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Upgrading Wireless Network with many devices connected

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February 25, 2013 1:44:30 PM

Hello Everyone,

Currently I am running a wireless G router (from around 2005ish era) for my wireless network and I am wanting to increase my connectivity and its speeds. So I'm going to upgrade to N, but I'm trying to find out what the best setup for my would be for the cheapest amount of money. Also, I would like to run as many devices as possible as Gigabit so the router has to be gigabit.

Now, here is a list of devices that are or are going to be connected to the network:
- Intel i5 Desktop (wired - runs gigabit)
- 2nd Desktop (wired)
- 3rd Desktop (probably use a N adapter to run wiressly from the garage)
- Debian Linux Media / Web Server (probably run wired - adding a gigabit network card to run on)
- Girlfriend's Laptop (running B or G)
- My Laptop (running B or G)
- 3 x iPhones (I only know that they run on the 2.4ghz band)
- Original 60gig PS3 (I think connects through B or G, but I will add a N adapter to run it on the 5ghz band)
- 3 - 4 x wifi receivers (wifi blue ray players OR Roku type device) for streaming movies and music through TVs from the Linux server


Also, my ISP connection is "supposedly" 8mb download and either 1mb or 2mb upload. Currently, on my wired i5 Desktop, when I download an 8gb to 10gb game from Steam (through their client) I get about 1.8mbps download speed. But, downloading 6mb (firefox browser) on my laptop takes like 15-20 minutes... (I'm not too positive how to calculate what series (N300, N600, N900, etc) router will perform best with my ISP connection. Any ideas?)

I've found two routes of going about this... the first:
I've been told on a couple occasions to just grab a N600 series router to replace the G router completely. But, after doing some research, I've found that once I connect one of the B or G devices to the N router, all of my devices will drop their performance to the G frequency (which makes the upgrade redundant..). So, this means spending more money on N adapters for devices that are not N capable.

The second:
I've found articles and people online suggesting to keep the G router as an "access point" that my B and G devices will operate on. This sounds more ideal as it saves me money on N adapters, but I have questions with this route and could use some opinions.
- Does this separate my speeds? When I have multiple G devices online and being used, does it affect the speeds of the wireless N devices being used? (for example.. will 2 laptops running on the G router slow down the PS3 running on the N router?)
- Since I'm being told to just use a N600 router to completely replace the G router for best speeds... Using this G and N setup, would I notice a big difference between and N300 and N600 speeds? (my thought is I can grab the N300 rather than N600 because I will have fewer devices operating on the N frequency).


Thanks to all who make it through this post, lol, and all help is appreciated.
February 25, 2013 2:07:16 PM

Since you have legacy devices, I would keep the old G router and configure it as an AP for the old devices, because as you were told N can only exceed 54Mpbs limit when using WPA2/AES security and not supporting legacy G devices. As far as speed, using the "best" N router available does you no good if you support legacy devices, it still caps at 54 minus overhead, so less depending on distance and number of devices used together.

Nonetheless, if at all possible do not run B devices on the G, as that cuts your speeds much further still. An old Cisco white paper estimated that supporting B and G cut actual throughput on a 54Mbps G network from 22Mbps to 13Mbps. So go G only on the legacy if you can.

I would agree that you should not upgrade all the adapters at this point if they are currently doing an adequate job. Plus with all of your devices you will get better performance if they are split among several channels/frequencies.

Your Internet speed will most likely be your limiting factor, and think about that split among a number of devices being used simultaneously.

I would do one more small bit of research before making a decision -- download and run INSSIDER, a freeware wireless analyzer that will allow you to see all wireless signals by channel and strength to determine how many of the three non-overlapping channels (1, 6, 11) on 2.4GHz are clear enough to use without significant interference. You will be using two for your G and 2.4GHz N radios with the "keep the old G as an AP" approach.
February 25, 2013 2:30:03 PM

Just a small addition to realbeast comments (which I agree with)

Be very careful of the smoke and mirrors the vendors are putting on the boxes.

150m means you are using wide channels (ie 2 channels)...this mean for 2.4 1&6 or 6&11
300m means in addition you are using 2x2 mimo in addition to the above.
450m means you are using 3x3 mimo
The rest
600m... could mean you are using 4x4 mimo but I don't think it is availble.
What they generally mean with
600m means 300m on 2.4 and 300m on 5g
900m mean 450m on 2.4 and 450m on 5g

So although the ROUTER can do 600m it cannot do 600m with the same end device.

And of course none of this matters if your nic card in your PC does not support mimo and/or you cannot use 2 radio channels because of interference or contention.
Related resources
February 25, 2013 2:55:17 PM

RealBeast said:
Since you have legacy devices, I would keep the old G router and configure it as an AP for the old devices, because as you were told N can only exceed 54Mpbs limit when using WPA2/AES security and not supporting legacy G devices. As far as speed, using the "best" N router available does you no good if you support legacy devices, it still caps at 54 minus overhead, so less depending on distance and number of devices used together..


I just want to make sure I'm correct, but you mean if I put Legacy devices on the N router, my N router caps at the 54mbps so this is why I should separate the routers? Can I run the G router (which will be supporting the legacy devices) as an AP while the N router is using the WPA2 security?

RealBeast said:
Nonetheless, if at all possible do not run B devices on the G, as that cuts your speeds much further still. An old Cisco white paper estimated that supporting B and G cut actual throughput on a 54Mbps G network from 22Mbps to 13Mbps. So go G only on the legacy if you can...


If I do run B devices on the G... does it only cut the G router's speeds while not affecting the N router speeds? (I found out my laptop, which is older, seems to be running on the B frequency).

RealBeast said:
I would agree that you should not upgrade all the adapters at this point if they are currently doing an adequate job. Plus with all of your devices you will get better performance if they are split among several channels/frequencies.


The devices are all still using their onboard/factory adapters and do work. I just seem to notice connection problems when were are browsing the web on two laptops and streaming netflix on the PS3 simultaneously. The only device I will need to upgrade the adapter for is the PS3 so it can run on the 5ghz band.

RealBeast said:
Your Internet speed will most likely be your limiting factor, and think about that split among a number of devices being used simultaneously.


Can you elaborate on "and think about that split among a number of devices being used simultaneously" a bit please? I'm not sure I follow completely.

RealBeast said:
I would do one more small bit of research before making a decision -- download and run INSSIDER, a freeware wireless analyzer that will allow you to see all wireless signals by channel and strength to determine how many of the three non-overlapping channels (1, 6, 11) on 2.4GHz are clear enough to use without significant interference. You will be using two for your G and 2.4GHz N radios with the "keep the old G as an AP" approach.


I will have to check into this tonight when I get home from work. This seems like it may help me in understanding the structure / setup of the network.
February 25, 2013 3:03:57 PM

bill001g said:
Just a small addition to realbeast comments (which I agree with)

Be very careful of the smoke and mirrors the vendors are putting on the boxes.

150m means you are using wide channels (ie 2 channels)...this mean for 2.4 1&6 or 6&11
300m means in addition you are using 2x2 mimo in addition to the above.
450m means you are using 3x3 mimo
The rest
600m... could mean you are using 4x4 mimo but I don't think it is availble.
What they generally mean with
600m means 300m on 2.4 and 300m on 5g
900m mean 450m on 2.4 and 450m on 5g

So although the ROUTER can do 600m it cannot do 600m with the same end device.

And of course none of this matters if your nic card in your PC does not support mimo and/or you cannot use 2 radio channels because of interference or contention.


Yeah, I'm trying to find the "hidden" meanings of all these router series so I can be aware of what the salesperson is trying to tell me. Last person I chatted with seemed to be giving me that whole "text book" approach.. Basically he asked how many devices and what types they were would be on the network and he suggested an N600 without really elaborating..

Most of the N600 and above routers I see are split as you explain. 300m for one band and 300m for another band. Although, I'm not sure if I fully understand the 2x2mimo, etc. If the N600 is broken down to 300m + 300m.. would a dual band N300 be broken down to 150m + 150m, or is there something else I need to be considering in reference of the mimo thing?
February 25, 2013 3:20:31 PM

Aunnix said:


Most of the N600 and above routers I see are split as you explain. 300m for one band and 300m for another band. Although, I'm not sure if I fully understand the 2x2mimo, etc. If the N600 is broken down to 300m + 300m.. would a dual band N300 be broken down to 150m + 150m, or is there something else I need to be considering in reference of the mimo thing?


They might do that but most the time they mean 2x2 mimo. All mimo means is it sending the signal over multiple antennas slightly out of phase. This results in the ability to send (in optimal conditions) twice the data ...or 3 times the data in 3x3. The key here is both devices require multiple antenna and radios units that can send multiple signals.

If you read very closely they tend to not outright lie. They will state the 300m + 300m or whatever. The other thing you must watch out for is dualband does not mean it can actually run both bands at the same time. Many routers use the word Simultaneous to indicate that ability.
February 25, 2013 4:30:32 PM

bill001g said:
They might do that but most the time they mean 2x2 mimo. All mimo means is it sending the signal over multiple antennas slightly out of phase. This results in the ability to send (in optimal conditions) twice the data ...or 3 times the data in 3x3. The key here is both devices require multiple antenna and radios units that can send multiple signals.

If you read very closely they tend to not outright lie. They will state the 300m + 300m or whatever. The other thing you must watch out for is dualband does not mean it can actually run both bands at the same time. Many routers use the word Simultaneous to indicate that ability.



By antennas, are you referring to B, G, N, etc? I will have to do some more research on this I suppose, lol. I was mostly wondering what I should look for regarding the mimo when it comes to my G devices slowing down the N speeds (although the rep I just talked with at Micro Center said putting the G device on the N router will not slow down my N devices to the G speeds... considering majority of the net says otherwise, lol)

I'm glad you said something about the bands running at the same time. I did not check it when buying a router a few minutes ago, lol. It says they run concurrently on the box, so I got lucky, haha. I bought a Netgear N600 (WNDR3700 is the model number) as I was told by the rep that the N300 routers are not dual band.
February 25, 2013 6:41:43 PM

I totally agree with Bill -- all the speed stuff you see is marketing propaganda. A great example is the newest (but not yet really ready for prime time, maybe in a year) 802.11AC routers. They are called AC1750, implying 1750Mbps. They arrive at that by adding the maximum theoretical speeds of 450Mbps for the N channel (that assumes 3x3 mimo that they may not have and that your adapters can also do the same) and the 1300Mbps AC channel (which would require a 160MHz channel that is not even on the drawing board at the chipmakers like Broadcom). Best thing is to get a good router and use everything that it can give you by configuring it well.

Also, as you mentioned be careful about dual band -- many are not *simultaneous* dual band, which is absolutely necessary if you want to use two separate radio bands on one device.
February 25, 2013 7:02:08 PM

Aunnix said:
I just want to make sure I'm correct, but you mean if I put Legacy devices on the N router, my N router caps at the 54mbps so this is why I should separate the routers? Can I run the G router (which will be supporting the legacy devices) as an AP while the N router is using the WPA2 security?


You can and should use the old router as a separate B/G access point, as using the router in B/G/N limits your speed to 54Mbps theoretical max (more like high 20Mbps range in real conditions and including network overhead). With a good simultaneous dual band router you have two radios and can run the N only 2.4 and 5GHz along with the extra AP on a secondary channel with a different SSID to use all the bandwidth that you can to the best result -- but run inSSIDer to see how many competing networks are around you -- some folks have neighbors that run 80MHz wide N 2.4GHz channels that wreak havoc since they use 82% of the available 2.4GHz frequency.

