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As Wi-Fi 6E enters the arena, the tools network engineers carry must be updated to support 6 GHz. NetAlly introduces an updated version to their popular handheld tool, the AirCheck G3. This is the first professional tool I’m aware of to be fully tri-band, supporting 6 GHz as a client and a tester.
Why should you add an AirCheck G3 to your toolkit? If you’re testing and troubleshooting Wi-Fi often, then the AirCheck G3 will the most indispensable handheld tool. Confirm and verify Wi-Fi association, DHCP, DNS, channel utilization, spectrum analysis, confirm retry rates, and much more.
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With the kit retailing at $4,495, a network engineer will be able to quickly test the Wi-Fi network for any potential issues. The standalone AirCheck G3 unit retails for $3,895. Inside of the kit you’ll receive an external antenna, holster, should sling bag, AC charger, and a spectrum analyzer.
|AirCheck G3||AirCheck G2|
|Weight||16 oz||18 oz|
|Battery Life||10 hours||4.5 Hours|
|USB ports||2x USB 2.0 Type-A|
|2x USB 2.0 Type-A|
|Charge Time||3-4 Hours||7 Hours|
|Dimensions||4.98 in x 7.68 in x 1.65 in||3.8 in x 7.7 in x 1.6 in|
The key difference with the AirCheck G3 is its 6 GHz capability. Onboard, is a 2×2 6 GHz radio capable of scanning the whole 6 GHz band and performing one-tap tests.
Compared to its predecessor, it is 2 oz lighter (approximately 1 lb) and similar in dimensions. What really sticks out with the AirCheck G3 is the missing Ethernet test port.
Update: 1/4/2023: With AirCheck G3 v2.2 release, you’ll have the ability to do wired Ethernet Testing through the use of a USB ethernet dongle connected to the G3 or via a LinkSprinter or Test Accessory paired with the G3. NetAlly published the release notes with these updates.
The Ethernet port will be sorely missed for its PoE testing capability. It was used to help network engineers validate an Ethernet cable was in fact connected to a PoE-enabled switch port, along with the PoE settings received. If you definitely need an Ethernet testing port you may want to look into the LinkRunner or EtherScope nXG.
An upside to removing the Ethernet port is increased battery life which has improved to 10 hours compared to the G2’s 4.5 hours. It also brings the weight down, making it easier to carry in your bag or carry-on luggage.
There isn’t an external battery to swap out so you’ll need to be aware of charge time, which was reduced to 3-4 hours compared to the G2’s 7 hours. One advantage is the charging capability with USB-C. The AirCheck G3 includes a 45W power adapter but if you’re already carrying a charger for your Macbook Pro or other USB-C device, you can consolidate power adapters. Personally, I just carry a single Anker.
NetAlly sticks with the Android OS on the AirCheck G3. The handheld tool boots up in less than 40 seconds. Navigating between the various NetAlly apps is as smooth as an Android OS operates. I didn’t notice any lag or run into any bugs.
The remaining apps on the AirCheck G3 can also be used on the G2. Most notable favorites of mine are the AutoTest, Capture, Spectrum, and AirMapper. But of course, without 6 GHz capability you cannot use the 6 GHz functions. One thing to note.. the USB adapter for spectrum analysis does not support 6 GHz. I don’t think a 6 GHz USB spectrum analyzer exists yet.
For those who already have the G2, you might be wondering if it is worth the upgrade. If you need 6 GHz capability today, then yes. It’s especially useful for us getting familiar with Wi-Fi 6E functionality and testing.
I’ve used the AirCheck G3 to verify 6 GHz operation and view Wi-Fi 6E details such as Reduced Neighbor Reports and Multiple BSSID.
If you require wired testing using an RJ45 cable or fiber, I recommend looking into obtaining a LinkRunner or EtherScope nXG 300 (Wi-Fi 6E capable).
Overall, the NetAlly AirCheck G3 is a perfect handheld testing tool for network engineers. With the newly updated Wi-Fi 6E capability it is simple to use and narrow down Wi-Fi issues. It is lightweight packing extremely functional tools.