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Wireless Performance - Competitive Comparison

I don't have open-air method test results for the 160N, so couldn't include it in the competitive comparison. Instead I chose two other single-band routers that had been tested with the Intel client, to eliminate different clients as a source of performance variation: the Linksys WRT310N and D-Link DIR-655 [A4].

Figure 14 shows a comparison of downlink, 20 MHz bandwidth mode tests, with the 160NL clearly the runt of the litter.

Competitive comparison - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz channel, downlink

Figure 10: Competitive comparison - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz channel, downlink

Table 2 summarizes the highest downlink throughput product in each location for the two modes tested and Table 3 compares uplink results. The chart was generated by going through the six-location comparison plots and putting an X in the product's box that had the highest throughput for each test. If values are within 0.5 Mbps of each other, they each get an "X".

Product 2.4GHz /20 2.4GHz / 40
Linksys WRT310N X X X X         X X    
Linksys WRT160NL         X X         X X
D-Link DIR-655 [A4]             X X        
Table 2: Best downlink throughput summary

Adding up the checkmarks for each product shows that the DIR-655 and WRT310N are essentially tied for both up and downlink, with the DIR-655 having only one more checkmark. But the 310N is the winner for downlink, while the DIR-655 is the best running uplink.

Product 2.4GHz /20 2.4GHz / 40
Linksys WRT310N   X     X X            
Linksys WRT160NL       X           X   X
D-Link DIR-655 [A4] X   X X   X X X X   X  
Table 3: Best uplink throughput summary

Closing Thoughts

The WRT160NL presents a great opportunity for the alternative firmware crowd to show that their distros really can improve product performance as well as add more knobs and switches to play with. Because something in the 160NL needs tweaking to fix the squirrely downlink performance.

But until other firmware becomes available, I don't know why anyone would want to pay 2x the price of the WRT160N and $10 to $20 more than much-better performing routers (with gigabit switches no less) just to get external antennas and turn a spare USB drive into a pretty slow NAS.

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