Aunnix said:
If I do run B devices on the G... does it only cut the G router's speeds while not affecting the N router speeds? (I found out my laptop, which is older, seems to be running on the B frequency).


Yes, with a second B/G AP you will get relatively poorer performance but the 2.4GHz N only channel will perform well, again assuming no competing wireless that causes interference.

Aunnix said:
The devices are all still using their onboard/factory adapters and do work. I just seem to notice connection problems when were are browsing the web on two laptops and streaming netflix on the PS3 simultaneously. The only device I will need to upgrade the adapter for is the PS3 so it can run on the 5ghz band.


You have two issues to consider with that. The first is that a consumer wireless radio will only support a limited number of connections, and the second is that all of those connections share the available bandwidth. Streaming video and/or gaming takes up almost all of it on most setups. I have multiple wireless networks and no neighbor issues, and the 2.4GHz N 80MHz channel can barely stream full HD video until the GF hits the microwave to make popcorn, then down it goes. If you look at all of your wireless use and consider it all you can better allocate -- for example I changed out my wireless phones to DECT 6.0 that uses 1.9GHz and my wireless headphones and speakers to models that use the 2.8GHz bandwidth, since they were all competing before. As you might be getting, I use all the wireless bandwidth that I can get my hands on, and fortunately have no neighbors, which are a real issue on many installs that I've done.

Isolating your gaming or video streaming to 5GHz N will "free up more space" on 2.4 for other stuff. Think of it as a limited resource that you can only use effectively for either one thing at a time, or several things on different frequencies.

One other (usually minor) issue is that as frequency increases, all else being equal, the signal strength is less at greater distance. That is really apparent when you change from 2.4GHz down to 1.9GHz phones, your useable distance is much greater. That is offset by the ability to bond channels on 5GHz (so using a wider channel of 40MHz width or even 80MHz with AC, like a fatter pipe) since the 5GHz channel is far less used at this time, it is still available to use more so than 2.4GHz in most locations. Lower frequency wavelengths penetrate stuff better (are less attenuated) and also go around stuff better, just basic physics.

Aunnix said:
Can you elaborate on "and think about that split among a number of devices being used simultaneously" a bit please? I'm not sure I follow completely.


Assuming you have no local wireless radio interference (which inSSIDer will tell you) think about 2.4GHz channel 1 as the B/G legacy stuff channel, and 6 or 11 as an N only higher speed channel for some devices that support WPA2/AES, and then 5GHz as yet another "pipeline" for high bandwidth uses like gaming or video. Thus think about dividing up what is available equitably among your needs. This all assumes a dual band N router and the secondary G access point that gives you three separate wireless radios to access.

Aunnix said:
I will have to check into this tonight when I get home from work. This seems like it may help me in understanding the structure / setup of the network.
It's a great little app, currently it works for A/B/G/N 2.4 and 5GHz and is being updated for AC eventually.
February 26, 2013 3:52:59 AM

RealBeast said:
but run inSSIDer to see how many competing networks are around you -- some folks have neighbors that run 80MHz wide N 2.4GHz channels that wreak havoc since they use 82% of the available 2.4GHz frequency.


So I've installed this program and ran it. I have 8 other networks around me; it looks like 3 are N, 2 are B, and the other 3 are G speeds. (One of the N connections uses channels 11 + 15...?) All of their signal strengths are in the pretty much in the low 80 to low 90 range, which is supposedly poor according to the program's manual.


RealBeast said:
the 2.4GHz N 80MHz channel can barely stream full HD video until the GF hits the microwave to make popcorn, then down it goes.


I do not see an "80MHz" channel reading in this nSSIDer program... The only thing I've seen is whole numbers like 6, 11, and 15. Can you elaborate on how to view the MHz status?



I had a new question come up.. I've been finding information online stating the PS3 cannot be converted to wireless N via USB (or any) adapter. So, I was wondering if I can run 2 access points? I was thinking of buying a cheap N150 (I may need a N300 since I would be using it on the N600 2.4 band...) to use as an AP for just the PS3 by running an ethernet wire from the PS3 to the router, then letting the router connect wirelessly. Then, of course, running the B (I checked it out, I have a B not G) router for the laptops... Is this plausible?

Also, would I be able to connect a Gigabit network HUB to the router with all of this running? I assume I can as long as I have the ethernet ports available on the N600 (client) router?
February 26, 2013 10:41:12 AM

Think 80mhz is a typo but on insider you will see a bar that is longer and maps over 2 channel groups. It will either use the bottom 2/3 or the top 2/3. You may not see this if the card you are running inssider on does not support wide channels.

You can run as many AP as you like but you only have so much radio bandwidth. Pretty much you have channel 1,6,11 when you use 20mhz bands.

So you could run b on channel 1 G on channel 6 and N on channel 11. This would limit your N to only 65m since you can only use 1 channel. You might get 130m if you can run mimo on the N channel. I would at least buy USB 802.11G dongles for the laptops...but you might as well go N. Then you can run G on say channel 1 and use channels 6,11 to run N.

The connection you describe about hooking the PS3 to a "AP" and letting it connect will not work. The device must be a bridge...but many routers can be set to client/bridge mode rather than router or AP mode.
February 26, 2013 1:01:33 PM

Yes, I meant 40MHz N (80MHz channels are only available in 5GHz AC and inSSIDer is being updated for that). The program does not exactly show which channels are bonded, but you can infer it by an SSID that has a wide plateau on the graph covering double the usual space, like the yellow one HERE

Are you in the US? There are only channels above 11 outside the US; HERE is a guide to channels by region.

As Bill says, you are limited to three non-overlapping channels in the US. I agree that a cheap dongle for the B laptops makes a lot of sense. They work well and are very inexpensive (remember to disable the onboard B adapter).

