Network Testing Methodology
To test the Tenda AC15 Wireless Router I used two similar test applications, both of which are specifically designed for testing network throughput. The first one is Passmark Performance v7.0 Advanced Network Test. The second one is TamoSoft’s Throughput Test v1.0, Build 28. These tests measure throughput between two PCs connected through a router, switch, or access point and normally, the router, switch, or access point is the device that is under test. With a known baseline for the router, switch, or access point you can also test the performance of other devices in the communication chain, such as wireless adapters or network interface cards (NICs). In order for this test to work one PC must be set up as ‘Client’ and the other must be set up as the ‘Server’. Each test was run at least five times with the highest and lowest result omitted and the remaining results averaged to give a final result.
A baseline benchmark speed was established before with a GbE network switch connecting the server and client workstations used in both of these tests. Both systems have been part of the same network for a long time, and can easily sustain Gigabit transfer speeds and higher over wired LAN.
PassMark Advanced Network Test
This benchmark eliminates most of the variables involved in network speed testing, but not all. The PCs themselves can introduce spurious issues, such as hardware bandwidth limitations, resource conflicts, wait states, and buffer inconsistencies. In some cases, the networking hardware is having issues communicating with other networking gear. The following chart shows why you have to dig a little deeper than just looking at the Average Transmission rate that is displayed on the main screen. For some reason, at the start of this test the two systems were having a hard time establishing a rapport. The average value (shown in yellow) doesn’t really reflect the true capability of the network until things start to settle down around the ten second mark. The default time period that’s set in the software for this benchmark is 2 seconds, and the calculated average result after 20 seconds is more than 20% lower than the average after 2 minutes. I maxed out the test period to 200 seconds, and was finally able to see some convergence on the data rate after the first minute or so.
TamoSoft Throughput Test
For the second set of tests, I used an application that our own Bruce Normann discovered when trying to get the measure of some 10GbE networking gear that was on his test bed at the time. The graphs I show from Passmark Performance v7.0 Advanced Network Test are only available for viewing after the test is complete. Plus, there is a 200 second limit for the Passmark software, which TamoSoft does not have. Oh, and did I mention that you can run the TCP/IP and UDP tests at the same time? Results for both upload and download are presented, and I ended up using the two download averages for reporting purposes. The packet loss and Round-trip time are shown as well, although this information isn’t truly relevant for our purposes. TamoSoft has a bunch of additional test applications that are more comprehensive and are available for purchase, but this one is free for downloading.
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM3
- NIC: Realtek 8111C
System Memory:G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) F2-5300CL4D-4GBPQ
Processor: AMD Phenom X3 8600
Disk Drive: Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSD
Enclosure: SilverStone SG13
PSU: Corsair CX430
Operating System: Windows 8.1 Pro
- Processor: Intel® Core™ i5-4210U
- Wireless: Killer 1525 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi
- Memory: 8GB Dual Channel DDR3L (2x 4GB)
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
- 10-Feet of Category-6 Solid Copper Shielded Twisted Pair Patch Cable
If you have ever worked with a wireless network you are probably aware of the random degradation of Wi-Fi signal in a typical home or office environment. A drop in signal strength comes along with a lower maximum data rate, and are usually caused by barriers between the signal provider and the receiver. Added to this, the increased traffic caused by various devices using the same band has caused a saturation of the 2.4 Ghz band, with most buyers nowadays looking to take advantage of the less congested 5 Ghz band. It is almost impossible to obtain a location with no traffic near a location in which an internet provider provides access to the net. To avoid this variation in traffic, each of the tests in this review is conducted at night (between 2:00 to 3:00 am) when the traffic is low.
Ultimately, we want to measure the performance of a router, even when there are barriers which are all common within the Tenda AC15 target market which includes small businesses, medium sized homes, and gamers. So we have picked three locations that accurately represent three typical client locations. Our network consists of a server connected to the Tenda AC15 Router through 5 feet of Cat-6 cable. The location of both the server and router remained static throughout all the tests. The router was placed on the middle of a a room central to our test building. The client consists of an Alienware 13 laptop with a Killer 1525 WiFi adapter, probably one of the most popular among high-end gaming laptops due to it’s high throughput, low latency, and yes, compatibility with ac wireless. The first location was right next the router, at a distance close to 3 meters or 10 feet with no obstacles and a clear line of sight between the client and the router. The second location was in a room 15 meters away (around three rooms away), two floors higher and with three wooden walls of your typical Florida building being the only obstacles. The third location was in the ground floor of the building (were the router is located), 40 meters away from the installation point, with two walls and a storage room filled with computer cases, clothes, and other equipment acting as barriers in a “worse” case scenario in both of our tests.
The encryption level was set to WPA2-PSK at all times. It is true that you get better speeds with no encryption, but most users have come to realize the importance to having a protected network and will most likely use it. The Killer 1525 WiFi adapter is a 2×2 adapter compatible with the 802.11ac protocol, which will limit our throughput to 867 Mbps over the 5 Ghz band in theory, however that is almost never really achieved unless you are in a perfect environment with absolutely no traffic. This test concentrates on 802.11ac for both 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands since there is no point in proving that new hardware works with an outdated protocol.