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how much speed can one laptop wifi or ethernet cable handle?

Posted on 2014-10-22
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Last Modified: 2014-10-29
these days, cable internet has exponentially growth in speed capacity compared to dsl (up to 100 Mbps or more).
           
           Can the laptop truly handle that much speed, even though it is available?
           
           how can you check what is the max speed the laptop wifi or ethernet can handle?
           
           Thanks.
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Question by:25112
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 200 total points
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It depends on how many machines on the local network as bandwidth is often shared.

That said, I have a small home network that has a 1 Gbit/sec central router. I get 80 MBytes/sec transfer speed from my laptop with N wireless to my desktop with Gbit wired Ethernet.

Either machine will get full download speeds from my internet (which is fast but not yet 100Mbits/sec.)

The main router needs to be capable of very fast throughput. I had to upgrade my main router when my ISP raised my speed.

I check local speed with DU Meter and I check Internet speed with speedtest.net.
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by:Kimputer
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Seems your question has to be split in two:

Can the internet speeds be handled by the wifi/networking part of the laptop:
Up to 100 mbit/s on the network cable, yes easy.
Up to 1 gbit/s, if you have a Gigabit NIC, yes.
Wifi, depending on where you are and what equipment you use, sometimes yes, mostly no. Sometimes with the most expensive and up to date hardware, you will still get only 50 mbit/s, even if your provider promises you 100+ mbit/s, if you are for instance in a different room or floor, away from the wifi router.

After that comes, can your laptop (memory/CPU/hdd) handle those speeds? For instance, you are on a network cable with Gigabit speed equipment, but your laptop is over 5 to 10 years old. In worst case, your hard disk can't keep up with the speeds, and stores your download slower than the speeds your ISP promised you. It doesn't happen often, but it is a possibility.

All in all, limiting factors are equipment, rated speeds, actual real world speeds, walls, floors (armored cement/cement/wood?)/hard disk speed.
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by:Fred Marshall
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Much in line/agreement with Kimputer's answer, I would say, "it depends".

It depends on where the data transfer is taking place inside the computer.
IF you are doing a transfer to a hard drive then it could likely be the limiting factor.
IF you are doing a transfer to/from a solid state drive then it might not be limiting.
IF you are doing a transfer to/from RAM then it likely won't be limiting.
I'm not trying to be very precise here.  The point is that the computer operation involved can affect the result.

In order to check what the computer will handle, I would set up some experiments that occur between two computers with Gigabit NICs using an 8-conductor crossover cable or NICs capable of sensing "polarity" and capable of full duplex.  This way, the wire should have full Gigabit capability.  And, do check the NIC settings to assure they are also set for the speed you want.

Then I would initiate a few different kinds of data transfers into/out of different storage media on the computer.
This should give a good idea what speeds the computers are capable of under certain conditions.
Perhaps someone else could give a hint how to do a RAM to RAM data transfer in some simple fashion as I would probably write a program for that purpose.
That said, a hard drive to hard drive data transfer is likely the most representative test if not the "best case possible".

Then, for the wireless connections, same thing.  Maybe use a Gigabit-capable router and do this:
1) Do the test with a cable as above.
2) Connect BOTH computers to the router's wired LAN and test as another  point of reference.
3) Connect ONE computer via the wireless and do the SAME test.  
4) Compare the results.
This way you will probably be able to eliminate the presence of the router and see at least the degradation by using wireless - if not the actual performance.  So, for example, if adding the router in place of a single wire makes no difference then you know that the router is handling things as well as possible.
If that's the case then you will have a good measure on the rate reduction via wireless.
If it *is* the case then at least you will know the degradation due to running through the router without wireless and can consider that in your comparison.
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by:25112
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can you suggest - what is a DU Meter and how to use it on your router?
wifi is always slower than wired as a general rule (unless wifi device is right next to router with no blocks)..is that true?
by "network cable", you mean Ethernet cable, right? are all Ethernet cable the same?
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by:John Hurst
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DU Meter is an application you install on a PC and it will tell you (graph) how much is being downloaded and over what time frame (diameter.com)

Wireless is normally slower than wired although my N card gets close to wired.

And yes, network cable means Ethernet cable.
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by:25112
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Thanks.

In review, it seems like HDD can be a big influence,

Considering all 7200K drives,

how can I find out the capacity of the below? can they be ready by the numbers they represent?

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Router:GT704WGB
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Broadcom NetXtreme 57xx Gigabit Controller
Dell Wireless 1490 Dual Bank WLAN Mini-Card
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Atheros AR8152/8158 PCI-E FastEthernet Controller (NDIS 6.20)
Atheros AR9285 Wireless Network Adapter
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Dell Wireless 1502.802 11b/g/n
Microsoft Virtual Wifi Miniport Adapter
Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller

The above router right  now gives 3 Mbps, but if you introduce a 25 Mbps router in replacement, then, can these devices still handle it (or make use or the new speeds).

I see how fmarshall suggests testing practically.. Is it possible to find out theoretically what these can perform in the numbers/names they represent?
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Kimputer earned 200 total points
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25 Mbps will usually not be impeded by hard disk speeds (unless the disk is over 10 years old). Frankly, in a multi-user environment, the 25 Mbps will most likely be the limiting factor (3 people watching 1080p Youtube videos might begin overload your connection, and the next user will have stuttering or "chaching..." video)
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by:John Hurst
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@25112  - Thank you and I was happy to help.
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