Is your PS3 close enough to the planned 2nd AP that you could run a cable to it from the PS3? The three unused LAN ports (one attached to the main router) on the AP work as a switch and can be used. You will get the best results for gaming if you can use a cable over wireless -- it will leave your wireless available for other stuff like streaming video.
February 26, 2013 8:12:18 PM

bill001g said:
Think 80mhz is a typo but on insider you will see a bar that is longer and maps over 2 channel groups. It will either use the bottom 2/3 or the top 2/3. You may not see this if the card you are running inssider on does not support wide channels.

You can run as many AP as you like but you only have so much radio bandwidth. Pretty much you have channel 1,6,11 when you use 20mhz bands.

So you could run b on channel 1 G on channel 6 and N on channel 11. This would limit your N to only 65m since you can only use 1 channel. You might get 130m if you can run mimo on the N channel. I would at least buy USB 802.11G dongles for the laptops...but you might as well go N. Then you can run G on say channel 1 and use channels 6,11 to run N.

The connection you describe about hooking the PS3 to a "AP" and letting it connect will not work. The device must be a bridge...but many routers can be set to client/bridge mode rather than router or AP mode.


How will running the router as a bridge affect my radio bandwidth compared to running it as another AP? Basically, would I be running the B on channel 1, N on 6 and 11, and the bridged router runs off the N channels?
February 26, 2013 9:32:33 PM

Using a bridge would use up a chunk of bandwidth on that frequency, probably all of it on the channel used (N I assume).

What about G, you going to share that on channel 1?

As Bill says, your available wireless spectrum is limited, if you use it for one thing or use some of it for slower devices it is not available for other uses, it's like money -- there never seems to be enough. :)  It sounds like you are fortunate and your surrounding networks don't impact you much now, but that too can change unless you have a lot of distance from your neighbors, so be careful not to plan it too tight.

When considering your options don't forget the 5GHz band, and if your devices aren't too far apart you can use that for the higher bandwidth applications.

If you really get stuck needing more and want to spend some money, you *might* look at the premium option -- ASUS RT-AC66U. A pair of those with one as the router and one in media bridge mode would give you extra bandwidth. I've played with a pair for a client install and the results are very good but quite expensive. The AC only 80MHz (yeah and here it is really 80MHz) makes a great bridge between the two and the other radio channels are available for all the other stuff.

So many options. hehe

February 26, 2013 9:48:07 PM

RealBeast said:
Yes, I meant 40MHz N (80MHz channels are only available in 5GHz AC and inSSIDer is being updated for that). The program does not exactly show which channels are bonded, but you can infer it by an SSID that has a wide plateau on the graph covering double the usual space, like the yellow one HERE


There is one SSID that appeared to be like the yellow example you've shown, and the channels shown by the program said "11 + 15" but I don't know where the 15 came from if that is not available in US...

RealBeast said:
Are you in the US? There are only channels above 11 outside the US; HERE is a guide to channels by region.


Yes I am.

RealBeast said:
As Bill says, you are limited to three non-overlapping channels in the US. I agree that a cheap dongle for the B laptops makes a lot of sense. They work well and are very inexpensive (remember to disable the onboard B adapter).


Well, after checking my current router, it is a B router and not G. So, I"m guessing the G dongles will not help me... Although, I'm considering finding a cheap G router on Craigslist.com to at least upgrade the AP.

RealBeast said:
Is your PS3 close enough to the planned 2nd AP that you could run a cable to it from the PS3? The three unused LAN ports (one attached to the main router) on the AP work as a switch and can be used. You will get the best results for gaming if you can use a cable over wireless -- it will leave your wireless available for other stuff like streaming video.


Well I have like a 100ft cable I can run to it, but I rent and was trying to avoid running cables because I'm unable to drill through walls and ceilings. Also, I rarely game on the PS3 as there are only like 2-3 game franchises I care about, lol. It is mainly used for streaming although I may just replace it with a wifi blue-ray player. Hopefully they run on N.
February 26, 2013 10:02:40 PM

RealBeast said:
Using a bridge would use up a chunk of bandwidth on that frequency, probably all of it on the channel used (N I assume).

What about G, you going to share that on channel 1?


Probably. I don't want to spend much more money, so I will probably run the B (or G if I buy and old one) on channel 1 for the laptops, and let N take over the channels 6 and 11 using the 2.4 band for normal N stuff and the 5 band for devices that are streaming. As for the PS3, I may be better off to just run an old computer or buy a wifi blue ray player to hook up to the TV for streaming and throw the PS3 in my office / "mancave" hahaha.

RealBeast said:
As Bill says, your available wireless spectrum is limited, if you use it for one thing or use some of it for slower devices it is not available for other uses, it's like money -- there never seems to be enough. :)  It sounds like you are fortunate and your surrounding networks don't impact you much now, but that too can change unless you have a lot of distance from your neighbors, so be careful not to plan it too tight.


I do live in the city, but yeah, my neighbors and I are not RIGHT on top of each other so I should be ok (until moving in June, lol). What do you mean "be careful not to plan it too tight" exactly?


RealBeast said:
When considering your options don't forget the 5GHz band, and if your devices aren't too far apart you can use that for the higher bandwidth applications.

So many options. hehe


The 5ghz band is definitely being considered. Like I said at the top of this reply, I will definitely be using it for any devices that are streaming video via netflix or the server I'm currently trying to build. Although, what devices are you referring to being too far apart? Are we talking about the streaming devices being too far apart from one another or being too far apart from the router? The router and AP devices being too far apart from one another?
February 26, 2013 11:02:00 PM

You can get a good 2.4GHz N router for $30 and dongles for about $10 each so don't spend much on an old G device.

When I say too far, yes I am talking about wireless connections -- for you being in the city not so much far apart laterally but several floors apart.
February 26, 2013 11:15:19 PM

RealBeast said:
You can get a good 2.4GHz N router for $30 and dongles for about $10 each so don't spend much on an old G device.

