I used the new open air test method described here to put the 3300 through its wireless paces. Testing was done using a Netgear WNDA3100 dual-band USB adapter inserted into a Fujitsu P7120 Lifebook (1.2 GHz Intel Pentium M, 504 MB) notebook running WinXP Pro SP2 with all the latest updates. I used the latest 220.127.116.11 driver and Win XP's built-in Wireless Zero Config client during testing. The router was upgraded to v1.0.23 firmware and I left all factory default settings in place, except to set Channel 1 for 2.4 GHz tests and Channel 36 for 5 GHz tests.
Figure 7 shows a composite of downlink throughput tests made at the six new test locations in five wireless modes: 2.4 GHz w/ 11g radio; 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz channel (Up to 130 Mbps setting); 2.4 GHz, 40 MHz channel (Up to 270 Mbps setting); 5 GHz, 20 MHz channel; and 5 GHz, 40 MHz channel. Each column represents the average throughput from a one minute test.
Note that you can compare the 2.4 and 5 GHz results, since the open-air tests properly reflect the propagation and attenuation differences between the two bands.
Figure 7: WNDR3300 wireless performance summary - downlink
Only the 11g radio (the default for 2.4 GHz) reached all six test locations running downlink. But the larger issue is that the draft 11n radio does not provide much of a throughput boost in either 2.4 or 5 GHz in 40 MHz mode. The reason is shown in Figure 8 .
Basically, high throughput variation holds down the average throughput when running in channel-bonded mode. Figure 8 shows the draft 11n radio set to 5GHz, "Up to 270 Mbps" mode running downlink. If you look at the Location C results (loc_c plot) you see a maximum throughput of 51.724 Mbps, but an average of 27.697 Mbps—about half.
Figure 8:Wireless throughput detail - 2.4 GHz draft 11n 40 MHz channel downlink
Figure 9 pulls together all of the uplink average test results, which show disappointingly low throughput across the board, except for the 11b/g radio. Not only are all values lower than their downlink counterparts, with the exception of Location A, 2.4 GHz, 40 MHz mode. But when the draft 11n radio was put into 5 GHz "Up to 270 Mbps" mode (40 MHz mode in the chart), it failed to even connect in Location D, i.e. it had even shorter range.
Figure 9: WNDR3300 wireless performance summary - uplink
To save space, I'm not going to go through the IxChariot plots for each test. But the slideshow has all the plots along with commentary.
Since the charts don't show it, I have to comment on my experience using the draft 11n radio set to 2.4 GHz. I normally can just move my notebook to each test location and as long as the client is associated, just start the IxChariot test. But when running the tests on the draft 11n radio set to the 2.4 GHz band, I had to struggle to run the tests.
For just about every test other than at Location A, I had to futz with the connection in order to successfully start the IxChariot tests. It usually took some combination of running a ping back to the router and/or a Windows connection "Repair". Since I had a lot of tests to run, you can imagine that this got real annoying, real fast.
Note that I did not have this trouble with the radio switched to the 5 GHz band, or the 11g radio at all. My conclusion is that while the new firmware has helped draft 11n 2.4 GHz performance, there still ain't something right with the radio in that mode.