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Best alternative to Ethernet?

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October 14, 2013 5:04:58 PM

Hi guys,

I recently built a high end gaming rig and wanted to move the PC to my room. However, I am unable to run direct cable as my parents think its 'ugly'. I plan to spend around 50 bucks or less. I know that Ethernet is best, but my parents aren't willing to make any compromises. We rent the apartment so it isn't possible to punch a hole in the wall or something.

I plan to play a lot of Battlefield 4 (pre-ordered, super excited!). So I prefer do have less lag. Our home router is the Apple Time Capsule which is an AC router. I don't know if AC will even benefit me because our Internet plan is only 15 Mbps. Also, the distance between my room and the router is around 7 meters and separated by a hollow wall.

I know that using Power line adapters theoretically is a wired connection, however I have read that they can cause problems. Our apartment is around 15 years old if that helps. I also know that for 50 bucks I am stuck with something less performing than a 50 dollar WiFi adapter.

Please let me know if I am missing some information you need to know. Thanks :D 

tl;dr Will AC wifi benefit me if I have slow internet? Which networking option is best for 50 bucks?

More about : alternative ethernet

October 14, 2013 5:19:50 PM

Wireless N will see you right. You have to consider whether the plugs you are looking at using are on the same circuit and one plug is taken out per connection as they don't do well in multi plug boards. At 7 metres and one wall even Wireless G would work but N is the best option for you IMHO.
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October 14, 2013 5:35:17 PM

Would you know what specs your wireless router is?

Wireless is hugely dependent on the environment. How many walls, distance and how many people use it. If I were to use a wireless USB Stick in your circumstances, I would get a 1M USB extender cable and have it up the wall clear of you and your computer.

Otherwise look into stand alone units with antennas that are USB. Newegg has a few that are reasonable priced, read some reviews and find one that will work for you. I have not used any of these so cannot speak for their quality.
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October 14, 2013 6:13:31 PM

If that one wall has a shared phone/cable outlet, you could swap it out fairly easily. The wall between my living room and bedroom had a single wall plate for both phone and cable. I ditched the phone line (wasn't using it anyway) and replaced it with a cable outlet. Should be able to do that for under $50 (if you have an available outlet you can mod).

-Wolf sends
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October 14, 2013 7:39:57 PM

"AC" vs "N"

I would say AC might be better but you might have to look up some reviews. I don't think it's as simple as "N" is good enough for my bandwidth. There might be latency issues as well which can translate into the LAG you are concerned with.

AC is also a little more money.

My advice is something like THIS ac version for $55 from D-Link:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA2RY...

Again, while they claim the following I don't really know how much different it would be for you versus a quality "N" device but since it's not too much money I say just get something like I mentioned:

"Revolutionary AC Speed - Get up to 1200Mbps for flawless HD streaming to multiple devices and lag-free gaming"

If you think an "N" version would be adequate then get one for roughly $30 that has good customer reviews. PCIe versions are another option but the cost might be well over $30 in which case the AC USB device might be better and also won't take up a PC slot.

*USB wi-fi receivers might have a better connection in a different spot especially if blocked inside a desk. If your wi-fi device doesn't have an extender cable perhaps look for one that DOES come with this cable or buy one. It probably doesn't matter if the device isn't blocked much.

A USB device using an extension cable might also perform as well or better than a superior PCIe adapter with antennaes which is blocked slightly.
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October 15, 2013 3:42:36 PM

photonboy said:
"AC" vs "N"

I would say AC might be better but you might have to look up some reviews. I don't think it's as simple as "N" is good enough for my bandwidth. There might be latency issues as well which can translate into the LAG you are concerned with.

AC is also a little more money.

My advice is something like THIS ac version for $55 from D-Link:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA2RY...

Again, while they claim the following I don't really know how much different it would be for you versus a quality "N" device but since it's not too much money I say just get something like I mentioned:

"Revolutionary AC Speed - Get up to 1200Mbps for flawless HD streaming to multiple devices and lag-free gaming"

If you think an "N" version would be adequate then get one for roughly $30 that has good customer reviews. PCIe versions are another option but the cost might be well over $30 in which case the AC USB device might be better and also won't take up a PC slot.

*USB wi-fi receivers might have a better connection in a different spot especially if blocked inside a desk. If your wi-fi device doesn't have an extender cable perhaps look for one that DOES come with this cable or buy one. It probably doesn't matter if the device isn't blocked much.

