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I currently have an obsolete WiFi G USB card on my desktop PC. And my desktop only has 100 Mbps Ethernet.

I also have my brother's laptop which contains Atheros AR5B93 WiFi module which has a/b/g/n specs (n could be draft2) . The laptop has Gigabit Ethernet.

Then I have an ADSL (modem+router) which has WiFi a/b/g/n support. The wireless speed is labelled as 150Mbps and it is not having any antenna. And it has 100Mbps Ethernet ports.

Now, I wish I could have fast file transfers between the PC and laptop. My desktop has obsolete hardware which limits the file transfer speed. I have checked the WiFi link speed between laptop and router is 300Mbps , even though my router is labelled 150Mbps. And i have checked file transfers between PC and laptop (with PC connected to router via LAN @100Mbps and laptop connected to routers WiFi access point @300Mbps) and the transfer speed remains at 10-12MBPS. I think the 100Mbps LAN is the bottleneck here.

As I need faster file transfers, I have the following options.

  1. Buy a WiFi N card or usb adapter for PC.
  2. Get rid of WiFi and Buy a Gigabit LAN card and a Gigabit Switch.
  3. Buy a Gigabit switch with inbuilt Wireless N router and a Gigabit LAN card.

Option 1 is cheap solution. But how great the transfer speeds will be? Will i get around 20-30 MBPS . Option 2 is good if i ditch WiFi . But in case if i use WiFi between laptop and router ( and of course LAN between router and switch) I will be limited to 100Mbps I guess. Isn't it?

Option 3 seems perfect but it is more expensive.

What do you suggest? And if I have to buy WiFi card for PC i will choose between one of these

-- TP-LINK TL-WN781ND 150Mbps Wireless PCI Express Network Nic (labelled as 150 Mbps)

-- iBall 300M iB-WUA300N Wireless-N Black USB Adapter (labelled as 300Mbps)

Please give your opinions.

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3 Answers 3

Fast file transfers are important to you so you should be looking at wired solutions. I would recommend buying a gigabit nic for the PC and a gigabit switch. Personally I like Intel nics and there are lot of choices for inexpensive switches but do your homework. Not all are created equal - you often get what you pay for. You can plug the laptop, pc and router into the switch and have fast file transfers. If you unplug the laptop from the switch you can still use wifi if you just feel like roaming with the laptop. My vote is option 2.

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A while back we wired our house with Cat 6 and put in Gigabit switches and routers. I thought 802.11n was pretty good (and continues to work well for my iDevices), but Gigabit ethernet is amay-zing. – Mar 31 '13 at 7:23

Perhaps a forth (cheaper both financially & from a risk point of view) option:

the (till now) "obsolete WiFi G USB ... on my desktop PC" could be recalled to service? Wireless speed on a G connection is good.

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Like i said i need faster file transfers, wireless G only gives speeds from 1 - 3 MBPS. It is just enough for internet browsing and video streaming, not for file transfers. – bharat Mar 31 '13 at 4:40

You provide details framing the problem and options to fix. However, the problem you indicate can be caused by a large number of problems and choosing the right "fix" requires that you correctly identify the part or parts that are creating the problem.

Assuming you meant Mbps when you typed MBPS (first indicates bits, second is bytes or 8*bits or 80-96 Mbps), then I wonder at the 10-12 Mbps speed you mention. If the WiFi is configured correctly and you are in a relatively clean wireless environment, you should be able to get much better throughput. If you really meant MBps, then yes, the 100BaseT connection is the bottleneck (96 Mbps is about the best you will get from most 100 Mbps links).

Very first thing, make sure there are no firmware updates for your DSL device.

Next, to eliminate any other bottlenecks besides the network (disk read speeds, CPU, etc), check your throughput with the two computers connected directly to each other with a crossover cable (or a normal one if one of the adapters does auto MIDX). You should be able to do significantly more than 10-12 Mbps, so if not then look for the problem on one of the computers.

From there, I would attempt to determine how capable the DSL device might be. Try the throughput with both devices connected with network cables to the DSL gateway (no wireless). The DSL device may be your bottleneck; just because a device has 100BaseT or Gig ports, doesn't mean it can switch that much traffic. The hardware may only be able to push 15-20 Mbps, so again you are looking for a significant improvement over your baseline.

If you get good speeds from both those tests, then you need to look at replacing hardware. You may have any number of interfering devices in the currently in the 2.4GHz band (the AR5B93 only supports 2.4GHz), so I would start with a "dual band" USB adapter since the DSL device is dual band (I personally like Ralink chipsets, so something along the lines of the Engenius EUB600 should run less than $40) and try the transfer on 5GHz. This may be the cheapest fix at this point.

From there, I would look at a new "dual band" router with Gig network ports.

Ultimately, if throughput is that important to you, you often can't take the "cheap" route on hardware. Make sure you have quality parts end to end and you will generally be happier.

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I mean B=Bytes and b=bits in Mbps/MBPS/MBps. My laptop alone is capable of Gigabit Ethernet. So a cross over cable presently only gave me 12MBPS. Now I got a better option. I will get the above mentioned iball 300Mbps wireless N usb adapter for my PC so every device in my network is wifi N and easily gives me 10-20MBPS transfer speed. I also get a cheap PCI Gigabit Ethernet card for my PC. And i will use cross-over Gigabit connection between PC and Laptop which also eliminates the need to get separate Gigabit Switch. So, internet via WiFi and local file transfers via Gigabit Ethernet. – bharat Mar 31 '13 at 20:28
Thank you for the clarification. If you are only concerned about the two devices and are okay with the crossover cable, then it sounds like you have a solution. I would still recommend a dual band USB wireless adapter rather then the single band one. Wireles is a shared medium per radio, so with the dual band adapter your desktop an be working in 5GHz and your laptop in 2.4GHz without impacting each other at all. – YLearn Mar 31 '13 at 22:39
Can you suggest a cheap dual band usb or pci or pcie card? – bharat Apr 1 '13 at 7:19
I mentioned one in the answer above, but you can probably find cheaper ones. I just personally wouldn't normally recommend an adapter that I either hadn't tested myself or was recommended by people I knew/trusted to have used it themselves. Also, I have a hard time recommending adapters that are too cheap as I have seen too many problems with very low priced adapters. – YLearn Apr 1 '13 at 16:25

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