Back to Article

  • tonyt87 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Cisco/Linksys switched to Marvell chipsets with the 4200v2 and 4500, the original 4200 uses Broadcom. Reply
  • arthur449 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    I used the SR10000 repeater recently to provide a solution for weak / non-existent signal anywhere beyond the far end of their apartment where they kept all of their computer equipment. I positioned the repeater in a higher/more centralized location and they get great reception to it.

    This is after I made absolutely sure they could not stand to run an ethernet cable/use powerline networking or reposition their overpriced fruit-branded wireless router to a new (higher) location rather than keeping it beneath a desk. Apparently, they have a fear of wires, yet hate unreliable connections. *shrug*

    Anyhow, the repeater gives them reception in the places where it was simply impossible and didn't create any additional unsightly cords.

    I've only run into one problem: When the fruit-branded wireless router loses power, the SR10000 repeater freaks the *$(@ out and does not automatically reconnect to the fruit-branded network when it comes back online. While I'm certain a static IP for the wireless repeater would fix this, the client can't remember the fruit-branded router's admin password and a full reset is strictly forbidden.
  • ShinyLeaf - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    I have this same repeater (SR10000) and a non-fruit branded router with the same problem. I tried to switching to static IP and it doesn't fix the problem.

    Anytime the router / access point loses power, or the repeater loses the wireless connection for a sec (microwave interference, etc), the repeater just craps out and I need to unplug/plug-in to get it to reconnect.

    Probably a firmware issue, but there hasn't been any update in 6 months.
  • irev210 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    There is a bigger comparison over at smallnetbuilder - not really that impressive:

    Pretty sad, really.
  • mevans336 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    I read the Smallnetbuilder review and came away with the same opinion.

    Their "coverage" claims reek of sleazy marketing hype to confuse the average consumer. "Oh look, we cover 10,000 bajillion feet!" when in actuality, their coverage is no better than any other wireless router on the market.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Note that the smallnetbuilder review is for the R10000G, so there's no 5GHz support. Looks like 2.4GHz support is roughly the same, given our different test locations, though I was able to connect at the worst-case location without trouble. Also note that smallnetbuilder only tests with one wireless adapter on the newer routers, the Intel Ultimate-N 6300. If you couldn't tell, in my experience the choice of wireless adapter can make a very large difference in some tests.

    That's the hard thing with wireless testing: change any variable (router, adapter, time of day, weather, drivers, test laptop, positioning, etc.) and you can't guarantee the results are directly comparable. Ideally, I'd want to do a large roundup of at least ten different wireless adapters and test those with a couple different routers -- and if you really want to be apples-to-apples, you'd need to test them all in the same laptop or use a PCI card. From that, you can determine which adapters work best in general. Then take the top three adapters and test every router with those adapters, and you should be able to determine which routers work the best.

    That, incidentally, is a TON of work, assuming you can even get all the hardware to test with. Given the amount of testing, you'd be looking at different adapters/routers on different days with different weather, so you'd probably need to test each adapter/router combination at least twice (e.g. several days apart) to verify there's no massive change in performance, and if there is then test a third time. I'm not sure if there's enough value in doing that much testing, so the result is more "rough estimate" type reviews, like what I've done.
  • Olaf van der Spek - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Isn't DD-WRT (development) dead anyway? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    I don't believe so; you can get a build dated March 15, 2012 for the ASUS RT-N66U for example. There are also similar tools out there (OpenWRT, MyOpenRouter--Netgear only on that one). I think it would be best to state that the set of new hardware being supported is very limited, so if you want DD-WRT support you need to shop with that intention. Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link

    Latest stable release has been v24 SP1 (Build10020) and Latest development release has been v24 preSP2 (Build13064) for years.
    A build dated March 15, 2012 doesn't mean that much.

    Is there a comparison between DD-WRT and OpenWRT available somewhere?
  • blindbox - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    You should take a look at their source revisions. For example, OpenWrt just hit their 32000th revision about a month ago.

    Anyway, here's where you can see progress.


    Last commit for OpenWRT was 20 hours ago. For DD-Wrt, it was 50 minutes ago.

