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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance

I used the open air test method described here to test the 160NL's wireless performance. Testing was done using the SNB standard wireless test client, an Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300 AGN mini-PCIe card and 12.2.0.11 driver in a Dell Mini 12 running WinXP Home SP3. I left all client-side defaults in place except for enabling throughput enhancement (packet bursting) and changing the 802.11n Channel Width (2.4 GHz) setting from its 20 MHz default to Auto, so that the adapter would support 40 MHz channel bonding mode.

The router had the latest v1.00.01 B15 firmware and all factory default settings in place, except setting channel 1.

Figure 11 shows a composite of up and downlink throughput tests made at the six test locations with both 20 and 40 MHz channel width modes. Each column represents the average throughput from a one minute test. Best case throughput of 80.3 Mbps was measured running downlink with a 40 MHz channel bandwidth at Location A.

Note, however, that downlink bandwidth is generally very poor and averaged only around 4 Mbps running downlink in 40 MHz mode at Location B!

Six location wireless throughput summary

Figure 11: Six location wireless throughput summary

The IxChariot plot in Figure 12 shows that high throughput variation is the reason for the low average throughput. Something in the 160NL needs tuning because I saw the link rate constantly changing during the tests that had low throughput.

Six location wireless throughput - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz channel, downlink
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Figure 12: Six location wireless throughput - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz channel, downlink

If you'd like to see the other IxChariot plots just click the links: 20 MHz uplink, 40 MHz downlink, 40 MHz uplink.

Wireless Security

I recently learned that the reduction in throughput with WEP or WPA/TKIP enabled that I have been observing is actually behavior that is mandated by the draft 802.11n spec. Draft 802.11n's higher link rates are only supposed to be enabled when either no security or WPA/AES security is in effect. Otherwise, link rates only up to 54 Mbps (802.11g) can be enabled.

Figure 13 shows that the 160NL properly limits performance to 11g speeds with WEP and WPA/TKIP enabled and choosing WPA2/AES security has no measurable effect on throughput.

Security mode comparison - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz channel, downlink

Figure 13: Security mode comparison - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz channel, downlink

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