The test of the Wi-Fi connection is going to be the most exciting one in this section. Of course, we won’t be able to see the full potential of the Broadcom chipset due to the Fast Ethernet bottleneck, yet this implementation of the Draft N standard is interesting anyway. Another problem is that I didn’t have a Wi-Fi adapter based on the Intensi-fi chipset and had to use the Linksys WPC300N v2 card based on Atheros’ XSPAN chipset. The results of the WL-500W in the Wi-Fi test will be compared with those of the Linksys WRT300N v2 router (based on the XSPAN chipset).
Later in this section you’ll see the results of the tests of the router’s LAN and WAN interfaces, the speed of file downloads from the integrated FTP-server, the number of simultaneous connections in a single session, and Wi-Fi connection tests.
Here is a list of equipment and software we used for the tests:
- Two Category 5e Ethernet cables
- Linksys WPC300N v2 card
- Transcend JetFlash 130 2GB USB flash card
- Intel Centrino notebook
- PC based on a mainboard with an integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller
- IxChariot’s (High_Performance_Throughput and Throughput scenarios)
- FlashFXP FTP-client
The router’s speed on the local network is indicative of its peak bandwidth.
The WAN port was tested next. I’ll show you the speed of data transfers into either side. This test was performed with enabled and disabled NAT and firewall. I got almost identical results, so I only publish diagrams with the mentioned features enabled.
As you can see, the speed is almost the same on both network sections, which indicates good speed characteristics of the router’s WAN port.
I also performed a test of the maximum number of simultaneous connections using the Throughput scenario with the file size increased tenfold. I was steadily increasing the number of connections by replicating the address pair until there were errors in the test, which was performed for 5 minutes. Then I ran the test once again for 20 minutes to verify the result. Thus I found that the router could maintain 193 simultaneous connections, which is a huge number for a home router. That’s going to be useful for working with P2P networks.
The final test for the router’s wired section was the downloading of various files from the integrated FTP-server. I first wanted to use a 2.5” HDD in a USB enclosure as usual, but the router’s USB port didn’t have enough current to power the HDD, so I had to use a flash drive formatted in FAT32 instead. I downloaded files of different types using FlashFXP and then wrote down the average download speed reported by the program in its connection log. The following file types were used: a 700M DivX movie (L), a 200MB folder with MP3 files (M), and a 200MB folder with photographs (S). The results are listed in the following table:
These are average results, typical for an integrated FTP-server.
Next I tested the router’s wireless interface. I selected the standard combination of WPA-PSK2 and AES for this test.
As you see, the maximum data-transfer speed is close to the peak bandwidth of the Fast Ethernet interface. The connection is rather unstable, with deep slumps, which may result from some incompatibility between the two chipsets. That’s why the WL-500W is inferior to the Linksys router in terms of average speed as is clear from the diagram.
Finally I tested the router’s coverage at different distances and with different obstacles. I measured the signal level in five points:
Point 1: Near the router
Point 2: At a distance of 4 meters without obstacles
Point 3: At a distance of 5 meters + two thin gypsum wallboards
Point 4: At a distance of 6 meters + one brick wall, about 30cm thick
Point 5: At a distance of 17 meters + one thin gypsum wallboard and one 50cm brick wall
Here are the results:
As you may have expected, the Linksys WRT300N is the winner again although the WL-500W is ahead at one point of the graph. The graph of the WL-500W is smooth except for the slump at the very end, yet its speed is as high as 802.11g even at the end point.
So, the WL-500W had excellent results in all of my tests, except the Wi-Fi ones, yet its peak speed was quite high even in the Wi-Fi tests, which indicates a high potential. I can’t give you a final verdict since I tested the router’s Wi-Fi module together with a chipset from another manufacturer and there can still be some compatibility issues. When I get a Wi-Fi card with the Broadcom chipset, I will run the tests once again and publish the results in one of our future reviews.