I’ve worked with EnGenius a few times now including upgrading our office network to support testing WiFi 6. They reached out about their ESR530 AC1300 Mesh wireless router combo pack and initially I was hesitant, everyone is moving to WiFi 6 and mesh isn’t exactly new. But when I saw the price of the two ESR530’s was under $100 I was really curious what that might get you. So today I’m going to check out the two ESR530 combo pack and see what they are all about, check out their software, and test them out and see how they perform. They may not be cutting edge, but they are more in line with what a lot of people would want to spend to get a mesh network setup. So it will be interesting to see if they are worth it.

Product Name: EnGenius ESR530 AC1300 Home Mesh System Dual pack

Review Sample Provided by: EnGenius

Written by: Wes Compton

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

Specifications

Technical Specifications

Standards
IEEE 802.11b/g/n on 2.4 GHz
IEEE 802.11a/n/ac Wave 2 on 5 GHz

Antenna
Integrated Omni-Directional Antennas

Physical Interface
2 x 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet ports (1 WAN, 1 LAN)
1 x USB 2.0 Port
1 x DC Jack
1 x Reset Button

LED Indicators
1 x 3 Color-Status LED
- White: Mesh & Internet Connection Status
- Red: No Internet Connection or No Mesh Connection
- Orange: Mesh Connection Signal is Weak

Power Source
Power Adapter: 12V/1A

 

Wireless & Radio Specifications

Operating Frequency
Dual-Radio Concurrent 2.4 GHz & 5 GHz

Operation Modes
Router Mode
Bridge Mode

Max. Nodes
8

Wireless Initial Setup
EnMesh App Required

Frequency Radio
2.4 GHz: 2400 MHz
5 GHz: 5150 MHz

Transmit Power
Up to 20 dBm on 2.4 GHz
Up to 19 dBm on 5 GHz

Radio Chains/Spatial Stream
2x2:2 MIMO

Max. Speeds
300 Mbps on 2.4 GHz
867 Mbps on 5 GHz

Supported Data Rates (Mbps):
2.4 GHz: Max 400
5 GHz: Max 867
802.11b: 1, 2, 5.5, 11
802.11a/g: 6, 9, 12, 18, 36, 48, 54
802.11n: 6.5 to 300 Mbps (MCS0 to MCS15)
802.11ac: 6.5 to 867 Mbps (MCS0 to MCS9, NSS = 1 to 2)

Supported Radio Technologies
802.11b: Direct-Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS)
802.11a/g/n/ac: Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM)

Channelization
802.11ac Supports Very High Throughput (VHT)—VHT 20/40/80 MHz
802.11n Supports High Throughput (HT)—HT 20/40 MHz
802.11a/b/g Supports High Throughput (HT)—20 MHz

Supported Modulation
802.11b: BPSK, QPSK, CCK
802.11a/g/n: BPSK, QPSK, 16-QAM, 64-QAM
802.11ac: BPSK, QPSK, 16-QAM, 64-QAM, 256-QAM

Environmental & Physical

Temperature Range

Operating: 32 ºF~104 ºF (0 ºC~40 ºC)

Storage: -4 ºF~140 ºF (-20 ºC~60 ºC)

 

Humidity (non-condensing)

Operating: 90% or less

Storage: 95% or less

Features

Auto Channel Selection

Auto Transmit Power

Wireless STA (Client) Connected List

Guest Network

Fast Roaming (802.11k & 802.11r)

AirPrint® Server Support

Restore Factory Settings

Auto Reboot

Internet Speed Test

Mesh Connection Status

USB Features: SAMBA

UPnP Support

System Recovery

Manual/Auto Firmware Update

Band Steering

UID/DDNS Remote Control

Network Diagnostic < Auto Firmware Update

Parental Controls

Wi-Fi Access Scheduler

Website & Keyword Filter

- Social Media

- Search Engine

- Video Media

- Custom URL

QoS (Quality of Service)

Yes

Wireless Security

WPA2-PSK (AES/TKIP)

WPA-PSK (AES/TKIP)

WEP

SSID Password

Network Services

DHCP

Static IP

PPPoE

Mobile App

EnMesh (easy setup, monitoring and management)

EnFile (personal cloud storage and file management)

Available for iPhone® & Android™

Device Dimensions & Weights

ESR530 Device

Weight: .43lbs lbs. (195g)

