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Wireless Networking - couple of quick questions

Monolithic_DomeMonolithic_Dome Registered User regular
So the layout of our new place is not very cat5-friendly, and I'm exploring my wireless options.

The most important thing that we'll be doing network-wise is my wife and gaming together (TF2, L4D, etc) on our two desktops. We'll also be sharing files and printers and other basic stuff.

Right now we have a cheapo D-Link router and one Netgear PCI wireless card, so at the minimum I'll need to buy another wireless adapter and at maximum I'll be buying two adapters and a router.

Generally, I'm cool with spending a few more clams to get reliable equipment. I don't have a whole lot of free time, so I'd like to spend more of it pew-pewing and less of it fiddling with tech.

So, questions:

-Is 802.11n mature yet? Is it worth it to upgrade over G if my main concern is gaming (and therefore latency, I suppose) and not file transfer speeds?

-Is it worth getting a router that will run a custom firmware?

-I have a perception that Linksys is known to be the most reliable brand of home networking stuff. True or bullshit?

-I seem to remember having some problems gaming wirelessly with the current router, but that was a while ago. Is it worth testing out before I put down cash on a new router?

[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
Monolithic_Dome on

Posts

  • HoundxHoundx Registered User
    edited February 2010
    -Is 802.11n mature yet? Is it worth it to upgrade over G if my main concern is gaming (and therefore latency, I suppose) and not file transfer speeds?
    Yes. No.
    -Is it worth getting a router that will run a custom firmware?
    Yes
    -I have a perception that Linksys is known to be the most reliable brand of home networking stuff. True or bullshit?
    meh
    -I seem to remember having some problems gaming wirelessly with the current router, but that was a while ago. Is it worth testing out before I put down cash on a new router?
    Wired or wireless, shouldn't matter for gaming. I'd suggest going with an N router just because you should be able to find one that's not significantly more expensive than G and it will give you more options in the future.

    Houndx on
  • travathiantravathian Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I would suggest re-exploring your cat-5 options. Or if this is for cable internet access, the option of running a cable connection to the computer room so you can put the cable modem right there. Wireless, while being great and fairly reliable, still pales compared to a wired connection, especially in the realm of 'just work damnit' and uptime. I have a quality G router with custom firmware and out of the blue the wireless connections just get dropped. It doesn't happen a lot, but enough that I notice it, and I'd be helluva pissed to get punted from my favorite game server because my wireless connection temporarily died.

    Again, Cat-5 or coax, you only have to run it once and it just works. If you're living at this place long term it is worth the investment of going with the better solution.

    travathian on
  • XeddicusXeddicus Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I agree with Houndx except about custom firmware. That's nice, but ideally you wont NEED that and if you don't have a lot of time as is you wont be messing with it. You just want to make sure it's a decent router and your wireless adapters are up to snuff. I used wireless for years and had no problems, but recently I had bought a Zyxel wireless adapter to replace by older 2Wire adapter that isn't supported under 64-bit OS's and had issues at first. Liberal application of aluminum foil fixed that, though.

    So if you're as far from the router you can get and you can't stick it in the room with you like travathian suggests just try and get a decent adapter and it should be fine.

    Xeddicus on
    "For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men. Not women. Not beasts...this you can trust."
  • Monolithic_DomeMonolithic_Dome Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Agreed that wiring the room would be a better solution but it's impractical right now so I'll need wireless at least in the interim.

    Surprisingly though, when I go to Newegg and sort PCI Wireless adapters by Rating the "no-name" brands jump to the top. Is this really a top-quality adapter?

    Monolithic_Dome on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • HoundxHoundx Registered User
    edited February 2010
    Eh, I run dd-wrt on my router and I love it. Unless you're spending a ton of money to get something that runs it, I'd say it's totally worth having the option.



    edit: The antenna on that card is pretty slick.

    Houndx on
  • XeddicusXeddicus Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Agreed that wiring the room would be a better solution but it's impractical right now so I'll need wireless at least in the interim.

    Surprisingly though, when I go to Newegg and sort PCI Wireless adapters by Rating the "no-name" brands jump to the top. Is this really a top-quality adapter?

