Skip to main content

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

Long-Range, No Interference

We wanted to test our five access points under worst-case conditions, which is where our 100-foot, non-line-of-sight test comes in. We also used this test to switch everything over to 2.4 GHz—again, in search of a worst-case scenario.

Without interference, Meraki rejoins the race and performs very well, perhaps somehow managing to bring all three of its streams to bear on the distance and obstructions. HP can’t match its counterpart and falls to the middle of the pack. Apple brings up the rear at 27 Mb/s, but this is still quite respectable for a consumer product under such conditions.

The story stays much the same on the uplink side. Interestingly, Aruba drops to last, while Apple moves up into fourth place. Meraki again performs very well, and Ruckus makes long distance look easy.

Throughout testing, we wondered about the factors underlying some of the performance differences between products. In particular, we wondered why Cisco consistently outperformed two-stream peers Aruba and Apple. Answers remained elusive, of course, but quality control at the board level can vary considerably between access points—and Cisco is well-known for having excellent in-house (as opposed to outsourced) engineering and quality control.

For example, if on-board wires aren’t engineered to have exactly the same electrical impedance, there will be a little energy loss with each connection. RF reflection and noise inside the circuit board can also weaken performance. A very well-engineered AP will minimize or eliminate such factors.

  • 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! :)
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • 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!"
    Reply
  • 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.. :)
    Reply
  • dead_rabbit
    However, when push came to shove,
    what does this clause mean???
    Reply
  • wifiguy99
    When will Part 1 get a makeover like this?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Hupiscratch
    In the page "Benchmark Results: Close Range, No Interference", the HP AP is missing on the downlink graph.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.)
    Reply