Width: 5” (127mm)

Length: 5” (127mm)

Height: 2.2” (57 mm)

Package Contents

1 x ESR530 Dual-Band AC1300 Mesh Router

1 x Power Adapter

1 x Quick Start Guide

1 x RJ-45 Ethernet Cable

1 – Screw Pack

Certifications

FCC

CE

Warranty

1 Year

 

 


Photos and Features

For the ESR530 2-Pack EnGenius didn’t just tape together two of the individual router boxes. The pair has its own packaging which has a white background and on the front a picture of both routers. The front highlights that EnMesh is easy to set up and EnFile as well which is a feature used with the routers built-in USB port that can turn one or both into on network storage with cloud access over the app. OIn the back they explain the app a little more as well as talk about the performance and what a mesh network can do for your wireless coverage. Then on the end of the box, they have a basic specifications listing and a list of everything you can expect inside the box.

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Inside of the box, you can pull out a formed cardboard tray that has the two ESR530 mesh routers up on top wrapped up in a sticky plastic. Up on top of them is a small round booklet that explains the apps needed to get things up and running and touches on things like FCC interference. It doesn’t have instructions on mounting or any other information. But the app will walk you through most of the rest of the setup.

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Up under the routers they have two power cables which are smaller but still a power wart, one short network cable, and two small baggies with mounting screws and drywall inserts.

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So the ESR530’s don’t have anything crazy for their styling. They are white with the EnGenius logo in the middle and a single LED light on the front edge. They are a hair under 5 inches wide, round, and a little over 2 and a ¼ inches tall. The height is a lot more than other mesh routers that I have had in the office. The height will also make the router stand out if your wall or ceiling mount as well.

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The back of the ESR530 doesn’t have much going on. There is a small pinhole opening in the back that hides the reset button and then you can see a small opening down at the bottom for wires to reach the bottom of the router.

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The bottom is basically where everything is hidden. Both of the ESR530’s match and both will have dual 1G ethernet jacks. The WAN port is blue in color and the LAN port is an off white. They also have a DC power plug and a USB port. You might be wondering why a router would have a USB port, EnGenius has included support to hook up a storage device for cloud/networked storage or you can plug in a printer for a cloud/network access. The bottom of the ESR530 has three rubber feet and two slot mounts for wall or ceiling mounting. Then the back also has a sticker with the model information, required certification logos, your serial number, mac address, and a QR code used for the app setup.

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Now the ESR530 router can be picked up individually and will work perfectly fine. Today I am taking a look at the two-pack though which does come bundled all together. Both routers are exactly the same and could even be used by themselves. But the point of the two-pack is to use the pair together to create a mesh network and to cover dead spots in a larger home.

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Software

When it comes to routers, especially consumer routers half of the overall experience comes down to your network performance. But the other half (or at least a good portion of the other half) comes down to the software experience. For consumer routers especially, setup needs to be simple and easy for anyone to do. But you also need to be able to do simple functions as well as have some more advanced functionally for setting up port forwarding for specific games, parental block capabilities, and more. So I set aside a whole section dedicated to the software and the ESR530 needs it because it ends up having two completely different interfaces. You see when you set the router or routers up, the only document they provide lets you know to download the EnGenius EnMesh app and to follow the instructions there. So they have you allow the app to use your camera and you scan the QR code on the back of the router and it starts setting everything up. This includes waiting for the light to turn orange or blue and letting the app know which color, setting your wireless SSID and password, then waiting for it to be setup. You also have to set up your EnMesh login information.

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The landing page for EnMesh has a connection status down at the bottom and an optional internet speed test which can be rerun at any point. They have quick access to the Wi-Fi settings, your device list, diagnosis, and parental controls. Everything most people would need. Then up in the top left corner, the three lines open up a full menu listing which adds a settings page, about page, and an advanced option as well as the options on the home page. Honestly given it is just a few more things, all of those could be on the homepage and avoid the side menu altogether.

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The WiFi page is simple with your primary and guest wireless settings split up. You can set the SSID names and passwords as well as change the encryption type and dive into more advanced settings.

