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Wireless Reviews

Storage

The Storage features are mostly unchanged from the V1, i.e. SMB file sharing, FTP and UPnP AV media serving. FAT32, NTFS, and HFS+ formatted drives are supported. But the built-in FAT formatter is gone as the screenshot below shows. There still is no support for iTunes serving, Torrent downloading, AFP or Time Machine backups.

Storage settings

Storage settings

Media server controls are the same, with only server naming and scan controls (folder select, scan time [2 (default), 6, 12, 24, 48 hours], manual scan and folder delete). Checking the .tmp folder auto-created in the USB drive root reveals a wealth of files created by PacketVideo's Twonky media server. The files include a log file and twonkymedia-config.html. The latter reveals the port for the server, shown in the screenshot below.

Twonky access

Twonky access

File uploading is enabled, but access to the Twonky configuration screen isn't.

I was able to successfully mount and test filecopy performance for both FAT and NTFS formatted drives, using our standard Iomega UltraMax Pro drive in RAID 0. V2 and V1 results are summarized in the Table below.

  E4200V2 E4200
FAT32 Write 9.8 5.9
FAT32 Read 21.6 5.1
NTFS Write 20.1 7.0
NTFS Read 22.2 5.5
Table 2: E4200V2 and E4200 component summary

Everything except writes to a FAT32 formatted drive came in over 20 MB/s! I repeated the FAT32 tests multiple times and got the same results. So the low write speed isn't a fluke.

Routing Performance

Routing performance for the E4200V2 using our standard test method and 2.0.26.124551 firmware (freshly updated) is summarized in Table 3. Even though the V2 uses a much more powerful processor and more memory than the original, routing speeds have been ratcheted down to the mid 250 Mbps range, as have maximum simultaneous sessions, to 8,192.

Test Description E4200V2
Throughput - (Mbps)
E4200
Throughput - (Mbps)
WAN - LAN
254
687
LAN - WAN
235
689
Total Simultaneous
253
726
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 8,192 34,925
Firmware Version
2.0.26.124551
1.0.00
Table 3: Routing throughput

While lower than the V1's, these speeds are plenty for most users. The composite IxChariot plot of the three routing tests below shows nice and steady routing throughput.

E4200V2 routing throughput IxChariot plots

E4200V2 routing throughput IxChariot plots

Use the Router Charts for more comparisons.

Wireless Performance - Overview

This product has been retested with the Rev 7 wireless test process. See this article for the results.

With simultaneous dual-band routers that support three stream N, I make a total of eight test runs and that's a lot of data to absorb. So I'm taking the same approach as in the WNDR4500 review, providing a summary of wireless performance first, followed by detail sections.

I used our updated test method to test the V2's wireless performance. Three-stream tests were done with our standard Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 test client in a Lenovo x220i Thinkpad running Win 7 Home Premium SP1 (64 bit). Two-stream tests were run with an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 in a Acer Aspire 1810T notebook running Win 7 Home Premium SP1 (64 bit). As usual, I set the 2.4 GHz radio to Channel 1 and the 5 GHz radio to Channel 36. All tests were run with WPA2/AES security engaged.

I successfully ran a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) session with a 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 set for both radios. As noted earlier, both radios default to the same SSID, so I changed them to different values before beginning to test.

First look at the Benchmark Summary below. As we've seen with other three-stream router tests, the overall average difference between two and three stream operation isn't that striking. That's because three-stream N can only provide significantly higher throughput under very strong signal conditions (same room or next-room). In addition, protocol overhead and other factors limit throughput for single connections. We'll see this more clearly next.

E4200V2 benchmark summary

E4200V2 benchmark summary

Table 4 summarizes 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 because in this case, it was always Location A. Note that the Dn/Up result is the test where I run simultaneous up and downlink tests in Location A. This test usually shows higher throughput than the single-connection tests because of the factors mentioned above.

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
2.4 GHz, 2 stream, 20 MHz 67 53 86
2.4 GHz, 3 stream, 20 MHz 73 58 85
5 GHz, 2 stream, 20 MHz 68 54 86
5 GHz, 3 stream, 20 MHz 67 50 73
Table 4: Highest Throughput, 20 MHz mode

Not a huge difference between two and three stream performance is there? Now let's look at the same summary, but for 40 MHz bandwidth modes. Table 5 finally shows a significant throughput gain (~18%), but only when two connections are active simultaneously.

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
2.4 GHz, 2 stream, 40 MHz 83 74 104
2.4 GHz, 3 stream, 40 MHz 79 76 122
5 GHz, 2 stream, 40 MHz 79 65 101
5 GHz, 3 stream, 40 MHz 84 71 120
Table 5: Highest Throughput, 40 MHz mode

There is both good and bad news here. The good is that it appears that ordinary two-stream clients (at least the one I tested) can get essentially the same throughput for single connections as three-stream clients. The bad news is that you need multiple three-stream clients accessing the router simultaneously to reap the benefit of higher (total) bandwidth from your investment in an "N900" router.

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