Slow home network? Check the router.

March 27th, 2011 by Christian

(or, A geeky interlude from our regular blogging.)

I’m trying to improve my Internet connection speed and home and my home network generally.  (That partly explains my last post, too.)

After a series of tests last week, I was astonished to discover that one of the key bottlenecks was my router.  I bought a router that says 10/100 Ethernet on the box, meaning it supports both 10Base-T and 100Base-TX. I was assuming that if I connected Fast Ethernet devices to it with an ordinary Category 5 cable I would get 100 Mbit/s of throughput in each direction.  But I was getting about 12.


(Cat 5 cable. Image credit: Wikimedia commons.)

The Eureka moment came when I found this chart over at smallnetbuilder.com. My router came in 63rd out of 64 routers tested on total throughput.  On WAN to LAN download speed, a key metric, it came in 59th out of 64 routers tested.

Although it said 100 Mbit/s on the box, it actually maxes out at 20 according to these tests.  (Like I said, I was getting about 12.)

The offender was a PepLink Balance 30 — actually a load balancing switch.  Maybe it is the load balancing that makes it so terrible? I don’t know. At one time I was so desperate for throughput I had multiple ISPs at the same time and I was aggregating them. I have abandoned the idea of load balancing, so there’s no point to it now.

Time to treat myself to an ASUS Black Diamond Dual-Band Gigabit Wireless-N Router. I’m worth it. I deserve it. Tested maximum throughput 1,268 Mbit/s.  We should notice a difference between that and 12. Damn it.

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