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Wireless Performance - more

The nice thing about most of the plots is that they show relatively steady throughput, generally devoid of big periodic throughput dropouts that wreak havoc with high def video streams. The exception is shown in Figure 13.

WNDR3700v1 and v2 wireless performance comparison - 5 GHz

Figure 13: WNDR3700v2 wireless throughput summary - 5 GHz downlink, 40 MHz mode

The Location A plot shows very unstable throughput, which could be caused by receiver overload. But this plot was taken at the same exact location as the 20 MHz mode plot, which was the recommended minimum 10 feet away from the router and showed no sign of this throughput variation.

I frankly was puzzled why the v2 had weaker 5 GHz band performance, so quickly reran a few tests as a spot check and got essentially the same results. I then figured I'd better go back and try the Dell Mini 12 notebook used in the original WNDR3700 test, to see if it somehow figured into the mix. Note that the Intel driver had been updated a few times since the original v1 test and now was

That exercise turned out to be a longer one than I thought. My first run showed even lower throughput, with throughput in most locations loping along in the 30 Mbps range. I finally rebooted both the Dell netbook and the v2 and got what I thought were better numbers.

But when I gathered the results together into aggregate plots, it turned out that I just got different numbers with some better results and some worse. Tables 2 through 5 pull all the data together so you can compare for yourself.

Test A B C D
WNDR3700 v1 73.0 49.2 55.4 33.3
WNDR3700 v2 - Chart data 60.5 51.9 29.1 16.1
WNDR3700 v2 - Dell Mini 54.0 47.1 39.5 40.7
Table 2: 5 GHz band throughput comparison - Downlink, 20 MHz
Test A B C D
WNDR3700 v1 67.4 39.6 42.4 27.6
WNDR3700 v2 - Chart data 51.2 43.1 27.8 21.6
WNDR3700 v2 - Dell Mini 52.4 48.9 30.5 28.5
Table 3: 5 GHz band throughput comparison - Uplink, 20 MHz
Test A B C D
WNDR3700 v1 59.3 81.0 71.5 30.2
WNDR3700 v2 - Chart data 57.6 56.2 49.3 11.1
WNDR3700 v2 - Dell Mini 47.2 52.1 40.2 26.6
Table 4: 5 GHz band throughput comparison - Downlink, 40 MHz
Test A B C D
WNDR3700 v1 66.2 65.0 63.7 33.3
WNDR3700 v2 - Chart data 73.2 43.6 45.7 6.9
WNDR3700 v2 - Dell Mini 63.5 50.7 46.0 27.0
Table 5: 5 GHz band throughput comparison - Uplink, 40 MHz

Here are links to the tests using the Dell Mini 12 client if you'd like to see for yourself.

I didn't rerun any of the 2.4 GHz tests since my initial testing showed that the v2's 2.4 GHz band performance is essentially unchanged, which is what I would expect given no changes to the radios or antennas.

Closing Thoughts

It's not like you're going to have a choice between v1 and v2 routers, at least not for much longer. NETGEAR said that v1 inventory has been moving through the channel nicely and v2s are already in the pipeline. So sometime in the near future, if you want a WNDR3700, it'll be a v2.

The WNDR3700 has been a good choice for folks looking for a good simultaneous dual-band router and probably still is. The combination of high routing speed, wireless features including multiple SSIDs and WDS bridging / repeating and decent wireless performance on both bands made it a good bet. The v1 was never the best performer in the 5 GHz band, however, and now the v2 is a bit less so.

Fortunately, the new routers that NETGEAR introduced at CES will be hitting the shelves in a few months (if NETGEAR doesn't slip schedule as they have with past CES intros). And then there's the Cisco Linksys E4200 that is sitting on the bench behind me waiting to be fired up. So we'll soon see if 2011 brings us any closer to the perfect dual-band 802.11n router.

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