Some Wi-Fi 802.11n and 802.11ac speeds in practice

Believe it or not but I am still using an 802.11g access point at home because the 802.11n access point that is part of my high end VDSL router at home is just crap. In most cases the 20 Mbit/s I can get out of it through two walls is good enough for my purposes. But my VDLS line gives me 25 Mbit/s so this is hardly a state I can tolerate much longer.

I do have another Wi-Fi access point at home who's 802.11n implementation works a lot better and I get around 70-80 Mbit/s out of it at close range in the 5 GHz band and around 50 Mbit/s through my walls. Next time I manage to be at home for more than just a few days I'll try to port my VPN server configuration from my 802.11g OpenWRT router to this box that also runs on OpenWRT and if it is as stable as my current setup it will be my configuration for the foreseeable future.

Time has moved on, however, and 802.11ac products are already on the market. The recent 1/2014 issue of the German C't computer magazine has an interesting benchmark test with real life scenarios. Speeds measured are between 700 Mbit/s at very close range between a 3×3 MIMO capable 802.11ac access point and a PCI Express card in a PC with three external antennas. But that's rather an exception.

802.11ac USB sticks are only 2×2 MIMO capable and according to the magazine, up to 200 Mbit/s are possible at very close range. In their 20 m + walls scenario the throughput is cut down to 100 Mbit/s. Quite far away from the 700 Mbit/s above but still respectable. In most other combinations that make use of 3×3 MIMO, speeds were in the 350 Mbit/s category at close range (same room but at some distance) to 150-170 Mbit/s in their 20 m + walls scenario.

Interesting numbers to be kept in mind when seeing advertisements of 1300 Mbit/s capable routers (which stands for 3×3 MIMO in the 5 GHz range). Some even advertise their routers as AC1800 because they add the theoretical maximum of 450 Mbit/s of 802.11n in the 2.4 GHz band to the 1300 Mbit/s in the 5 GHz band of 802.11ac. That's what I guess is called creative marketing.