Review: 6 Ultrafast 802.11n Wi-Fi Routers - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Feature
News
9/28/2007
04:17 PM
50%
50%

Review: 6 Ultrafast 802.11n Wi-Fi Routers

Here's a look at 802.11n routers from Apple, Belkin, Buffalo, D-Link, Linksys, and Netgear. Read on to find out which device is your best choice.

This story originally appeared on Oct. 2, 2007

As more products hit store shelves with the promise of Wi-Fi connectivity, more households and small businesses are getting rid of their wired networks. However, while 802.11g has been the standard for quite some time, 802.11n -- in beta form -- has begun to replace 802.11g with its purported faster speeds and longer range.

What does it bring to the party that's new? Well, 802.11n builds on the 802.11 spec by allowing for a new feature called Multiple Input/Multiple Output (MIMO). MIMO uses multiple transmitter and receiver antennas to improve system performance. To further enhance its capabilities over a legacy router (a/b/g), the new 802.11n spec uses the 5GHz spectrum to reduce the interference issues found on 802.11g routers using the 2.4GHz spectrum.

For the past few years, the IEEE Standards Association -- the wireless spec governing body -- has issued a number of upgrades to the N spec, from pre-N to Draft-N to its current stage of development: Draft 2.0. Generally speaking, newer routers work on this new spec, which is the result of thousands of minute improvements to previous iterations. It's also worth noting that 802.11n has not been approved by the IEEE and should still be considered a work in progress.

Currently, there are two key questions to ask before purchasing any specific 802.11n router: Is it worth buying? And does it perform well enough to justify junking your 802.11g router and spending money on the new device?

In order to answer these questions, I tested six 802.11n routers (also known as N routers) from Apple, Belkin, Buffalo Wireless, D-Link, Linksys, and Netgear. I assessed the ease of use of the routers' menu system and used Ixia's IxChariot throughput software tool to measure each router's performance by moving a notebook equipped with an 802.11n client card 10, 50, and 200 feet away. I performed the tests twice -- once on a dedicated 802.11n network and once on a mixed network that supported both 802.11g and 802.11n devices. I then compared these results to the performance of a Linksys WRT54G 802.11g router.

802.11n
Immersion Center


NEWS | REVIEWS | BLOGS | FORUMS TUTORIALS | STRATEGY | MORE
It should be noted that my testing was performed in a “real world" environment -- namely, my home -- and not in a lab. The assumption was also that each device would be installed following the manufacturer's basic instructions in an environment that would be capable of accommodating both 802.11n and 802.11g devices, even if there were only N devices present.

As a result, it is possible that some, if not all, of the routers could have been tweaked in various ways to optimize performance. If you are comfortable going into the nitty-gritty -- especially if your home is equipped only with N-capable devices -- you may want to contact the vendor to find out how you can get the best performance possible.

What happened? Well, while you might expect N routers to perform much better than a G router, the results may surprise you.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 7
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
2018 State of the Cloud
2018 State of the Cloud
Cloud adoption is growing, but how are organizations taking advantage of it? Interop ITX and InformationWeek surveyed technology decision-makers to find out, read this report to discover what they had to say!
Commentary
AI & Machine Learning: An Enterprise Guide
James M. Connolly, Executive Managing Editor, InformationWeekEditor in Chief,  9/27/2018
Commentary
How to Retain Your Best IT Workers
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  9/26/2018
Slideshows
10 Highest-Paying IT Job Skills
Cynthia Harvey, Contributor, NetworkComputing,  9/12/2018
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Next Generation of IT Support
The workforce is changing as businesses become global and technology erodes geographical and physical barriers.IT organizations are critical to enabling this transition and can utilize next-generation tools and strategies to provide world-class support regardless of location, platform or device
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll