Should I use 802.11n with a 15 Mbps ISP (Comcast Cable)?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by macrumorsuser10, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    #1
    I currently own a LinkSys-WRT54GL 802.11a/b/g wireless router, and my ISP is Comcast Cable providing me with 15 Mbps (that's bits per second, I believe) download speed.

    I am wondering if there is any benefit with using the Airport Extreme 802.11n wireless router to access the Internet? The maximum theoretical speed of the WRT54GL router is 54 Mbps (802.11a/b/g), which is faster than the 15 Mbps provided by my ISP.

    I know that 802.11n has a max bandwidth of 300 Mbps, and it would help for intra-house transfers, such as streaming video from one computer to another.

    But is there any benefit to 802.11n for Internet activity, such as web browswing, gaming, and streaming video from Netflix?
     
  2. macrumors 601

    Anonymous Freak

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2002
    Location:
    Cascadia
    #2
    One of the obnoxious things about WiFi is that in reality you get maybe 1/3 the "connection speed".

    So that 300 Mbps 802.11n is really only 100 Mbps on a good day. And 54 Mbps 802.11g is 18 Mbps if you're lucky. (802.11g and earlier are even less efficient, so 54 Mbps will more likely get you 12-15 Mbps.)

    So, yes, you will notice a speed difference.

    I have a very convoluted home network. The route from Internet to my current primary system is:
    Cable Modem --100MbitEthernet--> AirPort Extreme-n --WiFi-n--> AirPort Extreme-n --GigabitEthernet--> MacBook

    When I do a speed test over Ethernet, I get 20-25 Mbps. (This is traveling over 802.11n WiFi to cross the house from one AirPort base to a second.) When I do the same speed test over 802.11g WiFi, connecting to the primary base station, 3 feet away from it, I get 10 Mbps.
     
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    #3
    Yes.
     
  4. macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    #4
    That configuration could also be your issue. Each Wi-Fi link is only half duplex, so any packet you send can cause the receiving packets to slow (i.e. collisions). Running from one AP is likely not going to have the same impact.
     
  5. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    #5
    I'd go to http://www.speedtest.net/ and see how fast your computer's network connection is over wireless. If it is around the 15Mbs, then you really don't need 802.11n. I've found that 802.11g is generally good enough for me on 20Mbs. I did, however, add Ethernet for in-house communications, so it became less of a worry.
     

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