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Some PCs running slow, Macs running fast on same wifi. IT guy stumped.

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#1 livious


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Posted 19 September 2014 - 03:21 AM

My father (who works in IT) and myself are are stumped with a network speed issue afflicting some of our computers.


We have Time Warner, and they recently upgraded our internet speeds. First they upgraded from 20 mbps down/ 1mbps up to 50 mbps down, 5 up.  Internet running fine (although I can't 100% say that, it was only a period of a few days before they upgraded again, I may have just not noticed it). They then upgraded to 200 mbps down, 20 up.  This is when the problem started.


We have four computers between the two of us.  Two macbook pros (one with bootcamp and windows 7), an Asus (windows 8.1), and a Lenovo (windows 7).  All laptops. At certain times, and we have not been able to figure out a pattern, the Asus and Lenovo will have slow download speeds.  By slow I mean anywhere from 4 mpbs- 8 mbps, depending on the location in relation to the router.  They both are slow at the same time, and fast at the same time.  The upload speed is always at full speed.  When we are not having the slow period, they are running at full speed.  


The macs both always run at full speed, including when I am testing it on bootcamp. So it is only the true PCs that are having the issue.  


Our router is only capable of handling about 60 mbps, but that isn't a huge issue (unless it is related to our real issue).  A wired connection will always produce full speed. We have an apple airport base station router.  The cable modem is new.  We also have another router that is an extension of our network in another room.  It is on a separate channel, and when producing slow speeds, we are still connected to the base station (the primary router). 


The wireless card drivers on my laptop (the Asus) are fully up to date, after checking the Asus website. It is highly unlikely that there are any viruses or malware on our computers.  The Lenovo and Asus have different brands of pretty much every component, including wireless cards.  We are thinking it might be a hardware issue in some capacity since the bootcamp verson of windows is running fine.  All computers are relatively new, with the PCs being newer than the macs. (The Asus is months old).  


We can't figure out where in the chain it is messing up, since multiple computers are afflicted at the same time, but not all, and the router has worked for a while, and an ethernet connection from the router works as well.  The router is set to 802.11n (compatibility). we have tried setting it to other frequencies but no effect.  


I may have found some success choosing the prefered bandwidth on my PC. When I set it to prefer 2.4 ghz, it seems to speed up, although that presents other problems.  


Any insight would be GREATLY appreciated.





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#2 gavinseabrook


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Posted 21 September 2014 - 02:28 AM

There are several possibilities, especially with Time Warner. 


  1. Bandwidth in your neighborhood: Time Warner's circuit may have too many users on it. This can usually be identified by noticing the slowness during certain times of the day. I currently have the fastest possible Time Warner bandwidth in our city (50x5) and during the day hours of 1 PM to 10 PM, I only get about 20 MBps download. After that it goes back up to 45 -50 MBps. I have sent in a request for a new circuit to be installed in the neighborhood (and if you complain enough they get moving on it). I recommend running speed tests during the early morning, mid day and late night to see if you notice a pattern and when you get your full speeds.
  2. Router Limitations: For the amount of bandwidth being delivered, your router may not be powerful enough to handle all that speed. I would recommend you get one of the latest routers that has the ability to process that much data over wireless connections. My router here at home is a Netgear Nighthawk AC3200 Tri-Band Wireless router. This router has the capability of 3.2 GBps wireless traffic and has its own dual core 1 Ghz processor built in. It is packed with great features as well such as being able to hook up an external drive to make it a NAS drive with compete media streaming options. Range of the Wifi Signal on this router should be able to cover a 10,000 SQ Ft home.
  3. Wireless Range: You may want to consider setting up wireless repeaters that have the capability of WDS. It is recommended that with repeaters, each repeater will need to have a 70% signal to noise level to the previous router/repeater. I recommend the Engenius brand of repeaters because they have this feature. This will also allow your wireless network to have the same name across the house (IE: Not having to have a separate SSID on the repeated network) and WDS also allows your computers to automatically jump to the repeater that has the highest signal without dropping network packets.

I hope this has helped you and let me know what you decide to do and what works best.

Gavin Seabrook


#3 technonymous


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Posted 21 September 2014 - 02:35 AM

All you can do is get better hardware thoughout. DOCSIS 3.0 modem, DOCSIS 3.0 gigabit Router with wireless 802.11ac. New wireless 802.11ac nic cards for the laptops. Network cablling to cat5e, switches upgraded to gigabit. Some routers may say wireless g,n but still have a very poor cpu or backplane in them and puke out often.

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