Monday, October 24, 2016

Mobile Networking Speeds with IEEE 802.11ac

We are constantly evaluating our Computer Infrastructure here at home in Lausanne Switzerland. 

Somebody asked me if the card I installed in 2014 into my wonderful Lenovo U430 was really working at AC speed or just doing N. Time to do some performance testing.

AC Networking

If you Google you will find that AC Networking is basically a multiple N standard.   We've had an AC router for over a year now and I first upgraded my laptop  (so it's not an Apple then !) to AC networking in 2014.

If you look at the specs  you will see a theoretical maximum speed of 1734 Mbps over wireless.

Before testing performance I upgraded the firmware on the ASUS EA-AC87.  I noted in various forums that the firmware has not changed in almost 1 year now and ASUS enthusiasts are quite unhappy.   Hmm.

Windows Preparations

Performance Results from my Lenovo U430 Laptop

Downloads: Best I got was a lowly 34.8 MB/second.  Our Internet connection can deliver faster so I suspect its the destination that was lagging, but I could not find a faster site.  Anybody?

Theoretically I could use speedtest like this, for faster results. But today ..

wget -O /dev/null

But I could only manage 15MB/sec this way. Not impressed

I managed a more respectable 57MB/sec remote 300MB file copy over the Wifi to my Laptop Hard disk.   I repeated the test over 10 times and the best sustained speed was as shown above or in the top graphic in this post (58MB/sec).

Why is it so slow?

Most laptops use a removable mini PCI-e card to provide Wireless networking and Bluetooth combined.  But they use a dual band or 2x2 card at best.  This can only connect at 866.7 Mbps maximum, leading to a theoretical data rate of about 86 MB/second.

Therefore the achieved 55MB/second rate is pretty good over our home Wireless AC LAN to a Virtual Machine inside an Intel computer.

N Comparison
You might be shocked to hear that we still have a N class router in the house so with trusty Lenovo U430 I moved to the lounge and connected.

So yes, when you connect at N it is really slower.

To Conclude
I'm pretty happy with my 50MB/sec wireless connection speed using the AC networking card in my now quite elderly Lenovo U430 laptop.  This is almost 3Gigabytes per minute and that is good enough for me.

Speedtest files for download
AC networking for Lenovo U430
NGFF M2 install to Lenovo U430