Like every other website on the planet, SmallNetBuilder uses cookies. Our cookies track login status, but we only allow admins to log in anyway, so those don't apply to you. Any other cookies you pick up during your visit come from advertisers, which we don't control.
If you continue to use the site, you agree to tolerate our use of cookies. Thank you!

Router Charts

Click for Router Charts

Router Ranker

Click for Router Ranker

NAS Charts

Click for NAS Charts

NAS Ranker

Click for NAS Ranker

More Tools

Click for More Tools

Wireless Basics

Rule #1: It never goes as fast as they say it does

Since manufacturers know that people buying computer gear like to compare numbers, and that bigger numbers are usually more attractive than smaller numbers, they're more than happy to oblige! So they make sure you see the biggest throughput number that they can quote on all their marketing literature.

Tip! Tip: "Throughput" or "transfer rate" is the number of bits that move from one place to another in a given period of time. For wireless networking equipment, throughput is usually quoted in Mbps (Megabits per second).

This number, however, is usually the raw data rate, and is something that you'll never approach in your actual network. What number can you use? The answer is Rule 1A:

Rule #1A: Take the manufacturer's Mbps number and divide by (at least) two.

This means that for the most popular wireless networking standard right now (802.11g), you take the 54 Mbps quoted number, divide by two, and get 27 Mbps. This would be the fastest speed that you'd most likely experience on your network, under best-case conditions. (We'll explain what we mean by "best case conditions" later, when we talk about Rule #2.)

And truth be told, in actual use, you'll be lucky to get about 40% of whatever number you see prominently displayed on the front of the product box.

"Enhanced" modes that have been added to 802.11a, b and g products promise even higher speeds, although they usually throw in a caution that all of your equipment has to come from the same manufacturer for the higher speeds to work. These "turbo" modes actually, do work, but are worth a rule of their own:

Rule #1B: You can't depend on quoted "Turbo" or "enhanced" mode speeds in mixed networks.

The main reason for this rule is that speed enhancement techniques rely on working with their own kind in order to maximize network speed. Even though the most popular 802.11g techniques - Broadcom's AfterBurner, and Atheros' Super-G - use some of the same speed-enhancement techniques, they are implemented differently and therefore aren't interoperable. And when the techniques don't work, the products default back to using the standard (and slower) 802.11g protocols that they must be able to implement.

Tip! Tip: Broadcom and Atheros are manufacturers of the wireless chipsets found in many wireless products.

And, thanks to the marketing folks at your favorite manufacturer of networking products, even when the same speed-boosting techniques are used, the names are changed so that you, the consumer, can't tell that they are the same.

For example, Broadcom's AfterBurner technology is called "SpeedBooster" by Linksys, and "125* High-Speed Mode" by Buffalo Technology. Products using Atheros' Super G chips are a little easier to keep track of, since most manufacturers either use "108 Mbps" somewhere in the product name or even use the actual "Super G " term somewhere in their product literature.

More Basics

Wi-Fi System Tools
Check out our Wi-Fi System Charts, Ranker and Finder!

Support Us!

If you like what we do and want to thank us, just buy something on Amazon. We'll get a small commission on anything you buy. Thanks!

Over In The Forums

I have OpneVPN server running and i can connect just fine and pass thru to the internet. The problem is i cant get to other machines on the local netw...
Assumption: Kill Switch will block traffic until such time as OpenVPN connection is re-established.Situation: Have the following configuration for Ope...
I do not want to open up port 80 and forward to traefik running on an internal pc unless the specific domain is used. For example if I go to the Exter...
I’ve been running Google Wifi for a while and really like the stability of it.I grown to miss a dedicated 5Ghz band thou.What would be best to go for ...
Hi All,Is latest stock 1.0.1.50 the best to run it in AP? Planning to run 1 or 2 along my main Asus AC1900 (Merlin fw). Might retire Asus n66u from ...

Don't Miss These

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3