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The devices page shows all of your ESR530 routers up at the top. You can see the mac address and IP address of both and a list of all of the clients connected down at the bottom. You can also see which device is functioning as the primary, which is the same one that has the WAN port hooked up. The gear lets you go in and turn off the LED light on each router, restart it, factory reset it, and also see internet test speeds. WPS can be turned on and SAMBA as well which is what controls the file or printer sharing if you are using the USB port.

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The parental controls page lets you create rules which can include a full schedule or when the internet can and cannot work. You can also filter specific websites or even search engines as well.

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The settings page is relatively simple honestly. You can access your EnMesh account setting to change your name or password. Test the internet, change the date/time, set your country, etc. The Firmware Upgrade option is the main one that is useful here as well as setting the language if English isn’t your preferred language.

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This is the diagnosis page and you can run a test to test the connection speed between your ESR530’s and see a basic network map. They even let you know if your routers are to far away or to close together.

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I thought that would be the end of things really until I went to the advanced option in the app where it opened up a website on my phone. As it turns out, the ESR530 has full access directly on the network and the advanced option takes you to it. If you prefer, after you have things set up, you can even use this on a PC and uninstall the app altogether. You get a traditional router interface as well. Rather than try to read everything on my phone (it was really small) I loaded it up on my PC and went through it. The landing page lists out all of the network details going into more detail than in the app with things like the channel numbers IP addresses and even uptime. Down at the bottom, they also show the mesh network quality again as well.

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Up on the top, they have things split up into Wi-Fi, Interfaces, Storage, Fireless, and Tools. You can also logout in the top right corner. The Wi-Fi tab starts off with the normal stuff like your SSID but you can hide the SSID here and turn off the client to client communication to lock your network down. You can get into more advanced settings like setting the channels and HT modes as well as band steering and turning on or off fast roaming and airtime fairness. You can even turn the entire guest network off if you want.

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The Interfaces tab then dives more into your wired network settings and other router aspects. The top of the page has your IP and MAC info and you can set a static DNS if you prefer. Then they let you get into settings for a DHCP server which includes turning it off completely if you are running the ESR530’s as access points. You can also set the lease time. I did notice however that you can only set the last three IP range, not the rest you are still stuck with 192.168.4. Thankfully with the .4, it isn’t a range used often. You can set up static IPs by MAC address which is how I like to set my static IPs, you can take devices on to other networks without having to change anything because they still use DHCP and you can see a list of all of the IPs you have set to avoid conflicts. You can also turn on IPv6 and set the range as well. You can also turn on IPTV settings for those who have IPTV boxes, this will turn the LAN port on the root device into the IPTV trunk port. This does make things complicated if you have any other wired network though considering there is only one LAN port.

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The storage tab lets you turn on the file sharing on each of your mesh connected routers individually. You set up the windows workgroup name as well and from there a connected hard drive or printer will show on through your network in windows. There is also an option to set up recording for some IP cams. I didn’t see any information on this but it does scan for cameras however and let you set things up from there.

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Now the Firewall tab starts with a simple option, should you have a firewall at all. From there you can turn on a DMZ and set an IP or pick from a device list to set any of them up as the DMZ which puts them outside of the firewall with full access to the device from outside networks (which is highly not recommended). There is a page of settings for filtering out Denial of Service attacks which includes settings for the sync flood and ping of death blocking. Then you get into the more standard functionality with the port forwarding page. You can turn it on, set up custom port forwards and down at the bottom you can see a list of all of the forwards you have set up and delete anything listed individually or all together.

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The Tools tab is the last section and is a catch all for the rest of the functionality. You can turn on remote access (aka access to the web management from the WAN port) as well as turn on HTTPS security. You can set up basic dynamic DNS functionality through an EnGenius domain. You can turn UPnP on or off. Then there is a page that lets you backup, reset, and restore router configurations. Then there is a restart page that lets you restart all of your mesh routers or to do them individually. A page where you can upload a new firmware version. I do wish they had an option here that would check the firmware and auto-update or at least link you to where the latest would be found. Then the last tool lets you turn system logs on or off and see a list of all network access.

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Performance

For performance testing, I set up the main ESR530 in my office which is relatively central in the house and the second at the end of our living room. I then setup Passmark Performance Test on my laptop which has an AC wireless card in it and on my office PC which was wired directly into the LAN port on the main ESR530. Using Passmarks network test with the desktop PC as a server to get transfer speed averages. I listed off the results I saw from multiple areas in our house below but I do have to point out that I live in an extremely heavy wireless interference house. This is partially due to the number of wireless devices we have and also a lot of wireless networks both in the house and from people nearby. It’s impressive to me that even with only a few houses that are really close that we pick up something like 9 other networks.

