To test all of the networking equipment, we used Performance Test version 4.0 by PassMark Software. This piece of software is perfect for our networking tests here today. It gives us the ability to transfer data over any set amount of time from one computer to another on the network with any kind of network adapter. It outputs such information as CPU load, average transfer speeds and so forth.
To give you an overall idea of the type of performance you'll get from the hardware, we used a standard Dell Inspirion 8200 notebook (with Windows XP Home and the drivers included in the package) for both USB and PCMCIA adapter tests as well as wired 10/100 tests for comparison purposes. To gain an average transfer speed rating, we set the network section of Performance Test to operate for two minutes for each test where for every test the notebook was sending data. The notebook was placed roughly 10 feet away (through walls) from the access point which was in the next room across sitting on the floor with no obstructions in its way, apart from the walls - of course.
For interest sakes, we also included tests with 128-bit encryption enabled to see if we have much of a performance drop from having the added security feature on.
Let's see how the wireless products from X-Micro compete with the onboard 3Com 10/100 controller chip on the Dell notebook.
- Average Transfer Speed
In the first of our tests we can see that the wired network on average is a little over 8 times faster than the quickest wireless adapter, PCMCIA Wireless. We can also see that with 128-bit encryption enabled, there is only a sight drop in performance which is certainly good news!
For whatever reason, the USB adapter was considerably slower than the PCMCIA adapter - on average about 65% slower. As well as being slower, being USB and CPU driven, the USB adapter chews up CPU usage as high as 95% at times but mostly stayed around 20% for the majority of the two minute test. On the other hand, the PCMCIA adapter used hardly as much CPU power since it is not driven by the processor. The most CPU usage the PCMCIA adapter used was 25% and mostly stayed around 13% for the majority of the two minute test.
PCMCIA is looking better and better than USB by the minute.
- Time to copy 660MB
For our second and final test, we calculated how long it would take to copy a 660MB file over the network based on the two minute testing which the 3Com Wired Ethernet was able to achieve in the set time - that being 660MB. The calculations are based on averages and not highest speeds, so in certain cases you may be able to copy the total amount quicker.
It is clear to see that this is where the lows of the 802.11b standard lie - fantastic in theory but not so good (as far as transfer speeds go) in practice. However with that said, this is only a problem if you want to copy large files over a wireless network. At most, you only need around 10KB/s to play LAN games and you've got enough bandwidth to stream most movies over the X-Micro powered wireless network.
This is the sacrifice you need to make for the convenience of wireless LAN.
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