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Wireless Reviews

Overview

NETGEAR WNDR4500 N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router

In the original WNDR4500 review, I reported how NETGEAR had identified the source of my low 2.4 GHz downlink dual-stream test results, i.e. my use of a three-stream capable Intel 5300 card with only two antennas connected.

NETGEAR checked with both Broadcom and Intel to see what the installed base of three stream N clients with only two antennas connected was and found the answer was none. Both companies said that three stream clients were used only in notebooks with three antennas. So clearly my use of the Intel 5300 with only two antennas connected is a lone wolf.

The Acer's 1810T's original Intel 5100 card is only a 1x2 N client— 1 spatial stream for transmit (maximum 40 MHz mode link rate of 150Mbps) and 2 spatial streams for receive (maximum 40 MHz mode link rate of 300 Mbps). So I ordered up a full 2x2 N Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 mini PCIe card, installed it in the Acer Aspire 1810T notebook (replacing the Intel 5300 that I previously installed) and will be using this new configuration as my dual-stream test client going forward.

With this new client, I have rerun the dual-stream tests in both bands and updated the appropriate wireless benchmarks in the Router Charts, replacing the previous data. The summary and analysis with the new dual-stream data follows.

My apologies go to NETGEAR for the error and also my thanks for their help in identifying the source.

Wireless Performance - Overview

The retest Benchmark Summary is shown in Figure 1. The overall average difference between two and three stream operation still isn't that striking because three-stream N can only provide significantly higher throughput under very strong signal conditions (same room or next-room).

NETGEAR WNDR4500 benchmark summary - retest
Figure 1: NETGEAR WNDR4500 benchmark summary - retest

So that you don't have to flip back and forth between the Benchmark summary in the original review, I've compiled the two sets of dual-stream results into Table 1 and calculated the difference between them.

Test Group Retest Original % Difference
2.4 GHz 20 MHz Dn 36.9 22.2 +66
2.4 GHz 20 MHz Up 20.8 30.1 -31
2.4 GHz 40 MHz Dn 46.9 29.7 +58
2.4 GHz 40 MHz Up 26.6 37.6 -30
5 GHz 20 MHz Dn 34.0 28.9 +18
5 GHz 20 MHz Up 36.8 33.2 +11
5 GHz 40 MHz Dn 46.2 38.2 +21
5 GHz 40 MHz Up 44.2 53.3 -17
Table 1: Retest and Original Dual Stream N Benchmark Summary results

The summary shows average downlink throughput went up, but uplink average throughput went down.

Table 2 brings together the highest wireless throughput measured out of all locations in the 20 MHz mode test runs. I'm not calling out the test locations where each best throughput was found. But most times it was in Location A, with an occasional Location C.

The downlink numbers are significantly up from the original test, but the uplink numbers are about the same. This makes sense, since it was the WNDR4500 that was fooled into thinking it was connecting to a three-stream client when it was transmitting (downlink). And, of course, the simultanous down/uplink tests are higher.

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
2.4 GHz, 2 stream, 20 MHz 66 46 74
5 GHz, 2 stream, 20 MHz 55 61 58
Table 2: Highest Throughput, 20 MHz mode

Table 3 shows 40 MHz mode peak throughputs, which follow a similar pattern.

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
2.4 GHz, 2 stream, 40 MHz 75 63 94
5 GHz, 2 stream, 40 MHz 71 87 96
Table 3: Highest Throughput, 40 MHz mode

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