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Wi-Fi Router Charts

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Mesh System Charts

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Powerline Performance

For the tests, I took an approach similar to previous powerline product reviews. I set up one adapter in the outlet just outside my office, connected to my LAN's Gigabit switch. I then moved a second adapter to six outlets located in my wireless test locations. For Location A, I plugged both adapters into wall outlets in my office.

I used IxChariot to run the throughput.scr script, with TCP/IP and the test file size changed to 2,000,000 Bytes. I ran separate Transmit (data sent from the "remote" adapter to the office adapter) and Receive (data sent from the office adapter to the "remote" adapter) tests in each location for one minute each.

Note that the physical distance between outlets doesn't necessarily correspond to the level of signal attenutation (and often subsequent throughput reduction) presented by each outlet. That depends on the actual path that the poweline networking signal must travel between the two adapters. Today's powerline networking technology uses both conducted and radiated signals. So signal loss also depends on coupling between AC mains phases and between circuit breakers, as well as conducted impedance and resistance.

During previous HomePlug AV testing, I discovered a more important source of powerline networking signal attenuation, which I'll note once again. In the U.S., the National Electrical Code (NEC) has mandated the use of AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) circuit breakers to protect bedroom outlets for new residential construction as of January 1, 2002. Figure 11 shows that AFCI breakers are easy to identify.

Regular and AFCI circuit breakers

Figure 11: Regular and AFCI circuit breakers

Since my lab / office is located in a converted bedroom, the "local" adapter (the one not moved) would be behind an AFCI breaker. So that's why I moved it to the outlet in the hallway just outside my office; that outlet is protected by a normal circuit breaker.

It turns out that test Location B is located in another bedroom. So that outlet is behind an AFCI breaker. Keep that in mind when looking at the performance results.

NOTE!Note: The 2008 NEC expanded the mandated use of AFCI breakers to include hallways, family rooms, closets and many other areas. This isn't effective in all states, yet, but it is coming.

Transmit results for the six locations are shown in Figure 12. Best case (Location A, same room) throughput measured just over 47 Mbps. Certainly not the 200 Mbps PHY rate trumpeted in product marketing materials, but more than enough to support a 1080p HD stream with bandwidth to spare. The large dropouts shown in the Location A trace, however, could interfere with a flawless 1080p picture.

Innoband 210P-I1 powerline performance - transmit
Click to enlarge image

Figure 12: Innoband 210P-I1 powerline performance - transmit

Throughput in Location B, behind an AFCI breaker is significantly lower at 26 Mbps, with most other locations clocking 38 Mbps. The exception is the Location E outlet at our kitchen desk. I'm not quite sure what caused the drop to 19 Mbps. It's not distance, because the Location F breaker located on an opposite wall about 10 feet away yielded 38 Mbps.

Figure 13 shows receive throughput, which is somewhat lower than transmit in the 30 - 35 Mbps range. Even the bedroom Location B manages to come in just under 30 Mbps. Once again, though, the Location E outlet shows a significantly lower speed than the other locations.

Innoband 210P-I1 powerline performance - receive
Click to enlarge image

Figure 13: Innoband 210P-I1 powerline performance - receive

Wireless Performance

I expect most users will position the 210P close to the intended coverage area, given the flexibility that its powerline connection provides. But I ran my normal six-location wireless tests anyway in 20 and 20/40 MHz modes.

I used our open air test method using our standard test client, an Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300 AGN mini-PCIe card in a Dell Mini 12 running WinXP Home SP3 and version 13.1.1.1 of the Intel drivers. I left all client-side defaults in place.

The 210P was running 1.02g-c (Dec 8 2009) firmware, with all factory defaults except changing to Channel 1 and 20 MHz bandwidth mode. The 210P was set to WPA2 / AES for all location testing.

I also ran tests in 20 MHz bandwidth mode with WEP, WPA / TKIP and WPA2 / AES wireless security and confirmed a maximum link rate of 54 Mbps with WEP and WPA / TKIP enabled. As mentioned earlier, I could not get a WPS session to complete successfully.

Since the 210P is a single-stream N AP, the test client showed a maximum 72 Mbps link rate with the AP set to 20 MHz bandwidth mode and 150 Mbps for 20 / 40 MHz mode.

Figure 14 shows all the downlink tests in 20 MHz mode. Throughput variation is somewhat higher than I normally see. (Please excuse the rcv and xmit notation in the IxChariot plots. I copied over the script that I used for the powerline tests and didn't swap nomenclature. In this case rcv = downlink and xmit = uplink.)

Innoband 210P-I1 wireless transmit performance - 20 MHz mode
Click to enlarge image

Figure 14: Innoband 210P-I1 wireless downlink performance - 20 MHz mode

As with other single-stream N routers, the 210P ranked toward the bottom of our Wireless Charts. Best case throughput in 20 MHz mode was 45 Mbps (Location A, downlink) and 64 Mbps (Location A, downlink) in 20 / 40 MHz mode.

I had a bit of a problem, at first, getting a reliable enough connection in Location E to start the IxChariot test. But I was able to run the test at Location F and the Location E test then ran when I retried it. Other IxChariot plots can be viewed via these links: 2.4 GHz uplink- 20 MHz BW; 2.4 GHz downlink 40 MHz BW; 2.4 GHz uplink 40 MHz BW.

Comparing the 210P to two single-stream N routers I've tested, the Linksys WRT120N and Belkin N150, Figure 15 shows the Innoband does comparatively well.

Wireless performance comparison table

Figure 15: Wireless performance comparison table

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