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

Hardware And Methodology, Explained (Continued)

Clients

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 5.60.48.35)
  • 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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    Top Comments
  • winner4455
    Hey, I still haven't read this article but right away I notice the new format. Just thanking you for listening to your readers! :)
    15
  • Other Comments
  • winner4455
    Hey, I still haven't read this article but right away I notice the new format. Just thanking you for listening to your readers! :)
    15
  • cangelini
    Very welcome Winner. We thought the picture story format would work for that last part and didn't realize the text would come out to be so terrible. From now on, we'll only use picture stories when the captions fit without requiring another click!
    9
  • tacoslave
    cangeliniVery welcome Winner. We thought the picture story format would work for that last part and didn't realize the text would come out to be so terrible. From now on, we'll only use picture stories when the captions fit without requiring another click!

    "Now thats what i like to hear!"
    4
  • nekromobo
    What if you add few thin-foil balls to room (the size of fist or 2)

    That should add few rf-reflections or paths, right?
    Just your 2cent amplifier.. :)
    2
  • dead_rabbit
    Quote:
    However, when push came to shove,

    what does this clause mean???
    -8
  • wifiguy99
    When will Part 1 get a makeover like this?
    2
  • Anonymous
    I wonder why you didn't include Juniper products (formerly trapeze)to this test. It's quit a big player here in europe. Trapeze also produced the 3com wireless manager and accesspoints which was sold widely here.
    2
  • Hupiscratch
    In the page "Benchmark Results: Close Range, No Interference", the HP AP is missing on the downlink graph.
    3
  • Onus
    This was an outstanding article. Going just by this, Ruckus and Cisco are the only two I'd consider out of the box, but it would be very interesting to do a follow on that features even a minimal amount of tweaking to see what changes. A consumer expects a product to work well out of the box, but an enterprise network engineer almost certainly does not.
    2
  • Anonymous
    Very thorough. Lots of hard work went into this and it shows. But how did you select client devices? Did you try any other chipsets? We tried something like this with more diverse clients and got results that were too variable to reach conclusions. (Some clients just did better with some APs than others.)
    2
  • ashserratt
    Why not include Aerohive?
    1
  • Brazilian Joe
    I would like to know about the exact model of the Airport Extreme tested: is it the previous generation model, or the recently refreshed model capable of 450Mbps?
    -1
  • rebel1280
    jtt283This was an outstanding article. Going just by this, Ruckus and Cisco are the only two I'd consider out of the box, but it would be very interesting to do a follow on that features even a minimal amount of tweaking to see what changes. A consumer expects a product to work well out of the box, but an enterprise network engineer almost certainly does not.

    As much as i want to see a follow up on tweaked APs did you read the cost of the setup, $15,000! I don't expect a follow up any time soon haha. By the way Toms, great articles. I didn't mind the initial layout but I like this one better truth be told. Good info, good read. Looks like I'm getting me a Cisco for the office :)
    1
  • awtull
    You have confirmed what 6 years of operating and managing a TROPOS wireless mesh network has shown. As a municipality that deployed the network initially for mobile workers and public safety we did sell access to the network for affordable internet to our citizens. When we looked for a wireless bridge device for the customer that would give good performance along with reliable connectivity the hands down winner was Ruckus. We have probably installed close a 1000 of their dual zone bridges and I can say that everything that your tests have shown is what we have seen in true world application. Your article did a great job of addressing all of the various RF issues of wireless network and I commend you on a job well done.

    Anthony Tull CGCIO
    IT Director
    City of Granbury, TX
    8
  • wiinter
    Will - this has got to be one of the best online articles I've read in the last 15 years. Kudos to you and your team!
    2
  • Onus
    Anonymous said:
    As much as i want to see a follow up on tweaked APs did you read the cost of the setup, $15,000!...

    Oh yes, of course. If they could take just a worst case result, e.g. for that sorry Meraki unit, and see if a few simple tweaks made it viable, hopefully that wouldn't take the time or expense, but would clearly show the benefit from tweaking (i.e. from being a competent network engineer).

    Edit: And, perhaps the cost could be picked up by Meraki, or Aruba, since it seems to clearly be in their best interests, IF it showed their units could hang with the big boys. Based on this article alone, I probably wouldn't touch their products with a ten foot dipole.
    1
  • Anonymous
    Great read, interesting article. Have about 7 wifi devices in my house and currently getting pretty random performance. Think i now know why. If Ruckus ever releases a 3X3:3 for close range performance that would be very interesting!
    0
  • spammit
    Isn't it Cisco Aironet, not Aeronet?
    2
  • thearm
    spammitIsn't it Cisco Aironet, not Aeronet?


    Lord... Does it really matter?

    Anyway, it's so weird here at Toms now an add will pop up because you move you mouse over it and you have to click X to close it. But yet, the pull down at the end of each story (with the chapters in it) will go away of you move your mouse off of it. You have to be very careful with your mouse, when trying to select another chapter, or it will go away. It's been like that for years. Doesn't this annoy anyone else?
    0
  • Anonymous
    By the title of these 2 articles, I was anticipating some information regarding how I can diagnose and fix issues with my WiFi. Whereas now I have a greater understanding of what issues can arise and what router to use in an office setting, I still do not know how to diagnose my own crappy WiFi performance or how to fix it. While I applaud your efforts, I imagine most readers do not have 60 laptops and 5 ipads in their home...
    -2