Which Networking Technology Is Right For Your Home?

HD/Gaming 5 GHz Wireless-N Networking Kit (WNHDEB111)

Product-wise, this was by far the most difficult decision to make. The market is filled with all sorts of wireless alternatives in all price bands, from antique 802.11b to N150 to dual-band, and Netgear has models in all of them. A lot of users don’t stop to question what kind of wireless implementation makes the most sense in their environment. 

Soon, we’ll have a full-on roundup of 802.11n gear arriving on Tom’s Hardware, and we’ll see exactly which implementations perform best in different scenarios. For now, though, we made a few assumptions.

First, we decided that most users were going to be working in a home of 1,500 square feet or less, which means that most rooms would be within a 50-foot radius of the router/access point. Second, we assumed that most users wanting high-speed home networking today would do so at least in part to have a richer entertainment experience. Video is often a key component of today’s digital entertainment, and video often utilizes User Datagram Protocol (UDP), as opposed to the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) generally used with network traffic. As we showed in our earlier article on beamforming, UDP tends to be considerably faster than TCP, and 5 GHz will yield better performance in real-world, congested environments than 2.4 GHz. It follows, then, that if someone wants the best possible wireless performance for entertainment and video, a 5 GHz solution using UDP (when possible) is the way to go.

With that all said, we figured, OK, lots of people have 2.4 GHz wireless already. A lot fewer are 5 GHz-ready. Instead of suggesting that people replace their current investment, we opted to simply add to it with Netgear’s Wireless HD/Gaming Kit, currently available for over $100 online. The HD/Gaming kit includes two 5 GHz WNHDE111 devices. These are identical, but one acts as an access point and the other as a bridge. Netgear trumpets that going with 5 GHz gives you a range of 23 free channels versus only three with 2.4 GHz, and there are far fewer common, interfering devices occupying the former band than the latter. So while the company smartly makes no specific bandwidth claims, even though the kit uses the 802.11n spec in the 5 GHz band, users should enjoy “lag-free gaming and jitter-free HD streaming.”

The kit is targeted specifically at gaming consoles and other entertainment devices, such as a TiVo or Slingbox. In order to deliver on its quality of service promises, Netgear utilizes an array of six smart antennas in each device harnessed with adaptive, software-based beamforming. The WNHDEB111 comes pre-configured from Netgear so there’s no setup needed. Each box can detect if it’s connected to a switch or client device and will self-configure as an access point or bridge as needed. If you add subsequent adapters, there’s a manual switch for setting in AP or bridge mode. The only thing to remember is that you must configure the AP with a wired Ethernet connection first. Once this is done, associating the pair is a snap.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
44 comments
    Your comment
  • rebturtle
    I'll be bookmarking this article for customers who tell me, "No, I don't want a wired LAN, I picked up this wireless router at WalMart....."
    4
  • blackmancer
    +1 wired ethernet connections all the time!!!!!!!!
    7
  • neiroatopelcc
    I like the netgear floorplan "Stairs to go upstairs" ... great!

    And nice article btw. Imo I'd have put the first rant about netgear after the section detailing that you're using it, so it looks more like an explanation than an advertisement (page 1) though.
    1
  • anamaniac
    Thank you for the article.
    I decided to skip getting a switch (as I still want interent on all connected devices anyways), and grabbed a 2.4/5GHz 820.11n gigabit router...
    Has done well for me, just too bad my PSP can't use wireless N.

    I've been tempted (and almost did) put new holes in my walls to drag my cat6 cables around my house (I only grabbed cat6 over cat5e because of the colour of the cables at my shop, however I do somewhat regret it because cat5e is a lot more flexible).
    -2
  • neiroatopelcc
    Q: can regular people like I download the zap benchmark software somewhere? I'm the guy being blamed if our corporate network in two towns breaks down, and lately I've been hammered for unstable wireless network and can't find any cause for this. Would like to see minimum performance for our access points (got about 40 meru aps with dual radio and a,b,g and n concurrently).
    -2
  • Spanky Deluxe
    Gigabit ethernet throughout the house running through a gigabit switch in the garage here with 802.11g for the laptops until I get round to replacing the router we got with our broadband supplier with an Airport Extreme.

    Luckily the previous owner of the house was a network engineer and had left all the wiring throughout the house. I just hooked up a cheap second hand gigabit switch off eBay and have been loving it ever since.
    2
  • NicNash
    If you connect a power-line connector from a computer that is also connected to a wireless n network, to that router... will it use both adapters at same time? or whichever to provide best speed?

    weird thought.. but yea
    -1
  • NicNash
    btw great article on these lesser known technologies. this article is worth its weight in gold to those who care
    -1
  • neiroatopelcc
    nicnashIf you connect a power-line connector from a computer that is also connected to a wireless n network, to that router... will it use both adapters at same time? or whichever to provide best speed? weird thought.. but yea

    Depending on the OS, but if you're running a standard microsoft os, it'll use whichever it detects a gateway on first. Has nothing to do with which is fastest or most reliable.