    That was going to be my replacement until I tried the aluminum foil trick, so if you do get that thing report back how it works :P

    You may want to look at USB as well.

    Xeddicus on
    "For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men. Not women. Not beasts...this you can trust."
  • KrikeeKrikee Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Wireless is sub-optimum for gaming because you aren't guaranteed to have access to the spectrum when your computer needs to send a packet. Not really a problem unless the spectrum is congested in your area (2.4Ghz in apartments will make you cry; however, .11n can use the 5Ghz spectrum which is damn near empty). Have you looked at MoCA bridges? Verizon FiOS routers use it and it's very nice from what I can tell. Oh, and do not even think of an Ethernet over Power solution. Just don't. No.

    EDIT: If you need to go with WiFi make sure the 802.11n (it is stable now) device you get supports MIMO & is not a draft device! Most draft devices don't support MIMO (allows multiplexing streams onto the spectrum eg more than one device can talk to the router at once!).

    Krikee on
  • BorommakotBorommakot Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    This probably isn't super helpful for the general question, but I have that wireless card. I've never had any trouble with it. Plug it in, run the CD once, and it just works. And it has a decent enough range for me to pick up the neighbor's internet from across the road(150+ ft.).

    Borommakot on
  • The Dude With HerpesThe Dude With Herpes Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Question about N networks.

    If I got an N router, and an N card for one of my PC's but left G's on the other how does that effect my network?

    I.E. with what Krikee said, if it uses the 5Ghz band for N; will it be running a dual band network for the G adapters, or will it default down to G for everything?

    I live in a condo complex and there are a lot of wireless networks in range that I'm sure are conflicting with my network.

    But at the same time I have no desire to upgrade all of my PC's and get USB adapters for the laptops just for some speed.

    EDIT: Also, when I look at networks on the list, is there any way to see what channel they're broadcasting on in order to change mine so there's less conflict?

    EDIT2: To explain, my current problem is that I'm running about 10mb/s when I directly connect a PC to my cable modem.

    But when I hook the modem up to my router all of my PC's go down to about 1 mb/s give or take.

    This has been going on since just before Christmas and I had previously thought it was my ISP but now I'm questioning that.

    I know I should probably upgrade to a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem but that doesn't really explain why my internet speed is being cut down to 1/10th of what it should be, when prior to this occurring it was mostly fine.

    The Dude With Herpes on
    Steam: Galedrid - XBL: Galedrid - PSN: Galedrid
    Origin: Galedrid - Nintendo: Galedrid/3222-6858-1045
    Blizzard: Galedrid#1367 - FFXIV: Galedrid Kingshand

  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I say yes to getting a DD-WRT router. All the routers that roommates have had over the years have been shitty for the most part - ESPECIALLY new Linksys shit. I'm always having to restart those fuckers and they crash when you do bittorrent, etc.

    My cheapo router
    with DD-WRT has never gone down.

    Any router works IMO if you're using wired connections. Wireless is another story.

    tsmvengy on
    steam_sig.png
  • KrikeeKrikee Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Question about N networks.

    If I got an N router, and an N card for one of my PC's but left G's on the other how does that effect my network?

    I.E. with what Krikee said, if it uses the 5Ghz band for N; will it be running a dual band network for the G adapters, or will it default down to G for everything?

    I live in a condo complex and there are a lot of wireless networks in range that I'm sure are conflicting with my network.

    But at the same time I have no desire to upgrade all of my PC's and get USB adapters for the laptops just for some speed.

    EDIT: Also, when I look at networks on the list, is there any way to see what channel they're broadcasting on in order to change mine so there's less conflict?

    EDIT2: To explain, my current problem is that I'm running about 10mb/s when I directly connect a PC to my cable modem.

    But when I hook the modem up to my router all of my PC's go down to about 1 mb/s give or take.

    This has been going on since just before Christmas and I had previously thought it was my ISP but now I'm questioning that.

