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Powerline Kit vs Desktop Wireless Card vs Wired for Surfing and Movie Quality

Posted on 2013-01-13
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Last Modified: 2013-01-18
I am in the process of building a desktop PC that will reside in my basement.  My router and cable modem reside on the first floor.  At this point I am not interested in running Ethernet cord down into the basement.

After doing some prelininary research on the issue it appears my options are

Desktop Wireless PCI Card
Powerline Adapter Kit

If my biggest concern is that I do not want my Internet movie watching experience to be choppy which option would you suggest ? Am I missing any options ?  If you suggest a Desktop Wireless PCI Card can you recommend a product such as the one below..  http://www.amazon.com/TP-LINK-TL-WDN4800-Wireless-Express-Adapter/dp/B007GMPZ0A/ref=pd_sim_e_2
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Question by:upobDaPlaya
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 125 total points
ID: 38772176
Let me make something VERY clear - WIRELESS IS NOT RELIABLE.  Someone turns on a Microwave and it could interfere with the signal.  Someone uses/has an old 2.4 GHz phone and it could interfere with the signal.  ANYTHING that uses the same spectrum COULD interfere with the signal.

That said, these days, it seems to be GENERALLY reliable.  Reliable enough that you should maintain a 10-20Mbit performance assuming the machine is relatively close to the router and not going through many walls, maybe faster.  And your internet connection is probably between 5 and 30 Mbits in speed and streaming video (Netflix) shouldn't be using more than 1-3 Mbit of bandwidth.  So in theory, wireless should be fine.

I've never used a powerline adapter but in theory, it SHOULD be better and more stable.  Though there are devices that can generate feedback on the electrical lines too and that could disrupt the signal.

Bottom line though - if you want RELIABILITY and speed, you need to run a cable.
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by:Tony Giangreco
Tony Giangreco earned 125 total points
ID: 38772217
I agree with Leew. I've used powerline a few years ago and it was ok for surfing. I never used it for movies. I set it up for a small client that I haven't kept contact with - they were too small.

I agree wireless can be stable. The latest version that came out may be an option to provide faster throughput. I haven't tried it, but it looks promising

Here are links to what I've seen lately in wireless. I have not tried then yet

http://www.frys.com/product/7229453?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG

http://www.frys.com/product/7313184

http://www.frys.com/product/7413365

Don't forget. You also need wireless adaptors with the same specs before expecting to possibly get these new wireless speeds.
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by:upobDaPlaya
ID: 38772243
Ok..once I get thru with the build I'll probably get my drill out and do a wired connection. Maybe I will do a WAP with one of my old routers.   However, I would like the flexibility of wireless.  Can you suggest a wireless desktop pci card
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by:Tony Giangreco
ID: 38772265
Here is a link to a ton of wireless adaptors. I suggest staying with a brand name, but the others may work just as well.

If you don't want the wireless AC version (which should be much quicker), then go with wireless N.
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by:Tony Giangreco
ID: 38772267
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by:Craig Beck
ID: 38772609
Use powerline - 200Mbps adapters or faster will be fine.
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by:garycase
ID: 38772645
There's a very simple rule for networking:   Wired is ALWAYS better than wireless.

However, a Powerline adapter IS effectively "wired" -- it's simply using a wiring system other than Cat-6 to transmit the signal.    I've install about 15 or so Powerline adapters for clients with large homes who had signal quality issues, and they work VERY well.    The last half dozen or so have all used this:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833122388

It provides an excellent wireless signal at the distant end;  and has a wired connection you can use at that end as well => you can plug a single device into it, or use a switch if you have more than one device you want to connect via a wired connection.

As for a wireless card, the one you listed in your question is fine ... it gets very good reviews and is very reasonably priced.    I'd go ahead and install that and see how good your signal is where you need to use it before pulling out the drill or buying a powerline adapter :-)

Note, by the way, that while it WAS true that cordless phones could interfere with 802.11 signals, that's far less of a problem these days.    Many cordless phones now use alternate frequencies;  many wireless access points are dual-band (like the adapter you've linked to);  and the frequency resolution (i.e. channel selection to avoid interference) is much better with Wireless-N products.

