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 Features

An Inconvenient Truth

Updated 10/10/2007 - Postscript added with 100 Mbps test results

One of these is not like the other

Despite a certain networking publication's enthusiasm for the still not-fully-baked draft 802.11n wireless LAN technology, you can safely continue to install CAT 5e cabling without fear of wasting your hard-earned money. Wired Ethernet is not going to be replaced by 802.11n or any other wireless technology on the horizon anytime soon, if ever.

How do I make such a bold statement? Well, the facts really speak for themselves. Figures 1 and 2 are taken from our Wireless Performance Charts and show downlink and uplink throughput vs. path loss curves for three draft 11n products, representing the three major draft 11n chipsets.

The Netgear WNR854T uses Marvell's TopDog, the D-Link DIR-655 represents Atheros' XSPAN while the Netgear WNR834Bv2 has Broadcom's Intensi-fi inside. Note that the WNR834B has only 100 Mbps WAN and LAN Ethernet ports, while the other products have gigabit Ethernet.

Downlink Throughput - 20 MHz bandwidth mode
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: Downlink Throughput - 20 MHz bandwidth mode

It's clear to see that none of the products even approaches 100 Mbps of TCP/IP throughput in either up or downlink directions. Note that these plots have the devices configured in their "out of the box" condition, which is with no encryption and using the 20 MHz bandwidth mode which ensures peaceful coexistence with existing 802.11b and g networks.

Uplink Throughput - 20 MHz bandwidth mode
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: Uplink Throughput - 20 MHz bandwidth mode

But say that you don't give a damn about messing up existing WLANs and change the devices to use the 40 MHz bandwidth mode. Figure 3 shows that only one product—the Netgear WNR854T— provides throughput equivalent to 100 Mbps Ethernet.

Downlink Throughput - 40 MHz bandwidth mode
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: Downlink Throughput - 40 MHz bandwidth mode

Unfortunately, that high throughput doesn't last very long. According to my correlation study with real-world performance, the ~80 dB of path loss where performance starts to sharply drop corresponds to about 50 feet through a few sheetrock walls or about 25 feet through a residential wood-frame floor.

Uplink Throughput - 40 MHz bandwidth mode
Click to enlarge image

Figure 4: Uplink Throughput - 40 MHz bandwidth mode

Figure 4 shows that the two products with Marvell and Atheros chipsets provide around 80 Mbps of TCP/IP throughput in the uplink direction. But the Netgear WNR834Bv2 using the Broadcom chipset actually loses around 20 Mbps of throughput when running uplink.

More Wireless

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

Hi, i have a dude for a postconf script, and i would like that someone could help me to resolve this, i need to remove the option by defect im my conf...
Hello,I've been using Merlin firmware for ASUS routers for a few years and have donated to the project. I installed RT-AC3200_384.6_0 stable this week...
I have issue with router Asus RT-AC51U / Epson SX210, printer has been connected to router usb port (print server&hdd sharing) usually printer port wo...
Great price for this if you're in the UK/Europe for arguably the best router out there for wifi. Its only on sale for the next day or so though.https:...
I'm newbie to network security / VPN. How can I access my router remotely using VPN? I have nord VPN subscription. Can you guys willing to help me.I'm...

Don't Miss These

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3