So how did testing with the ESR530’s go? Well, the performance while in the same room was 343 Mbps which while not impressive when you compare it with what AC is capable of. But this is right in the middle of what I saw with WiFi 5 or AC when I was testing WiFi 6 in the same environment recently. Going from my office into my photo/work room the performance was still solid at 293 Mbps but this was still in line of sight to the router. Going to my living room which had two doorways/partial walls between us dropped performance down to 179 Mbps. Interestingly this is where I had the second mesh router setup. The worst result I had was also the closest room to my office which was my wife's craft room. This ran through four plasterboard (not drywall) walls and also had our normal AP in between. When doing some more testing I found that turning off the second ESR530 did speed things up slightly by taking some of that overhead off the network.

Area

Average Speed

Desk – 5 feet from primary router

343.0 Mbps

Photo Room – 40 feet w/line of sight

293.3 Mbps

Living Room – 50 feet 2 partial walls- Second ESR530 at the end of this room

179 Mbps

Craft Room – 20 feet away – 4 walls between and my main access point

112 Mbps

Desk – 5 Feet - Retest with just one router

382.2 Mbps

 

So what did I learn from my results? Well, the biggest is something I already knew, the best way to do a mesh network is with each router/Access point being hard-wired. This is why we ran ethernet to every room in our house when we moved in. A mesh network is only as fast as the connection between the access points, even if you are close to a secondary AP. I also learned that the ESR530 doesn’t handle our busy wireless airspace well. Again not a huge surprise, there is a reason I run a higher-end access point all of the time. The overall network reach with the two routers in mesh mode did a great job of covering not just our entire house, but our whole property as well as I used it while mowing and listening to music without any interruptions

 


Overall and Final Verdict

It’s interesting to see EnGenius isn’t just focusing on one portion of the market. We have just recently taken a look at some of their business focused hardware when upgrading our office/testing with WiFi 6. Given the cost of that hardware, the expectations are extremely high. But with the ESR530’s, these are much cheaper and a lot more in line with what most people would be shopping for to upgrade their home wireless coverage. Even though they are cheaper I was still surprised by what you are getting, namely mesh capabilities. Which EnGenius made extremely easy to set up using their app. The last mesh router pack that I took a look at had a similar app but was limited in overall functionality because they didn’t also provide more traditional access. The ESR530 has that, their advanced mode takes you directly to a webpage with all of the normal options you would find on a home router. If you don’t want to use an app, once everything is set up you can drop that and just use the web interface. I also really dig the addition of a USB port on each of the ESR530’s which can be used as a file server or a printer server. This isn’t new functionality for a router, but by having multiple routers in your mesh network you can add multiple devices.

Being a budget-friendly mesh router, there were a few downsides of course. The biggest that I ran into was an overall slowdown in wireless performance when relying on wireless for the mesh. If you have the chance to run an ethernet between each ESR530 you will see better performance. This isn’t a huge surprise to those who are tech-savvy, but the ESR530’s target audience may not know that. Another complaint is the overall size of the ESR530, they are taller than I would have expected them to be. Twice as tall as a traditional access point which will make them look a little weird if you ceiling mount them. Speaking of that, power over ethernet support would have been nice to allow them to be mounted in a location like a ceiling which isn’t going to have a power plug nearby. My only other complaint was with the interface, while they have logging, I would love to see traffic graphs to help show overall usage, long term traffic being used by each node, and user to allow people to better track their network.

Now I already mentioned a few times that the ESR530’s are a more budget-focused option. Our two-pack of routers sells for just under $100 which is a nice discount when you consider an individual ESR530 is $59.99. The pair of ESR530’s will run you nearly what just one mesh router would when compared to something like the Amazon erro mech or the TP-Link Deco that I previously tested. So that price discount is significant. The lower price does mean lower performance if you aren’t hard wiring the routers together so there is a tradeoff there, but this is a great option for someone who isn’t getting the coverage they need in a larger home with an individual router.

fv5

Live Pricing: HERE

 

 

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: http://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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