When I say too far, yes I am talking about wireless connections -- for you being in the city not so much far apart laterally but several floors apart.



So you think I'd be better off to invest into another N router and dongles for the laptops to use as the AP?

Hmm... what if I bought N300 (because the N600 router is 300 for 2.4ghz and 300 for 5ghz?) dongles for the laptops and ran them on the N600 router's 2.4ghz band and put the PS3 solely on the B AP... ? Because if I run the devices that stream on the 5ghz band, all other desktop PC's will be wired except for maybe one which I would convert to run on the N 2.4ghz...
February 26, 2013 11:32:12 PM

If you go with an N AP, you can get a good TP-LINK that I've used many of for APs for $25 and then some good cheap DONGLES for $10 each. I use tons of those and have never had any issues with installation or connections. Also the little Edimax adapter are $10 but are easier to use on portable stuff since they are smaller (slightly less range, but they do very well): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
February 26, 2013 11:38:46 PM

RealBeast said:
If you go with an N AP, you can get a good TP-LINK that I've used many of for APs for $25 and then some good cheap DONGLES for $10 each. I use tons of those and have never had any issues with installation or connections. Also the little Edimax adapter are $10 but are easier to use on portable stuff since they are smaller (slightly less range, but they do very well): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


How can I figure out if my laptops will accept / be able to run the N dongles / wireless signal? They are from around 2007 or before... came with XP on them. Also, would the dongles need to be up to 300mbps so they will match the N600 router's 2.4ghz band? (the whole 300 + 300 thing?)

Like I said, I don't really know what I would be running on the dual band router's 2.4 band because the PCs using it's connection will be wired to it and the only wireless things would be the streamiing devices on the 5ghz band... So, if I can figure out if the laptops will run the N adapters or whatever, I can put them on the dual band router's 2.4 band while the streaming devices are on the 5 band and the B router as an access point for the PS3 alone?


Also, do you know any good resources on how to setup the AP?
February 27, 2013 1:01:40 PM

If they have USB 2.0 ports and XP or higher, they will work. Nope, the N150 will work and really just about as well as they just lack the additional antennae to do multiple streams -- but the increase is not linear as the marketing number would indicate. Indeed, 600Mbps maximum theoretical speed would only be possible with 4 x 4 : 4 antennae and a 40MHz wide radio channel -- nobody even makes one. For example, THIS SITE compares many routers but note that the best 2.4GHz N routers only hit 60Mbps upstream and downstream speeds.

HERE and HERE are two N600 models that worked fine, but I really didn't notice much speed difference at 2.4GHz with those models when I tried them out. Their real advantage is being able to use 5GHz also.

THIS GUIDE seems complete enough, and you will want a different SSID for your AP since it will be used for specific clients using B/G and not just to extend your overall range.
February 27, 2013 4:26:46 PM

RealBeast said:
If they have USB 2.0 ports and XP or higher, they will work. Nope, the N150 will work and really just about as well as they just lack the additional antennae to do multiple streams -- but the increase is not linear as the marketing number would indicate. Indeed, 600Mbps maximum theoretical speed would only be possible with 4 x 4 : 4 antennae and a 40MHz wide radio channel -- nobody even makes one. For example, THIS SITE compares many routers but note that the best 2.4GHz N routers only hit 60Mbps upstream and downstream speeds.


Awesome news on the XP thing... My question regarding the 150mbps vs 300mbps is because I've read that if I put B and/or G devices on the N signal that the devices that run on N will be knocked down to the B and G speeds. So, if I use N150 adapters will my devices using N300 connections drop down to 150mbps?

As of now, this is possibly my plan. (As I'm trying to figure out if I actually need / should keep the dual band..) I've done a little bit of research on the blu ray players and roku type devices, but I'm not seeing any mention of dual band capabilities on them (except for like the 1st gen roku possibly). But, I don't really want to go the roku routes because it would be expensive (like $70 a box). The blu ray player route wouldn't be much cheaper, but at least I get blu ray and DVD playback on top of streaming. Also, I would have to buy the dual band adapters for each device.

So I'm looking at these Raspberry Pi things ($25 each) and Linux based like my server. My friend has one and uses it as a HUB for streaming his movie collection to his laptop and Xbox. What I was thinking, is I can buy a few of these Pi boxes (which connect to the TV) and the dual band adapters to run them on the 5ghz band. I can connect them to the network and then stream my movie collection from the server I'm building (which will contain the media to be streamed). The only issue I can see right now is I'm not sure how to stream Netflix or Amazon Instant Video movies through them.

But, if I can figure the netflix ordeal (as I'd like it to be available on all TVs), here is what the setup would look like:

I would have the dual band N600 router powering my main PCs by wire, the 2-3 laptops (with N adapters) and 2 smart phones on the 2.4ghz band and the 2-4 Pi boxes on the 5ghz band (which my friend is bringing his Pi to me tonight and we are going to test the 5ghz band with an adapter I had bought). Then the B router can be used as an AP for the PS3 alone so it gets all of the B signal performance. What do you think?


RealBeast said:
HERE and HERE are two N600 models that worked fine, but I really didn't notice much speed difference at 2.4GHz with those models when I tried them out. Their real advantage is being able to use 5GHz also.


I actually went researching last night and came across these and plan to use them if I can work everything out with the 5ghz band issue from above. Because at this point with having found no streaming devices that are dual band, I may be returning the router and trying to save a few dollars. I have to research Netflix on these Pi things first before returning it though.


RealBeast said:
[THIS GUIDE seems complete enough, and you will want a different SSID for your AP since it will be used for specific clients using B/G and not just to extend your overall range.


Thanks for this! I plan to give all "networks" (the B, the 2.4N and the 5N) their own SSID and passwords to keep them more organized and separate of one another.
February 27, 2013 5:07:46 PM

It will in some cases slow you down if you run 150m devices mixed with 300m. In most cases the router run both at the same time and you cannot detect it.

