Saturday, 28 February 2015 17:03

Wi-fi patchy or not fast enough?

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Minitar has released a Wireless (Wi-Fi) AC repeater/access point/router MR750AC that may solve Wi-Fi speeds in your household or office/warehouse.

Broadband comes by cable, ADSL, NBN or wireless 4G. It goes into a router and is distributed around the house via Ethernet cabling (this is the best and most reliable), Wi-Fi (usually N but of late the much faster AC 600/750/1200/1450/1600/1750/1900/2350/3200) or Ethernet over Power adaptors.

The trick to this Wi-Fi extender device is to place it close enough to your router where it still receives a strong Wi-Fi signal (let’s say up to 10 metres away) and then use it as a repeater to re-broadcast and extend that signal even further. In theory, you could use multiple Minitars to daisy chain (repeat) the same Wi-Fi signal or multiple direct connects to a router.

It works with 802.11 A/B/G/N and AC. If you have a dual band AC receiver in your laptop/tablet It can combine the 2.4GHz, N, 300Mbps and the 5GHz, AC750, 433Mbps, signals for a maximum throughput of 733Mbps – in theory any way.

It broadcasts both channels using the default SSID of Wireless-AC and Wireless-N (2.4GHz). You can connect to either regardless of whether you use an AC receiving device or not.

Testing via Speedtest using BigPond Ultimate Cable, Netgear N gateway, 100/2.5Mbps speed; with the Minitar placed one floor above router (through a cement reinforced floor)

Connection

Adaptor Mbps connect speed

Ping

ms

Download

Mbps

Upload

Ethernet cable direct to router LAN port

100

9

100 (maximum possible result)

2.4

Ethernet cable direct to Minitar LAN port

100

9

71.79-75.38

2.4

Ethernet Over Power (max 500Mbps)

100

10

6.25-6.52

2.4

Wi-Fi N direct to router

58-87

9-10

34-38

2.4

Wi-Fi N direct to Minitar N 2.4Ghz SSID

117-144

10

31.85-38

2.4

Wi-Fi N direct to Minitar AC 5Ghz

135-150

8-9

50.78-51.87

2.4

Wi-Fi AC 2.4/5GHz to Minitar AC 5GHz

351-433

9-11

51.6-54.71

2.4

The best result was using the Ethernet port on the Minitar to connect a Gigabit switch, VoIP phone, printer or non-Wi-Fi equipped computer. This had a steady throughput of between 72-75Mbps (off a Wireless N Router on a 100Mbps broadband connection).

The second best result was using an N receiver (notebook) to the AC SSID.

In a further test in another room approx. 10 metres from the Minitar, it shines giving a 5-25X better result than Wi-Fi N to the router.

Wi-Fi AC direct to router

52-71

11+

2-10

2.4

Wi-Fi AC direct to Minitar AC

292-333

9-11

51.5 to 53

2.45

Other uses

It can be used as a router/access point with DHCP by connecting any modem – as long as it has an Ethernet output - to its second Ethernet WAN port.

It has WPS push button set up to connect to an existing router or you can select the routers SSID and supply a password (it can be set to 64/128/152-bit WEP, WPA/2/PSK – which becomes the password for the Minitar’s SSIDs as well.

Opinion

Easy to set up, well made, gave some impressive results as a Wi-Fi range extender, has an Ethernet LAN and separate WAN port – all at AU$69.95 so what is not to like. All its missing is a source signal strength meter to help identify where to place it (not a deal breaker).

My solution to extending Broadband around the home or apartment has been to use Ethernet Over Power (you need a pair and prices start at $125). I think that it is time I updated that to Ethernet over Minitar Wi-Fi AC.

Remember also that all these results were with a Wi-Fi N speed router with a theoretical speed of 72 Mbps (single channel) and 150Mpbs (dual channel). If you had an AC router they could be significantly better.

Similar products are made by Netgear D-Link, Tp-Link – the Minitar is lower cost and seems to do the job as well as the others. If you really want to get speed (this is 750Mbps maximum) look also at AC1200 or faster extenders. Don’t buy a single band 2.4GHz extender.

Minitar is distributed in Australia by PC Range.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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