As I was preparing this article, I received the Linksys WRT54G draft-11g wireless router, which came with a new firmware revision that was supposed to have improved performance. I also downloaded and installed new firmware for the Buffalo Tech WBRG54 wireless router from their support webpage. Client card drivers and firmware remained the same.
NOTE: Linksys issued updated firmware for their WAP54G Access Point after I performed the testing for this article. So the results you see here don't reflect the latest firmware.
Both routers were set up as access points so that the routing portion's performance didn't get in the way. As you'll see, some progress has been made already in the throughput department.
Figure 5: Throughput comparison - Linksys vs Buffalo - New firmware - Mixed mode
(click on the image for a full-sized view)
Figure 5 shows both pairs of products set to their default modes, which allow both draft-11g and 11b clients to connect. It's also important to note that there were no 802.11b clients in range for these tests.
You can see that the Buffalo Tech is still hopping along, but that the size of the hops has been greatly reduced. The Linksys (upper trace) doesn't show as much change, but you can see many more quick dips in throughput (I call these "throughput dropouts") than in Figure 3. (Don't attach any significance to the fact that the Linksys trace stops after 1 minute. I got bored and stopped it manually!)
Although these are welcome improvements, I found that average throughput will drop about 25% from what you see in Figure 5 when an 802.11b client just associates (connects) to either the Linksys or Buffalo Tech routers (Key Point #1 in action). Of course, once the 11b client starts transferring data, throughput changes yet again, which I'll show in the next section.