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Best Gateway with Gigabit ?

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April 17, 2006 11:53:12 AM

Hello,

Just wanting some opinions on which is the best Router device with Wireless and a built in Gigabit switch?

I'm partial to LinkSys, but haven't been keeping up to date on their products. Are there any products out there for this? Something that will connect to a DSL/Cable modem, broadcast 802.11g, and have 4+ ports with 10/100/1000 capability?

Thanks in advance...

More about : gateway gigabit

April 19, 2006 2:00:09 AM

The wireless market is hot, with 802.11n coming out in the future, and 802.11 pre-n coming out now. The "best" consumer product ATM is probably the Netgear 802.11 pre-n. It's one of the few routers with a gigabit switch built-in, and it's pre-n. There's a D-Link, DGL-4300 which isn't pre-n but has gigabit. I have one; I find it to be decent. There are other pre-n products which don't have gigabit switches.

You're probably best off waiting a month or more if you can for more product release / tech stabilization / price reductions if wireless performance is important to you.

There are lots of ways to solve this problem -- e.g. via separate access points, routers, and switches. A separate gigabit switch isn't a bad idea. D-Link's consumer gigabit switches aren't very expensive, and support jumbo frames (if you care; I find I can't use it because not all my hardware is compatible / consistent). Gigabit on the internet gateway itself isn't going to do anything for you (being limited by internet speeds of course).

Strangely enough, gigabit on the wireless access point might actually be useful, if the wireless throughput is anywhere near the advertised pre-n bit rates of 300 Mb/s. Even around 1/3 of that rate, you'd cap fast ethernet speeds But I don't think we'll see these transfer rates; and wouldn't really worry about it anyways -- if you want good file transfer speeds, wired gigabit's going to be faster anyways.
April 19, 2006 2:39:58 PM

Thanx Madwand for the response,

I'm currently a contractor over in Iraq as a Network Admin, and I've been out of the home use routers for a while; I've only been dealing with Cisco.

Anyhow, I'll have at least 4 devices when I get home that I'll want on Gigabit (for optimal speed) and anything else can go to wireless. I'm very interested in Jumbo Frames, but from what I've read, a lot of vendors that supposedly "support" Jumbo, actually do not, or do a poor job of.

I'll have three desktops, a few laptops, and one NAS with 1.3TB of data. So the desktops and the NAS I want on Gig, laptops on Wireless.

My access to public sites is limited over here, so I'll read the specs on the Netgear 802.11 pre-n when I can. This "pre-n" you're talking about, does this mean that the device supports 802.11n but the company hasn't released the firmware to enable it? What exactly does "pre-n" mean? And does the Netgear support Jumbo?

I've always bought LinkSys and have had pretty good luck with them. But the reading I've been doing doesn't show good for LinkSys and their support for Jumbo Frames. I do, however, like the fact that LinkSys has all these 3rd party firmwares that do extra things with the device, like increasing the dB (i like playing around with these things)

Sorry if I'm throwing too many questions. Getting around different sites is a bit of a hassle.

Thanx again, Madwand
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April 19, 2006 3:38:58 PM

802.11n is the upcoming standard for wireless, which includes signficant range and speed improvements. It's at "draft standard" stage right now, which means that it isn't finalized, and the final version may be different from the current version. Getting a "pre-n" or "draft n" (I think "draft n" > "pre-n", but both could be premature) gets you some of the advantages of the next-gen standard, but incurs some risk that your vendor might not be able to fully support the final version with the same device. Ideally, vendors will seek to support the final version, and provide revisions where necessary, but it's a bit of a gamble.

Netgear's product is called RangeMax Next Wireless Router -- Gigabit Edition WNT854T. It's draft 802.11n. There are some variations of this product, compatible wireless adapters, and a kit incorporating both. They're expensive compared to the competition, but the competition doesn't do all that yet (gigabit + draft 802.11n).

I don't see any reference to jumbo frames. The biggest problem with jumbo frames is that it isn't a formal standard, so various vendors have different levels of support for it -- from none to only 4K frames to 9K frames and higher. And you need all the products in a network to be compatible. This means that quite often, it just doesn't work. You might be able to get it to work reliably with careful part selection all around.

A separate draft 802.11n router and gigabit switch (e.g. D-Link 1008D 8 port gigabit switch with jumbo frames) might be cheaper than the new Netgear unit at this time.