Part of this depends if the router has the ability to disable certain rules. For example the 802.11n rules say if you detect a narrow band device on a channel next to you then you cannot transmit wide band. Of course that would suck if I can't use wide band because my neighbor is using a channel. So router manufacture give you the ability to turn this off. This is similar to being able to turn off mixed mode support...which is what causes the issue of slow down because of 802.11g. This topic is actually very complex. This document is one of the better ones I have found. It is only 15 pages long but it took me weeks or rereading it to really understand what they were saying.

http://www.nle.com/literature/Airmagnet_impact_of_legac...
February 27, 2013 5:11:54 PM

bill001g said:
It will in some cases slow you down if you run 150m devices mixed with 300m. In most cases the router run both at the same time and you cannot detect it.

Part of this depends if the router has the ability to disable certain rules. For example the 802.11n rules say if you detect a narrow band device on a channel next to you then you cannot transmit wide band. Of course that would suck if I can't use wide band because my neighbor is using a channel. So router manufacture give you the ability to turn this off. This is similar to being able to turn off mixed mode support...which is what causes the issue of slow down because of 802.11g. This topic is actually very complex. This document is one of the better ones I have found. It is only 15 pages long but it took me weeks or rereading it to really understand what they were saying.

http://www.nle.com/literature/Airmagnet_impact_of_legac...



So, basically, if I want to avoid more headaches and frustration, I should just invest in the extra $5 to $10 in the N300 adpaters? These are also just for the laptops, so they are single band in order to run on the N 2.4ghz. I know if I use adapters for the devices that are streaming I need the N600 dual band adapaters...
February 27, 2013 5:13:21 PM

N routers can support different antenna configurations in the adapters, and AFAIK using a single antenna adapter should not slow down MIMO adapters. Nonetheless, for the price I would get the better models.

Now that you have researched this some, there are a couple of links that you should look at now. First, check out the table under Data Rates HERE. If you look at the number of antennae and the channel width you can see the maximum transfer rates. You will not achieve those, but they help debunk the marketing mythology of N wireless. Note that you will only be using 20MHz N 2.4GH channels since you need all three non-overlapping channels, so you are instantly cut in half on data rate.

Also, take a look at THIS article under router subtypes, it discusses what you should hope to get in data rates.
February 27, 2013 5:41:37 PM

RealBeast said:
N routers can support different antenna configurations in the adapters, and AFAIK using a single antenna adapter should not slow down MIMO adapters. Nonetheless, for the price I would get the better models.

Now that you have researched this some, there are a couple of links that you should look at now. First, check out the table under Data Rates HERE. If you look at the number of antennae and the channel width you can see the maximum transfer rates. You will not achieve those, but they help debunk the marketing mythology of N wireless. Note that you will only be using 20MHz N 2.4GH channels since you need all three non-overlapping channels, so you are instantly cut in half on data rate.

Also, take a look at THIS article under router subtypes, it discusses what you should hope to get in data rates.



Am I cut in half because I'm using the B access point using up my last free channel? (since N uses channels 6 an 11...)
February 27, 2013 6:31:10 PM

My terms were a bit dramatic. :)  You aren't really "cut in half," you just don't get to bond channels, which would boost data rates by like 25% in the real world. And while you may be theoretically cut in half in the N, you actually gain more real usable data rate by having the separate B.

Look at it more as maximizing the use of a limited resource. My intent is only to make clear that the companies selling the equipment exaggerate in their marketing and that you shouldn't expect the marketing rates or you will be disappointed. The powerline adapter marketing is even worse, their 500Mbps models often only do 20-40Mbps!
February 27, 2013 6:58:16 PM

RealBeast said:
My terms were a bit dramatic. :)  You aren't really "cut in half," you just don't get to bond channels, which would boost data rates by like 25% in the real world. And while you may be theoretically cut in half in the N, you actually gain more real usable data rate by having the separate B.


Ok. This is what I assumed by using the B router AP. At least this way I'm salvaging some of my data rate rather than my N devices being knocked down to B specs. The extra 25% would be nice, but probably not necessary as it may not amount to a significant boost although it is a boost... ?


RealBeast said:
Look at it more as maximizing the use of a limited resource. My intent is only to make clear that the companies selling the equipment exaggerate in their marketing and that you shouldn't expect the marketing rates or you will be disappointed. The powerline adapter marketing is even worse, their 500Mbps models often only do 20-40Mbps!


And, yeah I knew what they market/advertise isn't real world rates. I've been told and read to cut their number in half and that is a great rate of data transfer or whatever. So, I shouldn't even really expect to to get half as much power as they market on their boxes, lol. And, I have heard the powerline adapters are basically garbage so I do not intend to use these.
March 1, 2013 1:05:30 AM

So after tons of research.. I've found out that the dual band USB wifi adapters will not work on wifi Blu Ray players and basically there really aren't enough devices (that I use) for the 5ghz band. So, what here is the setup I'm going to go with... any suggestions or warnings would be appreciated.

I will run the N600 router's 2.4Ghz band for the laptops, cell phones, basic N devices and will run a wifi Blu Ray player to stream my Netflix and Amazon Instant Video apps. Then, I will be running individual Raspberry Pi boxes with the dual band adapters (good test results so far) on the 5Ghz band. Then, I will run the PS3 on the B access point by itself, or with another small device (or two).

What do you think?
March 1, 2013 12:52:56 PM

It sounds like a very solid plan.
March 1, 2013 1:09:03 PM

RealBeast said:
It sounds like a very solid plan.


Awesome. It's been quite a journey through the realms of the internet the last few days, but I can say I've learned quite a bit, lol.

