Killer Wireless-N 1103 Review: Can Qualcomm Take On Centrino?

Benchmark Results: GaNE, 2.4 GHz

Qualcomm's Killer Gaming Network Efficiency benchmark is likely the test that gamers will pore over, as it delves into wireless ping times and jitter. Thus, we’ll emphasize including the raw charts here. The tool works by linking two wireless clients and running data between them. Because of the nature of the configuration, one client would need to stay present to help test the other two and act as a baseline. We selected the Killer 1103 system for this, and as a result we obtained two sets of GaNE Killer data for every one of the Cisco or Intel. In the following results, we averaged the two Killer numbers. Note that for each test, GaNE collected 300 ping data points for each system.

Is it surprising that our first results show Qualcomm handily trouncing the competition with their own benchmarking tool? Probably not. We all expect Qualcomm to win the day on ping times. However, it’s intriguing that the company is able to do this largely through its drivers, since the 1103 adapter itself centers on a standard radio in the company's portfolio, completely lacking the offload capabilities found on its accelerated desktop cards. Clearly, there’s more than hot air to Qualcomm’s claims of having proprietary intellectual property in play here.

Would anyone have guessed that Cisco’s USB adapter would yield lower latency results than Intel’s 6300 flagship? We should would have predicted the opposite. Also observe that there seems to be very little correlation between ping time and distance.

GaNE 2.4 GHZ comparison - Location 1GaNE 2.4 GHZ comparison - Location 1

GaNE 2.4 GHZ comparison - Location 2GaNE 2.4 GHZ comparison - Location 2

GaNE 2.4 GHZ comparison - Location 3GaNE 2.4 GHZ comparison - Location 3

In these GaNE graphs, the Killer 1103 is the red line in all cases. On the left, black shows Cisco and on the right Intel. Do you see that weird spike in latency in the Location 1 Intel results? We were seeing those all the time from Qualcomm before our driver update. That’s how we know that much of the 1103’s performance advantage here is coming from software.

One advantage these graphics provide is that they allow us to see how two adapters are performing in the same time and environment. Any ambient interference affecting one should be affecting the other as both operate within two feet of each other across all locations. At the very least, it seems that Qualcomm is somehow filtering out system overhead or packet transfer limitations that Cisco and Intel are still battling.

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    Top Comments
  • phamhlam
    I wish they would build better PCI-Express WiFi Adapter. Some of us can't have a cable going through our house or have our computer sit next to the router.
    19
  • Other Comments
  • Anonymous
    Still not buying it.
    9
  • phamhlam
    I wish they would build better PCI-Express WiFi Adapter. Some of us can't have a cable going through our house or have our computer sit next to the router.
    19
  • KelvinTy
    I think if you have the lowest latency at your end and leave everything on the server and internet end. Then it would be a lot better, especially there is input lag from everything, monitor, mouse, keyboard, wireless card, router and internet...
    0
  • reghir
    There are 2 versions of the E4200 did you use version 1 or 2 as version 2 increases to 450Mbps on both bands and full spatial on its 3X3 streams?
    0
  • MKBL
    I hope TH will review on powerline Ethernet adapter against typical RJ45 and wifi. For the same reason as phalmhlam, my desktop is connected to router by a long cable running across floor, which bothers me and my family sometimes. I've been considering powerline ethernet, but I can't make decision between that and wireless-N, because I have no idea which one has better performance/price.
    2
  • CaedenV
    Great article! I learned quite a few things from it.

    I still think I will be waiting for 802.11ac before upgrading from G though.
    -5
  • jaylimo84
    M. Van Winkle,
    Thanks for this nice article.

    I own an Alienware M17xR3, with the Killer 1103.
    Upon installation, the driver was causing me issues (nothing big tho), and I decided to follow a forum recommendation and install the Atheros Osprey driver instead of Killer's.
    It seems the two card are identical apart from the name on it. (Maybe I am misleaded)

    It could be interesting to see if the Killer 1103 gets any improvement using the Killer driver vs. the vanilla Atheros drivers, and see if "years of working with the windows tcp stack" pays off. Or if your performance improvement is due to a good, but still normal card.
    4
  • CaedenV
    MKBLI hope TH will review on powerline Ethernet adapter against typical RJ45 and wifi. For the same reason as phalmhlam, my desktop is connected to router by a long cable running across floor, which bothers me and my family sometimes. I've been considering powerline ethernet, but I can't make decision between that and wireless-N, because I have no idea which one has better performance/price.

