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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Tests - RangeMax a la mode

Before I get into the results of my RangeMax testing, I have a few general observations about the test process and RangeMax technology in general. It's common practice for manufacturers to supply "guides" to reviewers that suggest how to test their products. After all, manufacturers want their products to be seen in the best light and reviewers don't always have the time to read product documentation.

802.11g products present a particular challenge, because of the many proprietary throughput and range enhancements they include. Testing using all combinations of the various settings provided isn't practical - it would just take too much time. So it has been my general practice to test wireless products in their default settings.

The thinking here is that manufacturers know their products best and will set their defaults to provide the best user experience - including throughput vs. range performance and compatibility with "legacy" products. I also figure that since most users just plug these products in and futz with settings only to the extent required to get them running, testing with the defaults will provide results reflective of what the majority of users will see.

The reviewers guide that NETGEAR provided was very specific in its recommended settings for optimizing different aspects of performance. And while I can't share the details of the recommended settings (NETGEAR asked me not to), I can show you the results of some experiments that I ran to see the effects of the various Super-G controls on the 824's throughput performance.

I used my standard wireless test setup with the 824 as the wireless router under test and the WPN511 RangeMax CardBus card as the test client. The IxChariot wired LAN client was a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 machine running WinXP Home SP2 and I had the WPN511 loaded into my trusty Dell Inspiron 4100 notebook with a 1GHz Celeron CPU and WinXP Home SP2.

I then performed multiple test runs at my four indoor test locations, changing settings on the 824 between runs. I ran the WPN511 Client Utility on the notebook and left all settings at their defaults. Because Super-G cycles between single and bonded-channel modes in the Auto108 mode that I used as the base for all my runs, I extended my normal one minute test period to three minutes, which is time enough to allow a complete cycle in and out of channel bonding.

I used the standard throughput.scr IxChariot script, changing only the file_size parameter (the number of Bytes in the transferred file) from its default of 100,000 to 200,000 Bytes. Got all that? Good. On to the results.

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