There’s no substitute for a bit of wire…

For the last few years my home LAN has been based on a wireless mesh created from Linksys WRT-54G wireless routers (G, GS and GL models) running custom firmware from Sveasoft and more recently DD-WRT. This has worked OK and provided the flexibility of being able to have numerous network connected devices (PCs, laptops, netbooks, games consoles, internet enabled TVs etc.) without the need for physical cabling throughout the house. However, I’ve always been somewhat underwhelmed with the speed of the network, frequently moaning about the time taken to transfer large amounts of data from one device to another. As an example, a typical transfer speed while copying files from downstairs to upstairs was about 20 Mb/s – not great.

The WRT-54G routers are only wireless G (54 Mbit theoretical maximum) so I could obviously have looked at upgrading to a newer wireless N setup but I think I still would have been disappointed with the network throughput. So I’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and install a couple of Cat5e cables between key locations in the house. My internet connection comes into my office upstairs where my main gateway router, server and main PC are; directly below my office is the lounge where we have another router together with a family PC, PS3 and Wii. These two routers were previously linked by wireless using a WDS (Wireless Distribution System) link with devices then connected to the routers either by cable or over wireless. With the installation of the Cat5e cabling these routers are now linked physically eliminating the need for the wireless link between them (which actually operated at only half speed because of the fact they were also acting as access points!)

Testing the throughput after these changes resulted in a typical transfer speed of around 90 Mb/s, over a 4x increase! Much more like it 🙂

One consequence of still using WRT-54G routers is that the LAN is restricted to 100 Mb/s, whereas most of my connected devices are actually gigabit 1000 Mb/s capable. So, I think my next upgrade will be to replace the WRT-54Gs with some gigabit routers, most likely the latest Linksys E3000 which can also run the DD-WRT firmware. More on that later!