    I know I should probably upgrade to a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem but that doesn't really explain why my internet speed is being cut down to 1/10th of what it should be, when prior to this occurring it was mostly fine.
    When you buy your router you will have to read about it a little bit to find out if it can broadcast in the 2.4ghz & 5ghz spectrum at the same time; some can, some can't. If it is one or the other then the spectrum used will be configurable and not "auto-detect." As for the channel detection, download netstumbler and do a scan to see what channels people are using in your area. Here is a good explanation of how to pick your channel. Pay attention to the fact that 1 & 11 have minimal overlap (above channel 11 is not allowed in the USA). 5ghz is the preferable range as it has 12 non-overlapping channels! Also, 5ghz has less penetration so you may find dead spots that you didn't have before and will have to adjust the location of the router for the beast availability in your location. Unfortunately I can't really help you with suggestions for gear as I haven't used linksys/netgear/etc for a while (my home network is my Cisco lab).

    As for the DOCSIS 3.0 upgrade, ask your cable provider if they support DOCSIS 3.0; they have to buy new head-end gear to support it. If they do not, it's not worth it as it is just like using a USB 2.0 device on a USB 1.0 port. Backwards compatible but, no advantage.

    Krikee on
  • The Dude With HerpesThe Dude With Herpes Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Yeah I went ahead and bought a new modem as Comcast here has upgraded to 3.0.

    It is faster but not ZOMG faster.

    I got a new router too, just stuck with a G because I don't have the money to upgrade cards to N atm.

    It's one of those antenna-less Linksys routers, the WRT54G2, unfortunately it's a 1.5 so there is no DD-WRT firmware for it, and doesn't look like there ever will be.

    It works well enough I suppose but I'm kinda disappointed by its range compared to my old linksys, though it does seem to be able to maintain a faster overall connection despite not having "excellent" connection everywhere in the house.

    I'll give it a week or two and if I'm not impressed I'll probably return the router at least; but my old router seemed to be a point of weakness as no matter what I did I would regularly get 1/10th of the internet speed while connected via the router as opposed to directly connecting a PC to the modem. I figure there would be some loss of speed regardless but not going from 10mb/s on the modem to 1-2mb/s on the router.

    The Dude With Herpes on
    Steam: Galedrid - XBL: Galedrid - PSN: Galedrid
    Origin: Galedrid - Nintendo: Galedrid/3222-6858-1045
    Blizzard: Galedrid#1367 - FFXIV: Galedrid Kingshand

  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    tsmvengy wrote: »
    I say yes to getting a DD-WRT router. All the routers that roommates have had over the years have been shitty for the most part - ESPECIALLY new Linksys shit. I'm always having to restart those fuckers and they crash when you do bittorrent, etc.

    My cheapo router
    with DD-WRT has never gone down.

    Any router works IMO if you're using wired connections. Wireless is another story.

    Putting DDWRT on my router was the best thinf I could have done
    It feels like I spent $500 on an upgrade, but all I did was flashing DDWRT. It's been up without a hitch ever since I flashed it. I had to reboot it at least 2x a day before DDWRT. And Wifi works pretty well too.

    I'd say it's the most important thing you should look for in a router, the ability to put DDWRT in it.

    EDIT: Yeah, Dude with Herpes, you're fucked, my router is a linksys wrt54g2 v1. The default firmware is pure shit compared to DDWRT. It has less options, less info, less performance, less stability. It's really, a lot worse.

    Stormwatcher on
    Steam: Stormwatcher | PSN: Stormwatcher33 | Switch: 5961-4777-3491
    camo_sig2.png
  • The Dude With HerpesThe Dude With Herpes Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Yeah I'm getting annoyed with it. I will probably end up returning the router but I'm pretty happy with the modem.

    Does anyone have any specific recommendations for a router? I live in a small place, it's a condo complex so it doesn't have to travel very far; just through a lot of walls and it'd be nice if it was powerful enough to still be stable despite every condo in our building also having a wireless network.

    I was hoping to get something quick at Best Buy (where I got these) but I'd be happy to just get something off newegg and return this router when a new one gets here.

