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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Tests - Throughput vs. Range

Since this is my first test of Airgo's third generation technology, I ran it through throughput vs. range and mixed WLAN tests. I also set up an adjacent 802.11g wireless LAN to see if Airgo's Adaptive Channel Expansion technology (ACE) worked. Let's start with throughput testing.

I'll be using the Wireless Quality Score (WQS) system that I introduced in the MIMO Face-Off review, but will also provide raw throughput numbers. And since I have all that nice MIMO product performance data, I'll also rank the RM240 for both throughput and WQS. If you want to bone up on what WQS is all about, hop on over to this page, which explains it all.

Testing was done with a Netgear WPNT511 RangeMax 240 Cardbus client card in a 1GHz Dell Inspiron notebook running WinXP Home SP2. I used an updated Netgear client, which reported 1.2.0.0 firmware on the card, a driver version of 2.0.2.8, and driver date of Nov. 10, 2005.

On the router itself, I checked for new firmware and didn't find anything more recent than the V1.0_28 NA reported on the Router Status screen. I left all factory default settings in place (see Figures 4 and 5 above for the details), with the exception of forcing the channel used to 6.

Also of note is that Netgear did not put a gigabit switch in the RM240 and the Airgo technology really is capable of delivering application-level, i.e. real, throughput in excess of 100Mbps. So to avoid having the 100Mbps Ethernet connection on the wired IxChariot test partner limit performance, my test setup actually used two WinXP SP2 machines connected to two of the RM240's 100Mbps switch ports. All test data still flowed only on the LAN side of the RM240, so the router portion of the product didn't get in the way at all.

  Average Total Throughput
(Mbps)
Min. Throughput
(Mbps)
Max. Throughput
(Mbps)
WQS
Location 1 100.190
4.348 88.889 35.8
Location 2 93.875
4.510 86.957 41.3
Location 3 100.542 5.926 88.889 52.5
Location 4 28.742 0.326 45.977 0.7
Location 5 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total 323.3     130.3
Table 1: RangeMax 240 Downlink Throughput Results

Table 1 summarizes the downlink (AP to STA) and Table 2 the uplink results. The low minimum throughput and high Relative Precision numbers in downlink mean that the product has higher throughput variation in that direction than for uplink. The "N/A"s for Location 5 in both directions mean that I wasn't able to get a reliable link in that location to run the test.

2 February 2006 Update - The Average Total Throughput column in Table 1 and 2 represents the total of average readings for two IxChariot endpoint pairs. The Max. and Min. Throughput columns represent the highest and lowest values recorded from both endpoint pairs. This is why the Average Total Throughput value can be higher than the Max. Throughput value.

  Average Total Throughput
(Mbps)
Min. Throughput
(Mbps)
Max. Throughput
(Mbps)
WQS
Location 1 107.297 36.036 85.107 217.0
Location 2 98.970 27.586 83.334 142.7
Location 3 101.117 23.392 67.797 139.1
Location 4 37.683 4.890 50.000 8.7
Location 5 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total 345.1
    507.5
Table 2: RangeMax 240 Uplink Throughput Results

The results are indeed impressive and are the first time I've seen a wireless product of any flavor deliver usable throughput in excess of 100Mbps! What was not so impressive, however, is how throughput dropped over 30% when I enabled 128 bit WEP encryption! Switching to the most secure WPA2 wireless security mode showed a negligible effect on throughput, which I attribute to a built-in AES encryption engine somewhere in the Airgo chipset.

Although I applaud Airgo and Netgear for supporting both WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK right from first shipments of the RM240, I also have to give them a big thunk on the side o' the head for the poor WEP performance.

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