The TEW-624UB is the first and only device based on the TopDog chipset we’ve ever dealt with at our labs, so I cannot test it together with a router based on the same chipset. Anyway, you’ll see how Marvell’s chipset works with chipsets from other manufacturers: I’ll test the TEW-624UB with routers based on chipsets from Atheros, Broadcom and Ralink. These routers have already been tested in our labs, and we know their capabilities well enough. And we’ll check out the TEW-624UB with a router based on the Marvell chipset as soon as we have such an opportunity.
I used the following hardware and software for the tests:
- Category 5e Ethernet cable
- TEW-624UB USB-adapter
- Linksys WRT300N v2 router (Atheros)
- ASUS WL-500W router (Broadcom)
- Edimax BR-6504n (Ralink)
- Centrino notebook
- PC with a mainboard that has an integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller
- IxChariot (High_Performance_Throughput scenario)
First I tested the speed of router-adapter (LAN-WLAN) and adapter-router (WLAN-LAN) connections using the High_Performance_Throughput scenario of the IxChariot program. The connection was established near the routers with WPA2-PSK encryption using the EAS algorithm. This is the standard encryption for Draft N, and it is going to be such in the official 802.11n specification.
The results do not leave a very nice impression because the TEW-624UB has problems communicating with other manufactures’ chipsets, especially with the Atheros chipset (in the Linksys WRT300N router).
Next I measured the WLAN coverage area using almost all possible combinations of routers and wireless adapters. I measured the signal level of a LAN-WLAN 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
The TEW-624UB doesn’t do well in this test, either. Among the chipsets included into this review, it works best with the Intensify chipset (ASUS WL-500W). The most surprising thing in this test was the increase of speed when I moved from the second to the third point with the Edimax router. This effect was repeatable.
So, the difference between the first and second versions of the Draft N standard may be conspicuous sometimes as you could see in today’s tests. Of course, the TEW-624UB might have done better if tested together with a TopDog-based router, yet it would hardly have showed a really high speed then, either.