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Updated 3/10/2005

Wi-Fi Products Tested

We evaluated 802.11 access points, routers and notebook adapters supporting all three current versions of Wi-Fi: 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g. (802.11g products operate in the same band and interoperate with 802.11b devices.) Round 3 also included early "Pre-N" MIMO devices compatible with 802.11g.

Our Round One tests were based on the firmware and drivers shipped with the equipment. Prior to our Round Two tests, we upgraded the firmware and drivers in all equipment to the latest versions whenever possible.

Airgo

For our Round Three tests, Airgo Networks provided a pair of Belkin "Wireless Pre-N" devices -- an F5D8320-4 Router and an F5D8010 Notebook Network Card. See MIMO/802.11n -- An Interview with Airgo (BBHR 2/24/2005) for more about MIMO and 802.11n.

Buffalo Technology

For our Round One tests, Buffalo Technology provided equipment to test 802.11g: a WBR-G54 AirStation 54Mbps Wireless Router Base Station (a combination access point and cable/DSL router) and a WLI-CB-G54 AirStation 54Mbps Wireless Notebook Adapter.

IBM

Wi-Fi certification logo for IBM a/b/g Wireless Cardbus Adaptor Dave usually uses an IBM 802CAG 11/a/b/g Wireless Cardbus Adaptor with his IBM notebook PC. This "tri-mode" device supports all three versions of Wi-Fi; it operates in both the 5 GHz band for 802.11a and the 2.4 GHz band for 802.11b and 802.11g.

As this was the only device that was Wi-Fi tri-mode certified (as shown in its Wi-Fi certification logo on the right), we decided to include it in our Round Two tests.

Linksys

Linksys provided equipment to evaluate all three versions of Wi-Fi:

  • For 802.11b, a WAP11 ver 2.2 Wireless Access Point and a WPC11 ver 3 Wireless Notebook Adapter.
  • For 802.11g, a WAP54G Wireless-G Access Point and a WPC54G Wireless-G Notebook Adapter.
  • For 802.11a, a WAP51AB Dual-Band Wireless Access Point and a WPC51AB Dual-Band Wireless A+B Notebook Adapter. These "dual-mode" products operate in both the 5 GHz band for 802.11a and the 2.4 GHz band for 802.11b. Thus the access point can support both 11a and 11b notebook adapters, and the notebook adapter can operate with both 11a and 11b access points.

SMC Networks

SMC Networks provided equipment to evaluate 802.11g and 802.11a:

  • For 802.11g, an SMC2804WBR - Barricade™ g 2.4GHz 54 Mbps Wireless Cable/DSL Broadband Router, SMC2835W EZ Connect™ g 54Mbps Wireless Cardbus Adapter, and SMC2870W - EZ Connect™ g 2.4GHz 54 Mbps Wireless Ethernet Bridge.
  • For 802.11a, an SMC2336W-AG - EZ Connect™ 2.4GHz/5GHz Universal Wireless Cardbus Adapter. This "tri-mode" device supports all three versions of Wi-Fi; it operates in both the 5 GHz band for 802.11a and the 2.4 GHz band for 802.11b and 802.11g.

The 802.11g standard was approved in final form on June 12, 2003. The Linksys and Buffalo 802.11g equipment we tested is based on the Broadcom "54g" chip set (see our article "Broadcom - Today the Laptop, Tomorrow the TV?" in BBHR May 14, 2003 for background on Broadcom and the 54g chip). Our Round One tests were based on an early implementation of preliminary draft standards. As part of our Round Two tests, we upgraded the firmware and drivers to the latest versions which include support for the final 802.11g standard.

( www.airgowireless.com ) ( www.belkin.com ) ( www.buffalotech.com/wireless ) ( www.ibm.com ) ( www.linksys.com ) ( www.smc.com ) ( www.broadcom.com )


Next: Wi-Fi Test Procedure