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Wireless Performance - more

Since we now have an idea of how the six products compare to one another, let's see how they compare to more expensive three-antenna products.

I used the four average throughput 2.4 GHz Wireless Charts, i.e. 20 MHz mode up and downlink and 40 MHz mode up and downlink, and found the highest-ranked product from this group (again, minus the Belkin) and the highest-ranked draft 11n product of all products. The results are summarized in Table 4.

Wireless Chart Test Best from Roundup Group Average Throughput (Mbps) Best overall Average Throughput (Mbps)
2.4 GHz Downlink Average Throughput D-Link DIR-625 48 Apple Airport Extreme 59
2.4 GHz Uplink Average Throughput Linksys WRT150N & Linksys WRT160N (tie) 51 Apple Airport Extreme 56
2.4 GHz Downlink Average Throughput - 40 MHz mode D-Link DIR-625 61 Trendnet TEW-633GR 84
2.4 GHz Uplink Average Throughput - 40 MHz mode Linksys WRT150N 56 Buffalo WZR-AG300NH 90
D-Link DIR-655 72
Table 4: Highest-ranked products - average throughput

I then repeated the exercise using the maximum throughput 2.4 GHz Wireless Charts. Those results are shown in Table 5.

Wireless Chart Test Best from Roundup Group Maximum Throughput (Mbps) Best overall Maximum Throughput (Mbps)
2.4 GHz Downlink Maximum Throughput Linksys WRT150N 61 Linksys WRT600N 74
2.4 GHz Uplink Maximum Throughput Linksys WRT150N 68 Linksys WRT600N 74
2.4 GHz Downlink Maximum Throughput - 40 MHz mode D-Link DIR-615 & D-Link DIR-625 (tie) 78 Trendnet TEW-633GR 116
2.4 GHz Uplink Maximum Throughput - 40 MHz mode Linksys WRT150N 78 Buffalo WZR-AG300NH
D-Link DIR-655
95
Netgear WNR854T 85
Table 5: Highest-ranked products - maximum throughput

There are two products shown for the 40MHz uplink tests because you currently can't buy Buffalo products in the U.S. So the next highest ranking product that you can buy is shown.

The key take-away from Tables 4 and 5 is that there really isn't that great a performance gain from the more expensive products when they are operated in their default 20 MHz bandwidth mode. The three-antenna products really get to strut their stuff when switched to use 40 MHz bandwidth—but at the expense of possibly interfering with neighboring 11b/g networks.

The last thing we'll look at is how well some of the "best" routers perform over range. Figure 7 shows a clear performance advantage for the Trendnet TEW-633GR vs. the D-Link DIR-625 when running downlink in 40 MHz bandwidth mode, even though both use the same Atheros 3x3 chipset! Unfortunately, the Trendnet's advantage doesn't hold for 40 MHz mode uplink, with the product dropping into next to last place in the Wireless Chart!

"Best two" throughput comparison - Downlink, 40 MHz bandwidth mode

Figure 7: "Best two" throughput comparison - Downlink, 40 MHz bandwidth mode

Figure 8 shows that there isn't as clear-cut an advantage for the top-ranked products running uplink in 40 MHz mode. The unavailable Buffalo WZR-AG300NH stopped very early, most likely due to ranging algorithm issues that caused it to disassociate from the Azimuth test system and not automatically reassociate. But the next-best D-Link DIR-655 wasn't that much faster than the Linksys WRT150N under strong signal conditions.

"Best two" throughput comparison - Uplink, 40 MHz bandwidth mode

Figure 8: "Best two" throughput comparison - Uplink, 40 MHz bandwidth mode

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