Finding the right hardwareIt always helps to list what you want from the hardware before you start, so you can start eliminating what doesn't meet the cut. My initial list was
In the end I chose the USR kit, as the d-link was not readily available from any of my suppliers.
The ResultsA common mistake when looking at lan or wireless connections is to actually expect to get the speed listed on the box. The speed shown is really the communication speed, not the maximum speed you can transfer data. Usually the maximum speed you can transfer data is less than half the listed speed. Having scoured the web for data and reviews on wireless kit, I'd started to see a pattern in the results, which gave me an idea of what to expect. Speed tests from early 54Mbps kit (2003), had shown it worked at around 12-15Mbps without encryption and 8-10Mbps with WEP encryption. Later hardware seemed to manage around 20Mbps with or without encryption, which was more promising. For real lan speeds I was looking for 30-40Mbps from the hardware, but I wasn't expecting to get those kind of figures once encryption was turned on, as it takes quite a bit processing power to encrypt and decrypt data at those rates.
Some reviews from 2005 testing extended range wireless kit were claiming 35-40Mbps ( with acceleration ) for the hardware, but no details were given as to whether encryption was turned on or not, or whether they were transfering hard to compress files such as mp3 files, or easy to compress text files. This lack of accurate details seemed to be a common feature of both reviews and data sheets.
Once the hardware arrived, it was important to test how well it worked before installing it. Disappointingly the USR routers didn't support the 125Mbps acceleration listed on the box when running in bridging mode, and only very weakly supported it when just in WDS mode. I was hardly suprised that this shortcoming was not advertised in the data sheets but left feeling more than a little cheated. Thankfully it did have a second supported form of 54Mbps acceleration that worked in both WDS and bridging mode.
The actual figures I got testing the U.S. Robotics 5461 MAXg router with WPA encryption turned on were
The moment of truthWhen installing the hardware at the client site, I initially left both routers transmitting on maximum power, to ensure I got a connection, so I could turn the power down afterwards and see how low I could turn it while still getting a solid 54Mbps connection.
It's always a bit nerve wracking when you first connect the antenna (I was using two USR 9db panel antenna) and turn on the hardware, while you see if you can ping across the connection. Thankfully all the hard work payed of, and the routers connected first time and the ping went across the routers in just 1.05 ms, which is 3 times quicker than the kit it was replacing.
Re-checking the maximum transfer speed is the easiest way to check how far you can turn down the transmit power, as while the router's status page gave details of connected clients, it didn't give an details or signal strengths for connected bridges. Bit of a short coming there. I was able to drop the transmit power 3db and still comfortably get 25Mbps across the link.
ConclusionAs wireless acceleration matures more, I'll probably upgrade the hardware again but with something that supports higher speeds, as whilst the USR MAXg router does the job, not supporting the 125Mbps mode when bridging, and not giving signal strength details were its two shortcomings I'd like to rectify. However I was very impressed with how far it managed to get a connection. During the testing I'd removed the antenna, dropped the transmit power to minimum and put the routers 30m apart and on different floors in a brick walled building, with 4 walls between them, and they still connected - now that did impress me.
Doing the sums << Prev page
|© 2002-2010 wireless.gumph.org|