We used PerformanceTest 6.1 by PassMark which you can find out more information about here. It has a handy Advanced Networking section which is perfect for our testing.
Doing our best to emulate a real-world performance scenario, I setup a server running Windows 2008 R2 (x64) Server, (2x Xeon Quad Core 3.0 GHz 1333MHz FSB, 4GB DDR2 FB-DIMMS, 2x 146GB SAS drives in RAID 1) and the client PC was an MSI Wind 200 With built-in Intel 802.11n (Intel WiFi Link 5100 AGN) adapter. The results were gathered by sending data from the MSI netbook to the server at different distances with the built in adapter and a TPLink TL-WN821N. Average transmission speeds were recorded for each.
As we have noted in reviews of other wireless products, unless you can set your wireless device to "n" only, you are going to have some speed concerns. The same was true with the TEW-653AP. When we set the band to 2.4GHz (802.11b/g/n) we could not connect at more than 64Mb/s. However, once we set it to 2.4GHz (802.11n) we were able to connect at about 130Mb/s. That is quite a difference, and centers on the type of modulation used by the different standards.
The worst type is the old "b" standard; here we have the CCK (complementary code keying) for modulation, while 802.11g goes back to OFDM (Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing). It is not until 802.11n that you enter a completely new standard of MCS; these range from MCS 0 to MCS 15 with 23 and 31 sitting on their own. This new scheme actually makes it theoretically possible to transfer 600Mb/s (using MCS 31 over 40Hz and with four spatial streams). The most commonly used spec is MCS 15 with two spatial streams, over 20/40Hz. This gives you a connection range of 144MB/s to 270MB/s.
Now, I am sure you are wondering what I am talking about with "spatial streams". One of the things that was brought to the game with 802.11n was MIMO (multiple-in multiple-out). With MIMO you had multiple antennas that were able to receive multiple data streams. This was combined with SDM (Spatial Division Multiplexing) to increase the data throughput by multiplexing the independent streams inside the same frequency range.
Think about it like this; imagine needing to give someone all the pages of an unbound book. If you pass them one page at a time it will take a very long time, but if you can pass them one page in each hand you can speed up the time it takes to get it to them. That is MIMO; the ability to rapidly pass the pages in order and have them reassembled correctly is what SDM takes care of.
Testing the TEW-653AP was pretty straight forward. We had it setup in AP mode and connected to our TRENDnet TPE-80WS Gigabit PoE switch. From there we connected to the TEW-653AP with our MSI Wind 200 and moved to our three pre-set locations. The first was within 10 feet and the TEW-653AP was visible, while the other two had at least one wall between the AP and the MSI Wind.
*signal travelling through wet wall and main house electrical panel
It would seem that the TEW-653AP has some issues penetrating walls. As soon as we were out of direct sight of the AP we lost signal and bandwidth. To see if it was the walls or the distance, we setup the AP out in the open and walked 50 feet in a direct line away from the TEW-653AP. Even at that range we had an average bandwidth of 45MB/s, but even with the TEW-653AP right on the opposite side of a wall from where the MSI Wind 200 was (less than three feet) we saw a dramatic drop in signal strength and bandwidth; in most cases around 50% of what we should have had.