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Windows 7: Replacing A Router


23 Apr 2010   #1

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 
Replacing A Router

Since I having to RMA my Belkin router, I want to replace it with an N band router that is compatible with Windows 7. I've been browsing through the Windows 7 Compatibility List, but with so many choices, I need something to narrow down my focus. Looking at other thread similar to this, it is typical that the recommendations that one may get are based on personal preferences, which are probably not based on a broad experience. Therefore, rather than any specific router, I need parameters that would make choosing the best router a little easier. The WCL makes it easy to find routers that will work, but with 111 possibilities what factors will whittle this list down?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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23 Apr 2010   #2

Windows 7 Profesional x86, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
 
 

There are several factors you should look for:
Clients (how many devices you want connected to your router at one time)
Band (whether you have equipment which supports 5GHz WiFi opposed to 2.4GHz, 5GHz is supposedly better at penetrating walls plus there is less interference on this wave length)
Cost (Do I need to explain this one?)
Extra features (special stuff such as printer serving, hard drive serving, secondary guest networks etc.)
Interface and customisability (If you're a serial Port forwarder like me (no pun intended ) then interface and ease of use is everything.)

The Windows 7 compatibility list is only the tip of the iceberg, theoretically (and in practice) all N routers are compatible with Windows 7.

I hope this helps narrow your search, it's hard to go wrong with this sort of thing.

Oli
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2010   #3

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 

Your suggestion about bandwidth brings up a question...I'm RMAing my Belkin router, but keeping the network adapter. Since the router is only 2.4GZs, I'm sure the adapter is also. Therefore I shall need to get a router with the same bandwidth...right?

Extra features throws me some, because I don't know their value and don't want to cram like a student prepping for finals, because I want to make a fairly quick decision. Of what you mentioned, I can strike off guest network, leaving only printer and harddrive servers. I think that I can eliminate the printer server, because I had no problem acessing the printer from either of my rigs on the network without it. What is harddrive server? Is that simply to connect to a remote harddrive?

While you say that all N routers are compatible, I noticed on the WCL that some do not require drivers and are automatically installed. Considering the problems that I have had in the past with driver compatibility, that sounds good to me.

I guess what it boils down to is getting the router that is most reliable for a simple LAN.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


23 Apr 2010   #4

Windows 7 Profesional x86, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
 
 

Quote:
Your suggestion about bandwidth brings up a question...I'm RMAing my Belkin router, but keeping the network adapter. Since the router is only 2.4GZs, I'm sure the adapter is also. Therefore I shall need to get a router with the same bandwidth...right?
If you have a 2.4GHz card then you will need a 2.4GHz router. Some routers (such as the Apple Airport Extreme) support 2.4GHz and 5GHz simultaneously which should future proof the technology your router.

Another advantage of using 5GHz opposed to 2.4GHz is that if you have a 5GHz only network most average punters who try to access your WiFi will not be able to find it even if you broadcast your SSiD so in some respects it is also more secure.

This will sound very obvious but you have to have an N compatible WLAN card to access an N WiFi network.

Quote:
I guess what it boils down to is getting the router that is most reliable for a simple LAN.
From my experience the simplest and also one of the most convenient, cheapest and portable routers is the Apple Airport Express. Up until yesterday in fact I was using it as my third router and during the year it was in use it didn't let me down. I would NEVER recommend this as a primary router for anyone who wants to fiddle with settings because it is not the most flexible piece of kit in terms of port forwarding etc. although this is just my opinion.

I hope I've helped.

Oli
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Apr 2010   #5

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 

I've been pondering this router:

http://www.amazon.com/Cisco-Linksys-.../dp/B003B48UQ8

It's Windows 7 Logo, and the specs seem good, but besides the fact that it's price is more than I wanted to spend, I'm concerned about several things. First, if it will get along with my Belkin network adapter? Are six internal antennas really equal to 2 or 3 external ones? Is there some factor that I'm overlooking that would make me regret buying this router?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2010   #6

Windows 7 Profesional x86, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by seekermeister View Post
I've been pondering this router:

Amazon.com: Cisco-Linksys E3000 High-Performance Wireless-N Router: Electronics

It's Windows 7 Logo, and the specs seem good, but besides the fact that it's price is more than I wanted to spend, I'm concerned about several things. First, if it will get along with my Belkin network adapter? Are six internal antennas really equal to 2 or 3 external ones? Is there some factor that I'm overlooking that would make me regret buying this router?
I'm 99% sure that this router will work with your Belkin Wireless card; I'd stay away from WPA2 Security though just to be safe because many older cards really don't like it.

