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You’ve had a chance to see in the previous section of this article that the TL-WR542G offers flexible setup opportunities even though it belongs with low-end models. So, I am now very interested to see what speed it provides. It cannot be too high, but I expect average results at least. As for the wireless interface, the TL-WR542G is touted as a router with an extended WLAN coverage area, so I do hope its wireless signal does not lose its intensity quickly at long distances.

I will offer you the results of the ASUS WL-500g Premium router for the sake of comparison. This will be a contrasting comparison since the latter router belongs with the top segment of the SOHO market. This will help us see if the TL-WR542G delivers an optimal price/quality ratio.

Here is a list of equipment and software I used in my tests:

  • Two Category 5 Ethernet cables
  • Intel Centrino notebook
  • Linksys WPC54g v3.5 PCMCIA card
  • PC based on a mainboard with an integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller
  • IxChariot (High_Performance_Throughput scenario)
  • Standard Windows XP WLAN client

First, I tested the bandwidth of a LAN segment.

LAN-LAN (TP-Link TL-WR542G):

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LAN-LAN (ASUS WL-500g Premium):

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LAN-WAN (TP-Link TL-WR542G):

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LAN-WAN (ASUS WL-500g Premium):

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I used WPA-PSK encryption with the TKIP algorithm to test the WLAN interface in IEEE802.11g mode. The air was clear, meaning that there were no other access points active in the neighborhood.


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LAN-WLAN (ASUS WL-500g Premium):

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WLAN-LAN (ASUS WL-500g Premium):

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And finally I tested the router’s Wi-Fi interface bandwidth at different distances and with difference obstacles. I 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 50cm brick wall

The results are not only up to my expectations, but go beyond them in some tests. I am particularly pleased with the speed of the wireless connection, for example. As for the low speed of the WAN interface, it is easily explained: the network processor integrated into the AR2317 chip has low performance as is indicated by the relatively low peak data-transfer rate as well as by the slumps in the graph. This is the typical behavior of a low-end solution. It won’t be a problem for everyday Web surfing, but the 30% difference in speed between the LAN and WAN interfaces is going to show up when the router is used by bandwidth-sensitive applications or on a large LAN. As for the WLAN coverage, the two graphs are similar and have a slump in the last point. This means that both routers behave poorly at long distances with obstacles. Extended Range technology may do something with light obstacles but obviously cannot cope with difficult ones. The speed of 7Mbps is small even for a device without any extensions (although the WL-500g Premium has an even lower speed).

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