In this post, we’re digging into Ubiquiti’s U7-Pro, UniFi’s first Wi-Fi 7 enabled access point. We’ll compare it with the U6 Pro, its predecessor, and run extensive speed tests to showcase its capabilities.
The U7 Pro
Ubiquiti’s U7 Pro is more than just an incremental update. With its Wi-Fi 7 capabilities, it utilizes the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz wireless spectrums together for the highest bandwidth we’ve seen in any access point to date. The previous model U6-Pro was Wi-Fi 6 which only has 2.4GHz and 5GHz capability. If you want Wi-Fi 6E, you need to purchase either the U6-Enterprise or U6-Enterprise-In-Wall.
The U7 Pro supports 2×2 MIMO across all frequencies, offering more bandwidth for Wi-Fi 7 devices. However, it does have less bandwidth in the 5 GHz frequency compared to the U6 Pro which is 4×4 MIMO in the 5GHz frequency.
The U7 Pro can support 300+ client devices, and boasts up to 5.7Gbps of theoretical maximum throughput in the 6GHz spectrum.
In terms of design, the U7 Pro has a similar diameter to the U6 Pro but is slightly thicker. A notable upgrade is its 2.5 gigabit Ethernet port, up from the U6 Pro’s gigabit port.
The U7 Pro requires PoE+ for power, reflecting its higher power requirement compared to the U6 Pro. Maximum power consumption is 21W, but I measured it at around 10W when idle.
Speed Tests and Performance
In my testing, I plugged the U7-Pro into a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port on my Pro Max switch. I also have a Zimaboard with a 10Gbps PCI add-on card plugged into another 2.5Gbps port on that same switch. The Zimaboard has OpenSpeedTest installed for the actual LAN testing.
For client devices, I am testing with the Google Pixel 8, which has Wi-Fi 7 capability. I’m also testing with my iPhone 13 Pro Max, which is Wi-Fi 6, so while it can’t take advantage of the 6GHz frequency, it is a solid device to test both the U7-Pro and U6-Pro.
U7 Pro / Google Pixel 8
In this first test, we can see the power of Wi-Fi 7 when paired with a Wi-Fi 7 capable device. These speeds were about double when compared to any of my other tests.
U7-Pro / iPhone 13 Pro Max
Here we can see what a Wi-Fi 6 iPhone looks like when running speed tests against the U7-Pro. These speeds are on par with what I would expect out of a Wi-Fi 6 access point.
U6-Pro / Google Pixel 8
This test was super interesting to me – it shows the power of the Google Pixel 8’s wireless capabilities with really impressive speeds against the older generation Wi-Fi 6 access point. The download speeds are equivalent to what I received with the iPhone 13 when testing against the U7-Pro, but the upload speeds are far better.
U6-Pro / iPhone 13 Pro Max
In this final test, we have the iPhone 13 up against the older generation U6-Pro. It performed about where I would expect.
All Together Now
Comparing all 4 of these tests, we can see that the U7-Pro when paired with a Wi-Fi 7 capable device (the Google Pixel 8) far outperforms any other testing scenario.
The Wi-Fi 7 standard hasn’t been fully ratified yet…but it’s close. It’s no longer in ‘draft’ form, and is just waiting on votes for the final version which should happen later in 2024, so at this point, it’s very safe to purchase without the chance of necessary changes to future versions of the U7-Pro. But while the results of my testing were impressive for the Google Pixel 7, I don’t really see a need to upgrade my existing Wi-Fi 6 access points. Why not? A few reasons – first of all, mostly I’m going to be downloading data from the Internet while streaming videos, or just generally surfing the web. My Internet connection is only 600Mbps, so it would bottleneck the performance of the U7-Pro right out of the gate.
Second, even if I had an Internet connection that wasn’t a bandwidth bottleneck, it’s incredibly rare that I would have a situation where I need to actually download or upload something that fast – maybe if I had a Wi-Fi 7 laptop that was capable of transferring files to a 10Gbps connected NAS that would be something where I could use all of this bandwidth, but I don’t have a Wi-Fi 7 capable laptop nor a 10Gbps connected NAS, so I have at least a year or two before those technologies catch up to the U7-Pro in my household.
Finally, one of the main advantages of Wi-Fi 7 vs. Wi-Fi 6 (or 6E) has to do with device density – or in other words, the ability for multi-hundreds of devices to speak with each other or the Internet without having to wait for airtime to clear before they send their packets. My household, and even most small to medium-sized businesses aren’t going to hit the threshold where Wi-Fi 7 is going to be an advantage over Wi-Fi 6 for many years. Once laptops, smartphones, IoT devices, and basically every device in the network is Wi-Fi 7 capable, then it’s worth upgrading.
But by all means – if you’re buying new and not upgrading, then I think the U7-Pro is a nice choice.