Jump to content


 


Register a free account to unlock additional features at BleepingComputer.com
Welcome to BleepingComputer, a free community where people like yourself come together to discuss and learn how to use their computers. Using the site is easy and fun. As a guest, you can browse and view the various discussions in the forums, but can not create a new topic or reply to an existing one unless you are logged in. Other benefits of registering an account are subscribing to topics and forums, creating a blog, and having no ads shown anywhere on the site.


Click here to Register a free account now! or read our Welcome Guide to learn how to use this site.

Photo

What N Router is really the top of the bunch


  • Please log in to reply
3 replies to this topic

#1 cap2587

cap2587

  • Members
  • 524 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Local time:10:09 AM

Posted 18 April 2010 - 09:13 PM

I have been doing alot of researching and reading up on the top of the line router's. My guess is that everyone has their own favorite router and the same two people may have a different opinion on what's best. I am going to be using my Laptop about 50 foot away from my router and with 3-4 rooms away on the same floor. I think I should be getting more than 2 bars of signal strength with my current D Link DIR 615 router. Is the 5 GHZ frequency of the Dual band over rated or worth getting a router that includes this. Does it give you a faster transfer rate (for HD Video, downloads), but decrease your range compared to the GHZ. Does it do this be staying away from the crowded 2.4 GHZ Frequency which eats up bandwidth. Does any of the current wireless N cards in Laptops include 5 GHZ frequency and is that needed to tap into this frequency. Is a router with external Antenna's always going to be better for signal strength. I am not too worried about the complexity of setting up a router as I think I can handle that. What kind of speed reduction should a wireless computer be compared to the wired connection (download/upload speed) The USB storage attachment for many devices that the WRT 610 Linksys router includes would be a plus, but not the most important factor. Here are the Router's I am looking at below. The positive reviews seem really good, but the poor reviews are hard to get past.

Linksys WRT 610
D-Link Xtreme N Dual Band Gigabit Router DIR-825
LINKSYS E3000

I would appreciate any input on my questions above or recommendations on the router's above or any other that people recommend. Thanks

BC AdBot (Login to Remove)

 


#2 Orecomm

Orecomm

  • Members
  • 257 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Roseburg, Oregon
  • Local time:07:09 AM

Posted 19 April 2010 - 12:10 AM

OK, a few answers first.

The 5Ghz band has more available bandwidth, and more non-overlapping channels, than the 2.4Ghz band. Unfortunately, it is also attenuated much more rapidly by obstructions than the 2.4Ghz band. The 802.11n standard has a lot of improvements over g and in an equivalent situation can provide a lot better throughput, but many of the improvements cannot "switch on" if there are b or g (or a in the 5Ghz band) signals in the area. 2.4Ghz has a lot more background racket these days, so 5G is often much easier to find a quiet hole to use. In my experience, 50' and 3 to 4 rooms, you are right on the edge of 5G coverage (depending on what the walls are made of, as well as other obstacles such as fireplaces, metal air ducts, and large kitchen appliances). You are going to need a really good card on the PC end to get better performance in that band.

External antennas can be better than internal, but many of the newer wireless units have internal multi-element electronically steered arrays (which is also enabled by the 802.11n spec) which can perform even better than many external antennas. If it's a g router go for the externals. If n, read the box. The antenna gain should be there somewhere in the fine print. Or get the spec sheet from the manufacturer. More gain (higher dBi) is better.

802.11n is a complex standard with a lot of options. In your case you aren't going to be happy with anything less than pretty close to the full set. N devices are ranked by the number of transmit and receive radio paths and antennas. You want at least a 2X2X2. The tricky part will be finding a similarly capable radio on the PC end. There are some PCI type cards that can cut it, and some USB external units, but not a lot. The "thumb drive" sized units aren't likely to get you there, there just isn't enough room for enough antenna diversity. Your computer may have built-in 802.11n, maybe even dual band, but only if it's relatively new and a relatively high end unit. (MacBooks do.) If you can get 2x2x2 on both ends in the 2.4Ghz band you still won't get close to 300Mbps, but you should get significantly better throughput than with a g router and card.

As an alternative, you might look at Powerline network devices. Some of the newer ones are pretty quick, and since they aren't radio the neighbor's WiFi (or microwave, or cordless phones, or baby monitor, or TV remote, or...) won't interfere. Particularly for a fixed machine (desktop or entertainment system) Powerline is getting to be a better solution in urban areas than wireless. Just a thought.

Now as to your question: Which N Router is best ?
BASED ON MANUFACTURER SPECIFICATIONS the Linksys E3000 is clearly superior to the WRT-610N in terms of transmit power and receive sensitivity. Transmit power is about 3dB higher (which is TWICE the power transmitted) while receive is 1dB or so better. It seems Dlink doesn't publish their RF specs, at least on the data sheet or specs page on their website (you could always look it up on the FCC website with their ID) which makes me a bit cautious, so I'm not making any comment there.

Remember, you have to pair the router with an 802.11n MIMO capable (2x2) client to get much, if any, benefit from n.

As with all opinion, and especially when it comes to RF, your mileage may vary.

