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Wi-Fi System

These benchmarks measure up and downlink 2.4 and 5 GHz throughput at each system node, by "walking" the octoScope Pal dual-band test client from node to node. Since tests are made with 0 dB attenuation between the Pal test client and each system node, all measurements are best case. As signal levels between system node and client drop (i.e. distance increases), throughput will decrease proportionate to the RvR curves above. The Pal devices can be set to associate only with a specific BSSID, which equates to an AP radio. So when we say we're measuring 2.4 GHz throughput at the Hop 2 node, we know that's what is being measured.

These benchmarks provide a good indication of what's happening in the backhaul in each node. Focus on the 5 GHz results in particular, since from the RvR results, we know all products can deliver at least 400 Mbps on the root node with no backhaul involved. For these tests, I'll show all five products because the Orbi desktop and wall-plugged satellites yield different results.

The 2.4 GHz downlink chart shows throughput measured at each node, with the A bars being the root node, B bars the Hop 1 node and C either the Hop 2 node or, in the case of router/repeater systems like Orbi, Hop 1 with 21 dB of attenuation applied between the node and Pal client device.

I chose to "move"—by increasing signal attenuation—the client away from the node instead of "moving" the repeater away from the router to reflect what should happen in real life. The device or app will indicate optimum placement of the satellite, which won't change when you move your client away. If you don't agree with my logic, that's fine; just look at the A and B results.

What we would expect to see is highest throughput for the Root node, lower throughput at the Hop 1 node and lower still throughput at the Hop 2 node. Higher throughput at each "Hop" node means the backhaul is doing a better job of delivering throughput to be passed on to clients associated there. Ignoring the oddly low Root node throughput for Orbis and GWiFi, for the moment, it's obvious Orbi's dedicated 5 GHz backhaul is doing the best job of delivering throughput to the Hop 1 node. And the 21 dB of attenuation thrown between the Pal and Orbi satellite doesn't do much to the throughput, mainly because we're dealing with 2.4 GHz.

eero Gen 2's three radios don't seem to be providing much advantage, in comparison. Its throughput drops by about half, just like the TP-Link Deco M5, which has only two radios. There's good backhaul management happening between the Hop 1 (Case B) and Hop 2 (Case C) nodes for eero and Deco because we're not seeing a similar 50% throughput drop. Not so for GWiFi, though, which takes a 60% throughput hit.

Wi-Fi System Performance - 2.4 GHz downlink

Wi-Fi System Performance - 2.4 GHz downlink

So what's going on at the Root node with the Orbis and GWiFi? Fortunately, the octoScope system logs throughput, channel, associated BSSID and transmit and receive link rates and RSSI for every measurement, so I was able to extract the plot below. It shows both Orbis and Google Wi-Fi taking a throughput dive around 30 seconds into the test run. The logs show this is due to a significant drop in receive link rate in each case. For eero Gen 2 and Deco M5, link rates cruise right along at 400 Mbps. I don't know what is the root cause, but this explains the low average throughput reflected in the system throughput plot above. I repeated the tests in each case and saw the drop each time.

Wi-Fi System test - root node, 2.4 GHz downlink

Wi-Fi System test - root node, 2.4 GHz downlink

Moving on to 2.4 GHz uplink, results are more like I'd expect. All products, except GWiFi show high root node throughput. Hop 1 (Case B) throughput is much improved for eero Gen 2, with the other products doing about the same as on downlink

Wi-Fi System Performance - 2.4 GHz uplink

Wi-Fi System Performance - 2.4 GHz uplink

5 GHz downlink results show the expected pattern of descending throughput, even for Orbi, which illustrates the difference in effective range between 2.4 and 5 GHz. The takeaway here is the Orbi wallplug satellite isn't as effective as the desktop as distance increases. And this is without the disadvantage of wall outlets being physically lower than table tops and the effect being parked right next to a wall has on antenna radiation patterns. Despite all that, Orbi does the best in this benchmark, although eero gen 2 isn't far behind for the case C test.

Wi-Fi System Performance - 5 GHz downlink

Wi-Fi System Performance - 5 GHz downlink

5 GHz uplink shows a similar pattern, with both Orbis and eero Gen 2 doing the best in test cases B and C, albeit with eero taking a more significant throughput hit in case C. Again, if you don't agree with the 21 dB attenuation technique applied to the Orbis for case C, just use the case B results.

Wi-Fi System Performance - 5 GHz uplink

Wi-Fi System Performance - 5 GHz uplink

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