My network isn’t the most complicated ever, but for a home network, it has more components than you’d normally see. I want to give everyone an overview of my original network setup before showing the test setup.
As you can see from the above Visio diagram, I run two Linksys WRT54GS routers, each with a third party firmware. They’re setup for WDS with the main router running in ‘normal’ mode, the second runs in AP mode. The main router handles all DHCP, port forwarding, etc. The second one is just there to expand the range of the wireless signal, and interface with any extra wired devices. I also have an 8 port 100Mbps switch which connects my Xbox 360 and PS3 to the rest of the network. This switch also has a few extra Ethernet cables on it in case someone comes over, or if I need a few extra wired connections. So, with all of that broken down, let’s take a look at my setup with the TRENDnet TEW-691GR.
I’ve replaced my main router with the TEW-691GR. I removed one computer, and replaced two 100Mbps links with Cat 6 cable and went to Gigabit. Also, as mentioned on the previous page, I could not get WDS to work, so I improvised a bit with the second half of my network. I used the TRENDnet TEW-687GA 450Mbps Gaming Adapter as a bridge to my other WRT54GS. I disabled all wireless functionality on the WRT54GS, so it’s strictly being used as a 4 port switch. The printer now connects to the TEW-691GR instead of the WRT54GS, and the link between the Gaming Adapter and the WRT54GS is only 100Mbps.
- TRENDnet TEW-687GA Gaming Adapter does have a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, but the WRT54GS only supports 100Mbps.
- I put 450Mbps Link in quotes on the diagram because that is a theoretical speed. Distance and obstructions limited it to about 50 – 70Mbps.
I ran this setup for a week to test if it could survive everyday use. Within the first few hours, I experienced a show stopping problem, I was repeatedly being dropped from IRC! For some people, this may not be a big deal, you may not even know what IRC is. Although, if you use IRC, constantly being disconnected is not acceptable. I promptly logged into the router and started searching for TCP/UDP timeout settings. Basically what’s happening is the router is dropping the connection because I’m not ‘actively’ using it. Some routers offer you TCP/UDP timeout settings, which allow you to adjust how long the router will wait for activity before it drops a connection. However, the TEW-691GR does not have this setting and I had no way to stop the constant drops.
Note: I eventually did think of a simple work around. I joined a random IRC channel, and set up a timer to send a line of text every 30 seconds. This successfully prevented me from being dropped. But the point remains, I shouldn’t have to do this, I should be able to adjust TCP/UDP timeouts on the router.
I also experienced some trouble with the wireless completely ignoring connected devices. I’ve never had my iPhone or laptop stop working while connected, however, during my week with the TEW-691GR, it happened a few times. The scenario is the device remained connected to the router (full signal & IP intact), however, the router wouldn’t respond to any requests from the device. It’s almost like the router just stopped handling traffic from the device. To fix this problem, I had to release and renew the IP on the laptop. And on the iPhone, I just disabled, then re-enabled the wireless. Also, the default IP lease was set for 7 days, and neither were close to expiring at the time.
Other than these two issues, the TEW-691GR worked hard and didn’t complain whatsoever.
The software I used to test network speeds was LAN Speed Test and LAN Speed Test Server. LAN Speed Test generates chunks of data between 1 – 100MB, and will repeatedly write/read the data to the server machine 1 – 100 times. LAN Speed Test in conjunction with LAN Speed Test Server will provide more of a theoretical bandwidth measurement. It does all data manipulation in memory, avoiding writing/reading to slow hard disks. Here’s a couple pics of what the LAN Speed Test interface looks like:
Specs are below for all devices used in the test process:
|Desktop||Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 3.2GHz
RAM: 8GB DDR3 PC3-12800
Connected By: Gigabit Ethernet (Cat 6)
|Laptop||Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz
RAM: 1GB DDR2 PC2-5300
|Server||Processor: Intel Pentium III 1.0GHz
RAM: 512MB PC-133
Connected By: 100Mbps Ethernet (Cat 5e)
|Xbox 360||Connected By: 100Mbps Ethernet (Cat 5e)|
|PlayStation 3||Connected By: 100Mbps Ethernet (Cat 5e)|
|iPhone 3GS||Connected By: 54Mbps Wireless G|