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Old 08-12-2010, 07:57 PM   #1
bigbeark
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Default Wireless-N Routers

First off, I know virtually nothing about networking.

I currently run a Dlink Wireless-G router with the two downstairs computers connected by cat5 to the Ethernet cards.

The upstairs computers use USB Wireless-G sticks.

I have heard that wireless-N is much faster and has a stronger signal.

I'm looking for something easy to install, that will work with both MS and Linux and provide the aforementioned better reception and higher speed. I also need some encryption, For some reason I had problems setting it up in the past and so have an open network (bad, I know). Can I tell if some outside user is using my network?



I see some Wireless-N routers priced as low as $49 and some as high as $200.
What are the differences and what would you guys recommend?

Last edited by bigbeark; 08-12-2010 at 08:03 PM.. Reason: Wrong Forum
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:46 PM   #2
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

Some Wireless-N routers only support 150 Mbit, while a lot of others support 300 Mbit.

Even one G client connected to an N access point will reduce the speed of the access point to 54Mbit. Some wireless access points can be set to block B or B/G clients.

A good guide to wireless security support is that older B-only clients (and many B-only access points) only support WEP (some older B-only clients may support WPA-TKIP, possibly with a firmware and/or driver update), G clients and access points support WPA (most clients and some access points with AES, some requiring firmware or driver upgrades for AES) and N (as well as later G) clients and access points support WPA2.

Remember to update the firmware (access points) and drivers (clients) regularly and after installation.

Wi-Fi Protected Setup is mainly found on N access points, although more new G access points now have it.
Remember to keep your access point in a physically secure area if it supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup and/or has security information printed on it.

I also suggest moving this thread to Network Design & Troubleshooting.
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

Quote:
Originally Posted by japlytic View Post

I also suggest moving this thread to Network Design & Troubleshooting.
How do I move the thread?
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

only a moderator or topcat can. you or i or japlytic cannot.
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Old 08-13-2010, 12:42 AM   #5
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbeark View Post
I have heard that wireless-N is much faster and has a stronger signal.
N can be faster than G. I say "can" because if your link to the Internet is pretty slow, it won't matter if you use N or G because the Internet ISP link is your bottleneck. It's like buying a superfast sports car, but the speed limit is 30km/h.

Here is a test you can do to see if N will help. Goto

http://speedtest.net/

run it with an ethernet connected computer. Record the download and upload speeds. Run it multiple times to get an average.

Now do the same for the wireless. If the two are within 10% of each other, upgrading to N will not yield any benefit for the money. If wireless is significantly slower, see below.

Quote:
I'm looking for something easy to install, that will work with both MS and Linux and provide the aforementioned better reception and higher speed. I also need some encryption, For some reason I had problems setting it up in the past and so have an open network (bad, I know). Can I tell if some outside user is using my network?
Before you buy something new, enable encryption. Your neighbors could be using your "free" connection to download movies, music, etc which is constantly eating up your bandwidth.

Most routers have a DHCP client tab. So when you go to http://192.168.1.1 (the most likely IP address of your router), you can see who has a IP address. You should see your computers. If you see anyone else, they could be using your router. However, the smart ones will not require DHCP and just assign themselves a static IP address.

Quote:
I see some Wireless-N routers priced as low as $49 and some as high as $200.
What are the differences and what would you guys recommend?
I'm totally biased towards Linksys so you should take the recommendation with a grain of salt. Linksys is one of the bigger names in the consumer router space and there is likely to be huge driver support for Windows, Linux, Apple, etc.

PS. One other thing. Most people don't know how to adjust the wifi channel. Most routers are set for channel 1, 6, or 11 and there are a lot of potential interference. I set mine channel to 4 (after some experimentation) and it gives me the best strength and speed. There are about 12+ wifi routers that my computer picks up so that is a lot of interference and everyone is using 1, 6, or 11.
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:14 AM   #6
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

If you need a thread moved because it's in the wrong place send me a PM.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:25 AM   #7
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

N definitely helps if you're doing internal stuff (watching a movie from an internal server, or transferring files to your media player etc.) not so much if it's just internet access you need.
I still try to plug in when I can, there's just no substitute for a full duplex Gigabit wired connection My cousin always comments on the blue wire coming up from under the couch to my notebook. "I thought you were a high-tech guy, what's with the wire"
Speed, dude..... Speeeeeeed.

