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Hardware And Methodology, Explained (Continued)

Why Your Wi-Fi Sucks And How It Can Be Helped, Part 2


For our single client, we used a Dell Latitude E6410 with the following specifications:

  • Intel Core i7-620M (2.67 GHz)
  • 4 GB RAM
  • Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (3x3:3)
  • Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
  • Power plugged in for all tests

Each wireless test on this client was run four times, with the laptop turned 90 degrees for each instance. Throughput numbers represent an average of these four results.

For our 5 GHz interference and load tests, we used 60 Dell Vostro 3500 laptops with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i3  2.27 GHz
  • 3 GB RAM
  • DW1520 Wireless-N WLAN half-mini card (Broadcom, driver
  • Windows XP Professional SP3
  • Power/plugged in for all tests

Not least of all, we used five Apple iPad 2 tablets to better examine the impact of ultramobile devices in a mixed wireless network. Careful readers might remember from part 1 that we noted having nine iPads and iPad 2 units—which we did. However, when push came to shove, we ended up only using data from tests featuring the five iPad 2 tablets. The remaining four iPads didn’t play into the data we eventually recorded in order to have consistent client antenna designs. At least they made for impressive photography.

We debated for some time over whether to run the bulk of our tests on 2.4 GHz or 5.0 GHz and ultimately sided with the latter for two reasons. First, while most consumer products are clearly using 2.4 GHz, enterprises are now transitioning to 5 GHz on new roll-outs because of it is the less-used band. In testing predominantly enterprise-class equipment, we wanted to use today’s best of breed spectrum, and right now that means 5 GHz. There is simply far less traffic in that band, which means (in general) better client performance. Second, you’re seeing increasing numbers of dual-band routers and access points appearing in the consumer space as vendors bring their higher-end technologies to the mainstream. Ultimately, as Wayne Gretzky would say, we decided to target where the puck is going, not where it has been.

For 2.4 GHz testing, we placed all devices on channel 1. For 5 GHz, we went with channel 36.

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