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Wireless Reviews

Performance

Lately, I seem to be running into products that I can't test on the Azimuth system and the 111 joined that group. It seems that the Azimuth ACE MIMO test software isn't set up to handle a client that's an Ethernet bridge. So I had to fall back to using my five location walk-around test.

Figure 9 shows downlink performance for three out of the five test locations. No results are shown for my most difficult Locations 4 and 5 because the 111's were not able to establish a reliable link. This is due partially to the higher attenuation of 5 GHz signals vs. 2.4 GHz. But I think it also reinforces my observations that draft 11n gear doesn't really do much for extending range.

Still, when it does work, the throughput is pretty impressive, with downlink speed ranging from a best case of 82 Mbps in Location 1 (same room) to a worst of 67 Mbps (same floor, two rooms away).

Downlink throughput comparison
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Figure 9: Downlink throughput comparison

Figure 10 shows uplink performance, which turns in higher Location 1 throughput of 89 Mbps. The large throughput drops in the Location 2 and 3 runs were not that unusual, as I saw them from time to time during my testing.

Uplink throughput comparison
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Figure 10: Uplink throughput comparison

The 111 is actually capable of total throughput over 100 Mbps when running full-tilt in both directions simultaneously. The throughput plot in the slideshow shows 105 Mbps. This means that the 100 Mbps LAN port is slightly limiting maximum performance. But since this is only under best-case (same room) conditions, I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it.

All of the above results were taken with the default conditions, which include Auto 20/40 Channel Width and WPA2 AES wireless security. I ran throughput tests using WEP and WPA/TKIP security and found the usual fallback to 54 Mbps 11g connection rates in both modes, which dropped throughput to the low 20 Mbps range.

By the way, I verified that the 111's were using 40 MHz channel width during the above tests by using a Cognio (now Cisco) Spectrum Expert spectrum analyzer. So I also ran a Location 1 test with the Channel Width forced to 20 MHz mode, which reduced total and unidirectional best-case throughput to around 60 Mbps.

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