    DD-WRT does provide snapshot builds but I don't know why they've stopped releasing stable builds altogether. OpenWrt at least has their somewhat yearly stable releases.
  • blindbox - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Just to add. For people like me, I won't even be looking at these. All I look at is the hardware specs, whether the device is Atheros or not, and whether it's flashable to OpenWrt or otherwise. Any of these conditions that are not met and it's just another device to me.

    That said, <shamelessplug>TP-Link WR1043ND FTW</shamelessplug>
  • dgingeri - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    These are out of date as soon as they are released. the new WD routers exceed these on features all the way across the board. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    You do realize that comparing features that are on papers to determine which router is "better" is asking for problems, right? On paper, the R20000G and Belkin N600 are "identical", but in practice they're anything but. I wouldn't even venture to declare something as being "better" without some practical testing from a reputable source. You'll also note that if you're just after maximum performance within close proximity, even as a 2x2:2 router there are cases where Amped's previous R10000G tops the performance charts ( Reply
  • Blark - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Engadget put them through their test labs also and it worked great for them....

    I bought a R200000G after reading the review and compared it to my Linksys EA4500. The amped product goes roughly 50-70 feet past the furthest spot I used to be able to go on the Linksys router. The Linksys router how ever provided faster throughput from 0-30 feet. I would take the range over soup close speed any day as I had dead spots before.

    Tried their SR10000 also and it works well for us.
  • 996GT2 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    How does this wireless adapter compare to the gold standard Alfa AWUS036H in terms of range?

    For those who don't know about the Alfa:
  • DanNeely - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    "One simple solution for the modem/router users would be to simply disable the wireless functionality and connect via Ethernet to the modem/router—assuming there’s at least one Ethernet port. That requires a certain amount of technical savvy of course—something I could do, but not something I would recommend to, say, my siblings or parents."

    Having tried to do this sort of setup for my parents a year ago I completely agree. It worked well for about 6mo until the ISP pushed a firmware update to their box which trashed the customization settings I'd applied to make it work with the old neatgear router I was using for the wifi. I eventually ended up having to drive out to fix things in person. The only good thing to come out of the debacle was that their boxes new firmware replaced the hard coded wifi SSID value with a textbox; allowing me to retire the netgear without having to reconfigure the wifi settings on everyone's devices. Wifi speed is uniformly bad across the house; but 3MB DSL is slow enough it doesn't matter much.
  • WeaselITB - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Wow, Jarred, thanks for the awesome and lengthy review / comparison! I can't even fathom the amount of work this took!

    That directional antenna actually sounds like a good solution for the family room HTPC/HDTV that I was considering, but kept rejecting since I didn't have a way to get wire there ...
  • gstrickler - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link

    2.4GHz testing "in the real world" is challenging because of channel overlap and poor deployment of channel usage. 40MHz operation makes it even worse. First, you have to understand that 802.11B/G/N don't use a single 5MHz channel, they use a 22MHz wide band centered on one channel. That means they need 5 channel spacing between to be interference free, however, in reality, the signals are so week at the edges that 4 channel spacing works with essentially no impairment. In the USA it has been common to use channels 1, 6, and 11, because the USA only allows full power operation on channels 1-11. However, that allocation never allows for 40MHz operation without interference because the secondary channel must be +/- 4 channels, meaning the secondary must be at 5 (1 primary), 2 or 10 (6 primary), or 7 (11 primary). In each case, the secondary is 1 channel away from another commonly used channel, resulting is significant interference.

    It's better to share the same channel as another router than to be only 1 channel away, that is the worst possible configuration. If the routers are within about 50ft (16m) of each other, even being 2 channels away will almost certainly cause interference. With his 40MHz tests using 11+7, any nearby routers on channel 6 would be likely to cause interference.

    Jarred didn't indicate what channels are in use by his neighbors, nor how strong those signals were (at the router and at the laptop), so there may have been interference affecting his tests. Throwing out the outliers as he did helps minimize those, but without such information, I can't make much use of the test results.

    A short guide to channel allocation in 2.4GHz Wi-Fi:
    It's been common practice to use those same channels in most countries despite the fact that most countries allow full power operation on 13 channels. In most countries, the ideal allocation is to use channels 1, 5, 9, and 13 only, never use other channels. This allows 4 20MHz channels, and allows 40MHz channels while minimizing interference. If you're operating a router in a country that allows 13 full power channels (most of the world outside North America), use this 1, 5, 9, 13 channel allocation. Even if your router doesn't allow setting channel 13 (some firmware restricts you to 11 channels even in other countries), stick with channels 1, 5, 9 so you don't cause problems for those using 1, 5, 9, 13.

