Trendnet 300Mbps Wireless N PCI Adapter Review


For anyone with wireless internet, you know that sometimes the speed of your wireless card just doesn’t cut it. Perhaps you connect to other computers via a wireless network and find file transfers a little slow. Thankfully, since Wireless G was first introduced to the world as a high-speed network solution, there have been numerous improvements. The next in line of succession is Wireless N. With up to 12 times the speed and 4 times the coverage of a standard Wireless G network, this newer technology looks to change how we view wireless networks. With speeds worthy of downloading media or playing network games, users are sure to enjoy up to 300Mbps transfer rates. Let’s take a closer look at Trendnet’s Wireless N PCI Card.

Provided By: Trendnet

Closer Look:

The packaging for the Trendnet wireless adapter is very professional-looking and informative. A picture of the card itself is featured on the front along with several diagrams illustrating the difference between the wireless formats N, Super G, and G.

The rear of the package contains more information. It has a diagram that lists features of the card, as well as another diagram illustrating uses for the Wireless N network within the home. Several other related products are displayed, as well as the always encouraging 3 Year Warranty and Tech Support contact information.

Let’s open the box up and see just what’s inside.

Closer Look Continued:

Included in the contents of the box are the wireless card itself, an installation manual, and software. Installing the card is simple enough; just follow the instructions in the manual. I found it to be very well thought out and helpful. Of note, the instructions are in several different languages and include directions for several different operating systems.

The card itself is larger than the average Wireless G card, but not so large as to make installation in your PC a pain. It is one of the smaller cards on my PC and doesn’t get in the way of any of my other cards. On the back are three removable antennas and lights that display both when the unit is powered and linked to the network.

But you didn’t tell us how big it is and what frequency it uses. That’s what Specifications are for. Let’s go have a look at the next.

Specifications:

Hardware

Interface

32-Bit PCI Rev. 2.1/2.2/2.3

Standards

IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g and IEEE 802.11n (draft 2.0)

LED Indicator

PWR (power), LNK (link activity)

Power Consumption

650mA (max)

Supported OS

Windows 2000/XP/Vista (32/64-bit)

Weight

85g (3 oz)

Temperature

Operating:0° ~ 40° C(32° ~104° F)
Storage:-25° ~ 70° C (-13° ~158° F)

Humidity

10% ~ 90%max (non-condensing)

Certification

FCC, CE

Wireless

Module Technique

  • 802.11b: CCK (11 and5.5Mbps), DQPSK (2Mbps), DBPSK (1Mbps)
  • 802.11g:OFDM with BPSK, QPSK and 16/64-QAM sub-carrier modulations
  • 801.11n:OFDM, 64-QAM, coding rate 5/6

Antenna

3 x 2dBi detachable antennas (Reverse SMA connector)

Frequency

2.412 ~ 2.484 GHz

Media Access Protocol

CSMA/CA

Data Rate (auto fallback)

  • 802.11b:11Mbps, 5.5Mbps, 2Mbps, and 1Mbps
  • 802.11g:54Mbps, 48Mbps, 36Mbps, 24Mbps, 18Mbps, 12Mbps, 9Mbps and 6Mbps
  • 802.11n(draft) : up to 300Mbps

Output Power

  • 802.11b: 18dBm (typical)
  • 802.11g: 15dBm (typical)
  • 802.11n (draft 2.0): 7dBm (typical) with 130Mbps/HT20 & 270Mbps/HT40

Receiving Sensitivity

  • 802.11b:-86dBm (typical) @ 11mpbs
  • 802.11g:-74dBm (typical) @ 54Mbps
  • 802.11n(draft 2.0) : -70dBm @ 130Mbps/HT20 &-65dBm @ 270Mbps/HT40

Encryption

64/128-bit WEP (Hex & ASCII), WPA/WPA2(TKIP/AES), WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK, 802.1x

Channels

1~11 (US), 1~13 (EU)

Features:

  • Wi-Fi compliant with the wireless IEEE 802.11n standard
  • Extreme wireless performance: Up to 12x the speed of wireless g*(IEEE 802.11g)
  • Up to 4x the coverage of wireless g*
  • Advanced wireless encryption: WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK
  • 3detachable high gain antennas maximize wireless n performance with Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technologies
  • Intuitive user setup and diagnostics utilities
  • Backwards compatible with wireless g and wireless b standards (IEEE 802.11b/g)
  • Supports Ad-hoc (Client-Client) and Infrastructure (AP-Client) mode
  • Maximum reliability, throughput, and connectivity with automatic data rate switching and dynamic data rate scaling
  • Seamless roaming between wireless b, wireless g, and wireless n networks
  • Compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista operating systems
  • 3-year limited warranty

Ok, so that’s out of the way. Let’s move on to the testing.

Testing Setup:

  • Belkin N1 Wireless N Router

Testing:

Before I begin testing this card, a few explanations as to how it will be done. First of all, wireless cards boast their top speeds and ranges. This is due to the fact that each installation is unique in its location and environment. Therefore performance will vary from situation to situation. However, whatever the performance, you can assume that a card with a higher top speed will still beat one with a lower top speed. This will not change. Secondly, though I will mention the speed that my wireless network runs at, I will comment more on the improvement or lack thereof from the previous wireless network. This will give you a more accurate sense of performance than will my own personal bandwidth numbers, seeing as how you may experience a totally different set of numbers yourself.

For the test, I decided to see how fast I could transfer files from one computer to the other using the wireless network. The PC of origin was hardwired directly to the network, whereas the receiving PC would use only the Wireless N card. The file sizes consist of 10MB, 100MB, and 500MB. Here are the results.

10MB

8 Seconds

100MB

43 Seconds

500MB

4 Minutes 43 Seconds

The average that my Wireless N network runs at is 4 bars reception, 270 Mbps. The signal is shot from one location to another, over a distance of roughly 80 feet. I found this to be a significant improvement upon my previous Wireless G network. I performed the same test on my previous network with many different results. Here they are.

10MB

10 Seconds

100MB

2 Minutes 12 Seconds

500MB

12 Minutes 3 Seconds

I found that the extended range of the Wireless N and its higher bandwidth allowed for quicker transfers of larger amounts of data. While I certainly notice an improvement while surfing the web, multimedia applications are where the higher performance of the Trendnet 300Mbps card really shines through. I also ran some latency tests on both networks. The results were what you would expect, with the Wireless N completing more packets and doing so in a much quicker time. Let’s see what the final word is on this product.

Conclusion:

I knew that the Wireless N Adapter would perform better than Wireless G, but I wasn’t sure how much better. As I mentioned, my network is shot from about 80 feet away, through various obstacles. I had found that with the Wireless G, I received about 33% of the total available bandwidth. I thought it would be reasonable then that the Wireless N would perform within the same percentile. So I was pleasantly surprised when Trendnet’s product performed within 90% of its available bandwidth. It definitely exceeded my expectations. I was impressed with how easy it was to install, and how the manual anticipated my circumstances and provided directions for them. Isn’t that the way it should be, instead of having to surf forums for answers on how to get something to work? Trendnet has created a very user-friendly product.

So it comes down to the question of whether or not I would buy this product. Yes, I would. If I haven’t made it clear enough let me try one more time. When you buy something new, sometimes it’s hard to get it to work and this worry can stop you from purchasing it in the first place. Trendnet holds your hand throughout the whole process, from installing it in your PC to connecting to the network. So if you don’t know much about networks, don’t let that stop you from trying to set one up. Trendnet has got you covered.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Easy to Use

Cons:

  • None

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