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Dual-band router questions

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Okay so I've been looking at upgrading my network because my 802.11g solution is pretty slow these days for file transfers.

Here are a few things to know about my network first up:

  • My router is in one corner of the house. Due to the design and layout of phone-line ports (for ADSL) this is the only location for the router.
  • Three desktop computers use our network, none of which can connected through Ethernet because the router is in a different room. One is an iMac (one room from the router), one is my media PC connected to a TV (two rooms and around 15m from the router) and my desktop (three rooms and 30m from the router).
  • The iMac has Wireless N and so does my desktop, the media PC is only G for now. Most other hardware (phones) support wireless N, except my Xbox 360 which is just G.
  • The throughput transferring files from my media PC to my desktop is around 800-1000 kB/s

Basically I want to increase the throughput from media-to-desktop as much as possible. The router cannot be moved and wired solutions are not possible, so I'm thinking a dual-band wireless N router will give me the best performance.

I've been researching and I still have a few questions:

  1. I hear the 5 GHz band is not so good for range, so will it have trouble around 30m away and through several (non-solid) walls?
  2. Simultaneous dual-band routers create two access points, I believe. Does this mean that if I connect my media-PC through 2.4 GHz and my desktop through 5 GHz that they will not be able to transfer files?
  3. What sort of wireless-to-wireless throughput can I expect from just using 2.4 GHz, wireless N, the ranges specified above and some good hardware?
  4. Finally, for my situation is a 2.4 GHz router or dual-band router more appropriate?

Thanks guys, much appreciated if you can help

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1- 5Ghz should be able to handle 30M just fine.

2 - Yes

3 - Wireless to wireless is always 1/2 of 1/2. (basically 1/4). So if it says you are connected at 300mbps then think up to75Mbps (8MB/s). If you are however using say 2.4Ghz to 5Ghz then it's a bit better.

4 - Dual-band all the way

5 - Yes there is a 5! You can get those HPNA plugs - the plug into your electrical outlets and some are rated at 200-500Mbps. You could put your PC wired that way and then connect via N over 2.4ghz or 5Ghz.

As for the router, if you can get the Linksys E4200 or the new 3200/3000/2500 ones then you should be good. The Netgear WNDR3700/3800/4500 is also good depending on your pricing.

All except the 2500 have 1Gbps ports as well if you ever move and start getting stuff wired up!

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The usage case you describe, file transfers, is one that will probably never be properly served by WiFi. If you want decent file transfer speed then you need to run some cable. Why isn't it possible to run some cable?

5Ghz suffers from less range versus 2.4Ghz, as you suspected. It can offer better performance, but that won't be an amazing amount, in my limited testing.

The 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz devices will see each other just fine as they share a common thread, the router. The 2.4Ghz devices will not see the 5Ghz access point though.

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So, for example, if I buy a dual-band network card for my media PC and have it connected at 5 GHz, but leave my 2.4 GHz card in my desktop 30 metres away, they can file share? Would this provide performance benefits over having them run on either 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz together?

I can't set up a wired network connection because of a variety of annoying complications with the PC locations, house design, cost, tools, etc.

I also need good reliability because my current router is complete crap and cuts out often when multiple devices try and use it at the same time. I was looking at the ADSL2+ modem/router version of the WNDR3700 (the DGND3700) and it has got good reviews, but it's somewhat pricey

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The devices are all on the same network. Think of it as using a yellow cable and a blue cable to connect 2 different computers to the same router. They are both connected to the samething so the router is what links them.

Do not, i repeat Do Not get combo router/modems. Get a modem that just does what it needs to and then get a proper router to fit your needs.

As i said for the wired network, it's little devices that plug into your electrical outlet. The same one your PCs plug into to get power so if they are plugged in somewhwere you can plug one of those devices also there and then run an ethernet cable to the PC from there. Should be 1-2m length from the electrical. You don't have to run any wires thru the walls, it uses the already present electrical wires so house design shouldn't matter :D.

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Yes, you can transfer files between devices on the two separate bands. There should be a theoretical performance increase due to the wireless space not being saturated (the devices could both talk to the router at the same time). How much of a benefit you'll see in practice will vary by router. I would recommend you read a site like Small Net Builder before you solidify your choice on routers to see the performance characteristics in real world testing.

