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Recent content - 1 new post

1. (My) Home Network Speed Test Results: wired vs 802.11n 5GHz 300Mbps
wi-fi - copper wins, hands down.
Published Blog entry by bswitzer
[ http://kwlug.org/node/750 ]

So, having acquired a new laptop, an ASUS Eee PC 1201N [1] (Pros: dual
core, bluetooth, hdmi out, 802.11n; Cons: not gigabit, not 5GHz 802.11n,
takes 2x4GB memory but will only use 4GB of it, very poor battery life,
$60 additional power adapters!), it seemed time to upgrade my wi-fi
infrastructure too. Something gigabit with 802.11n and USB. So I also
picked up a Netgear WNDR3700 Rangemax™ Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit
Router [2]. Eventually, I discovered that the 1201n's network adapter
was not gigabit, so picked up a Sabrent USB-G1000 USB 2.0 to Gigabit
10/100/1000 Ethernet Adapter Network RJ-45 Converter [3] [I was curious,
more than anything else, and figured USB 480Mbps had to be significantly
faster than full duplex Ethernet 100 Mbps - NOT], and discovered that
the 802.11n was 2.4GHz only (there are something like 29 2.4GHz wi-fi
networks I can reach from my Dining Room, surprisingly, many of them
802.11n). So I also had to pick up a Netgear WNDA3100 RangeMax Dual Band
Wireless-N USB 2.0 Adapter [4]. The house backbone is already on gigabit
switches. I've got Rogers Express for my ISP (phone lines too poor for
ADSL), which is to say, 10 Mbps up / 512 Kbps down. Not that the ISP
really makes any difference for our purposes here - anything internal
will be far faster than out the ISP, and it's very, very, seldom that
any website comes even close to the download speed limit. Ubuntu
torrents do, but that is a very rare exception.
- most of the time, the 2.4GHz wi-fi will only connect at 65 Mbps. There
are just too many other 2.4GHz nets around. The 5GHz always gets 300
Mbps. I'm perhaps 6' away from the router at the time of these tests.
- in some senses, OpenWRT has been a boon, in others, not so much.
Although I always expected to go to OpenWRT, what drove me to it from
the stock Netgear firmware, within the month, is simply that the stock
firmware could not set the time - ntp is only used out the WAN port, and
I'm not using the WAN port! [Not having the time set is unacceptable,
let alone stupid - trying to examine log files with different times is
just ... silly.] After a ridiculously large amount of reading, I
traversed the OpenWRT learning curve, and OpenWRT 'just works.' [See
forum threads at openwrt.org [5] for everything you need to know for
OpenWRT on the WNDR3700 - search for threads with 'WNDR3700' in the
title.] If I had to do it again, today, it might take me, perhaps, 10
minutes - AFTER confirming the device was supported, and found and
downloaded the firmware. Add another 10 to enable the radios and set up
wi-fi. Amazing.
- the only reason OpenWRT is not a boon at the moment, is I'm not really
using it for anything the stock Netgear firmware, also OpenWRT, by the
way, doesn't give me. Except, of course, it gets the time. It's all just
routing (to the NTP server), so why the heck Netgear has it only on the
WAN port ...
- some day I'll switch DHCP, DNS, NTP, PXE, and the like, onto the
router, and kill my CentOS server, but no time for that today. Given the
slow speed of the router, relative to today's CPUs, that is, there may
be little point to hanging a 2TB USB drive off of it, for backups and
video - I don't expect it will keep up, especially to the GB. While
still serving the internet. Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps I'll
find out some day.
- OpenWrt allowed me to play with channels, and use 2 channels at once
[See 802.11n on Wikipedia [6]]. In my area, there are a lot of nets on
channel 11, and even more on 6. Channel 1 also has enough to be
annoying. For 2.4GHz I tend to get double speed on channel 5, doubled
with channel 3. Less so doubled with 9. Curiously, the built-in wi-fi of
the 802.11n tends to double at 150 Mbps, while the USB adapter doubles
to 130Mbps.
- Not that 2.4GHz is practical, speed wise, but with the USB adapter,
and thus 5GHz, 300Mbps isn't so bad.
- Nothing, as you will see, compares with copper. Sadly.
Network speed is VERY important. I can sling GB's of backups around the
home network at night. Casual tests in the past have shown that
transfers go from days to hours, 100Mbps to Gigabit, full duplex both.
All tests were performed under the Windows 7 that came with the 1201n,
writing to the ext3 partition. Data file was a new 10GB vm disk file,
except for the SD card where it was 2GB, due to the (Windows) FAT32 file
size limitation. Source file is on a Windows XP machine (Pentium D, 2.80
GHz, dual-core), reading from an ext3 partition. All hard drives SATA -
300 Mbps / probably 5400 RPM source, 1201n is proably 4200 RPM.
- all results, MBps.