    Back to the USA and Canada, rather than 1, 6, 11, a better channel allocation (with the possible exception of some high density office environments, and even those might benefit from this configuration) is to use channels 1, 4, 8, and 11, exclusively, with 40MHz operation supported only on 4+8 (and 8+4). That's only 3 channels minimum separation, but when there is 30+ft and/or walls between the routers, 3 channel separation is shows sufficient attenuation at 3 channels that interference is minor, typically resulting in no more than 10% performance degradation even when both routers are simultaneously transmitting, and often shows no degradation.

    The problem is that many routers default to (or auto-select) channel 6 or channels other than 1, 4, 8, & 11. Using channels 4 or 8 with a nearby router on channel 6 may cause interference for both. Which leaves 3 options for the USA, Canada, and any other country with fewer than 13 full power channels:

    1. Coordinate with your neighbors and get everyone to exclusively use channels 1, 4, 8, and 11, with any 40MHz operation exclusively on 4&8. This is the best option for 99% of installations. Even if you can see some other routers on channel 6, but with weak signals, this may be the best option.

    2. If that's not possible, and channel 6 is in use, use channels 1, 6, 11 exclusively and do not use 40MHz channels at all. This may be best in large, open offices/halls where there are 3 or more routers within ~100ft and no walls between them, but you should still try #1 first.

    3. Finally, if you must use 40MHz in an area where Channel 6 is in use and can't be changed, use 5GHz if possible. If that's not possible use channels 4 & 8 for 40MHz, and locate your router as far as possible from any routers using channel 6. There are some other compromise channel options, but they're dependent upon which channels are in use and the relative signal strength, and they add to the problem for other users, so I can't recommend them, and they should only be configured by someone who thoroughly understands Wi-Fi channel allocation, interference, and the local Wi-Fi environment.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the post -- there's a lot of good information for people not familiar with WiFi. I'm actually aware of most of this stuff, but obviously there's only so much you can cover/rehash each time we do a wireless article. While I didn't provide it directly, you can get some idea of the channels in use in my neighborhood from this image:

    I used channels 11+7 for testing, as channel 1 is in use by my next door neighbor (and 3 is used by another neighbor two houses away -- bad choice, I know). Thankfully, there are no networks in the 6-11 range that are near my house. In terms of RSSI, I believe the signal strength from the other channel 11 networks in the area was something like -85dBm (or worse), and the same goes for the channel 6 network, so my choice is mostly free of interference.

    I used channel 161 for 5GHz, but that's not nearly as important as there's very little traffic on that spectrum.
  • gstrickler - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Thanks Jarred, that gives some credence to your tests.

    Now, go change your neighbor's router off channel 3, get him drunk first if necessary. :)

    Yes, 5GHz is comparatively open, more channels, less usage, and always at 4 channel spacing. The main issue to deal with in 5GHz is that there are 2 or 3 different power levels allowed depending upon the frequency, so some have better range than others. Unfortunately, I can't locate the details right now, although some routers will list them as hi/low power.
  • Conficio - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link

    I wonder why Amped Wireless would not combine the repeater and the directional antenna. As Jarred mentioned, for a mobile device a directional antenna is a bit inconvenient, especially if it does easily move.

    However for a repeater it would be ideal. Place your repeater in a quite weak spot and use the power of the directional antenna to still get a good signal. Then broadcast the repeated signal onmi-directional. That should cut down on the interference too. And a repeater is a heavier object to begin with and stationary. Sure if you don't need it, then you won't need it. But if you have a tricky situation, or simply a very large property (lets say a boats house or an artists shed) then this should be a great solution.

    Even better would be to add an additional directional antenna to the main router and the ability to use different channels for the directional link. That could make a point to point link that would cut down on interference even more.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link

    I believe Amped does support this, though you'd need to provide the antennas yourself (Amped sells them, though). The only problem is that you'd basically have one antenna directional and pointed at the router with the second omnidirectional, so your total omnidirectional signal strength would likely be limited. Reply
  • Conficio - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Thanks Jarred for clarifying this.

