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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance

The ESR9855G is not Wi-Fi Certified and did not properly default to 20 MHz bandwidth mode on power-up. I was able to successfully run a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) session with my Win 7 client by entering the WPS code found on the router's bottom label. The WPS session completed quickly and resulted in a WPA2/AES secured connection with the same WPA2 pre-shared key. All tests were run with this secured connection using our latest wireless test process.

The 2.4 GHz downlink chart in Figure 8, filtered to show single band routers only, shows the ESR9855G ranking in the lower half.

ESR9855G Performance rank - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink
Figure 8: ESR9855G Performance rank - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink

I recently introduced radar charts to try to make it easier to compare the overall wireless performance of multiple products. Radar charts essentially let you compare the relative size and shapes of the plots to find the better performers. Since newer products are only tested in four locations, that is all the radar charts will show. Products with better overall performance will have larger shapes.

The radar chart in Figure 9 compares 20 MHz mode downlink performance for the ESR9855G, D-Link DIR-655A4, EnGenius ESR9850 and D-Link DIR-657.

The 9855G doesn't have the smallest footprint, but it's clear that it doesn't do as well as the DIR-655 and ESR9850 at the stronger signal test locations A and C. (Note that the full chart includes a table of actual measured values.)

Comparison Radar Plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink
Figure 9: Comparison Radar Plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink

But when the signal level is lower in Locations D and F, it does relatively well. This pattern holds for 20 MHz mode uplink and both up and downlink in 40 MHz mode. Have some fun using the radar charts to compare products and let me know what you think of them.

Returning to a tried and true performance view, the IxChariot throughput plot summary in Figure 10 shows very high throughput variation, especially at higher signal levels. This explains the relatively low average throughput in those locations. I tried repeating test runs when I saw high throughput swings, but got the same results.

Comparison Radar Plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink
Figure 7: IxChariot plots - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink

You'll see this in the plots for the other runs, too. Here are links to the other plots:

Closing Thoughts

As a wireless router, the ESR9855G doesn't have much to recommend it. If you're just interested in wired performance, it's one of the few newer routers that has Ubicom's auto-QoS. But if you want Ubicom-based, you'd be better off with D-Link's DIR-657, which has equally, uh, poor wireless performance, is a bit cheaper and can pump the ol' bits at over 300 Mbps up and down. Or there is always D-Link's old mainstay DIR-655, which I'm sure you save even more on, especially if you buy refurbished.

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