Dialogue Box 4.4: Dual-band 802.11n shoot-out

Dialogue Box 4.4: Dual-band 802.11n shoot-out

Summary: Which 802.11n frequency band goes fastest and furthest — 5GHz or 2.4GHz? Dialogue Box fires up its new router and takes a laptop on a wireless walkabout

TOPICS: After Hours

Which 802.11n frequency band goes fastest and furthest — 5GHz or 2.4GHz?

Dialogue Box fires up its new router and takes a laptop on a wireless walkabout.



Topic: After Hours

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.


Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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  • Makes even bigger difference for the home user

    In the office their is probably 1-2 other wifi signals at the 2.4ghz frequency and a few people that have bluetooth turned on on their phones or laptops.

    At home I have so many competing devices:
    a cordless home phone
    baby monitor
    Bluetooth Keyboard and mouse
    TV/Digi Sender
    10 detectable wifi signals from neighbours
    A microwave in regular use
    Plus whatever cordless phones/baby monitors my neighbours use.

    The 5ghz frequency avoids so much more interference and I just hope they don't start making lots of other devices at that frequency.
  • Fascinating

    Rupert, Charles, thanks very much. I've been waiting for that since you first mentioned it last year, when I wrote my user review of the Linksys Wireless-N router. Very good, useful information.

    I suppose those of us with wireless interfaces integrated in the laptop are a bit stuck for the time being, but at least I can plan to upgrade a few of the other devices around the house.
  • Intel already up to speed

    The Intel 4965agn wireless N adapter in most modern laptops is already dual band. It's the routers that seem to be behind in using this tech. I also got a linksys wireless N router as it was one of the first to use Draft 2.0, has gigaports to connect to my NAS and has the best throughput/least bandwidth lost when going from device to device. Unfortunately, the Linksys isn't dual band and so the wireless is N is all server over 2.4ghz frequency. This caused problems with the Intel card in my laptop so I had to turn on Fat Channel intolerance on and can connect at 130mb/s but not the full 300. I will either have to get a Linksys adapter for the laptop or upgrade my router to a dual band Netgear.
  • Intel 4965 - Good news!

    David, you're just full of good news for me, thanks so much! Now I can start looking seriously for a Wireless-N router with 5 Ghz support.
  • 8 heads are better than 3

    netgears new range go beyond the required 3 anntanae required for MIMO and boast no less than 8 of the signal sending blighters. They are all internal but Netgear claim it boosts stability, throughput and range. Watch out though not all their new range are dual band. Apple's got a dual band access point that's supposedly compatible with intel but it came out pre draft 2.0 so unless it has had a new revision I'd avoid.
  • 20 watts???

    A very interesting experiment and a surprising result...useful to know so thanks chaps, for doing this !
    I did not quite follow the point about the 19 or 21 watts of power used. As you mentioned 2.5 watts is to be expected using 500mA at 5v, so where did this notion of the 20watts come from? Even if you could persuade a USB port to deliver this much power, surely it would quickly fry the average dongle?

    Could somebody's finger have slipped on a calculator or was this arrived at during a discussion down at the (now famous) local?

    Anyway, your videos are always excellent viewing, so keep it up!


  • dbox 4.4

    I wish I an 802.11n so I could watch Dialog Box without drop-outs. I have DSL but watching a live stream from England still doesn't cut it. Is Dialog Box available on itunes podcasts or You-Tube ?
  • USB more power than you think

    on a desktop of USB usually comes in pairs and a USB pair can output up to 110w of power between them so 20w doesn't seem unlikely even on a laptop.

    When I used to work in support customers would often call about computers cutting out because they had attached too many usb devices without a powerful enough power supply.
  • find your bottle neck

    wireless g goes upto 54mb/s which is likely a lot faster than your Internet connection so upgrading to wireless n won't help unless range is your problem
  • dbox

    Actually I was just hoping that there was a way to download Dialog Box in the background while I am surfing, so I could watch it later without interruptions.
  • Did you correct for your own radio properties?

    Human bodies absorb radio waves. Is it possible that the two of you have different radio characteristics that might have altered the results and given 5GHz an unfair advantage?