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Wireless Reviews

Routing Performance

Routing performance for the EA3500 using our standard test method and 1.0.30.126544 firmware is summarized in Table 3 along with E4200V2 performance. Throughput appears comparable. But Simultaneous Sessions are much lower, topping out at 1042 sessions—the best out of three test runs.

Test Description EA3500
Throughput - (Mbps)
E4200V2
Throughput - (Mbps)
WAN - LAN
223
254
LAN - WAN
218
235
Total Simultaneous
224
253
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 1042 8,192
Firmware Version
1.0.30.126544
2.0.26.124551
Table 3: Routing throughput comparison

As I've said many times before, this throughput is more than adequate for any home or small office environment where the EA3500 is likely to be installed.

The composite IxChariot plot of the three routing tests below shows nice and steady routing throughput, with an occasional spike/dropout during the simultaneous up/down test.

EA3500 routing throughput IxChariot plots

EA3500 routing throughput IxChariot plots

Use the Router Charts for more comparisons.

Wireless Performance - Overview

As is my practice with three-stream routers, I'll first summarize overall wireless performance test findings, then provide the details of each test set.

I used our standard test method to test the EA3500's wireless performance. Most testing was done with our standard Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 test client in a Lenovo x220i Thinkpad running Win 7 Home Premium SP1 (64 bit). For two-stream tests on the 5 GHz band only, I used 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. There is about a 30% gain in overall average throughput between two and three stream N on the 5 GHz band in 20 MHz bandwidth mode. This jumps to around 80% when comparing single direction averages in 40 MHz bandwidth mode. This is better than I've seen in previous two and three stream comparisons.

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 unidirectional tests.

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
2.4 GHz, 2 stream, 20 MHz 78 76 93
5 GHz, 2 stream, 20 MHz 64 56 80
5 GHz, 3 stream, 20 MHz 71 74 92
Table 4: Highest Throughput, 20 MHz mode

The gains from two to three stream performance vary between 10 and 30%. For 40 MHz bandwidth modes the two-to-three stream performance gain is more significant, between 30 and 60%!

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
2.4 GHz, 2 stream, 40 MHz 114 131 154
5 GHz, 2 stream, 40 MHz 81 76 112
5 GHz, 3 stream, 40 MHz 105 121 140
Table 5: Highest Throughput, 40 MHz mode

I have to say I'm pleased, but surprised to see a significant difference between two and three stream performance, given previous testing. And I'm especially surprised to see the difference from products based on such similar hardware. Let's hope this trend continues!

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