Testing and Results – Signal Strength and Bandwidth

Test Results – Signal Strength

I, like many people, was thoroughly lost when I first started messing around with Wi-Fi signal strength testers.  The numbers are usually negative and seem to go backwards, so it can cause some confusion.  Without going into too much detail, a Wi-Fi signal is measured in ‘dBm’ or Decibel-Milliwatts.  ‘dBm’ is a power ratio measuring power (in dB) of a measured power referenced against one milliwatt.  So for example, a typical radio station will pump out 100 kW of power and have a Power Level of 80 dBm, where 802.11 Wi-Fi networks on the other hand are often received with a signal of less than a milliwatt.  They are usually in the -10 to -100 dBm range, where -10 is actually the strongest signal and -100 is the weakest.  Simply put the higher (closer to zero if you’re negative) a dBm rating is, the strong the signal.  Once you start getting into the -80 to -100 dBm range you’ll probably start having issues with your Wi-Fi.

No real surprises here.  We of course get the best signal strength in our Adjacent tests.  With the laptop sitting a foot or so from the router it’s going to get a strong signal in both the 5 & 2.4 Ghz bands.  As soon as we look at signals from our first Remote Test where the laptop isn’t anywhere near the Wi-Fi source, it immediately takes a dive.  Once again, as soon as bring our Extender into play, the signal picks back up, regardless of any impact from the Coax bridging.  So to sum up, moving a client closer to a source of a Wi-Fi signal boosts the signal strength, thank you Captain Obvious…

Test Results – Bandwidth Tests

So it’s time to get down to business and see how the WCB6200Q and ECB6200 perform in actual data speed tests.  First we’ll look at the Average and Maximum Read/Write speeds in the Adjacent testing.

The charts pretty much speak for themselves with the Direct Connect numbers giving us the maximum speeds we could possibly get between the Server and Client machines.  When pushed over Ethernet and through the WCB6200Q LAN ports we see a negligible drop-off from the maximum speeds to the point that it’s not even worth mentioning.  Once we go through the ‘Coax Bridge’ though, we do see a hefty drop off in average speeds going from 855 Mbps Read down to 768 Mbps (10% Drop) and a steep 785 Mbps Write down to 571 Mbps (27% Drop).

Wi-Fi performance is average but of course not coming in anywhere near their Marketing speak ‘Theoretical Maximum’ speeds of 1700 Mbps on 5 Ghz and 300 Ghz at 2.4 Ghz.  Looking at even maximum numbers the best we saw is 267 Mbps Read at 5 Ghz, which isn’t too bad, and 56 Mbps Read at 2.4 Ghz, which isn’t that great. 

Looking at the at the Remote test numbers we don’t see a major drop off in the ‘hard wired’ tests, with Read and Write speeds only dropping a few Mbps.  We do see a bit more of a drop in the Ranged tests for Wi-Fi speeds.  When we compare the Adjacent and Remote average Wi-Fi data we see a drop of 13% and 2% in 5 Ghz Writes/Reads respectively and 18%/13% in 2.4 Ghz Writes and Reads

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