Personally, you couldn't pay me to install a Linksys device. I replace them constantly, followed by a "hey, remember when I told you NOT to buy a Linksys, wtf???"

Netgear is my current fave of consumer network stuff, so far the failure rate is quite low compared to Linksys and D-Link. My .02
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Old 08-13-2010, 02:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

my linksys does fine... but it is g+ with ddwrt, so it doesn't count here.

AVOID belkin. their stuff is either overpriced or garbage... or BOTH! i once opened up a dead G router that kept on getting notably hot and pooped out on me... the thing overheated because they saved 5 cents on forgetting the heat spreader. cheap b*stards!
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Old 08-13-2010, 03:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

A piece of advice i can give is dont buy the cheapest thing you can find, seen quite a few ppl taking whatever brand is chepest and in the end it comes down to build quality. For instance i was at some workmate of my moms. The router was just a few days old and was so hot you could barely touch it. I think they paid like 20$ or so for it. Basically it was getting so hot that the processor inside just couldnt do its work, it worked at snail pace :P

What router brands and models to get you will probably get different answers depending on who you ask, me personally ive had good experiences with linksys. The newer netgears seems to be ok to (think mine had rubycon of the chelf ). Had bad experiences with D-link, mostly their powersupplys wich at least before (a year or two ago) was notorius for dieing.
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Old 08-13-2010, 07:10 PM   #10
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

Quote:
Originally Posted by smason View Post
Personally, you couldn't pay me to install a Linksys device. I replace them constantly
Is this because the hardware failed or software problems?

Or do you get called because the original owner has NO CLUE how to setup a network and they blame the router and you replace it?

Also, is there a particular series or make that gets replaced constantly?
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Old 08-14-2010, 03:14 PM   #11
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

Hmm for me it's a hit or miss. I have a D-Link DIR-615 router that I picked up for $20 during black friday last year and I just got a rosewill wireless N PCI card for my desktop.

Since I go to college, I get a flat 100Mbit line to the intarwebs I've tested it at the jack. Wired I get around 91Mbps down/61Mbps up.

With wireless N running at 40MHz channels on the 2.4GHz frequency, I got around 60Mbps down/51Mbps up. Not bad for wireless I suppose. But there's one catch. My desktop was only two feet away from the router

Next, for a LAN party I moved my desktop out in the living room. Which is probably like 10-20 feet away from my room. I got connection stutters. I would eventually lag out in Starcraft II. I thought that my router sucked, then I recalled a VERY helpful article....

It was talking about how wireless N wasn't all that great and the longer you are away from your wireless router, the less performance you get with 40MHz channels. Recalling this I said "why not?" so I knocked it from auto 40/20 to just 20Mhz channels. Games didn't stutter anymore and connection was solid but it came at a price: Only 14Mbps down.

Of course, the only REAL impact of this is if you do any streaming with large files. If you do, you might want to keep your computer close to a router. It is a lot slower than I had imagined, but .... look at the alternative. Wireless G? I'm not sure if 5GHz will help, but 5GHz is a lot higher band so you will get less range on it.

I don't think it's a huge deal though at the moment. Just depends on your needs.

BTW the channels all overlap each other.... the reason why you always hear about having the channel set to 1, 6, or 11 is because they are non overlapping channels. They don't interfere with each other. If you choose channels like 2, 3, 4, etc. it bleeds into the other channels so it may reduce your performance. This only applies though really if you live in an urban area.
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Old 08-15-2010, 04:34 PM   #12
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Default Re: Wireless-N Routers

Quote:
Originally Posted by retiredcaps View Post
Is this because the hardware failed or software problems?

Or do you get called because the original owner has NO CLUE how to setup a network and they blame the router and you replace it?

Also, is there a particular series or make that gets replaced constantly?
Hardware failures. Can't say if there's any specific series, I never really kept track. I e-cycled a box of failed switches, routers and wireless routers last year, just before I got back into repairing stuff.
I will keep the next one I replace, and see if it's repairable.
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