    The Dude With Herpes on
    Steam: Galedrid - XBL: Galedrid - PSN: Galedrid
    Origin: Galedrid - Nintendo: Galedrid/3222-6858-1045
    Blizzard: Galedrid#1367 - FFXIV: Galedrid Kingshand

  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I'd recommend the cheapest router that can run DDWRT fine. I know I'm being repetitive, but you can't really get anything better than DDWRT.

    Stormwatcher on
    Steam: Stormwatcher | PSN: Stormwatcher33 | Switch: 5961-4777-3491
    camo_sig2.png
  • tsmvengytsmvengy Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I have this:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833320023&Tpk=520gu

    Works great when you flash it with DD-WRT, which is dead easy.

    tsmvengy on
    steam_sig.png
  • VistiVisti Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    DD-wrt is essential on some routers and simply nice to have on others. It depends what you get, but my opinion is that it's almost always an upgrade over stock.

    Visti on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • KrikeeKrikee Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I'd recommend the cheapest router that can run DDWRT fine.
    The caveat of this approach is your router may not have enough RAM to support any high-connection applications (bit torrent). If you don't bit torrent then you can't go wrong with this advice; however, each connection to an outside PC requires 12 bytes of RAM on the router (32 bit IP address + 16 bit port * 2 source/destination = 96 bits / 8 = 12 bytes). So a big torrent with 300 connections will consume 3,600 MiB of RAM on just the translation table! Furthermore, some routers only have 4 MB of RAM and it is not solely for the use of the translation table! When RAM availability is lacking to make a new translation the packet is dropped. The implications of a single computer having the ability to fill your RAM with a translation table is obvious. This page seems pretty reliable for getting the processor & RAM specifications of routers.

    As I said previously, I'm not familiar with tomato/ddwrt/etc but, from some quick googling it doesn't appear that you can manipulate the timeout of specific protocol translations which could aide with a low RAM situation. My advice, get a router with 16MB of RAM minimum & 32 MB if you have a fast pipe (FiOS comes to mind).

    Krikee on
  • VistiVisti Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I'm pretty sure you actually can set the timeout for requests like that in dd-wrt. Still, with all the bells and whistles of dd-wrt it's fun to have a little RAM overhead.

    Visti on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Oh, you can definitely set the timeouts, second thing I did... They even recommend it.

    Stormwatcher on
    Steam: Stormwatcher | PSN: Stormwatcher33 | Switch: 5961-4777-3491
    camo_sig2.png
  • The Dude With HerpesThe Dude With Herpes Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I went ahead and ordered that ASUS off newegg.

    Hopefully I don't have any issues with it.

    The Dude With Herpes on
    Steam: Galedrid - XBL: Galedrid - PSN: Galedrid
    Origin: Galedrid - Nintendo: Galedrid/3222-6858-1045
    Blizzard: Galedrid#1367 - FFXIV: Galedrid Kingshand

  • HoundxHoundx Registered User
    edited February 2010
    I've been using this router with dd-wrt for, I think, around three years now. I'd very highly recommend it to anyone who wants a great dd-wrt device.

    Houndx on
  • The Dude With HerpesThe Dude With Herpes Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Heh, that's hardcore.

    I don't need an N; and that looks pretty pricey.

    The Dude With Herpes on
    Steam: Galedrid - XBL: Galedrid - PSN: Galedrid
    Origin: Galedrid - Nintendo: Galedrid/3222-6858-1045
    Blizzard: Galedrid#1367 - FFXIV: Galedrid Kingshand

  • The Dude With HerpesThe Dude With Herpes Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Can someone explain to me the DD-WRT installation?

    I got that Asus router listed above but the download page doesn't make any sense to me, even after reading the instructions on the site. There are 9 different .bins listed there and I'm not sure what I should be looking at.

    Once I get a firmware I know how to flash my router I just don't know which of those I'm supposed to choose. They don't have any readme's for the individual files.

    EDIT: Also, until I get that working, wtf is with the port triggering in the base UI? It won't let me set up both TCP and UDP rules for the same ports. That's dumb as shit.

    I'm not pleased with this thing in the slightest so far.

