 6 standard, offering a great throughput, and can handle more devices than the other access points. The only downside of the U6 Lite is that it comes without a PoE adapter. You can only power it using Power over Ethernet, so you will either need a switch that offers PoE or buy the adapter for it.

TP-Link AC1200 – Extender

Sale
TP-Link AC1200 WiFi Extender – 2023
  • Extend Wi-Fi Coverage : Boost Internet Wi-Fi Coverage up to 1500 Square feet and connects up to 30 devices – Compatible with any Wifi Router or access point¹²
  • Fast Ethernet Port: Experience wired speed and reliability anywhere in your home by connecting your favorite device to the fast ethernet port.
  • Access Point Mode: The Ethernet port of RE315 can easily turn your wired Internet connection into a wireless access point. It can also function as a wireless adapter to connect wired devices, like Blu-ray player, game console or smart TV

When you need to extend your wireless network, and looking for a budget solution, then an extender might be an option. I will explain more about the differences between an access point and an extender later in the article, make sure you read that as well!

The TP-Link AC1200 RE315 is a great option when you are looking for an extender. Setting it up is a breeze with the simple instructions and you can quickly enjoy the improved Wi-Fi coverage across your house.

The RE315 also supports TP-Link’s OneMesh system, allowing you to create a unified network across your home. However, you will need a OneMesh-compatible TP-Link router to make use of this feature. If you don’t have one, it won’t be a deal-breaker, but it’s something to be mindful of when considering this extender.

The RE315 does not offer extensive customization options for the extended network, restricting how much tweaking you can do. For tech-savvies wanting to fine-tune their networks, this might be a drawback, but for most, the ease of use will outweigh this limitation.

Pros

  • Effective whole-home coverage
  • Fast Ethernet port for wired connection
  • Universal compatibility with Wi-Fi devices

Cons

  • Limited control over extended network features
  • 2.4 GHz band may be congested in busy areas
  • OneMesh feature depends on compatible TP-Link routers

Overall, the TP-Link AC1200 RE315 is a great budget access point to extend your home network.

Other Options

When you are looking for the best budget access point, there are other options you can explore as well. Adding a new access point to your network isn’t always needed. Sometimes you can solve the issue with one of those options:

Using an Old Router as an Access Point

If you have an old router lying around, it could potentially serve as an access point. By connecting it to your main router via ethernet cable and disabling DHCP, you can give a new life to old hardware. This method not only saves money but also reduces electronic waste.

Steps to convert an old router to an access point:

  • Reset the old router to factory settings.
  • Disable the DHCP server in the old router settings.
  • Assign a static IP address within the main router’s subnet.
  • Connect the old router to the main router using an Ethernet cable.
  • Configure the wireless settings (SSID, security, etc.) to match or complement the main router.

Access Point vs Extender

Extenders are often a lot cheaper then an access point. But before you buy an extender, it’s important to understand the difference between an access point and a range extender.

An access point creates a new wireless network. It’s connected to the router via a wired connection, offering stability and speed. In contrast, a range extender wirelessly picks up the existing signal and rebroadcasts it, potentially halving the bandwidth which might lead to slower speeds.

FeatureAccess PointRange Extender
Connection to RouterWired (Ethernet)Wireless
SpeedsPotentially higher speedsCan be slower due to bandwidth halving
StabilityMore stable connectionLess stable compared to access points
CostCan be more expensiveGenerally affordable, plug-and-play
PlacementCan be tailored with strategic placementDependent on router’s existing signal strength

Wrapping Up

When looking for the best budget access point, it’s important to keep the minimal requirements in mind. A cheap access point that only supports the older WiFi 4 protocols, isn’t going to help you, and will cost you only extra money in the end.

I am not a big fan of WiFi extenders, because they often only cause roaming problems in-house and cut your throughput by 50%. I really recommend spending a few dollars more and getting an access point if possible.

I hope you liked this article, if you have any questions, just drop a comment below.

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