    Type route print in cmd if you want to see what it uses
    -1
  • ytoledano
    Wired is king.
    0
  • Ciuy
    Gigabit Ethernet foreverr, why upgrade/strugle with connection types that perform slower ?? Today we need the best HD connection ever :D

    wireless is and always will be sheeet !!!!
    0
  • Anonymous
    Great post. One small remark though, instead of naming it "Which Networking Technology Is Right For Your Home?" you might've named in "A Netgear commercial", since you talk more about Netgear, than the topic. Dlink and Cisco rule!
    -4
  • Tattysnuc
    Any chance of a follow up guide on

    1. how to do the setup in software (Mac/Win 7/Vista/XP)
    2. Sharing files
    3. Streaming

    I'm in the process of setting up a Gigabit wired network around the house and I'm struggling to find any decent guides that take you trough the entire process, from selecting the hardware to streaming media.
    0
  • neiroatopelcc
    smoleGreat post. One small remark though, instead of naming it "Which Networking Technology Is Right For Your Home?" you might've named in "A Netgear commercial", since you talk more about Netgear, than the topic. Dlink and Cisco rule!

    You put dlink and cisco in the same sentence? imo you should be ashamed!
    If there's one thing I know for certain, then it is that nobody who wants something to work should buy dlink to get there!
    Once (2001) I built a complete infrastructure with dlink switches and wireless adapters. The APs didn't even last a year before I replaced them with some asus ones, and these got replaced by much better HP ones in 2005. And finally when I got a chance to replace the dlink junk with 4108 switches nobody even wanted the old ones! In the end I gave like 20 dlink switches with fiber modules away for free - it was cheaper than throwing them away!

    And over the years when people ask "My wireless connection sometimes doesn't work. When I restart my access point it works again. What can I do about it?" my answer is always "Is it Dlink?" and guess what - the answer has ALWAYS been yes.
    It's possibly the least reliable network gear you can aquire! I'm not particularily fond of netgears mediocre quality, but they're tons better than anything dlink can provide! By the way - buying expensive Dlink stuff doesn't make it more reliable either! I've had a DES-6000 (8 slot modular) break down because it became summer and the temperature reached 34C (have had HP switches enduring 57C without breaking down). And serveral of the DES-1226 although configured correctly with vlans would occasionally send all data to the first vlan until rebooted. You don't reboot network equipment! You just don't!

    As for cisco - it works, sure, but it's tons more expensive than any competing brand, and doesn't offer support for anything nobody else can. And on top of that it's slower than most other quality gear with the same feature sets.
    0
  • neiroatopelcc
    TattysnucAny chance of a follow up guide on 1. how to do the setup in software (Mac/Win 7/Vista/XP)2. Sharing files3. StreamingI'm in the process of setting up a Gigabit wired network around the house and I'm struggling to find any decent guides that take you trough the entire process, from selecting the hardware to streaming media.


    And when you're at it do an article about (free) CMS system choices for hosting your web and storage servers at home. We live in a time where anybody can get 50Mbit for the same money a 2Mbit cost 5 years ago.

    Also an article about how ip trafic is routed and how dns servers really work would be cool - cisco is teaching a theory, but it isn't how things actually work in reallife. For instance many isp's provide a link where the 'network number' is the client pc, and the 'broadcast address' is the gateway ; according to cisco this shouldn't work, but it does.
    -1
  • saint19
    +1 wired ethernet connection. For my, is the best option till my ISP rise the speed of my connection.
    0
  • tommysch
    Going wireless for gaming is like buying a MAC over a PC. Its all hype and the look-at-me-im-so-cool thing.
    -4
  • fausto
    OK, i've been wanting wired ethernet at home for a while and this just makes me want it even more.

    Anyone knows of any good tutorials on wiring the house? making the holes on the wall and running the wiring?
    -1
  • fausto
    nicnashIf you connect a power-line connector from a computer that is also connected to a wireless n network, to that router... will it use both adapters at same time? or whichever to provide best speed? weird thought.. but yea


    no it would not, you would have to choose which network connection you want to use between the 2. but it provides a backup if your main one is down.
    -1
  • ravewulf
    Definitely a combo of Gig-E and Wireless n.

    My laptop already has Wireless n, now I just need a new motherboard* for my desktop with gigabit ethernet and a new router
    -1