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Wireless speed versus ethernet and G class router versus N

Posted on 2013-02-01
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
My customer has a G class router, 54mbs download.  He parks his laptop right next to it and uses the wireless.  In terms of speed alone (not the security of wired versus wireless) I think it would be better if he used an ethernet connection.  But when I do a speedtest I get the same output either way. This also gets into the question of whether an N router is any better than a G.  Time Warner Cable gives the customer 15mbs download and 1.2 upload.  If a G runs at 54mbs download, why would that be better than an N router, which costs more?  How can it go faster than what Time Warner sends to the modem?  It's the same issue with the ethernet router speed.  It may say we're getting 100MBs download, but how can the router stream any faster than the line going into it? And why would gigabyte ethernet be any faster than 100mbs?  I don't know if it's relevant, but the customer has a Dell Latitiude E6420 running Win7 Pro 64bit.
Thanks,
Al
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Question by:alanlsilverman
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Darr247 earned 200 total points
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The only reason ethernet would be better than 802.11g wireless, generally, is for the LAN transfers.  You would need an internet connection faster than about 27Mbps for the ethernet to make a difference surfing and downloading when using it as you described

For 802.11n, it depends on the connection speed, but generally the internet connection would have to be faster than about 54Mbps to make any difference between ethernet and wireless... again, you would notice the biggest difference on the Local Area Network... sharing media or copying movies or CD/DVD images from one machine to another.  But often, the 802.11n routers will have gigabit ethernet ports, so if the computers on the LAN have gigabit adapters too, ethernet would still be faster than wireless.

100Mbps ethernet typically tops out at less than 80Mbps of real-world throughput, by the way; likewise, gigabit typically maxes out at less than 800Mbps throughput.
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by:Dave Baldwin
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@Darr247 is right.  Speed specs are only for That link and nothing beyond it.  You could have a GigaHertz router and if you only have 1Mbps DSL to the internet, you only get 1Mbps when surfing the web.  If you had a second computer on the network, you might get 800Mbps between them.  But it would still 1Mbps to the internet.
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by:alanlsilverman
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That's what I first thought, long ago when they started getting G routers. I don't know about you, but out here in a semi-rural area, and even in nearby small cities the most any residential user gets is 25-30mbs.  We won't get fios for years.  So any distinction between say 150 and 300 mbs routers is meaningless.  And, other than how far a signal goes, the distinction between G and N is meaningless too. In terms of getting a wireless signal at startup, and all the programs that depend on it, I would think an ethernet connection might be better.  And if there were any interference, something else going on electrically, that might mean something.  Maybe I've just been looking at too many forums and too many reviews and advertisements.  That leaves me wondering what makes a good router. I suppose the newer routers have better security.  But all this about speed seems to be pure bunk.
Al
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by:Dave Baldwin
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I have had a wireless router for years... but all my computers (8 in this room...) are connected wired.  Of course, all but one are desktops and I have up to 16 other wireless networks in my apartment complex.  The needs of the marketing department determine what gets advertised as the speed of the device.  I don't know any that are actually lying but they leave out the part where you only get that speed from your computer to the router.

Same with ISPs though.  I get 25Mbps service thru Comcast...  As long as I connect to a web site that can send data faster than that.  If the site is on a slow link on it's end or there is too much traffic in between, it won't be that fast.
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by:Darr247
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If you have only 1 computer, usually you shouldn't even need a router... just connect it straight to the cable modem.
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by:alanlsilverman
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Security is a big issue, even with one user.  With a router you get that hardware firewall.  And all my clients have multiple devices these days, computers, tablets, smart phones and friends who bring their devices to their houses.  I'm also using powerline routers more.  But the distinction between a 200 and 500 mbs line is meaningless.  No reason to pay for the latest and greatest if the latest and greatest doesn't get you anything more.
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
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Wireless N has a greater range than A/B/G which is an advantage. And the Dual Band routers have the advantage of being outside of the congested 2.4Ghz range.. (microwave ovens, cordless telephones, anyone!)
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by:Craig Beck
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Well greater range isn't actually all it seems to be.  The radios will still transmit at the same power and create the same cell size when all data-rates are enabled, but you can sustain a higher data-rate over a larger distance when compared to normal non-N data-rates.

So, if you use a G router and it transmits for 200ft (for example) you will only be able to connect at 54Mbps within say 25ft of the router, even though you can connect to it at 6Mbps 200ft away.

With N, you can still connect up-to 200ft away (again, comparing to the G example) but you can connect at 14Mbps (for example) instead of 6Mbps.

This gives the effect that the range is greater, when in fact it is just the same.  Obviously you could argue that it gives a greater distance at a specific data-rate, but that is different to actual RF coverage.

Also, dual-band routers use both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands, so they are still susceptible to interference when using 802.11b/g/n.
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by:alanlsilverman
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If you have a 5Ghz router don't you need a 5Ghz adapter to use it?
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by:Craig Beck
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Yes
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by:Darr247
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I guess they used to make them, but I have never personally seen a 5GHz only adapter.
All the 5GHz adapters I've ever had were dual-band (2.4GHz *and* 5GHz).

When I started implementing dual-band 5GHz in my home, I had to buy a new cordless phone, because I had bought my 5GHz set specifically because it didn't interfere with the 2.4GHz band.  
:-|

Most new cordless phones are 1.9GHz... that's what the 3-handset Panasonic model that I got from newegg uses.
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by:alanlsilverman
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Thanks you for all the good information.
Al
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