#3 cap2587

cap2587
  • Topic Starter

  • Members
  • 524 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Local time:10:09 AM

Posted 19 April 2010 - 08:36 AM

Orecomm,

Your response was fantastic and really helpful. What exactly is 802.11n MIMO capable (2x2) client? I am about to start using a Dell Studio 15 Laptop which has the 802.11a/b/g/draft N Wireless card. I doubt this supports dual Band. I think the card is either a Dell Wireless 1397 or a Dell Wireless 1501. Are you saying that to use the 5GHZ Band that it won't reach much further than 3-4 rooms away. The more research the USB storage connection on these high end routers the more I see them as still a developing thing that doesn't perform well for streaming larger files. I am leaning towards the Linksys E3000, but would like to read some more reviews (It's new so there isn't much out there on it at this stage). The price seems better than when the WRT610 1st came out. What are a few cards that support 2*2*2. What are power line network devices. Are they for Laptops and Desktops? What is this 802.3/3u? Is that just the type of Linksys model Router or some new terminology? Appreciate your input and anyone else's recommendations.

#4 Orecomm

Orecomm

  • Members
  • 257 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Roseburg, Oregon
  • Local time:07:09 AM

Posted 21 April 2010 - 04:59 PM

Gee, you could make this into a semester class...

OK, MIMO stands for Multiple Input - Multiple Output, and is used to describe one of the key 802.11n technologies because even the acronym for any kind of real description is about a half a page long. What they are doing is using some very tricky space-time coding to be able to send and receive multiple data streams in the same frequency spectrum at the same time and at virtually the same power level, and rather than interfere with each other destructively they interfere CONstructively and result in near double (or whatever multiple is used) effective throughput. To make it work, the actual analog radio transmitter stage must be duplicated for each of the "multiple" signals, and likewise the receiver. In addition, to function properly the two need to use antennas that are spaced some distance apart - opinions vary on whether 1/2 wavelength or 1/4 is sufficient. 1/4 Wavelength at 2.4Ghz is about 1.23 inches (31.25mm for you in parts of the world where distance measurements are not encrypted by ancient varied measures related to sundry bits of human anatomy.) Which is why the little USB "finger" adapters usually don't work all that well. A 2x2 MIMO means there are two transmitters (or "transmit radio chains") and two receivers. The third digit, if present, is the number of receiving antennas. There are 3X3 and 4X4 systems out there, with roughly 150Mbs added per "X", bringing the throughput up to the full 600Mbps promised (well, promised in the marketing sense) by the 802.11n standard. The coding involved is pretty tricky and works kind like having your wife yell at you at a football game. You can pick out her voice and understand what she is saying pretty well even with the crowd noise because you know what voice you are listening for and have a good idea of what she is going to say even before she says it. (Yes, dear, hotdog no onions and a diet soda..) Of course multiplying the radios also multiplies the cost and power consumption as well as the package size, so 2x2 is by far the most common configuration today.

As for your card, if it actually is a/b/g/draft n then it is a dual band card - 802.11a uses only the 5Ghz band, while b & g use only the 2.4Ghz band, so there would be no reason NOT to do n on both bands. I seriously doubt it is MIMO equipped, though.

Attenuation, that is signal loss through various means including absorption, scattering, refraction, reflection, and diffusion, generally affects higher frequencies more than lower ones. The 5Ghz band is much higher, and as such is more heavily attenuated by most (but not all) materials than 2.4Ghz signals. This is one reason that 802.11a never really took off for indoor use. 802.11n has a lot of tricks that allow it to use signals that would have been considered interference in older standards, bringing it's propagation characteristics on the 5Ghz band close to those of 802.11g on the 2.4Ghz band. It does this mostly by using reflected and refracted signals. There isn't much you can do about absorbed signals, and unfortunately that is what most interior walls do in that band.

As for the router-as-USB-storage-server, I use an Apple Airport Extreme at home which is a very capable dual-band n router with USB disk and print server capability, and it easily keeps up with streaming for me. I use it for Time Machine backups on four systems, plus about 500M of media files (mostly music, but some videos and podcasts) as well as a shared laser printer for the house. I don't do much HD, but so far it hasn't seemed to break a sweat even doing multiple operations at once. The technology is not new, particularly in the Linux/BSD world, and today's processors spend most of their time just looking for something to keep them from being bored. There are always glitches in new stuff, but I wouldn't be too hesitant about getting one of the "microserver" routers from any reputable manufacturer.

Power Line networking isn't new either, and it basically is what it sounds like - it modulates an Ethernet signal to run over a form of unshielded untwisted pair - in the form of the AC power wiring in your home. Very similar technologies are available to run Ethernet over various other wiring systems that may be present in your home, such as phone or TV antenna cables. Powerline may be a "wall wart" type brick with an ethernet jack in the bottom or side, or may be a very router-ish looking tabletop unit, some with several Ethernet ports. Most are simple bridges. There are more than a few standards out there and many variations between manufacturers on their "interpretation" of the standards, so if you do go this way I'd recommend sticking with one series of related products from one manufacturer. I've used these with good success to get signals to basements and garages well out of wireless range. It helps if you can get the units on the same "phase" of the power system (home power wiring has two "hot" wires at the breaker box, each representing a "phase", as well as a "Common" or Neutral wire and a safety ground). It doesn't go through power transformers, but if your house shares a transformer with the neighbors there is a chance that your signal will reach them too, so encryption is a nice feature. Some of the "A/V" units can sustain better than 100Mbps throughput, easily keeping up with most traffic and it's much easier to install than stringing Cat5 cables. You can find NewEgg's collection here. You usually connect to a Powerline network device with an Ethernet cable (although some have a wireless Access Point built in for extending wireless networks) so they are best suited to desktops, game stations, media centers, and the like.

802.3 is the standards working group responsible for Ethernet-like protocols. 802.3u is the 100Mbps Fast Ethernet standard.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users