Tactical Advice

Review: HP E-MSM460 Wi-Fi AP Excels in MIMO Mode

This dual-radio access point extends range with multiple input, multiple output operation.
Review: HP E-MSM460 Wi-Fi AP Excels in MIMO Mode

HP’s well-designed E-MSM460 Dual Radio 802.11n access point offers advanced wireless and security features. Deploying this dual-band AP in a mesh configuration and with a controller makes it hard to beat.

When a computer is nearly 100 feet away from the AP but the video has yet to drop a frame, something’s working right. Operating in the 5GHz band, this device offers an exceptional user experience.

HP designed the E-MSM460 to deliver a level of service far above and beyond that of the typical AP that does little more than transmit traffic.

This AP targets in-building operations where the AP needs to serve a large number of users over a wide area. The device contains radios that work on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and it supports 802.11n as well as 11a, 11b and 11g. This model has a multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) antenna system that supports three spatial streams. When used with endpoints that also support three spatial streams, users can expect longer range and more reliable access.

Advantages

The HP E-MSM460 AP will become part of a mesh network automatically unless told not to. Setup is very flexible, allowing management of virtually every aspect of the AP’s operations, from the level of security to the channels to operate on to whether to support mesh operations. Network managers can operate the AP in autonomous mode or controlled mode.

Testing the AP with a Fluke Networks AirCheck Wi-Fi tester showed that the HP-MSM460 was capable of the full 450 megabits per second bandwidth available to 802.11n devices with three spatial streams. The AirCheck distance tests showed that the AP worked to ranges of 175 feet at 2.4GHz. Ranges at 5GHz were about 50 feet, as expected in this band.

Tests performed using a Lenovo ThinkPad T-410 with a MIMO antenna supporting three spatial streams revealed a surprise, though. Distances for receiving streaming video were about the same at 2.4GHz as shown in the Fluke AirCheck test. However, at 5GHz, where the AP’s beam-forming capability is fully effective, the streaming video was received at about the same distance — more than three times farther than the simple ping test performed above.

Why It Works for IT

The HP E-MSM460 is most effectively implemented in an environment with several of these APs arranged in a mesh network. The device works best when paired with HP Manager or HP Mobility Manager in a fully managed mode. Security features include support for Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) 2-Enterpriseand RADIUS authentication.

When the E-MSM460 is used in a managed environment, it supports intrusion prevention and detection, full logging capabilities and packet capture. Each AP will support up to 12 active Voice over IP (VoIP) calls, and the Service-Aware priority feature ensures that voice calls get the proper quality of service assignment. Each AP is remotely manageable, although remote management is easier with a fixed IP address assigned to each device.

The E-MSM460 proved to be reliable, robust and highly flexible. The web management tool in the AP was intuitive and fully featured.

Disadvantages

The Power over Ethernet capability requires organizations to use a power injector specifically designed for this type of device, although most PoE switches will work properly.

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About the Author

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a longtime technology journalist who has directed product testing centers. He is President of Wayne Rash & Associates, an analysis and editorial services firm located near Washington, D.C. He can be reached at wrash@mindspring.com. You can also follow him on Twitter as @wrash.

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