802.11n router question

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by JTag, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. JTag macrumors newbie

    Aug 28, 2007
    I am a newbie to wireless routers and I have a few questions...

    First is the spec for 802.11n finalized yet? If I buy a draft-n or pre-n wireless router now, will it work at optimal performance once the spec is finalized?

    And second, how much better is 802.11n over 802.11 g? The router will be placed downstairs and my Macbook will be upstairs. The distance is about 100-150 feet.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. macleod199 macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2007
    802.11n is at Draft 2.0 in the IEEE process, and apparently they've said that any device that can do draft 2.0 will be able to do the final spec.

    Where the confusion sets in, is that a group called the WiFi Alliance is who actually does the compatibility testing and authorize that "WiFi Certified" logo on the boxes. They've started to certify hardware as Draft-N compatible. In theory devices that have undergone that testing and have that logo should be nicely interoperable.

    However, reviews I've seen online seem to imply that different devices don't necessarily get along well... which is still true of 802.11g devices, anyway. Different vendors put different amounts of effort into different products, and you should read some reviews to see how well a given product performs. "Optimal performance" is likely to be a moving target for many years.

    That said, I got a D-Link PCI card (DWA-542) for my Windows/Linux box, and it seems to work fine with my Airport Extreme. It doesn't connect at 130 Mbps like my MacBook Pro claims (usually it says 104 or 117), but then again the antennas are at the back of a big metal computer in a corner.

    How much better the range is depends a lot on how good your 'g' router is in the first place. My MBP connects full-speed to my AEBS all over my house and in the back yard, with the router on the second floor at the front of the house. Different routers may give different results.

    One of the things to keep in mind with N is that a lot of the performance/range gains comes from MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output). This means that it uses multiple antennas to multiplex signals in space, as well as in time and in code space. Devices seem to vary in how many antennas they have, which impacts on the level of multiplexing they can do (in a non-linear fashion... I doubt it's as simple as double the performance for double the antennas).

    The basic advice is - read some reviews, and make sure you can return it if it doesn't work out!

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