    In my mind that poses one more question, is the directional USB stick a 2x2 config? are both antennas directional? Or is it only one antenna?

    But I think you are right, just replacing an antenna with a directional one is not the same as building a real repeter that has a separate notion of (set of) input antenna (directional) and set of output antenna (omnidirectional). Hence there is the opportunity for a company like Amped.

    Another question. Is it possible to use only one band (5GHz) to talk to the router and the other band (2.4 GHz) to redistribute? The same for channels? Which should get down the interference even better.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    AFAIK, the UA2000 has both antennas pointing the same direction. It can also pick up other routers that aren't being pointed at, but range and performance drop considerably.

    As for routing one band to the router and the other for talking to devices, I asked Amped about this, and they said while in theory it's possible to have the repeater send wireless traffic over the other connection (when present), they chose not to do it this way to "keep things simple" or something. If you use a 2.4GHz only router (or disable the 5GHz channel), then 5GHz traffic will get routed over the 2.4GHz radio; likewise, you could disable your router's 2.4GHz channel and have the repeater's 2.4GHz traffic route over 5GHz. That might actually be interesting to test out.
  • mike8675309 - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    I actually do that in my home. Using DD-WRT I have a WDS network setup with 3 dual radio routers. Clients connect on the 2.4GHz antennas and the routers talk to each other over the 5GHz antennas.

    PS3, Xbox, Dish DVRs connect with ethernet and get a 5Ghz connection to the internet router, perfect for streaming from Netflix or Dish.

    This eliminates the issue with 1/2 the bandwidth when using the same radio to talk to clients as you use for repeating to the main router, which is what is happening for most repeaters in the market.
  • tlcqualityrentals - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    Lots of great information on this site. If only I could figure out what you guys are talking about. LOL. I had narrowed down my selection to the Amped Wireless R20000g to replace my years 5+ year old Linksys router/modem. The Linksys was fine for my home. I have recently added a cottage and a pavilion to my property. Both are approximately 300 to 400 feet from the Linkysys router. It is imperative that i provide good network coverage in the cottage. My question to you is, how would you solve this issue? What items would you buy?
    Thanks for any suggestions.
    Much appreciated.
  • bman212121 - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    One of the biggest issues when trying to pick a wireless AP for range is dechipering through all of the claimed power ratings. I bought an AP that was listed as having a 400mW power rating. I figured that meant that it was a 200mW radio output and 200mW for the 3dbi antennas on it. That is technically true but the issue with N is that those numbers are also divided by the number of antennas you have. So in reality it was 100mW per amp with 100mW (3dbi gain) for each antenna.

    So in the case of this amped wireless device it would be 125mW (21Db) amps and 5dbi antennas (26dbi EIRP per antenna, making 29dbi total power output) This would make it slightly more powerful than the average home router but for devices where you can replace the antennas you will get more power by having bigger antennas than what is provided on this device.

    Case in point, I was floored when our old Linksys WRT54G actually out ranged my 400mw N access point because it used the same 100mw (20Dbm) output and a 2dbi antenna. I'm guessing it must have had a slightly better method of determining the best path and probably a bit more sensitive receiver. I was already planning on swapping the antennas with 9dbi rubber duckies. Once I did that then my AP was able to travel farther however location seems to be far more important for range than anything you can do on the AP side.
  • GullLars - Sunday, July 08, 2012 - link

    "If I had been wise, I would have tabulated all the individual results and come up with a throughput distribution graph (similar to what Brian does with our smartphone Speedtest results), but unfortunately I only considered doing that after the fact. It would also become rather difficult to compare results between routers and adapters using such charts. Still, if there’s enough desire for such testing, I can revisit the subject with a smaller article. Either leave a comment or drop me an email if you’re interested in such testing."

    Yes, when there are very variable results, using result distribution graphs can give very important information averages leave out, like best and worst case, and consistency of performance.

    I'd rather have a wireless connection at average 80Mbps ±10Mbps than average 140Mbps with drops to 40Mbps 10% of the time. Especially if this is also reflected in latency. I'm kinda surprised there were no meassuring of ping, just throughput. Ping and ping spikes are very important for how it feels to use wireless connections.

    For most rewiews of IO devices there is mention of both throughput and latency, why not also do this for wireless?

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now