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Thread: Wireless N worth the upgrade for tablets?

  1. #1
    Xtreme Enthusiast Natalia's Avatar
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    Wireless N worth the upgrade for tablets?

    I hope this is the right place to ask this...

    I'm wondering if I would notice the upgrade from G to N for my Xoom and iPad 2.

    I need more range on my WiFi at home. I want to be able to be out at the pool and use my tablets. I pulled my current router over to an open window seal yesterday, that ‘sorta’ worked, the single was still only about half-strength.

    Would I be better off getting a stronger router (if so, how can you tell range?)
    Or, should I pick up some amplifier?

    This is the router I have now:
    Linksys WRT54GL
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833124190
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  2. #2
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    I like Wireless N because it covers my whole house with great signal, no using an extender for the 2nd half. So that may be a reason to upgrade for you, I dont think the speed will really change much as you are probably limited by internet connection (unless you are streaming over just your LAN, then you will notice a difference in speed). If it is the same price to run a range extender then you might as well upgrade the router to wireless N since then it is easier and faster anyway.

    Does the Xoom and iPad2 have Wireless N capability though?
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  3. #3
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    I'm gonna try and answer your question as best as I can. I don't have much in the way of professional training (working on my CCNP) but I have been doing helpdesk stuff like your question for a couple years now. Here's what I can tell you (citing smallnetbuilder.com as a source) Range and signal strength are all relative in both the transmitting and receiving end and it will never be as clear cut as you would like.

    Wireless N comes in 3 flavors, single, dual and triple stream adapters. Most routers depending on the signal to noise ratio of your connection will adjust their wireless mode freely depending on which is more appropriate. For example if your signal strength is low enough it will automatically revert your connection from G then to B down from N. In addition to that any client that communicates with the wireless router will also auto-negoiate the connection based on its result.

    Example:

    I have a wireless N adapter
    I have a iphone 3g

    When the Iphone and router are BOTH in use at the same time; all transmitting and receiving from the router is G not N. Only when the iphone's connection is off will it return to N. Routers are based upon its weakest link, this is why dual-band routers are attractive. Dual band routers forces all slower G traffic to the 2.4ghz band allowing the N clients to connect via N and ONLY N on the 5ghz band preventing this slowdown.

    In addition wireless N routers do not have improved range as one would think. They start out at higher bit rates @ 300 but quickly taper off especially in the presence of bluetooth devices which are highly disruptive to wireless N communication as they too occupy the 2.4ghz spectra. In order to compensate for this most wireless N router (emphasis on most) have stronger wireless radios to compensate for this to help punch through the ambient noise floor. This produces heat, then they couple them with a gigabit switch to accomodate the routing speed over 10/300 for the wireless, more heat. What you end up with in many cases is an unstable router with a heat problem eg. Cisco.

    In addition in order to recieve wireless N communication it uses what is called "channel-bonding" which uses multiple wireless channels much like a RAID to stream incoming and outgoing data. If you change your channel from say 40mhz to 20mhz you are forcing the router to change from dual-link 300mbps to single link 150mbps which negate the purpose of buying the more expensive router. The reason why most people use 20mhz is because you have to occupy a total of 8 channels to use 40mhz connectivity. That means 8 of 13.

    Because you are occupying so many channels it makes it almost impossible to find one where another router is NOT interfering with yours and again decreases thoroughput.

    Second getting a louder router to blast the signal out only increases the noise floor and in many cases cause poorer connectivity to the client devices as the majority of the issues seen are not from the router but the device itself. If you are going to use anything as an amplifier use strictly antennae gain and more importantly on the devices themselves (ie high power WLAN adapter on your PC).

    On top of all this wireless has 50% effectiveness in terms of throughput compared to ethernet so using some examples:

    Wireless N @ 300mbps @ 20mz
    100% signal @ 150mbps link = 75mbps true
    50% = less than 42mbps

    TLDR:

    No its not worth it unless your ISP speeds exceed 20mbps to justify the added cost of a good dual-band router and only if most of your clients are on 5ghz spectra. What you want is that bi-directional antennae access point pointing to your pool while keeping your existing router.

    A great program to check range and signal levels is called: inSSIDer

    Routers to avoid: Cisco, Dlink
    Routers to look into: Netgear, Apple, Ubiquiti
    Last edited by Sentential; 03-26-2012 at 05:19 PM.
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    Yes it makes a HUGE difference.

    Moslty because you never get the rated speeds, maybe 20%.

    I went from that very router to a Netgear dgl4500. Videos load exponentially faster. Its like 2G to 3G.

    With all the theoretical limits, no difference. But nothing runs ideally.
    Last edited by Aberration; 03-26-2012 at 05:16 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by alacheesu View Post
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    Continuing from prior post, if you are looking for specifics here are some examples:

    Bi-directional AP (Ubiquiti LOCO): http://www.amazon.com/Ubiquiti-Nanos...2811424&sr=8-1
    Netgear WNDR3700 (best choice for non-450mbps clients): http://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-Wirele...2811469&sr=1-1
    Netgear WNDR4000 (best choice for wireless 450mbps): http://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-Wirele...2811469&sr=1-4
    Linksys E4200 (best overall ONLY IF used with active cooling ie laptop pad): http://www.amazon.com/Linksys-Perfor...2811567&sr=1-1
    Airport Extreme 5th Gen (Arguably on par with the E4200V2): http://www.amazon.com/Airport-Extrem...2811590&sr=1-1

    *NOTE

    Do NOT buy anything from cisco unless you are actively cooling it, or have it propped up on a stand
    Last edited by Sentential; 03-26-2012 at 05:36 PM.
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  6. #6
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    I only went to N because of the better range. A big diff for me.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyxv View Post
    I only went to N because of the better range. A big diff for me.
    See that's a common misnomer; wireless N does not increase range; it has better throughput per signal-to-noise levels but the range its *not* better. I'd also like to add that after using a WNDR3800 I have since retired my WNDR3700; loving the NAS features so far.
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  8. #8
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    I recently had a D-Link Dir-655 die (wan port was flaky for 5 minutes and then died) and that was a solid router, even w/ all the power surges (yes, I should have put it on a surge protector), it lasted 5 years. That was a pretty solid router, considering the stress it put it through.

    That said, I've upgraded to an Asus Dark Knight (RT-n66u) and I couldn't be happier. I have better range because of the more powerful antennas. That said, 5ghz drops off quickly in my house w/ all the walls. 2.4ghz is still very strong. This is probably overkill for the majority of people (but this is XS, right?!). I can't comment on cooling as I have an air conditioner vent that is actively cooling both my modem and my router. The router does get warm, but It never feels like it's getting horrible hot. Also, like your linksys, the router has (and will have) a lot of DD-WRT support, which is great if you want firmware options (and they already look very strong).

    If you want some concrete comparisons, SmallNetBuilder is a great site to compare routers.
    Last edited by [XC] Synthetickiller; 04-03-2012 at 08:52 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sentential View Post
    Routers to avoid: Cisco, Dlink
    Routers to look into: Netgear, Apple, Ubiquiti
    Don't agree with that.

    D-Link is always my number one recommendation, Draytek is also high on my list.
    Have also very good experience with Cisco but since it became merged with Linksys I don't know if that still stands.

    On the other hand, had several Netgear routers dying by a dozen customers and Apple is solid, true, but I find it perform less than brand above.

    In my own home I have the D-Link DIR-855, parental home is using a D-Link DIR-655.
    Both rock solid, never had problems and more than enough playroom in the settings. (signal strength is also amazingly good)
    Last edited by Source; 04-04-2012 at 05:09 AM.
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