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Wi-Fi Router Charts

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Mesh System Charts

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Performance - more

The WNDH3004's key strength is its throughput stability, not its maximum throughput. So it doesn't make the top of the 5 GHz charts in every case. Figure 7 is a throughput vs. location plot of the WNHD3004 with three other top-performing 5 GHz band N products, the NETGEAR WNDR3700, D-Link DAP-2553 and D-Link DIR-665.

Again, topping these throughput charts isn't what the WNHD3004 is really designed to do. But its group-leading throughput in Location D and unprecedented results in my Location E dead-zone, do get it to the top of this particular chart.

Performance comparison - 5 GHz downlink - 20 MHz mode

Figure 7: Performance comparison - 5 GHz downlink - 20 MHz mode

For a comparison of all modes, we turn to the Performance Table in Figure 8. The WNHD3004 turns in the highest throughput in lower-signal strength Locations D and E in each case and manages to tie other products in three out of four benchmarks. But given that the tie occurs with only two bests in each case, it's difficult to choose a best overall product based on throughput alone.

Wireless Performance comparison table

Figure 8: Wireless Performance comparison table

Since I've talked so much about the WNHD3004's throughput stability, let's see how the other products in the comparison fare in that department. We'll use 20 MHz mode downlink plots, so that you can compare to Figure 6. Note that the same test file size wasn't used for all plots, so some appear smoother than others. But test file size was small enough to show significant throughput dropouts in all cases.

First up in Figure 9 is the D-Link DIR-665, which doesn't show any dropouts.

D-Link DIR-665 throughput summary - 20 MHz mode, downlink

Figure 9: D-Link DIR-665 throughput summary - 20 MHz mode, downlink

Figure 10 shows the D-Link DAP-2553, which has a few during the Location C test.

D-Link DAP-2553 throughput summary - 20 MHz mode, downlink

Figure 10: D-Link DAP-2553 throughput summary - 20 MHz mode, downlink

Finally, the NETGEAR WNDR3700 in Figure 11 shows a few drops in the Location D test.

NETGEAR WNDR3700 throughput summary - 20 MHz mode, downlink

Figure 11: NETGEAR WNDR3700 throughput summary - 20 MHz mode, downlink

As an AP

Since NETGEAR designed the WNHD3004 so that it would also connect to standard 802.11a and 5 GHz N clients, I gave it a quick test in that mode. I used my Acer Aspire 1810T, which has an Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300 client running Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit with an Intel driver. The WNHD3004 AP was set to Channel 153, 20 MHz bandwidth mode with DNS resolution disabled to provide a throughput boost if it could.

I started up an IxChariot throughput test with simultaneous up and downlink streams and then walked the notebook around to the six test locations. I paused around 30 seconds in each location so that a good throughput reading could be gotten.

I'd like to say that the test ran like a champ, but it didn't. First, I thought I'd exhaust my router's DHCP pool because the notebook pulled a new IP address each time it re-associated with the WNHD3004, which was a lot. I tried assigning a static IP, but it didn't seem to like that.

Performance was, frankly, flaky as an AP. I think the test ran ok out to Location D, but frankly it was hard to tell. Once the IxChariot plot stopped when I moved to Location D, but the test was still running. This usually indicates a drop to a very low bit rate. Other times, the test would start to run, but only one direction would pass traffic.

I finally gave up in frustration, but managed to get one run shown in Figure 12. As you can see, throughput isn't anything to write home about and you see none of the stability obtained with the WNHD3004's run as a pair.

WNHD3004 AP mode test

Figure 12: WNHD3004 AP mode test

As I said earlier, the WHND3004 is an expensive way to add a 5 GHz N access point, and if my tests are any indication, not a particularly good one, either.

Closing Thoughts

With the WNHDB3004, NETGEAR set out to produce a product capable of providing a wireless connection that could reliably support multiple 1080p HD streams. I can't say that I gave it a good test in that regard, since the fastest video streams I watch are Netflix and Hulu, whose bandwidth needs are well down in the single digit Mbps range.

But I can say the the WNHDB3004 has the best shot of any product that I've tested yet at supporting HD streams with throughput requirements in the teen to low 20 Mbps range with minimal glitches. I haven't seen any other product that produces 50 Mbps of stable throughput over the distance that the WNHDB3004 kit does. Whether this is worth $260, I'll leave to you to decide.

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