One other thought:   While a powerline adapter is a very good alternative to pulling a cable;  there is one notable disadvantage:   powerline is limited to ~ 200mbs;   a Cat-6 run will provide gigabit speed capability.     If all you're doing is streaming movies, etc., that's not a factor;  but if you'll have another PC at the distant end and will be transferring large files, that will definitely make a difference.
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by:Craig Beck
ID: 38772719
@garycase - Check these babies out...

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2350635,00.asp
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by:upobDaPlaya
ID: 38772780
garycase...can you explain..."If all you're doing is streaming movies, etc., that's not a factor;  but if you'll have another PC at the distant end and will be transferring large files, that will definitely make a difference."  

why would a movie not have the same impact as a PC file..just trying to make sure I understand your statement in effort to increase my knowledge on this subject...thx
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garycase earned 200 total points
ID: 38773139
r.e. the Belkin unit -- there are quite a few high-speed powerline adapters that can do up to 500Mb/s => but none of them include a WiFi access point.    You could, of course, connect an access point at the distant end;  but for most purposes the 200Mb/s unit with a WiFi access point is probably a preferable solution.

upodDaPlaya ==>  When you're streaming a movie, you only need enough bandwidth to meet the demands of the movie ... and a 200Mb/s powerline unit has FAR more bandwidth than you need for that.    Your internet connection is probably no more than 10-20 Mb/s, so the powerline connection has 10-20 times as much bandwidth.

But if you connect a PC and want to transfer large files, they will transfer as fast as your network connection allows.    Transfers on a 100Mb/s LAN are limited to about 11MB/s;  on a 200Mb/s powerline connection you might get close to double that;  but on a gigabit network you'd probably be able to transfer at close to the actual transfer rate of your hard drives (typically ~ 80Mb/s).

Think of your connection as a pipe.    As long as what you're pouring into the pipe doesn't exceed the capacity, it doesn't matter how much bigger it is => and a movie stream doesn't come close to filling the pipe.    But a direct transfer from a hard drive is "pouring" far more data into the pipe ... so a bigger pipe (a gigabit connection) will allow much faster transfers.
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by:Craig Beck
Craig Beck earned 50 total points
ID: 38777526
You don't need the Access Point if you run powerline, as the adapter can go right next to the PC and plug in with a standard Cat5e cable.  That means the link I provided is an ideal solution.
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by:garycase
ID: 38777692
I agree there's no need for an access point in this specific case.     But I nevertheless always suggest buying the integrated unit, since the nominal difference in cost includes a very good wireless access point for any wireless devices you may ultimately want to connect at the same end ==> an I-Pad, I-Phone, Kindle, Nook, Internet-enabled TV, etc.    There's an ethernet port on the unit for a single wired connection -- exactly the same as the units without an access point -- so that could be used for the computer.    But for a few $$ more the access point unit is far more flexible.    A solid wireless signal is VERY handy these days :-)
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by:upobDaPlaya
ID: 38791839
I have not decided on an adapter or powerline yet (I am very tempted by garycase suggestion NETGEAR XAVNB2001-100NAS Powerline AV 200 Wireless-N Extender Kit Up to 200Mbps), but I am very well informed and have a number of products to choose thanks to everyone input..  The powerline suggested by garycase may make sense because I plan to at some point buy a tv and out it down in my basement..if the TV is internet ready well then it makes a whole lot of sense to buy the nb2001 powerline instead of a pci wifi card..I took a look at the video and it is very impressive..

My only problem is my router is fully occupied..all 4 switches are being used so any suggestions...
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Author Closing Comment

by:upobDaPlaya
ID: 38791841
I have not decided on an adapter or powerline yet (I am very tempted by garycase suggestion NETGEAR XAVNB2001-100NAS Powerline AV 200 Wireless-N Extender Kit Up to 200Mbps), but I am very well informed and have a number of products to choose thanks to everyone input..  The powerline suggested by garycase may make sense because I plan to at some point buy a tv and out it down in my basement..if the TV is internet ready well then it makes a whole lot of sense to buy the nb2001 powerline instead of a pci wifi card..I took a look at the video and it is very impressive..
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by:garycase
ID: 38794390
"... My only problem is my router is fully occupied..all 4 switches are being used so any suggestions...=>  Just add a switch.    A simple 5-port switch is all you need.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833704042
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