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USB 2.0 - Wireless N/AC - 100mbps internet connection

Hey all!

A quick dumb question. I know the 'theoretical' answer, but I'm hoping you all can help me understead the issue of overhead and throughput.

I've got a 100mbps internet connection (100 down, 4 up. Go figure). And yes, before you think I'm one of those guys, no it really is 100mbps; not just a 100mbps ethernet connection. Fiber optic business class internet (this is at the office).

I've got a machine on the other side of the building where no ethernet dares to wander and I've just installed an AC router and nabbed an AC USB dongle. I sent a guy to order the stuff, the guy he ordered it from convinced him to go with a USB dongle instead of an antennas-equipped PCI-E card. But it's here, and it works.

So here's my question. I'm only getting 30-40mbps down. Which, I sort of expected. It's a pretty fair distance. And it's more than enough. But I can get 60mbps with my macbook pro in the same location. Is USB 2.0 a limiting factor? I know, in theory, USB 2.0 goes up to 450mbps but in practice does it really? How does the overhead work when you have other USB devices plugged in? Would I see a performance increase going with a USB 3.0 PCI-e card? (If you haven't figured it out, the machine doesn't support USB 3.0. But the D-Link dongle the guy bought is USB 3.0). The speed isn't necessary but it IS there and if I can inexpensively squeeze any more performance out, that would be great! Potentially, in the future, we could even be doing some file sharing from this machine so any addition speed would be nice.

Thanks!

John
4 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about usb wireless 100mbps internet connection
  1. Probably the usb 2.0 transfer speeds are limiting it a 3.0 probably would be better however the pci card would take the full 100mbps if the signal is strong enough.
  2. The obvious test should be to put the machine next to the router and see how high you can get. You may also need to change the channel blocks. There are pretty much 2 groups of 4 channels you can use. The lowest 4 and the highest 4. Most the other ones the routers do not allow you to even set because of weather radar.

    I would think you could get 100m out of a USB2 wireless dongle I have used a ethernet based USB2 dongle and it ran at full 100m but I did not run 100m and 100m down at the same time.
  3. Best answer
    In a perfect world, you're also going to be limited by your AC router. Routers come in different speeds. If you think about it however, USB 2 has more than enough bandwidth at it's theoretical 280 Mbps (35 MB) transfer speed to handle an internet connection of 100 Mbps. USB 2 is not your problem, however that isn't to say the particular USB peripheral you're using is up to the task you're asking of it. The biggest issue I've seen with USB peripherals is the paltry antenna, which can torpedo any connection when install in a bad location. You may have luck reorienting the dongle with a cheap USB extension cable that allows you to move it away from the wall or the computer chassis that could be affecting signal reception.

    I'm not surprised your laptop gets a better connection. They usually use multiple antennas, all of which are better than what is packed into a USB dongle.
  4. bigpinkdragon286 said:
    In a perfect world, you're also going to be limited by your AC router. Routers come in different speeds. If you think about it however, USB 2 has more than enough bandwidth at it's theoretical 280 Mbps (35 MB) transfer speed to handle an internet connection of 100 Mbps. USB 2 is not your problem, however that isn't to say the particular USB peripheral you're using is up to the task you're asking of it. The biggest issue I've seen with USB peripherals is the paltry antenna, which can torpedo any connection when install in a bad location. You may have luck reorienting the dongle with a cheap USB extension cable that allows you to move it away from the wall or the computer chassis that could be affecting signal reception.

    I'm not surprised your laptop gets a better connection. They usually use multiple antennas, all of which are better than what is packed into a USB dongle.


    So here's an update.

    I had a USB extension cable putting the dongle a bit away, up, and facing the AC router. For the satisfaction of my own curiosity, I installed a USB 3.0 PCI-X card and replaced the 2.0 extension with a 3.0 extension. For whatever reason, I now see speeds of about 70mbps. 40 was enough, 70 is even more enough! :)

    At that range, it's really wireless N, not AC as I discovered. As the 5GHz signal does not make it to the balcony (I CAN connect to 5GHz AC, but I'm getting a paltry 5-6mbps then. The stronger 2.4GHz N signal gets much better speeds). I happened to be walking through a store and saw a clearanced Wireless N repeater (Western Digital branded) for $10. I grabbed two. I had an old router that I flashed with DD-WRT to extend our wireless signal to another building (we may route ethernet eventually, but this is working for now). I replaced that with one of these repeaters and got about a 30% bump in speed doing so. I thought, hey, I'll see if I can't halve the distance to the balcony and squeeze a little more speed (for science, right?). Actually, it killed my speeds using the repeater. Evidently going direct to my router all the way across the building is a better signal than the lame repeater that neither gets a great signal to the router (at half the distance); and doesn't produce much of a signal back the other way. Go figure.

    So; thanks for the info! From my own research, at least according to the manufacturer of the dongle, USB extension cables are actually recommended as they act like additional antennas? So maybe it's not the USB 3.0 card, but the USB 3.0 cable that's boosting speeds. Or maybe just the USB 2.0 bus was for some reason operating slowly on that machine. Who knows!
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