A USB device using an extension cable might also perform as well or better than a superior PCIe adapter with antennaes which is blocked slightly.


I've been looking at this aswell. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Do you know how this compares to the D-Link you suggested?
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October 15, 2013 3:44:16 PM

Wamphryi said:
Wireless N will see you right. You have to consider whether the plugs you are looking at using are on the same circuit and one plug is taken out per connection as they don't do well in multi plug boards. At 7 metres and one wall even Wireless G would work but N is the best option for you IMHO.


But will Wireless AC produce less lag in gaming? If the difference is little to none, maybe I only need Wireless N then...
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October 15, 2013 3:55:26 PM

Pengy said:
Wamphryi said:
Wireless N will see you right. You have to consider whether the plugs you are looking at using are on the same circuit and one plug is taken out per connection as they don't do well in multi plug boards. At 7 metres and one wall even Wireless G would work but N is the best option for you IMHO.


But will Wireless AC produce less lag in gaming? If the difference is little to none, maybe I only need Wireless N then...


I honestly don't know and can't find reliable information on that.

Read the customer reviews on the Asus you linked. Seems like lots of issues.

AC is pretty new so perhaps there are some growing pains with software. Maybe it would be best to get an "N" with really good customer reviews.

THIS ONE from Linksys has great customer reviews:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sorry if that's not too helpful.
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October 15, 2013 4:16:41 PM

Wireless N gives you 300 Mbps while your Internet Connection gives you 15 Mbps. The bottleneck is essentially the 15 Mbps. If a person has lag issues then 9 times out of 10 it is the upload speed which in many packages is limited to speeds like 128 Kbps where it really needs to be 1 Mbps. If the server you are playing does not receive your data in time you will lag plain and simple. The other main reason is more than one person using the Router for heavy duty streaming or uploading. My ping goes from 180 to 1000 if someone is uploading pictures for instance. If these conditions exist then even having Gb LAN will make no difference. N is more flexible IMHO so if it was me I would and have gone with N.
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October 15, 2013 5:35:29 PM

Wamphryi said:
Wireless N gives you 300 Mbps while your Internet Connection gives you 15 Mbps. The bottleneck is essentially the 15 Mbps. If a person has lag issues then 9 times out of 10 it is the upload speed which in many packages is limited to speeds like 128 Kbps where it really needs to be 1 Mbps. If the server you are playing does not receive your data in time you will lag plain and simple. The other main reason is more than one person using the Router for heavy duty streaming or uploading. My ping goes from 180 to 1000 if someone is uploading pictures for instance. If these conditions exist then even having Gb LAN will make no difference. N is more flexible IMHO so if it was me I would and have gone with N.


I think it's a little more complicated than this or why all the reviews stating Ethernet was superior to Wi-Fi for network gaming if both can provide higher bandwidth than the Network Provider bottleneck?

Still, I do think after looking at what's available for his needs that the Linksys adapter ("N") I linked should be pretty good for his needs.
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October 15, 2013 8:42:33 PM

Wamphryi said:
Wireless N gives you 300 Mbps while your Internet Connection gives you 15 Mbps. The bottleneck is essentially the 15 Mbps. If a person has lag issues then 9 times out of 10 it is the upload speed which in many packages is limited to speeds like 128 Kbps where it really needs to be 1 Mbps. If the server you are playing does not receive your data in time you will lag plain and simple. The other main reason is more than one person using the Router for heavy duty streaming or uploading. My ping goes from 180 to 1000 if someone is uploading pictures for instance. If these conditions exist then even having Gb LAN will make no difference. N is more flexible IMHO so if it was me I would and have gone with N.


Thanks man, this was just the explanation I needed.
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October 15, 2013 8:46:26 PM

photonboy said:
Pengy said:
Wamphryi said:
Wireless N will see you right. You have to consider whether the plugs you are looking at using are on the same circuit and one plug is taken out per connection as they don't do well in multi plug boards. At 7 metres and one wall even Wireless G would work but N is the best option for you IMHO.


But will Wireless AC produce less lag in gaming? If the difference is little to none, maybe I only need Wireless N then...


I honestly don't know and can't find reliable information on that.

Read the customer reviews on the Asus you linked. Seems like lots of issues.

AC is pretty new so perhaps there are some growing pains with software. Maybe it would be best to get an "N" with really good customer reviews.

THIS ONE from Linksys has great customer reviews:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sorry if that's not too helpful.