    EDIT EDIT: I've been dicking around with this for a couple hours now and no luck. Any guides I can find to install Tomato on the router don't work with the current firmware/recovery software. I'm pretty sure I'm doing the DD-WRT stuff correctly too and it won't take. If I use the UI it just tells me installation failed. If I use the firmware recovery software on the CD to put it on it just says cannot find a router in recovery mode...even though the router is in recovery mode when I use it. I've tried everything, putting on the "mini" ASUS firmware before putting on DD-WRT, it won't take. I've made sure my files are in a root folder with no spaces. I'm doing it wired to the router. I've renamed the files to match the ASUS firmware naming scheme, no luck.

    Nothing is working.

    The Dude With Herpes on
    Steam: Galedrid - XBL: Galedrid - PSN: Galedrid
    Origin: Galedrid - Nintendo: Galedrid/3222-6858-1045
    Blizzard: Galedrid#1367 - FFXIV: Galedrid Kingshand

  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Well, you'll need someone with a similar router to help you. The instructions for my model were good enough.

    Try the forums, too.

    Stormwatcher on
    Steam: Stormwatcher | PSN: Stormwatcher33 | Switch: 5961-4777-3491
    camo_sig2.png
  • VistiVisti Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I've install DD-WRT on a similar router, it has some special instructions, if I recall correctly. Just a sec.

    Visti on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • VistiVisti Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Asus_WL-520GU#New_Wiki_Install_Material

    Basically, there's a couple of very specific firmwares you need to flash first to then allow you to flash other versions.

    Visti on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • The Dude With HerpesThe Dude With Herpes Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Yeah, I finally got Tomato up and running.

    There were some very specific instructions to get this thing going.

    I hope it works well because that Linksys I am about to return was terrible.

    I'll post after playing with Tomato some and using it for a few days to see if it's all it is cracked up to be.

    EDIT: the difficulty was getting a viable version of DD-WRT on the router. Once I got that going, Tomato went on without a hitch.

    Now I can't get my backup PC on the network though.

    EDIT EDIT: WTF Does XP not support WPA2 encryption?

    EDIT EDIT EDIT: I just set it to WPA. One of my XP machines was doing WPA2 fine and one was giving me the finger. I am all out of patience for this crap; not that it's the routers fault or anything.

    So does anyone have any particular recommendations for setup for Tomato to make it silky smooth? I'm new to this custom firmware thing.

    The Dude With Herpes on
    Steam: Galedrid - XBL: Galedrid - PSN: Galedrid
    Origin: Galedrid - Nintendo: Galedrid/3222-6858-1045
    Blizzard: Galedrid#1367 - FFXIV: Galedrid Kingshand

  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Yeah, I finally got Tomato up and running.

    There were some very specific instructions to get this thing going.

    I hope it works well because that Linksys I am about to return was terrible.

    I'll post after playing with Tomato some and using it for a few days to see if it's all it is cracked up to be.

    EDIT: the difficulty was getting a viable version of DD-WRT on the router. Once I got that going, Tomato went on without a hitch.

    Now I can't get my backup PC on the network though.

    EDIT EDIT: WTF Does XP not support WPA2 encryption?

    EDIT EDIT EDIT: I just set it to WPA. One of my XP machines was doing WPA2 fine and one was giving me the finger. I am all out of patience for this crap; not that it's the routers fault or anything.

    So does anyone have any particular recommendations for setup for Tomato to make it silky smooth? I'm new to this custom firmware thing.

    Yeah, it's all XP's fault.

    Once you get settled, you'll see that the FW upgrade was really worth it.

    Stormwatcher on
    Steam: Stormwatcher | PSN: Stormwatcher33 | Switch: 5961-4777-3491
    camo_sig2.png
  • VistiVisti Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I wish I could get Tomato on my router, which sort of sucks. It's stable with dd-wrt, but still..

    Visti on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    What about Tomato is better than DD-WRT? I'm actually curious.
    DDWRT is doing an excellent job for me so far.

    Stormwatcher on
    Steam: Stormwatcher | PSN: Stormwatcher33 | Switch: 5961-4777-3491
    camo_sig2.png
  • VistiVisti Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I don't know if it's better, but it is different and I've read quite a few comparisons and reviews where tomato came out on top after testing.

    Visti on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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