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View Full Version : 802.11n and 100mb networks...?




lannister80
Apr 26, 2010, 11:44 AM
I have a PowerMac (2008 - 3,1) and I'd like to upgrade my router to take advantage of the N wireless capability this Mac has.

Question: I've heard that real-world situations, you usually end up with around 75mbs on a wireless N connection (scroll down to wireless networking) (http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/08/03/28/exploring_time_capsule_theoretical_speed_vs_practical_throughput.html) to the router. The theoretical connection speed for N is 300mbs.

Now, if I get a 10/100 router (like the Asus RT-N12), data can move at a maximum speed of 100 mbs between machines connected to the router's LAN ports. The 75mbs N speed is getting pretty close to the 100mbs limit of the router.

Now, because the theoretical speed of N is much faster than 100mbs, I assume that, in the future, firmware and software improvements may raise the real-world speed on N beyond 100mbs.

So am I shooting myself in the foot if I get a 10/100 802.11n router? Should I spring for something like the Asus Rt-N16 with gigE (triple the price)? Thoughts?



Hellhammer
Apr 26, 2010, 11:48 AM
This is not really my territory but if it is N router, shouldn't it be 300Mb/s wirelessly? Isn't that 100Mb/s just the limit of the LAN port, not the wireless?

lannister80
Apr 26, 2010, 11:51 AM
This is not really my territory but if it is N router, shouldn't it be 300Mb/s wirelessly? Isn't that 100Mb/s just the limit of the LAN port, not the wireless?

Wireless N is supposed to get to 300mbs, but in practice I've read it only gets to 75mbs. ANd yes, I know wireless and wired are different, but if I'm using a mixed network (wired and wireless), I don't want a 100mbs bottleneck in the mix. E.g. If I'm copying a file from my wireless mac to a wired mac:

wireless n mac ----75mbs---> router ----100mbs----> wired mac

but if wireless n improves beyond 100mbs

wireless n mac ----150mbs (let's say)----> router ----100mbs----> wired mac

So I guess I'm asking if wireless N will ever perform over 100mbs in real-world conditions.

spinnerlys
Apr 26, 2010, 11:54 AM
Wireless N is supposed to get to 300mbs, but in practice I've read it only gets to 75mbs.

You are correct, maybe I didn't phrase my question correctly. If I'm copying a file from my wireless mac to a wired mac:

wireless n mac ----75mbs--->router----100mbs---->wired mac

but if wireless n improves beyond 100mbs

wireless n mac ----150mbs (let's say)---->router----100mbs---->wired mac

So I guess I'm asking if wireless N will ever perform over 100mbs in real-world conditions.

You could get a router with Gigabit Ethernet ports though, they give you up to 70MB/s.

802.11n only gives you 6 to 8 MB/s as of now, but I don't know if it can be made faster through some kind of update and I really don't know where the 300Mb/s comes from.

Transporteur
Apr 26, 2010, 11:58 AM
So I guess I'm asking if wireless N will ever perform over 100mbs in real-world conditions.

The maximum transfer rate of draft N I ever experienced was substantial 7MB/s between MBP and Airport Express (which is equipped with a 100Mb/s port). The Airport has been placed directly besides the book and still the transfer rate is considerably slower than a cable connection.

I'm not sure though if better ethernet devices such like the Airport Extreme are capable of a higher bandwidth over draft N.

Fast ethernet (100Mb/s) is capable of 12MB/s in theory, the maximum real world performance is about 11.5MB/s.

tomllama
Apr 26, 2010, 04:49 PM
I look at it as a real world versus theoretical discussion. Yes, in optimum conditions an 'N' wireless connection is supposed to be fast. But the reality is that when you have much distance and a wall or two between, the speed and signal strength stinks.

I've just finished adding 2 Linksys WRT610 routers to the house (one in the upstairs corner office and one in the entertainment center downstairs on the other side of the house) and connected them and the home computers via gigabit ethernet. The time and effort to do the setup is not something I want to repeat in the next year or two so the few extra dollars to go gigabit and CAT-5e or CAT-6 was worth it to me. I'm confident I now have a system that will support media streaming to the TVs or stereo and not suffer from lack of bandwidth (and cause 'stuttering' in the video or audio).

It's a question of saving a few bucks now versus redoing it in the possibly near future as the technology and your needs change. Only you can decide if it's worth the trade-off.

drewdle
Apr 26, 2010, 05:46 PM
Without wading too deep into the debate, there IS a difference between megabits per second (the advertised speed of routers, wireless and not) and megabytes per second, which is the speed your Mac will show you if you're watching Activity Monitor. Wireless is always going to be slower than the theoretical fastest speed due to factors beyond the engineer's control; i.e. your house and it's walls.

I think it's foolish to get a 10/100 wired networking device at this point. We're finally getting to the point where gigabit networking is a useful addition to a home network, for things such as streaming, downloading, and otherwise. Also, all new Macs have gigabit built in, so if you needed to wire them up, you're at a disadvantage with a 10/100 router. If you've got older Macs, that's a different story.

Basically, I figure better to be prepared than to want to go and buy the gigabit router a year from now because you've found a use for those speeds. One router is less expensive than two.

lannister80
Apr 26, 2010, 06:35 PM
Yep, I have a gigE switch in the basement connecting my media server to the media head, but my "main" work machine is on the 2nd floor, and I'd like to have a faster file-sharing connection (LAN). I'd love to fish a wire to the basement, but it's on an exterior wall, blah blah blah.

I guess I'll bite the bullet and go gigE on the router.

And yes, I'm fully aware of Mb/MB/MiB. :)

guzhogi
Apr 27, 2010, 10:40 AM
You're right about the 100 Mbps ports being bottlenecks. You can get an Airport Extreme. It has wireless n & gigabit ports. A little expensive, but it works for me. I'n Network Utility, I've seen it connected at up to 270 Mbps.

lannister80
Apr 27, 2010, 02:30 PM
You're right about the 100 Mbps ports being bottlenecks. You can get an Airport Extreme. It has wireless n & gigabit ports. A little expensive, but it works for me. I'n Network Utility, I've seen it connected at up to 270 Mbps.
I'm pretty sold on the Asus RT-N16 at this point (About $90). Doesn't have simultaneous dual-band, but the Tomato firmware can't handle that anyway, and I LOVE Tomato. Does have USB sharing, gigE.