    Indeed, it is an issue. I ended up wiring the house through the HVAC ducts, which is a terrible idea (breaks all sorts of building codes), but better than drilling holes all throughout the house only to move to wireless within the next 5-10 years.
    1
  • Anonymous
    The Killer 1103 *IS* available for purchase. Check Amazon... $55 shipped.
    1
  • XmortisX
    I would like to try this out. If they can make a good pci-e/pci version of this card then definitely would try to push it with my clients. Even though we may get more labor hours for running wires the convenience and idea of avoiding HVAC ducts building codes makes this appealing.
    0
  • maxinexus
    Cool, but if I can't buy it for my laptop what is the point?
    1
  • scook9
    For those who want better wireless for their desktop, get one of these and install the laptop card in it

    http://www.amazon.com/Express-Wireless-Adapter-Antennas-miniPCI-E/dp/B005JTEREW
    1
  • jaquith
    There are so many variables what "10', 20' and 60'" means that it is totally impossible to use any wireless benching short of a line-of-sight and unobstructed. Show me a house, short of a mansion, with a 60' line of sight. Further, I've lived in an old house where the frigging walls are solid plaster with wire mesh, and getting a 'usable' signal through a couple of walls was a miracle.

    Most folks are running their wireless through several partitioned walls and 20'~30'. The key variable is what's in the walls and how much interference you're running across.

    I our current and new house we have a centralized switch and CAT-6 distribution, PowerLine, and (2) Access Points 802.11a/b/g/n. That said, there's NO FRIGGING way I'm going to transfer a 2GB file through the air even though I 'can' -- Flash Drive or NIC. In our house every work area, TV, and bedroom has wired CAT-6 so the majority of WiFi is for our Phones and tablets (e.g. iPhone & iPad).

    Further, IF you're using any form of wireless for a Desktop you need to run to the store and either use CAT-5e/6 as your first choice and/or $60~$110 and get a pair of PowerLine. Some of the new Router/Switches/WiFi adapters are including PowerLine built-in.

    Lastly, very few Notebooks have the option to accept a half-mini PCIe Card.
    -1
  • dvanburen
    Something seems wrong. During the LoS transfer test you get only 9MB/s. I can get 16.6MB/s with a 2.2GB file from my M6600 w/Intel 6300 to a Linksys E3000 w/DD-WRT over 2.4 GHz. Granted, I am about 7ft LoS vs. 10, but that shouldn't drop you to FastEthernet speeds. Are you absolutely sure you had a GB uplink from the router to the PC? If not then most of these results are skewed.
    1
  • dvanburen
    Two more results, this time I timed them and moved the laptop to about 9ft. LoS.

    3.63GB EXE - 4:06s | 3905548288 Bytes | 15.14MB/s
    2.14GB ZIP - 2:23.8s | 2306882779 Bytes | 15.30 MB/s

    These are just Drag and Drop via Explorer.
    2
  • scook9
    jaquithThere are so many variables what "10', 20' and 60'" means that it is totally impossible to use any wireless benching short of a line-of-sight and unobstructed. Show me a house, short of a mansion, with a 60' line of sight. Further, I've lived in an old house where the frigging walls are solid plaster with wire mesh, and getting a 'usable' signal through a couple of walls was a miracle.Most folks are running their wireless through several partitioned walls and 20'~30'. The key variable is what's in the walls and how much interference you're running across. I our current and new house we have a centralized switch and CAT-6 distribution, PowerLine, and (2) Access Points 802.11a/b/g/n. That said, there's NO FRIGGING way I'm going to transfer a 2GB file through the air even though I 'can' -- Flash Drive or NIC. In our house every work area, TV, and bedroom has wired CAT-6 so the majority of WiFi is for our Phones and tablets (e.g. iPhone & iPad). Further, IF you're using any form of wireless for a Desktop you need to run to the store and either use CAT-5e/6 as your first choice and/or $60~$110 and get a pair of PowerLine. Some of the new Router/Switches/WiFi adapters are including PowerLine built-in. Lastly, very few Notebooks have the option to accept a half-mini PCIe Card.

