EnGenius ECW336 Review: Reliable but Overpriced

The new EnGenius ECW336 Cloud Managed Access Point, released late last year, is easily one of the most expensive APs on the market. Its $850 launch price makes the previous $600 ECW230 seem affordable.

Since then, its street cost has come down, but it’s still prohibitively expensive to those wanting to get multiple units to form a mesh system.

To justify the high cost, the new ECW336 includes a 5Gbps PoE port — the first I’ve seen in an access point — and has a 6GHz band. It’s the second Wi-Fi 6E access point I’ve tested after the Netgear WAX630E, which costs almost half the price.

Here’s the bottom line: While the EnGenius ECW336 did well in my testing, especially regarding reliability and Wi-Fi customization, it didn’t have the performance to match its hefty cost.

You can wait a bit longer for the price of 6E access points to come down — and they will consider Wi-Fi 7 is around the corner — or go with a couple of TP-Link Omada Wi-Fi 6 counterparts or the Netgear WAX630E and save a lot of money.

EnGenius ECW336 with Hand
Sharing the same physical size as the ECW230, the ECW336 is relatively compact, especially compared to the Netgear WAX630E.

EnGenius ECW336: Too much pressure on the 5GbE PoE port and the 6GHz band

In a way, the new ECW336 is the previous ECW230 model, plus the support for Wi-Fi 6E. And that’s it.

The two share the same physical shape, PoE standard, and mounting accessories. Neither includes a PoE injector or a power adapter, which is disappointing albeit common for business access points.

On the inside, both run the same firmware and therefore has similar setup processes, customization, and features.

And while the 5Gbps Multi-Gig port is a welcome improvement, it didn’t make a noticeable difference compared to the ECW230’s 2.5GbE port in my real-world testing.

With that, let’s check out the hardware specs. For comparison, I also put the Netgear Wi-Fi 6E access point, the physically much larger WAX630E, in the mix.

EnGenius ECW336 vs Netgear WAX630E vs ECW230: Hardware specification.

Netgear WAX630E Wi Fi 6E Access Point 11 EnGenius ECW336 out of Box EnGenius ECW230 Access Point 5
Name Netgear WAX630E Insight Managed Wi-Fi 6E Access Point EnGenius ECW336 Cloud Managed 
Wi-Fi 6E 4×4 Indoor Wireless Access Point
EnGenius ECW230 Cloud Managed 
Wi-Fi 6 4×4 Indoor Wireless Access Point
Model WAX630E ECW336 CW230
6GHz Band 2×2 AXE: Up to 2400Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4×4 AXE: Up to 4808Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
None
5GHz Band 4×4 AX: Up to 4800Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4×4 AX: Up to 2402Mbps
(20/40/80MHz)
4×4 AX: Up to 2402Mbps
(20/40/80MHz)
2.4GHz Band 2×2 AX: Up to 600Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4×4 AX: Up to 1148Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4×4 AX: Up to 1148Mbps
(20/40MHz)
DFS Channel Support Yes No Yes
Backward Compatibility 802.11ac/n/g/a/b 802.11ac/n/g/a/b 802.11ac/n/g/a/b
Power over Ethernet (PoE) 802.11bt
(PoE++)
802.11at
(PoE+)
802.11at
(PoE+)
PoE Power Consumption 27.64W 22.5W 19.5W
Network Ports 1x 2.5GbE Multi-Gig PoE 1x 5GbE Multi-Gig PoE 1x 2.5GbE Multi-Gig PoE
Wireless Security Methods WPA3, WPA2, WPA WPA3, WPA2, WPA WPA3, WPA2, WPA
Mobile App Netgear Insight EnGenious 
Cloud To-Go
EnGenious 
Cloud To-Go
Local Manage Support Yes
(single AP only)
No No
Cloud Managed Yes
(subscription required)
Yes
(free Basic Plan or paid Pro Plan)
Yes
(free Basic Plan or paid Pro Plan)
Dimensions (W x D x H) 10.49 x 10.56 x 2.18 in
(266.6 x 268.3 x 55.5 mm)
9.65 x 9.65 x 3.35 in
(245 x 245 x 85 mm)
 9.65 x 9.65 x 3.35 in 
(245 x 245 x 85 mm)
Weight 2.31 lb (1050 g)  1.31 lbs 
(597 g)
 1.31 lbs 
(597 g)
LED Power and Cloud,
LAN speed,
2.4GHz status,
5.0GHz status,
6.0GHz status
Power and Cloud,
LAN speed, 
2.4GHz status, 5.0GHz status,
6GHz status
Power and Cloud,
LAN speed, 
2.4GHz status, 5.0GHz status
US Price
(at launch)
$390 $850 $600
Hardware specification: Netgear WAX630E vs EnGenius ECW336 vs EnGenius ECW230

Specs-wise, compared to the previous ECW230 model, the new ECW336 is decidedly better. It has an additional 6GHz band and a faster network port yet uses the same PoE+ standard and remains similarly compact physically.