But I can't stress it enough to run some cable. You can run it along the base boards if you have restrictions that keep you from embedding into the walls. The benefits would be well worth it. Even 802.11n can't transfer half as fast as my Gigabit LAN.

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As i said for the wired network, it's little devices that plug into your electrical outlet. The same one your PCs plug into to get power so if they are plugged in somewhwere you can plug one of those devices also there and then run an ethernet cable to the PC from there. Should be 1-2m length from the electrical. You don't have to run any wires thru the walls, it uses the already present electrical wires so house design shouldn't matter :D.

Yeah I've heard of those, but looking at real-world tests with distance involved it's not much better than wireless N, and the sets are more expensive than good routers. A proper wired set-up would be very complicated here, trust me; it's simply not worth the effort.

Maybe I'll leave my current G modem/router (shitbox) as a modem, disable the wifi, and link it to the (cheaper) WNDR3700. Saves me buying a dedicated modem and it won't affect my file transfers/streaming.

8 MB/s would be really good. 1 MB/s is just a bit to slow for streaming my content and ideally I would like twice that. More performance is, of course, always better.

Thanks so far guys :)

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Ok then yeah, definitely keep the old box as a modem and if you can just set it up in Bridge mode. That way the new router controls it and handles DHCP/DNS and all that as well. It'll be more powerful (CPU) to handle more tasks so you want it doing the routing rather than just a dumb wireless bridge.

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"A proper wired set-up would be very complicated here, trust me; it's simply not worth the effort."

So its complicated - so what, I can tell you with 100% certainty that it would in fact be worth it no matter how complicated you think it is. And to be honest, its always less complicated than you think.

If what you are worried about is the transfer of files, there is just no freaking way no matter what wireless you setup that your going to come anywhere close to what a gig connection can do.

BTW it did not jump out at me, but from the speeds you say your seeing now I would guess wireless to wireless which = /2 your total available bandwidth..

Now the theory of putting 1 on 2.4 and other on 5.0 might get around the /2 thing because their are 2 different radios and in theory you could be talking to both devices at the same time vs just 1 via 1 radio.. But don't think its going to work out that way.

Wireless to wireless transfers always SUCK! Now you can see some not as bad as watching grass grow with wireless N to wired device, but wireless to wireless is like watching paint dry when it comes to wired speeds.

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Well it's not actually transfer's I'm so worried about, more streaming. Most of my content is compressed 720p or 1080p, and 1080p is simply undoable on G and 720p works around half the time. If I can maintain 5 MB/s transfers I would be happy. I can use USB sticks and other stuff for transferring bigger files.

As I keep mentioning it doesn't matter how worth it wired is, I know it's worth it speeds wise and I would have done it already, but seeing as though I'm probably only going to be living in this house for another year or so, spending a load of money (and it would be pretty expensive) to wire the house isn't worth it. I can make do with Wireless N.

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2. Simultaneous dual band=having two routers. You can operate one radio in mixed mode (G+N) (2.4 GHz) or N only and the other exclusive in N (5 GHz).

3. I have a Linksys N router and laptops and desktops and some tweaked settings (Beacon interval), I get about 11 MBps throughput, both upstream and downstream on 2.4 GHz N and 18 MBps on 5GHz. But wireless to wireless is slow (around 6MBps).

4. I recommend you go for a dual-band router as 5GHz is where the "magic" is for higher throughputs.

Also, you can consider HomePlug AV 500 Mbps adapters. But nothing to beat Gigabit Ethernet.

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Your reported seems quite HIGH to me.. Can you show actual test of this with say iperf or netio, or even a simple file copy with robocopy.

To be honest I fhind your 18MBps number a bit unrealistic -- your talking 144Mbps there -- and I really just don't buy that.

Take a look here

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/lanwan/router-charts/bar/66-5-ghz-up-40

The benchmarks there don't show anything close to 18MBps

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Your reported seems quite HIGH to me.. Can you show actual test of this with say iperf or netio, or even a simple file copy with robocopy.

To be honest I fhind your 18MBps number a bit unrealistic -- your talking 144Mbps there -- and I really just don't buy that.

