wich WRT would be good for me?

Discussion in 'Cisco/Linksys Wireless Routers' started by midix, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. midix

    midix Addicted to LI Member

    Hi all.

    I am planning to have a home network with 3 PCs (initially). One PC is desktop, will be connected with Ethernet cable to the router. The second will be a notebook with WiFi connection. The problem is withe the third PC. I need to connect it with WiFi.
    But the computer is located 2 floors above. The distance between the router and the 3rd PC is about 6 meters but there are a reinforced concrete ceiling and floor between them.
    Now I think which one of the WRT series router would be good enough to establish at least 50% signal strength for a connection between the router and the 3rd PC?

    Of course I prefer the cheapest possible model (like WRT54G) but I have read that latest WRT54G revision is not as good as older ones and WRT54GL is more recommended (although there are rumors that also WRT54GL latest revision is not as good as the earlier ones). Only I do not know how it is relate to my case. Has WRT54G worse signal strength or speed than WRT54GL? Other extra features do not interest me, I need just basic routing, DNZ, MAC clone, DHCP, WiFi.

    Thanks for any help.
  2. HennieM

    HennieM Network Guru Member

    Your only/best choice is a WRT54GL (only available as v1.1 AFAIK), which is basically identical to the previous WRT54G v4. Current WRT54xx routers are at v7 or v8, and have some problems. Don't be fooled with SpeedBooster or 125Mbps and such talk - it's just hype.

    Some of the Buffalo routers are better than a GL I understand, and can run the same firmware.

    The different WRT54xx routers all have more or less the same radios, signal, etc. However, you can load 3rd party firmware on a GL, which would allow you to adjust Tx (transmit) strength, show the Rx (receive) strengths, scan for other networks around you (in order to find a clear channel), etc.

    Third party firmware would also allow you to turn the router into a "repeater", or some other mode should you need that. Search for "WDS" (Wireless Distribution System) if you want to explore that.

    Just to be clear: Wireless is a 2-way street - an AP/router must talk to a wireless client (AP Tx, client Rx), AND a wireless client must talk back to AP/router (client Tx, AP Rx). Your router can therefore have ample Tx signal strength, but if your client has weak Tx signal strength, you won't make a connection.
    A better antenna on either the AP or client side improves Tx and Rx for both. Better antennas on both AP and client side improves it even more.

    Further, the signal right above a dipole (the little pigtail on routers/APs) antenna is very weak. You could perhaps twist one of the antennas to be horizontal or near horizontal if you need signal right above an AP.
  3. midix

    midix Addicted to LI Member

    Thanks for help, HennieM, especially about antennas - really useful info for me.
    Some minutes ago I read about NETGEAR WGR614: is it true that NETGERAs have great WiFi signal quality? I am afraid it will be hard to find WRT54GL in local stores. NETGEAR WGR614 (and WGR614L with Linux support) is so much cheaper...

    AMD_RULES Addicted to LI Member

    If you need to extend your range, look on eBay for "7dBi Antennas." They'll cost you under $20 (US) and will increase the signal a bit. Also increasing the transmit power will help.
  5. HennieM

    HennieM Network Guru Member

    The Netgear WGR614 seems to have just about the same setup as the WRT54xx - a Broadcom chipset and radio according to http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Supported_Devices (It seems the v8 have 16MB RAM, while the other versions are lowish on RAM, so maybe look at that one).

    If the Netgear then have the same 2.2dBi pigtail antenna(s), it would have signal very similar to Linksys WRTs. The details on the dd-wrt link is a bit skimpy though, so don't go on that as a sole reference.

    I think it safe to expand my statement above to say just about all home-use G/B routers/APs have similar signal. The exception is some of the Buffalos which have in-built amps.

    If you go for Engenius/Senao and other more business type APs/routers, you will probably get better radios with better receive sensitivity, and thus better overall comms to a client. Price is much "better" as well.... ;)

    The best way to cheapishly get better signal, is to strengthen the antenna. You can do this by replacing a pigtail with a stronger antenna, or, if you want the signal stronger at a particular point, by directing your existing antenna's signal with a parabolic reflector or something similar.
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