I believe my desires (when it comes to streaming) are a little ahead of the game, so that is why I have to use the Raspberry Pi things. They are basically the only devices I can get the dual band adapters to work with (which the adapters do work on them as I had one setup on my 5ghz band... just didn't test the streaming yet - will do this tonight actually).

The idea was to get ONE device that would stream Netflix like apps, connect to my server and stream my movies, and have it on the 5ghz band, but all of the devices I looked at would have "4 out of 5" of my desired abilities. They are all so close, lol. They would do everything I wanted except dual band capable... Or, if dual band capable, it might not stream Netflix (ie: the Pi's).. Or, if dual band capable and Netflix capable, it couldn't connect to my home server, lol.. etc.

But, I figured the setup I've listed above will be the best route to take advantage of the 5ghz band to be able to space out my wireless devices across the network for the best/better performance...


I thank everyone for their help (whoever gave it) and hopefully I didn't cause too many headaches and/or waste your time, lol.
March 1, 2013 1:48:36 PM

Although, I have one more question about the N600 dual band adapters we chatted about earlier in the thread...

What is the difference between these TP-Link / Edimax $25 dual band adapters compared to say a $45 Asus dual band adapter? Am I paying for brand at this point? Do they actually perform the same? (I can't seem to find the one I bought from Microcenter but I believe it is this one or VERY close).
March 1, 2013 2:31:16 PM

The difference is just that -- brand. With its wireless router performance in recent years, ASUS is now a premium brand in networking as it has been for some time in motherboards. The two inexpensive models perform very well, and I would only buy the ASUS linked at that great price, which is basically the same as the lesser brand prices.
March 1, 2013 2:49:14 PM

RealBeast said:
The difference is just that -- brand. With its wireless router performance in recent years, ASUS is now a premium brand in networking as it has been for some time in motherboards. The two inexpensive models perform very well, and I would only buy the ASUS linked at that great price, which is basically the same as the lesser brand prices.


Cool. I will return the ASUS I have to go the cheaper route. For the $45 I have in the ASUS, I may as well add the extra $10-15 and get two adapters (as I do need two).
March 1, 2013 4:33:20 PM

So, I just chatted with a few techs at Micro Center about the Blu Ray players not accepting the dual band USB adapters and they brought up using a bridge. I told them that I'd already be using the B AP and I didn't want to "interrupt" anymore of my bandwidth/performance and they said "the bridge acts as an adapter, and not as another AP/network like the B router will. So, your performance should basically be the same."

So, considering I want all of my streaming done from one device, would it make more sense to go this route? If I do, am I killing my network more than using the Pi setup I decided on, or are the MC techs correct that it would not help me (besides having one device for all my streaming) or hurt me?

Also, I'm guessing this will put me into a monetary amount I do not wish to see (like $150-$200 more) lol, as I would have to buy ANOTHER dual band router to act as the bridge in order to put the Blu Ray player on the 5ghz band?
March 1, 2013 5:30:46 PM

A bridge only gets the signal to one point (with multiple Ethernet ports of course), you do not want to do any repeater function as it cuts bandwidth. I understood that you were streaming to more than one point (i.e. you have more than one TV where you will use BR players). So I am a little unclear on that -- as it would not accomplish multiple points. Think of a bridge as just replacing a cable from point A to point B, from the router to the bridge.

If you want to use a bridge, then yes, you would need another router ***that can be configured as a bridge*** and it would have to support the frequency that you intend to use, so if you want 5GHz for a bridge you would need a dual band, although it would not need to be simultaneous if you were only using it for bridging 5GHz.

edit: *** added emphasis on bridge mode, as all can do AP mode, but not all can do bridge mode. Of course the expensive but nice ASUS RT-N66U has a media bridge mode, but then you are only $33 from the RT-AC66U that could use the AC frequency for an awesome bridge that we discussed a while back, but concluded at that time was more than your desired budget.
March 1, 2013 6:28:13 PM

RealBeast said:
A bridge only gets the signal to one point (with multiple Ethernet ports of course), you do not want to do any repeater function as it cuts bandwidth. I understood that you were streaming to more than one point (i.e. you have more than one TV where you will use BR players). So I am a little unclear on that -- as it would not accomplish multiple points. Think of a bridge as just replacing a cable from point A to point B, from the router to the bridge.


Yes, you understood correctly. I would have multiple TVs hooked up to BR players. EACH BR player would have to have their own bridge if I went this route as I do not plan to run wires from one bridge to multiple BR players. I was toying with this idea because right now I'm only worried about my living room TV, and the other TVs will be setup as time proceeds and more cash is available, lol. (In case you haven't noticed, I'm pre-planning for future streaming on multiple TVs, lol.)

Like I said before, I plan to buy a wifi BR player to get my Netflix type streaming apps on top of the server streaming through the Pi. BUT, if the Pi build is going to range relatively close to the cost of another router I may consider using a bridge (provided that there isn't a negative affect on my wifi performance).

Just thought I'd grab some opinions and find out how my wifi performance would be affected. Because, if the BR players and Pi's route is going to put me in the same ball park (money wise) as this bridge setup, it seems like something to consider so I can get everything in one device like I wanted.


RealBeast said:
If you want to use a bridge, then yes, you would need another router ***that can be configured as a bridge*** and it would have to support the frequency that you intend to use, so if you want 5GHz for a bridge you would need a dual band, although it would not need to be simultaneous if you were only using it for bridging 5GHz.

edit: *** added emphasis on bridge mode, as all can do AP mode, but not all can do bridge mode. Of course the expensive but nice ASUS RT-N66U has a media bridge mode, but then you are only $33 from the RT-AC66U that could use the AC frequency for an awesome bridge that we discussed a while back, but concluded at that time was more than your desired budget.


Noted! Although I'd probably just go ahead and buy the simultaneous in case I do away with the streaming later in life and can sell it easier, haha.