Take a look here

http://www.smallnetb.../66-5-ghz-up-40

The benchmarks there don't show anything close to 18MBps

the 18MB/s is for the 5Ghz radio. I have the Linksys e4200 and Intel 6300 (450Mbps link rate) and i get 25-30MB/s over 5Ghz WLAN at about 10M. I'll take some screenshots later when I get home.

This is to a 1Gbps WHS 2011 box to my Laptop (in sig). Oddly enough, upstream is higher than downstream for me.

I've always wondered about smallnetbuilder too because they say 84Mbps max speeds over 5Ghz or something. Switched it from "Average" to Maximum and it's still crappy. Granted i'm not doing iPerf but just testing from Windows 7/8 Copy dialogbox and task manager showing ~50% of 450Mbps.

So I dunno, i know I defintiely get faster speeds than they do however.

Edit: Screenshots

post-698-0-67394600-1321998499.pngpost-698-0-40968600-1321998508.png

Edited by SHoTTa35
Added screenshots

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do an actual Iperf test, I sure and the hell do not trust the speed that file copy dialog shows. As to network utilization -- very interesting, but its not showing 450 its showing 360 ;)

Do a simple iperf, and or robocopy file copy -- where you will get an actual timestamp and bandwidth measurement.

robocopy will take into account actually moving a file, so you could have bottleneck with disk, etc. iperf just check the wire or wireless.

You can get iperf here

http://sourceforge.n....0.zip/download

Inside is actual exe, or you can use the java frontend if you want.

Or grab netio here

http://www.ars.de/ar....nsf/docs/netio

Or robocopy is great test since its real world, moving a file!

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Ok well here she is:

post-698-0-73584800-1322089918.png

and here's my best screenshot task manager. It was a little jumpy at first too, then it started to pick up on a steady pace.

post-698-0-89114600-1322089926.png

Pretty decent i'd say :D

Edited by SHoTTa35
Edited

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Well slap my ass and call me sally! Nice!!! Very impressive to be sure!

Thanks for taking the time to do the test.. Thats a huge file to test with as well..

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Ok well here she is:

post-698-0-73584800-1322089918.png

Was that Ethernet-to-wireless or wireless-to-wireless?

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You'ld be better off buying an Access Point and putting it in a central location, then use a HomePlug (Ethernet over Powerline) to connect the Access Point to the main Router. I don't think that there are HomePlugs that exist with multiple endpoints (but I could be wrong), alternatively you could wire up the home without breaking through walls by using 3M command hooks (or similar product) to run the ethernet cable through the building, and it can be removed without leaving a mark.

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For me too, CPU utilization has been extremely high (always at least 60% or more) during wireless N large file transfers.

@BudMan, why do you also not trust the file copy dialog's speed? :)

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Because have you watched it -- when has it been accurate ;)

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I am using Asus RT-N56U and I get 10-12 MBps speeds on 5Ghz wireless network. (300Mbps connection speed)

But I get 60-70 MBps transfer speeds on 1000 Mbps ethernet.

are my Wifi speeds Ok?

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Sorry but its IMPOSSIBLE for you to see 60 to 70MB on a 100Mbit line ;) Do you mean your on 1000Mbit -- then sure that is quite normal.

Keep in mind your wireless are there other devices that connect that are not N?, is it wireless to wireless transfer? = /2 out of the gate, interference, what are the details of your setup? 12MB = 96mbits which is what you see on most of the benchmarks for N.

The details of Shotta's setup might be helpful -- because that is screaming!

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Typed 1 less zero. Sorry. RT-N56U is a gigabit router.

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Was that Ethernet-to-wireless or wireless-to-wireless?

That's ethernet to wireless. Wireless to wireless is about 6MB/s max, if someone else is using the machine you can then cut that down some more too.

For me too, CPU utilization has been extremely high (always at least 60% or more) during wireless N large file transfers.

@BudMan, why do you also not trust the file copy dialog's speed? :)

Not sure why yours was so high - as you can see mine was at 20% with a Core I3 CPU. Maybe your card offloads all the bit checking to the CPU, some cards are "cheaper" and don't do it on the card itself.

For me, doing LAN to LAN over 1Gpbs i've seen as a high as 90MB/s but i'm thinking that's a result of the WD 2TB Green HDDs I have in the server (they do 110MB/s locally between each other however). Maybe it's the Atom CPU as well, didn't check that during heavy network traffic.

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