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I used our new test process, also used for testing wireless adapters, to test both bridges. I checked for new firmware for both devices and didn't find any. So I used the V1.0.0.44_1.0.32 version that came loaded on the WNCE3001 and v1.13 loaded on the CV-7438nDM.

The NETGEAR was placed on its side with one of the wide surfaces facing the test chamber antennas, which were 8" away. The Edimax' "reflector dish" front was pointed toward the chamber antennas, also 8" away.

The ASUS RT-AC66U reference router was set to Channel 153 and Auto 20/40/80 MHz bandwidth mode for 5 GHz tests and Channel 6 and 20 MHz bandwidth mode for the 2.4 GHz band run.

Since the throughput vs. attenuation plots are the most informative, let's jump right to 'em. The 2.4 GHz downlink plot shows both adapters starting out around 90 Mbps, but the NETGEAR quickly starting a steeper drop until it recovers at around 39 dB of attenuation.

Benchmark Summary

2.4 GHz downlink throughput vs. attenuation

On 2.4 GHz uplink, the Edimax starts out looking pretty good, until it hits a wall at 30 dB of attenuation. Looks like some serious link rate algorithm problems there. Note that in both cases, the NETGEAR disconnects at 54 dB while the Edimax stays connected until the end of the test run.

2.4 uplink throughput vs. attenuation

2.4 GHz uplink throughput vs. attenuation

The Edimax has a similar story for 5 GHz downlink, starting out strong, but rapidly declining sooner than it should. The NETGEAR looks like it starts at a lower link rate and stays there.

5GHz downlink throughput vs. attenuation

5 GHz downlink throughput vs. attenuation

Finally, the 5 GHz uplink results show the Edimax again hitting a throughput wall way too early and the NETGEAR never attaining equivalent top throughput levels. I'd have to say that the NETGEAR has the better 5 GHz performance of the two, although it doesn't hit the same top throughput of the Edimax.

5 uplink throughput vs. attenuation

5 GHz uplink throughput vs. attenuation

Since both bridges are N and the reference router is AC, it's possible there are some incompatibilities at play here. Or it could just as well be subtle differences in the way Broadcom and Realtek devices play together.

Closing Thoughts

Neither the NETGEAR WNCE3001 nor the Edimax CV-7438nDM is a clear winner in this matchup, even though the Wireless Adapter / Bridge Ranker put the Edimax on top. The Ranker performance detail for both products below shows a mix of first and second place ranks that tended to cancel each other out when the sub-rank scores were totaled.

Ranker performance detail comparison

Ranker performance detail comparison

There's something just plain odd going on with the Edimax' uplink performance, which could possibly be due to some incompatility with the ASUS RT-AC66U reference router. Or the Edimax' uplink performace could just be, uh, odd. It definitely turns in higher throughput with strong signals than the NETGEAR on both bands, however.

If I had to buy one of these, I honestly don't know which one I would choose, since each has key strengths, which are offset by equally strong weaknesses. For the $80 that the Edimax wants, I'd probably buy the ASUS EA-N66 and use something else as an AirPlay client.

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