This one is going to be an interesting test session since we’ve got all kinds of 802.11n Draft 2.0 equipment from the same manufacturer that should be perfectly tuned to each other. All the equipment is based on a new wireless chipset from Ralink we haven’t yet dealt with. Although we’ve got devices based on chipsets from three developers, we are still waiting for a larger collection of network equipment to perform a comparative test. Instead of such a roundup review, we will now compare the Edimax kit with Linksys’ devices that have had the best results in our tests so far (this refers to the PCMCIA card and the Draft N Fast Ethernet router). Here is a list of equipment and software we used for the tests besides the equipment from Edimax:
- Two Category 5e Ethernet cables
- Linksys WPC300N v2 PCMCIA Card (Atheros)
- Linksys WRT300N v2 router (Atheros)
- Intel Centrino notebook
- PC based on a mainboard with an integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller
- IxChariot’s High_Performance_Throughput and Throughput scenarios
You’ll see the results of tests of the router’s LAN interface (to check out its maximum bandwidth) and WAN interface (in both directions). We’ll also find out the maximum number of simultaneous WAN connections it can maintain.
The WAN port was tested under load: we enabled NAT, Firewall and QoS. We performed two additional tests to see the performance benefits from using Fast NAT and were impressed really: the speed was almost as high as that of the LAN interface! However, Fast NAT has limited functionality in comparison with ordinary NAT, so there can be problems with data transfers via certain protocols (such as FTP). Anyway, Fast NAT can be really useful sometimes.
Next we placed the endpoint server into the DMZ to test the WAN-LAN direction.
WAN-LAN (Fast NAT):
LAN-WAN (Fast NAT):
Fast NAT helps increase not only the data-transfer speed but also the number of simultaneous WAN connections: 280 connections as opposed to 170 connections with ordinary NAT. Well, the latter number is very high, too.
Next we tested the wireless segment using Linksys equipment for comparison. First we compared all the wireless adapters connecting them to the BR-6504N as it was the main object of our tests. Data was transferred in two directions, from and into the wireless network. We used WPA2-PSK encryption with the AES algorithm.
The results are surprisingly good as the router shows full compliance with the Fast Ethernet standard in terms of speed. Frankly, we hadn’t expected that from such a device as the BR-6504n. These results also indicate the quality of the three wireless adapters. The EW-7718Un performs somewhat worse than the others, but it is quite normal for a USB adapter, and it is only inferior to the other two adapters from Edimax. The failure of the WPC300N may be due to poor compatibility between different chipsets, which is quite a common thing.
Next we measured the WLAN coverage area using almost all possible combinations of routers and wireless adapters. We measured the signal level of a WLAN-LAN connection 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
We used only two first points for the PCI adapter since the system case is not a mobile device. The same encryption options as in the previous test were enabled.
We can see poor compatibility between the chipsets from Atheros and Ralink again but otherwise the results are good. Of course, the WRT300N remains the leader, but you could have hardly expected an entry-level router to beat it.
We also wanted to test all the adapters in ad-hoc mode, but found that they only supported the 802.11g and 802.11b standards then and dismissed the idea. We can only tell you that every adapter worked at a speed of 20-23Mbps.
Once again, the performance of the wireless kit from Edimax overall and of the BR-6504n in particular surpassed our expectations especially in terms of maximum simultaneous connections and top WLAN speed. The single disappointing thing was that the connection proved to be unstable. Despite the excellent results, the speed would often plummet down after a series of tests and restored only when we restarted the test.