    While I appreciate and sympathize with the remark about plaster walls, the bolded statement is just flat out wrong. Half height cards are the standard now. Intel does not even offer the 6200 or 6300 cards in full height
    6
  • pacioli
    Lol. I have CAT5e running from one corner of my house to the other. At each corner I have a Dual-Band router/bridge pumping out Wi-fi with the same ID/Pass combo. No matter where I am in my place I am being bathed in wireless waves of internets. I also have a Cat5e running to the switch in the entertainment center to hook up all my web enabled goodies.
    0
  • blazorthon
    MKBLI hope TH will review on powerline Ethernet adapter against typical RJ45 and wifi. For the same reason as phalmhlam, my desktop is connected to router by a long cable running across floor, which bothers me and my family sometimes. I've been considering powerline ethernet, but I can't make decision between that and wireless-N, because I have no idea which one has better performance/price.


    If you want high speed, get 500Mb power line. It will beat out the wireless easily, unless you have some serious problem with your electrical wiring.

    dvanburenSomething seems wrong. During the LoS transfer test you get only 9MB/s. I can get 16.6MB/s with a 2.2GB file from my M6600 w/Intel 6300 to a Linksys E3000 w/DD-WRT over 2.4 GHz. Granted, I am about 7ft LoS vs. 10, but that shouldn't drop you to FastEthernet speeds. Are you absolutely sure you had a GB uplink from the router to the PC? If not then most of these results are skewed.


    DD-WRT is the answer there. It slaughters the stock firmware in all routers. Tomato does too.

    jaquithThere are so many variables what "10', 20' and 60'" means that it is totally impossible to use any wireless benching short of a line-of-sight and unobstructed. Show me a house, short of a mansion, with a 60' line of sight. Further, I've lived in an old house where the frigging walls are solid plaster with wire mesh, and getting a 'usable' signal through a couple of walls was a miracle.Most folks are running their wireless through several partitioned walls and 20'~30'. The key variable is what's in the walls and how much interference you're running across. I our current and new house we have a centralized switch and CAT-6 distribution, PowerLine, and (2) Access Points 802.11a/b/g/n. That said, there's NO FRIGGING way I'm going to transfer a 2GB file through the air even though I 'can' -- Flash Drive or NIC. In our house every work area, TV, and bedroom has wired CAT-6 so the majority of WiFi is for our Phones and tablets (e.g. iPhone & iPad). Further, IF you're using any form of wireless for a Desktop you need to run to the store and either use CAT-5e/6 as your first choice and/or $60~$110 and get a pair of PowerLine. Some of the new Router/Switches/WiFi adapters are including PowerLine built-in. Lastly, very few Notebooks have the option to accept a half-mini PCIe Card.


    Even my four year old Gateway M-1624 has TWO half-mini PCIe card slots for wireless cards and such. Most notebook computers nowadays have at least one such slot. In fact, almost all modern notebook computers have at least one such slot. Many have more than one.
    3
  • dvanburen
    blazorthon.DD-WRT is the answer there. It slaughters the stock firmware in all routers. Tomato does too.


    I can't help but think of the connection to the PC. 9MB/s just screams FastEthernet. I could understand DD-WRT contributing to a 10% or even 20% increase in perfomance, but we are talking a 60% to 70% difference in performance.
    0
  • jaquith
    Anonymous said:
    While I appreciate and sympathize with the remark about plaster walls, the bolded statement is just flat out wrong. Half height cards are the standard now. Intel does not even offer the 6200 or 6300 cards in full height

    Anonymous said:
    my four year old Gateway M-1624 has TWO half-mini PCIe card slots for wireless cards and such. Most notebook computers nowadays have at least one such slot. In fact, almost all modern notebook computers have at least one such slot. Many have more than one.

    I have both X58's and an X79 with 6-core CPUs and an HP EliteBook Mobile Workstation, but my no means is any of that 'typical' nor does it by any stretch of the imagination represent the Majority. Operative word Majority.

    Most Notebook's either have their WiFi (or other forms of wireless) - Integrated or Non-User replaceable or accessible.

    Sure, 'some' Notebooks have ALL sorts of options and user configurable add-ons. Again, the majority simply do not.
    -3