Why Is Winmodem Faster Than Hardware Modem?

I wonder if any modem gurus out there could shed light on this question. I was very surprised to see my connection speed decrease significantly -- from 42.6 to 34.6 -- after upgrading to US Robotics controller-based "Pro" modem, their top of the line PCI modem. I previously used the USR V92 modem, which is winmodem, but it does have onboard DSP, so it is not a complete "software" modem.

My system is a P4 2.4, with 845 PE chipset and Radeon 9000 graphics.

The hardware modem does feel snappier when downloading graphics-heavy files, although this is a purely subjective impression that is not based on any speed tests.

It seems to me that the winmodem is taking advantage of the P4 to negotiate a faster connection speed with my ISP server. Is this possible? I can't believe that a dedicated on-board controller would perform so poorly? Am I missing something?
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  1. i have not been impressed by the performance of usr modems lately. i got a bunch at work for a dial in server and they lock up all the time. unfortunately its usualy the first one in the line so when it locks up, no one can dial up and i have to reset it.

    my computer is so fast, it completes an endless loop in less than 4 seconds!
  2. Usually we have had much better speeds with Hardware modems. We live out in the country a bit, and with USR PCI winmodems we would connect around 33,000 and 28,000, and with an old USR ISA hardware modem, we would get 44,000 and 49,000.

    But our ISA modem died, and we replaced it with an Intel hardware modem, and it still only gets 33,000. If the USR hardware modems don't perform any better, I don't know if I will buy one to try or not.
  3. Bardic, that sounds like my situation, only reversed. I was previously getting about 28 to 32 on a laptop with PC card modems (Xircom first, then 3Com/Megahertz). When I added my new desktop computer a few weeks ago, I went with a USR winmodem (v92) and got 42.6. Thinking that the hardware modem could do even better, I sprung for the USR "Pro Modem," a PCI hardware modem and dropped right back to 28 to 32.

    I have added an initialization string that demands a minimum connection speed of 34.6, which is the most that this modem will give me. Even then, it sometimes takes more than 20 redials to get this speed.

    I don't know what to think. It sounds to me like the modem is bad because you should be getting higher speeds with a hardware modem.
  4. Us Robotics seem to have a problem with certain phone line conditions(when it detects a dual analog to digital converter on the line) It is limited to 33600 connections.

    You can try using these commands in the modem properties settings.

    AT&F&C1&D2 This will force a 115200 connection if your ISP supports it. Although your download speeds will still depend on line conditions.

    I aint signing nothing!!!
  5. Don't know - But I get the same thing...
    WinModems are whipin every 3COM/USR i've got too! - On both connect speed and reported download speed 3Com's are commin in last...
    And i'm gettin the best speeds with Creative Modemblasters - like always connecting at 46+, usually at 49.2 or 50.6. ( and people say modemblasters are crap - but not from what i've bee gettin)

    Actually, I haven't had a good USR since 3COM got around USR - and have never had a good 3COM anything! - including 3COM Nics's, which don't work and play well with others...
  6. Interesting to note is this, and consequently also a problem for me. I had a USR ext modem model 5686-03. For those that don't know this was a v90 modem. Worked great for a few years then last week I had to reintall my OS and I decided since I was upgrading all my drivers I would go ahead and update the firmware for this modem as well.

    So I flashed the modem and it updated it to v92 as well as v90. Since then downloads and websurfing have been great, but my gaming went to hell. Now I get a creeping ping issue on game servers, if I move frequently and quickly its starts to creep up until I max out my ping and have to stand still for 5-10 seconds to alleviate the issue.

    I have tried every known init string available. Turned off x2, v90, and even v92. The conclusion I have come to is that the firmware driver is screwing things up for gaming. Am I alone in this? If not has anyone found a way to get by this? My ISP uses all USR equipment for dial-up and is also the best I have found in my state (tried them all heh). So if I have to get another modem I need to make sure the brand works well with USR equipment and I want to make sure its a good gaming modem. I do all my surfing at work on the T1 so only use my home connection for gaming. So to the person who originated this post....USR seems to have slacked bad bro.

    All comments welcome....suggestions on a new modem or problem fix?
  7. Thanks for the helpful comments, everyone. It seems I am not alone in this bad experience with USR.

    I'm particularly glad to hear CompSci's experience that matches my own.

    I should make a note here about USR online tech support, too. It took USR more than three days to respond to my email -- and only after I fired off a second, angry email telling them if I didn't hear from them soon, I would return this modem and never buy USR again.

    Well that did the trick, and they emailed back within the hour. They have now come up with a few suggestions that I will try. I will report back in detail on how it works out.
  8. I have good experience with 3com and USR. I have been using their product for a long time and never have any problem with them.
  9. I don't mean to totally badmouth 3COM - but I go way back with them - like early networking (1990 and before). 3COM stuff does work, and used to amoung the fastest, but have always been picky - like they wouldn't use higher interupts(above 9 when others like SMC would), then with Win 95 thru NT/2000 their drivers wouldn't share interupts well like others would, and now in an effort be competitvly priced there are so many new new models the drivers are no longer on the Windows CD... What used to be 3COM's advantage ( being slightly faster if used with other 3Com products, and drivers always being immediately available) has slipped away... IMHO, there are just better values, versitility and preformance out there now...

    As for somma these WinModems, if your machine likes em, they can indeed give very good thruput. Since I also have to run Linux I alway have a good external modem(USR) around(even with broadband ya gota have a modem for FAX) - and in comparison somma these Winmodems are definitely whipin my good externals...

    The only thing we know for sure is that things keep changin!
  10. Well I tried a couple of fixes that USR tech suggested, including reinstalling the driver and adding an init string that disabled v92. No change.

    I guess the winmodem is really faster. The thing that bugs me though is why can't they make a hardware modem that performs as well. Surely they must realize that people who spend more money on a hardware modem will expect better performance.
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