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Which Networking Technology Is Right For Your Home?

Benchmark Results: Zap Tests, Across House

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.

  • 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