Linksys also has gigabit switches and plays in the 802.11n. All the vendors really need to do so if they want to stay current; it's just a question of timing their releases now.

All of this is in flux, and you're probably going to best off waiting and seeing exactly what's available and their prices when you're back.

Note also that gigabit speeds are typically limited by drive performance. Inexpensive NAS boxes aren't noted for their performance. Some improve with jumbo frames despite not being too fast -- this indicates to me that they may have slow CPU's, which are stressed by gigabit at their drive speeds. Single IDE to single IDE, consumer gigabit can come close to matching drive performance of around 30 MB/s typically, and go much higher when transferring from cache or RAID to RAID (I've seen 50-70 MB/s myself without jumbo frames.) Some NAS boxes that need jumbo frames to hit 30 MB/s; some can't even do that although they have a gigabit NIC.
April 20, 2006 9:18:40 AM

Thanx again for the detailed response. Much appreciate all the info from someone who has been keeping up with this stuff.

Through reading your explanations, it looks like me going for Jumbo Frames might be my best bet. I'll give you a rough idea of my setup when I get back to the States (end of July, early August 06).

My main desktop is a P4 Prescott machine with Gigabit NIC and a 10,000 RPM SATA drive... this machine is mainly used for gaming (Battlefield, WoW, etc). I'll also be watching movies on this machine from the NAS and doing a bit of massive data transfers (backups, DVD copies, etc).

Another machine will be roughly the same build except a regular 7,200 RPM SATA (not 10,000 yet). Friends and such can use this for gaming or whatever. Gigabit also.

I have a couple NAS devices, but only one that I'll be really putting all the use to. It's the ReadyNAS X6 with 4x Hitachi 500GB drives; with RAID-5, I get roughly 1.3TB of storage. It also has 10/100/1000 NIC on it.

These three devices are the ones I want wired to a Gigabit switch/router. The couple laptops that will be present can just go on Wireless, as they'll probably just be browsing or streaming movies from the NAS. One laptop is the Dell XPS Gen2 and will play a few games, but nothing that would tax out even a 802.11b connection, so the 802.11g will just be a bonus.

I'm thinking I'll really like the idea of Jumbo Frames once I get everything set up and settled in. But again, I don't get back to the States till late July/early August, so the market might be more definate by then.

Thanx again for the explanation on the 802.11n. Sounds like a good next step in wireless, though when it comes to gaming and such, I still like my wires. 8)


Oh, one other quick question, I will probably attempt to connect two houses together with this setup. The other house is roughly 100 - 150 yards away, but with trees in the way. I was planning on getting some pipe to bury in the ground and run a single run of Cat-6 cable. Do you have any better ideas, or is this good enough?

Thanx again
April 26, 2006 6:37:52 AM

Fall might be good timing for draft 802.11n. The current crop seem to have some performance and interoperability issues.

Quote:
Oh, one other quick question, I will probably attempt to connect two houses together with this setup. The other house is roughly 100 - 150 yards away, but with trees in the way. I was planning on getting some pipe to bury in the ground and run a single run of Cat-6 cable. Do you have any better ideas, or is this good enough?


Assuming you're not going to dig up some gas mains, skeletons, etc., and get some mechanized help, it seems like a good idea to me. I don't know anything about burying cables, you should consult with someone who does if you don't.

Point-to-point directional antennae wireless is another option, but with trees in between, at that distance, it might not work, and it certainly woudn't be as fast as it can be at close range without interference.

Note also that Linksys has released source code for their new draft-n router. Great news for the hackers & third-party users.
April 27, 2006 5:47:10 PM

D-Link DGL-4300 or DGL-4100 if you dont want wireless. I use this router at home and it is amazing :) 
May 30, 2006 1:05:34 AM

Don't buy anything labelled PRE-N, its all bullshit.

Wait till N if you're really into wireless networking.

If not just get a G-capable ACCESS POINT to plug into your switch.

Your best bet for a gateway is a dirt-cheap-used-old-computer with Linux and two NICs.

Linux makes an excellent router :) 

Make sure you get NICs that support gigabit JUMBO FRAMES, and look into 802.3ad (NIC TEAMING). The only 802.3ad NICs are high-end Intel/3com/Cisco NICs, but they are very cool.
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