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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance - Three Stream

To perform tests using all three streams, I had to get another antenna attached to the Intel 5300 card. Since getting to the wireless card in the Dell Mini 12 requires significant disassembly, I turned to my Acer Aspire 1810T. Getting to the Acer's wireless card is easy, requiring only the simple removal of a panel on the bottom of the machine.

As I surveyed my stock of past-reviewed routers, I remembered the D-Link DIR-655 that had died after only a month of service. After some minor surgery, I had transplanted its connectorized antenna and internal pigtail cable to the Aspire.

Acer Aspire 1810T with third antenna - bottom view

Figure 9: Acer Aspire 1810T with third antenna - bottom view

The pictures in Figures 9 and 10 show the result ain't pretty, but it got the job done.

Acer Aspire 1810T with third antenna - top view

Figure 10: Acer Aspire 1810T with third antenna - top view

With this third antenna attached to the Intel 5300 card's terminal 3, I now got a 217 Mbps link rate with the router set to 20 MHz channel bandwidth mode and 450 Mbps with Auto 20/40 MHz mode.

I reran the tests with the router set to 20 MHz channel bandwidth and got the unimpressive results shown in Figure 11.

TRENDnet TEW-691GR wireless performance - three antenna client, 20 MHz B/W mode
Click to enlarge image

Figure 11: TRENDnet TEW-691GR wireless performance - three antenna client, 20 MHz B/W mode

Downlink speed is again the slowest—exactly the opposite of what potential HD video streamers want! But the extrememely high throughput variation would kill any hope of trouble-free streaming anyway.

By the way, I kept an eye on the link rate during testing and found it constantly bounced around, spending very little time at 450 Mbps. And remember, this was with router and client in the same room, only 10 feet apart!

TRENDnet TEW-691GR wireless performance - three antenna client, 40 MHz B/W mode
Click to enlarge image

Figure 12: TRENDnet TEW-691GR wireless performance - three antenna client, 40 MHz B/W mode

Figure 12 shows the results when I switched the router to Auto 20/40 MHz channel bandwidth mode. While it was nice to see results close to 100 Mbps, once again, I've seen similar speeds from the DIR-685 and WNDR3700.

Closing Thoughts

I'll be running a full set of six location tests with both two and three antenna clients in the next few weeks. But, to tell the truth, I'm not really in a hurry to do them, because the key "reveal" has already been done.

I hope as much as you do that this first test of three stream N technology isn't the final word on what this much-awaited technology can produce. But, at least for now, it shows that three-stream N technology isn't yet capable of delivering better performance than you can already get with better-performing dual-stream gear.

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