That Linksys seems really good. I might consider it :)  I know that AC is pretty new right now but will it be worth it to spend more money on an AC WiFi adapter to future proof myself? I know it wont help my internet speed, but what other benefits can newer wifi technology bring me?
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October 16, 2013 6:11:11 PM

Such a purchase would not be future proofing. As long as your Router is of reasonable quality and your receiver of reasonable quality positioned well (on the end of a USB extension cable works) then you will be as set up as you can be without going Ethernet.
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October 17, 2013 6:03:16 PM

I might recommend the "AC" version if I found a suitably priced one with good customer reviews.

However, of all the Wi-Fi adapters I looked at the Linksys "N" USB with extension cable is my first choice.

There are only really THREE main things to be concerned with:

1) Sufficient bandwidth (signal strength etc)
2) No lag issues
3) Quality of product (from complete failure to performance to intermittent issues)

I don't think overall BANDWIDTH is a problem since you're dealing with the Internet. It's generally only LOCAL bandwidth (i.e. streaming video) where you really need the better performing product.

I could not confirm any LAG advantage to the AC, at least not the products I looked at. This issue is a little confusing and reliable data is hard to get.

Quality with AC appeared to be problematic though which I blame mainly on it being a new standard.
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October 18, 2013 5:04:55 AM

Be very careful 802.11ac is nothing magic. They key feature is its ability to run 4 channels rather than 2. This mostly benefits applications that need more bandwidth.

Games require very little bandwidth but they require very little packet loss and very little variation in the packet delivery rates..ie jitter. This is very similar to VoIP requirements.

The problem with wireless is it is a radio and even worse it is a radio on unlicensed band where there are no restrictions on who can use it. Because of this you get random interference which causes packet loss and packet retransmissions....which is exactly what games do not want.

The other key thing to remember is 802.11ac only works on 5g. This means it has less ability to penetrate the walls which is good and bad since it reduces your range in the house but it also reduces the amount of signal coming from neighbors also. Another concern about 802.11ac is that there are only 2 blocks of 4 channels that can really be used. All the other ones the router must disable if it detects weather radar on any of the 4 channels. This means you might get random strange outages when a tv station turns on their weather radar. This is true also on 802.11n running on 5g but since it only uses 1 or maybe 2 channels the odds of being affected are much less.

I would as suggested take some plates off the electrical and phone boxes. Many times these boxes are mount very close when they are on opposite sides of the wall. You may find a way to get a wire though using the existing holes in the walls.

I would go with a dual band 802.11n devices and see if you can find clean channel maybe in the 5g band. We will have to see if any of the other magic stuff like the beam forming in the 802.11ac really works or this is more marketing fluff, but since the standard is not finalized for a few months it will likely be next year before we get good consumer feedback on how it works in real home environments rather than some silly lab tests
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Best solution

October 18, 2013 6:35:45 PM

bill001g,
Care to comment on the one I recommended previously? (Linksys "N" dual-band, 3x3 antennae)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

(I especially looked at Customer Reviews)
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October 18, 2013 10:13:32 PM

You will likely get similar results from just about any 802.11n adapter. Unfortunately reviews mean very little other than maybe they are easy to use. There are only 2 or 3 manufactures of chipsets and all transmit at maximum legal power. This means most claims for higher range or better coverage are subjective opinions. If you go to the fcc site and look at the official documents filed following a standardized testing you will see almost all reports look identical. I suspect this is why you just about every major manufactures devices have lots of good and bad reviews because what is being reviewed is the persons house rather than the devices.

For this particular device I like the fact it is on a long USB cable it allows you to place it at a different place in the room than the computer.

Hard to say how they managed to get the antenna spacing correct in such a small device since it is critical to getting mimo to function. Still for games you best option is going to be to set the router to run N mode in a single channel ie 20mhz and not even attempt to run mimo. This will limit your speed to 56m but since it is still faster than your internet . You are much better off getting a very clean signal on a single channel running a very simple encoding than trying to run at maximum speed and get errors. For general data transfer the small delays caused by errors have little effect but for games it can make them unplayable. Run inssider first thing and try to find a channel that is free. At the distance you are talking you should be able to use a 5g channel and if you use only a single channel it is likely you can find one all to yourself. The best are the top 4 and the bottom 4 channels in 5g since those are not subject to weather radar restrictions.
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October 19, 2013 7:12:13 PM

cheapest way I can think of is to move the house cable modem and router to your bedroom, hard connect your pc to the Ethernet and let everyone else connect to the routers wireless connection.
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