6 Internal Antennas may well be equal or greater than 3 external ones, personally I've never had any problems with routers that use internal antennas compared to the ones with external antennas, they all seam to reach the same distance in my house.
After reading some of the reviews of it broadcast area and reliability do not seam to be problems with this at all so I think you're safe in that respect.
Another thing you have to remember is that 'N' signals travel further than 'G' signals or at least that's what it said on the box of my last Netgear router and they haven't lied to me so far.

In terms of factors you have over looked there are 2 things I can see:

The software interface that is supplied is hugely limited and thus requires you to use the web interface which after reading the reviews is not the most intuitive or responsive thing ever.
For many people who don't fiddle with router settings too often this won't be a problem but for people like me, this would be a key make or break point.

Will you really utilise all of what this router has to offer?
Simultaneous dual band is a feature which I think is necessary for future proofing so having that is fair enough.
Guest networking is a nice feature to have but how often do you have guests round who want to connect to your WiFi connection anyway?
I think I saw something about a home FTP server but I may be wrong, would you use that?
I'm not trying to put you off, I'm just trying to point out that you'd be paying for features you may never use.

To be fair $150 (100) for a router with specs this high from a brand you can trust is well worth it in my opinion, but that's just my opinion.

I hope this is of any use to you and that I've cleared up at least some of your concerns.

Oli
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2010   #7

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by osholt View Post
I'm 99% sure that this router will work with your Belkin Wireless card; I'd stay away from WPA2 Security though just to be safe because many older cards really don't like it.
The adapter is not a card, it is Belkin's newest USB adapter, so I don't think that there would be a problem with WPA2, unless there was some kind of compatibility issue between brands.
Quote:
6 Internal Antennas may well be equal or greater than 3 external ones, personally I've never had any problems with routers that use internal antennas compared to the ones with external antennas, they all seam to reach the same distance in my house.
After reading some of the reviews of it broadcast area and reliability do not seam to be problems with this at all so I think you're safe in that respect.
I think that you are right. Transmission distance isn't really an issue, because the router and adapter are never going to be more than one room apart. I was thinking in terms of signal penetration and bandwidth, because streaming media will be their primary workload. I guess it just feels strange, because everything that I have had before had external antennas. I wonder why some such equipment is external and some is internal...maybe just to appease someone like me.
Quote:
Another thing you have to remember is that 'N' signals travel further than 'G' signals or at least that's what it said on the box of my last Netgear router and they haven't lied to me so far.

In terms of factors you have over looked there are 2 things I can see:

The software interface that is supplied is hugely limited and thus requires you to use the web interface which after reading the reviews is not the most intuitive or responsive thing ever.
For many people who don't fiddle with router settings too often this won't be a problem but for people like me, this would be a key make or break point.
This is an aspect that I hadn't thought about. I remember reading that it has some kind of software interface, but nothing in detail. My old ZyXel and the Belkin that I just returned only had a browser interface (which may be partially the reason that the Belkin failed, because after rebooting the PC, hoping to fix a problem when became extremely slow, I could no longer access it at all.
Quote:
Will you really utilise all of what this router has to offer?
Simultaneous dual band is a feature which I think is necessary for future proofing so having that is fair enough.
Guest networking is a nice feature to have but how often do you have guests round who want to connect to your WiFi connection anyway?
I think I saw something about a home FTP server but I may be wrong, would you use that?
I'm not trying to put you off, I'm just trying to point out that you'd be paying for features you may never use.
No, I really don't need those extra features. What caught my eye was that they said that this router's strong point was streaming media, which is exactly what I'm interested in.

EDIT: Thinking further about the dual band function, I agree that this is something that I want for future proofing, but the term "simutaneous" bothers me some, because it sounds as though it will always be broadcasting on both bands. That would mean that even though I might be working in the higher frequency, partly in hopes of greater security, someone could still hack the system in the lower frequency band. I like that idea of being able to manually switch between bands, only operating in one or the other.
Quote:
To be fair $150 (100) for a router with specs this high from a brand you can trust is well worth it in my opinion, but that's just my opinion.

I hope this is of any use to you and that I've cleared up at least some of your concerns.