Compared to the Netgear counterpart, however, it’s a toss-up. The ECW336 now has a better 6GHz band but no support for DFS (hence the 160MHz channel width) on the 5GHz band, which is still the most popular.

Not a local access point

Like its predecessor, the ECW336 can’t work as a locally managed access point. It does have a web user interface, but there’s not much you can do with it other than viewing its status and upgrading the firmware.

EnGenius ECW336 Web Interface StatusEnGenius ECW336 Web Interface Local Settings
The EnGenius ECW336 has a local web user interface, but there’s not much you can do with it, and you can’t use it to create a Wi-Fi network.

Most importantly, you can’t use this local interface to create a Wi-Fi network, which is the minimum for it to work as an access point.

So to use the ECW336, you first need to log in with an EnGenious account and add the access point to it by using the EnGenious Cloud To-Go mobile app to scan the device’s QR code. A process that took less than five minutes.

Afterward, you can continue to use the app or log in via the EnGenious Cloud portal to manage the access point from anywhere in the world. And if you use multiple units n, you can mesh them into a single system.

Overall that’s a good thing.

The trade-off is that you can’t set up and use the access point without a live Internet connection or EnGenious. This type of cloud-connected approach means you never own the hardware outright. The privacy risks aside, you’ll be left with a deadweight if the vendor decides to no longer support it or goes out of business.

EnGenius ECW336: Detail photos

EnGenius ECW336 Box Content
The EnGenius ECW336 includes mounting accessories. But it doesn’t come with a PoE injector or a power adapter.

EnGenius ECW336 top on the floorEnGenius ECW336 underside on the floor
The top and bottom sides of the EnGenius ECW336

EnGenius ECW336 Ports
The 5Gbps Multi-Gig PoE port is one of the EnGenius ECW336’s selling points.

EnGenius ECW336 Top
Overall, the EnGenius ECW336 looks like a typical business Wi-Fi access point.

Mesh-ready with lots of Wi-Fi settings

As a business access point, the EnGenius ECW336 has all the settings an access point has to offer, though you can use it as the default settings. When multiple units are in place, you can mesh them into a seamless system.

The ECW336 supports up to 24 virtual SSIDs (Wi-Fi networks), eight per band, but you can also create a single SSIDs that features all three bands.

EnGenius ECW336 Web Interface DashboardEnGenius ECW336 Web Interface Captive Portal
The EnGenius ECW336 has a comprehensive cloud-based web user interface with lots of Wi-Fi settings, including the support of one captive portal per SSID.

For those thinking of offering a public Wi-Fi network, the access point features a captive portal per SSID, forcing users to agree to standard terms of service before getting connected.

The admin user can also manage connected clients and monitor their online activities in great detail using the web user interface or the mobile app.

In short, for general use, by default, the ECW336 has everything you’d need in an access point. And advanced and enterprise users can opt for the Pro Plan to get even more out of their Wi-Fi network.

EnGenius ECW336: Modest but reliable performance

I tested the EnGenius ECW336 for over a week and was generally happy with its performance. The AP proved reliable — we had no issue with disconnection — and delivered excellent coverage.

It’s hard to quantify the Wi-Fi range, but you can expect it to blanket some 2000 ft² (186m²) when placed at the center.

It’s important to note that the ranges of the bands vary, with the 2.4GHz having the longest reach and the 6GHz the shortest. And your mileage will differ depending on the environment.

EnGenius ECW336 Long Range Wi Fi PerformanceEnGenius ECW336 Close Range Wi Fi Performance
The EnGenius ECW336’s Wi-Fi performance is relatively modest compared to others, despite having the fastest PoE network port.

In terms of throughputs, the AP was disappointing, as shown in the charts above. Despite having a 5Gbps port, its sustained Wi-Fi speeds never reach Gig+.

While that was understandable on the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands — the latter is slow by nature, and the former can only connect at 1200Mbps to existing 2×2 clients — I expected the performance of the 6GHz to be better.

But considering my experience with the ECW230 and the Netgear WAX630E, the ECW336’s performance typifies business APs, where reliability is prioritized over sustained rates.

Pros

Reliable performance, excellent coverage

Easy-to-use, practical design, wall-mount-ready

Excellent basic (free) cloud-based management plan

Cons

Expensive; no power adapter or PoE injector included

Can’t work as a local-managed device

Wi-Fi throughputs could use some improvement

Conclusion

Cut the price in half, and the EnGenius ECW336 Cloud Managed Access Point would make a good purchase. With the current pricing, it doesn’t have the performance to match the current cost.

That aside, this is a reliable AP you can count on. So if you have one, you will likely be happy with it.

If you’re on a budget for a similar Wi-Fi experience, I recommend the TP-Link Omada family which will give you a lot more bang for your business buck.