Articles: Networking
 

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Performance

Now it’s time to check out the router in action. The new wireless communication standard, even in its draft version, is going to have a higher speed than 802.11g, but by how much? Considering that the declared speed of the wireless interface is higher than 100Mbps, the router’s using a Fast Ethernet switch sounds somewhat alarming. It may become a bottleneck for an 802.11n connection. Well, we’ll see soon if it will really be. We’ll also test the router’s bandwidth in other key operation modes and will measure its coverage area.

Here is a list of equipment and software we used for this test session:

  • Two Category 5 Ethernet cables
  • Intel Centrino notebook
  • Linksys WPC300N PC Card (on an Atheros chipset, too)

  • PC with a mainboard with a Gigabit Ethernet controller
  • IxChariot, High_Performance_Throughput scenario
  • WPC300N service program included with the adapter

We’ll first publish the results of the wired connection.

Wired Connection

LAN-LAN:


Click to enlarge

LAN-WAN:


Click to enlarge

Wireless Connection

The wireless connection in draft 802.11n mode was tested using WPA2 PSK encryption with the AES algorithm. These security settings are the default ones in the draft version of the new standard and are likely to remain such in the final version, too. We offer you test results for both unidirectional and bidirectional connections.

WLAN-LAN:


Click to enlarge

WLAN-LAN (bidirectional):


Click to enlarge

So, what about the results? The WRT300N router surely does not meet our expectations. Contrary to our apprehensions, the 100Mbps wired interface proved to be enough to reveal the full potential of the wireless communication module. Well, if you calculate the total bandwidth of the bidirectional data transfer, the 100Mbps barrier may be considered as overcome. But we are more interested in the speed of a unidirectional connection and the WRT300N performs somewhat worse here. The speed of 90Mbps is surely high by itself, but does not meet the requirements of the standard. Besides that, the speed of the LAN-WAN connection is low as well.

It’s hard to pinpoint the reason for the low speed of the wireless connection. It could be the chipset or imperfect firmware. We should test at least one more device on the Atheros chipset to make sure. As for the low speed of routing (the low result of the LAN-WAN test), it is indicative of low performance of the router’s processor. The router has more than enough of memory, so its memory subsystem cannot be the reason for that.

Coverage

Finally we tested the router’s coverage at different distances and with different obstacles. We measured the signal level in five points:

Point 1: Near the WRT300N
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 30cm brick wall

Here are the results:

There’s nothing particularly remarkable in the diagram. The speed degenerates as soon as there is an obstacle like a blank brick wall in the path of the signal. It’s sad it degenerates so greatly.

 
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