Oli
I don't doubt that the router is worth it's price to someone, I'm just trying to decide whether it is worth it's price to me. If there is a cheaper router than would have equal performance with streaming media, and have the reliability that I hope for, I not against the idea of saving a few dollars. But, at the same time, I know that trying to save money sometimes causes more problems in the end.

I definitely appreciate your comments, for they are helping me to define my focus.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2010   #8

Windows 7 Profesional x86, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
 
 

Quote:
EDIT: Thinking further about the dual band function, I agree that this is something that I want for future proofing, but the term "simutaneous" bothers me some, because it sounds as though it will always be broadcasting on both bands. That would mean that even though I might be working in the higher frequency, partly in hopes of greater security, someone could still hack the system in the lower frequency band. I like that idea of being able to manually switch between bands, only operating in one or the other.
As far as I'm aware you can run 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz simultaneously or just one frequency and change it when needed.

The only alternative I can recommend with confidence would be a Netgear Ethernet over power setup (http://www.netgear.com/Products/Powe...ers/XE104.aspx) and then create an ad hoc network from your PC as a wireless network. I find this to be much more reliable than conventional WiFi. This setup suits my very specific needs very well but it obviously isn't for everyone and for every situation.

Thank you for feedback on my posts and you are most welcome.

Oli
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2010   #9

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by osholt View Post
As far as I'm aware you can run 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz simultaneously or just one frequency and change it when needed.
If this is true, it would be satisfactory, I just don't want to broadcast simutaneously on both bands at once. I suppose that might be useful if networking a variety of devices requiring both bands, but I don't expect that I would do so.
Quote:
The only alternative I can recommend with confidence would be a Netgear Ethernet over power setup (85 Mbps Powerline 4-Port Ethernet Adapter) and then create an ad hoc network from your PC as a wireless network. I find this to be much more reliable than conventional WiFi. This setup suits my very specific needs very well but it obviously isn't for everyone and for every situation.
I have not looked very deeply into a power line system such as this, because I got the impression that it would be more subject to interference from other devices on the circuit. For example, my Rid x pest control, which generates signals on the circuit in pulses. Living in an apt. complex, I wouldn't know or have any control over what my neighbors might have plugged in, which also might intefere.

I also noticed that the device that you linked only has 85Mbps bandwidth, which I doubt would be sufficient for streaming media. At least the router that I'm looking at has 300Mbps, and the ads give the impression that might be needed. When I had the Belkin running, I did notice that it often spiked at close to that figure downloading media, but that was in pulses, rather than continuous. Of course, streaming over WiFi is a different story, so I'm not certain that much bandwidth is really necessary or not.

Considering the fact that I have struck out twice on two different attempts to accomplish what I want, I hope that the third time is the charm, and I don't want to increase the odds against that by skimping anywhere that might effect it.

Something that I have also been considering is replacing the Belkin with another almost like it, because the one that I had was a version 1000, and there is a version 2000 also available. Both versions have the exact same model # and appearance, and I haven't found any difference in specs, but I would think that the difference in versions indicates some improvement somewhere.

The only reasons that I'm considering this is because I'm thinking that the odds of the router and the adapter getting along with each other are better...plus I like the display on the Belkin better than anything that I have found elsewhere, because among other things, it gives a real time indication of internet activity and strength. I'm not certain that this would be the same for network activity though.

Curiously, when I have asked several retailers of the Belkin, most of them wasn't aware that there is two versions available. I even had one that asked whether I was certain that this was true, because he didn't find any information about this on the Belkin website. I only became aware of it when checking for driver and firmware downloads.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Apr 2010   #10

Windows 7 Profesional x86, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
 
 

In answer to your question about speed, you can stream full 1080p with 7.1 surround sound in less than 20Mb/s so that wouldn't be a problem. That 300Mbps tag is its theoretical maximum, you're more likely to get at most 150Mbps via WiFi and unless you live live in South Koorea I doubt you'll have an Internet speed passing 20 or 30% or that 150. In short no problem either way the only determining factor is reliability.

In terms of routers again it's all down to personal preference or as my friend once put 'brand loyalty and shiny-ness'. The only big variables are the ones we've discussed.

Again if you're worried about your adapter not working you really shouldn't, all devices certified to work with WiFi have to under the specifications work with all other WiFi devices (on the same band). It's like saying I have a plug and play generic Sony USB 2.0 HDD which only works on computers manufactured by Sony; that just wouldn't happen and the same is true with WiFi.

Oli
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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