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Benchmark Results: Zap Tests, Across House

Which Networking Technology Is Right For Your Home?
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In our distance location, Gigabit Ethernet drops out of the mix. This is the test set we feel most people should study when deciding on which technology to adopt.

In general, you can see that our across-house distance has relatively little effect on the average performance of the MoCA and 5 GHz products, but powerline takes a considerable hit. Where you really see the difference is in the minimum performance tests. Looking at this, we don’t feel that Powerline AV is suitable for anything beyond a single HD video stream. Moreover, higher bit rates and noise from additional electrical devices on the circuit could sabotage even this ability. Meanwhile, MoCA and 5 GHz 802.11n can both easily accommodate one and probably two streams. MoCA might even get you to three if the bit rate stays at 20 Mbps or less.

The big tell-tale comes with the TCP distance results. Strangely, MoCA performs even better across the house than it does in the same room. The average speeds take a slight hit, but the minimum performance rises from 63.6 to 72.1 Mb/s, which seems incredible. Powerline doesn’t share in MoCA’s glory. Average and minimum performance drop almost in half. This matches observations this author has made with Logitech’s WiLife powerline-based surveillance cameras. Within a roughly 30-foot radius, performance is great, but 40 feet gets dicey and 50 feet is often too far to sustain a usable QVGA signal. This degradation can vary according to a number of factors, but powerline technology is clearly more susceptible than MoCA to distance problems. Now we know why MoCA costs twice as much, because in the real world you’re getting twice (or more) the performance.

Not least of all, note the 5 GHz results. Minimum throughput gets nailed below the belt, falling nearly to powerline levels, but average throughput stays respectable at nearly 70 Mbps. For file transfer-sorts of applications (rather than streaming media), this is perfectly acceptable. For wireless streaming to a NAS box safely tucked in the garage or a closet, for example, this might be an ideal solution.

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  • 4 Hide
    rebturtle , November 30, 2009 5:47 AM
    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....."
  • 7 Hide
    blackmancer , November 30, 2009 6:06 AM
    +1 wired ethernet connections all the time!!!!!!!!
  • 1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 30, 2009 6:25 AM
    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.
  • -2 Hide
    anamaniac , November 30, 2009 6:36 AM
    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 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 30, 2009 7:23 AM
    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 Hide
    Spanky Deluxe , November 30, 2009 8:07 AM
    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.
  • -1 Hide
    NicNash , November 30, 2009 9:12 AM
    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 Hide
    NicNash , November 30, 2009 9:13 AM
    btw great article on these lesser known technologies. this article is worth its weight in gold to those who care
  • -1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 30, 2009 9:27 AM
    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
  • 0 Hide
    ytoledano , November 30, 2009 10:13 AM
    Wired is king.
  • 0 Hide
    Ciuy , November 30, 2009 10:35 AM
    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 !!!!
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 30, 2009 11:11 AM
    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!
  • 0 Hide
    Tattysnuc , November 30, 2009 11:27 AM
    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 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 30, 2009 11:31 AM
    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.

  • -1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 30, 2009 11:35 AM
    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.
  • 0 Hide
    saint19 , November 30, 2009 11:35 AM
    +1 wired ethernet connection. For my, is the best option till my ISP rise the speed of my connection.
  • -4 Hide
    tommysch , November 30, 2009 11:44 AM
    Going wireless for gaming is like buying a MAC over a PC. Its all hype and the look-at-me-im-so-cool thing.
  • -1 Hide
    fausto , November 30, 2009 12:34 PM
    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 Hide
    fausto , November 30, 2009 12:38 PM
    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 Hide
    ravewulf , November 30, 2009 12:50 PM
    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
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