March 1, 2013 7:17:16 PM

@RealBeast: What are your thoughts on Tenda? I just bought this 8-port gigabit switch for like $20 (on sale in store...) and was wondering about the quality. I hear mixed reviews, and you seem to be in tune with the different brands, lol. Also, I felt like I knew a little more than the rep helping me, lol.
March 1, 2013 7:25:09 PM

Aunnix said:
@RealBeast: What are your thoughts on Tenda? I just bought this 8-port gigabit switch for like $20 (on sale in store...) and was wondering about the quality. I hear mixed reviews, and you seem to be in tune with the different brands, lol. Also, I felt like I knew a little more than the rep helping me, lol.
IMO Tenda is about equivalent with all the other secondary brands, the switch should be fine.
March 1, 2013 7:36:13 PM

RealBeast said:
IMO Tenda is about equivalent with all the other secondary brands, the switch should be fine.


Cool. I think for like another $2.50 I put a 2 year warranty on it through Micro Center. If it breaks I can always exchange it, but I thought I'd get another opinion since I wasn't so sure about the Rep's, lol.
March 1, 2013 7:57:20 PM

Got it, so if you will just start with one and then maybe add more later a bridge makes sense. I've used a couple of these Trendnet bridges and they work well at a pretty good price ($90 at Newegg) and have 4 gigabit Ethernet ports to connect multiple devices.

It won't really affect your wireless speed, rather I would expect it to perform better than a wireless adapter due to the larger antennae that the bridge has relative to the small adapter.
March 1, 2013 8:01:45 PM

RealBeast said:
Got it, so if you will just start with one and then maybe add more later a bridge makes sense. I've used a couple of these Trendnet bridges and they work well at a pretty good price ($90 at Newegg) and have 4 gigabit Ethernet ports to connect multiple devices.

It won't really affect your wireless speed, rather I would expect it to perform better than a wireless adapter due to the larger antennae that the bridge has relative to the small adapter.


Ah, makes sense. Well, it looks like I will be pricing some things out tonight after setting up the network, lol. I will keep you posted. Thanks!
March 1, 2013 8:02:35 PM

Aunnix said:
Cool. I think for like another $2.50 I put a 2 year warranty on it through Micro Center. If it breaks I can always exchange it, but I thought I'd get another opinion since I wasn't so sure about the Rep's, lol.
Unmanaged switches tend to work for a long time if they work for a few months, unlike stuff with radios and other complex circuits.
March 3, 2013 6:09:08 PM

RealBeast said:
Using a bridge would use up a chunk of bandwidth on that frequency, probably all of it on the channel used (N I assume).

What about G, you going to share that on channel 1?

As Bill says, your available wireless spectrum is limited, if you use it for one thing or use some of it for slower devices it is not available for other uses, it's like money -- there never seems to be enough. :)  It sounds like you are fortunate and your surrounding networks don't impact you much now, but that too can change unless you have a lot of distance from your neighbors, so be careful not to plan it too tight.

When considering your options don't forget the 5GHz band, and if your devices aren't too far apart you can use that for the higher bandwidth applications.

If you really get stuck needing more and want to spend some money, you *might* look at the premium option -- ASUS RT-AC66U. A pair of those with one as the router and one in media bridge mode would give you extra bandwidth. I've played with a pair for a client install and the results are very good but quite expensive. The AC only 80MHz (yeah and here it is really 80MHz) makes a great bridge between the two and the other radio channels are available for all the other stuff.

So many options. hehe


After going through the thread checking for the AP guide you suggested I came across this in a post in regards to the Bridge idea I am thinking about for the Blu Ray players. So, I'm a little confused... if I use an N dual band bridge and BR player for streaming is it going to kill my wireless signal way more than using the USB adapters on the Pi's OR are they going to act the same?
March 3, 2013 6:30:27 PM

No, a bridge won't use any more than a USB adapter if you are using the same device on the bridge that would have an adapter (compared to putting several things on it and using them simultaneously) -- but if you are streaming video, whichever will pretty much use up that channel on that frequency. For your use, think of a bridge as a an adapter with larger antennae that you can attach several things to with cables.

My comment on using the bandwidth goes for each different use that is on a different frequency/channel, you have a limited number of those and each different use takes some from your total. And like I said, it never seems there is enough.
March 4, 2013 3:09:15 PM

RealBeast said:
No, a bridge won't use any more than a USB adapter if you are using the same device on the bridge that would have an adapter (compared to putting several things on it and using them simultaneously) -- but if you are streaming video, whichever will pretty much use up that channel on that frequency. For your use, think of a bridge as a an adapter with larger antennae that you can attach several things to with cables.

My comment on using the bandwidth goes for each different use that is on a different frequency/channel, you have a limited number of those and each different use takes some from your total. And like I said, it never seems there is enough.


Ok cool. I just wanted to confirm this before I go spend bukoos of money, hahaha. Thanks again! And, once I get it setup and figured out I'll give you guys an update.
March 7, 2013 10:17:53 PM

Well, the access point is working (finally).

Now, I will be installing the Wheezy version of Debian and reworking the server and working on the streaming and keep you posted on the final outcome of the network.
March 8, 2013 12:50:34 PM

Cool. Sometimes it does take a bit of messing around to get those APs working like you want.
March 8, 2013 1:35:04 PM

RealBeast said:
Cool. Sometimes it does take a bit of messing around to get those APs working like you want.


No kidding, haha. I think I was just confusing myself throughout all of my attempts, lol. First it was the range thing, then I confused myself when I was picking up the B router/AP signal on the PS3 and laptop without it being connected to the gateway for internet access, hahah.

Also, I've found a blu ray player that is highly recommended for streaming (has the apps I want and does DLNA streaming on 5ghz with the help of a bridge of course). So, any ideas / warnings to heed as I search for the cheapest dual band 300mbps router/bridge?
March 8, 2013 1:39:00 PM

Just make sure that it has a bridge mode, many only do router and AP modes.
!