 1.08 - ISP, www.bandwidthplace.com [7]
 2.32 - 802.11g, 2.4GHz, 54Mbps (linksys usb)
 3.34 - 802.11n, 2.4GHz, 65Mbps (1201 internal)
 3.46 - SD to same SD copy. {OUCH! wi-fi is faster!}
 3.98 - 802.11n, 2.4GHz, 130Mbps (netgear usb)
 4.29 - SATA to SD (1201 internal)
 4.79 - 802.11n, 2.4GHz, 150Mbps (1201 internal)
 6.08 - 802.11n, 5GHz, 300Mbps (netgear usb)
 7.60 - 100 Mbps wired
 7.90 - 1Gps wired (usb)
 8.72 - SATA to same SATA (1201n)
 9.00 - 100 Mbps wired - anomalous result, from 20 days earlier
10.19 - SD to SATA (1201n)
17.40 - (Source) SATA to same SATA

NOTE: Nobody should take these test results for their absolute numbers.
Too many variables - these results are for my particular set of
circumstances / hardware, at that particular time. I do think, however,
that you can bank on the speeds relative to each technology. IMO. You
could tweak any given technology to achieve better results, no doubt,
but generally, for the average user, I expect one can reasonably rely on
these results, relatively.
Personal Conclusions:
- since the 1201n has such poor battery life, and so I'm trailing around
a power adapter anyways, and since I have wired enough jacks in my home
and have sufficiently long ethernet cables, wi-fi is pointless.
- given a netbook, without a Gbps wired ethernet port, the USB gigabit
adapter is pointless. The 300 KBps gained isn't worth any cost. Too many
other slow technologies are present. But, one doesn't acquire a netbook
for extreme speed.
- the SD results were interesting. Especially SD to itself (read &
write), Sata to SD (write), and SD to Sata (read).
- 802.11n 2.4GHz is probably pointless, given the number of wi-fi homes.
- since so much of 802.11n is still 2.4GHz, no point in replacing your
cordless phones, except to 1.9GHz DECT. Both keeping your 2.4GHz phones,
and replacing them with 5GHz phones, is self-defeating.
- copper, particularly Gigabit, really is worth the effort. Particularly
once you get over the unnecessary FUD of running cable or poking holes
in your floor. Myself, I just made small holes in the corner of a room -
didn't even try to go up the wall (studs), or went down the heating
ducts. Haven't looked back, since. Except, to pointlessly try 802.11n,
largely wasting the $.
- the results show, clearly, that 300Mbps is a fantasy. It may be true,
but the associated overhead means that comparing wi-fi speeds to wired
speeds is, IMO, fraud on the part of the industry. One would reasonably
have thought any wi-fi over 100 Mbps would be faster than wired 100
Mbps. NOT!
Hope this is useful for anyone considering a network upgrade,
particularly in wi-fi, and wondering if the speed gain will be worth the
$ spent. Not likely. But my results should at least give you an in-home
ballpark of what you might be looking at.
Comments welcome.

[1] http://ca.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=sZ0sI6WqjnCHGFta
[3] http://sabrent.com/#itemName=NETWORK&itemID=103&section=Product
[5] https://forum.openwrt.org
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/802.11n
[7] http://www.bandwidthplace.com

Recent comments - 1 new comment

1 new comment attached to Blog entry posted by Raul Suarez: Installing a
Lexmark x1155 using the z600 driver
   1. Oops, I didn't notice that by Raul Suarez

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