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Which Networking Technology Is Right For Your Home?

Final Thoughts

Is it worth restating the obvious again that Gigabit Ethernet, if possible, is the only way to fly? Probably not. And that’s not what we came here to find out. We know there are many scenarios in which a Gigabit Ethernet-based infrastructure simply isn’t an option. Fortunately, three viable alternatives exist.

Of these three contenders, powerline technology, at least as tested with the user-friendly XAVB101 kit, emerges as the lowest performance option. It offers the lowest average and minimum performance in essentially every situation and is prone to more performance degradation across distance than the other two options. However, powerline is fairly cheap, its performance is good enough for low-demand environments, and you sure can’t knock the pre-installed ubiquity of data ports.

Deciding between Netgear’s 5 GHz 802.11n HD/Gaming kit and the MCAB1001 MoCA parts is far more tricky. Really, it boils down to your needs and budget. If you can afford the most expensive infrastructure technology on the consumer market and if you have enough coax drops in the right locations throughout your home, then MoCA is clearly the non-Gigabit go-to. However, what if you want to get online in your backyard? What if you want to plant computing devices in places where there are no data jacks of any type? You need wireless.

Netgear’s 5 GHz solution deserves praise here. We said in our beamforming article that we’d never before seen a consumer WiFi product carry two concurrent HD video streams with no visible jitter or pausing. The WNHDEB111 can—at least one, probably two, and maybe even three on a good day. So lest the 5 GHz option be overshadowed by MoCA’s brighter performance, just keep in mind why you need a LAN in the first place. If the numbers you’ve seen the WNHDEB111 deliver above satisfy your demands, then perhaps 5 GHz 802.11n, particularly with a basic beamforming implementation as Netgear has done here, strikes the best compromise of price, convenience, and performance for your needs. It quickly became clear that, given the wiring present in our test home, this was the best overall option for that environment. MoCA is clearly the superior technology for speed and reliability, but, barring any dead spot issues, dollars and convenience will likely win out among the majority of users.

  • 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....."
    Reply
  • blackmancer
    +1 wired ethernet connections all the time!!!!!!!!
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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).
    Reply
  • 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).
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • NicNash
    btw great article on these lesser known technologies. this article is worth its weight in gold to those who care
    Reply
  • 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 yeaDepending 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
    Reply
  • ytoledano
    Wired is king.
    Reply