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Performance

In my little home network, I can't hope to come close to giving an Enterprise-grade multi-AP system enough of a workout to really stress it. So my performance tests mostly focused on the mesh aspect of Meraki's system, even though Meraki says that most of their SMB customer networks of 50-5,000 users use Ethernet to connect their APs.

I first ran tests with the 802.11 B/G Indoor and Outdoor AP, sited at locations shown in Figure 16. Since both are single radio APs, a single mesh hop would cut throughput at least in half due to the single radio having to receive, then retransmit each packet. So I expected performance similar to what I would see from a WDS repeating setup.

AP test locations

Figure 16: AP test locations

And that was what I found. Figure 17 shows an IxChariot test with Meraki Indoor and Outdoor APs set up with the Indoor as the Gateway in the lower level Office location and the Outdoor mesh-connected located in the upper level hallway area.

One client was associated with the Indoor AP, sitting about 10 feet away from it, while another client was associated with the Outdoor AP, slightly further away on the other side of a wall.

The plot shows higher throughput averaging around 7.5 Mbps over the one minute test run from the Indoor AP associated client (non-mesh) and a significantly lower 1 Mbps speed from the client running through the Outdoor AP's mesh connection.

Direct and Mesh performance - 802.11 G APs
Click to enlarge image

Figure 17: Direct and Mesh performance - 802.11 G APs

Actually, the mesh-connected client managed around 2 Mbps at the start and end of the run. But it dropped to almost negligible throughput during most of the run, pushing down the measured average. I also ran an downlink test using just the mesh-connected client and measured around 3 Mbps for a one minute run.

But 11G technology is soooo yesterday. So I took Meraki's suggestion and also ran mesh tests using a pair of dual-radio MR14's. With one radio to talk to a client and the other to use for a "backhaul" mesh link, there should be no 50+% throughput penalty for retransmission. And since 802.11N is capable of providing bandwidths of 30 - 50 Mbps with a decent connection, I expected great things from a dual-radio 11N mesh.

Unfortunately, that's not what I got. I took down the Indoor and Outdoor APs and set up two MR14's in the same locations shown in Figure 16. The AP monitor for both APs showed signal levels of 25 - 27 dB and an estimated distance of around 10 m (33 feet) between the two—surprisingly accurate.

Note that since Meraki's mesh set up is completely hands-off, I had no control over the bands or channels used. I could have controlled the band used by the Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300 dual-band N client in the test notebook. But I left it in dual-band mode and let it do its own thing when it associated.

I started out with the test client in the downstairs office, about 10 feet away from the Office Gateway MR14 that it associated with. The IxChariot test result in Figure 18 shows throughput not unlike I've seen with other 11N router / APs—around 87 Mbps down and 62 Mbps up.

Best case throughput - N client associated with N Gateway AP
Click to enlarge image

Figure 18: Best case throughput - N client associated with N Gateway AP

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