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The other person living with me happens to get consistently fast internet speeds than I do, despite the WiFi aerial (on the router) being perhaps 4 feet away from me.

I notice his web browser consistently loads web pages much fast than mine.

Our networks cards are similar, both being Acer laptops. He does have a better CPU and more RAM though.

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If you get TOO close you might knock it over, that can't be good. – Phoshi Dec 16 '09 at 21:24
"Our networks cards are similar" ... but not the same? can you post make and model of the WLAN controllers? e.g. certain Ralink controllers perform particularly poor (at any range). – Molly7244 Dec 16 '09 at 21:27
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The signal from most Wifi routers and antenna go out in an doughnut shape, but the 'gap' in the middle (at the base station) would be smaller than 4 feet. You should hardly notice it at all.

If possible, separate your computer and router to approx the same distance as your friends, and see if there is a change in your speed. If there isnt, then the fault would lie with your computer.

It could be possible that you have improperly configured software on your computer that is causing your network connection to slow down. If possible, try booting from a 'live OS' from a USB drive and then test your internet again.

Another possibility (and the most likely) is that you just don't have enough system resources to achieve the faster speeds that your friend gets.

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+1 for the doughnut! :) – Molly7244 Dec 16 '09 at 21:26

The better CPU and more RAM probably have a lot to do with it.

You can do a test which is more or less independent of the CPU, RAM and any other stuff you've got running on your machine.

You and your roommate should each visit and click on the big "Begin Test" button. Don't do it at the same time and you should each do a few tests.

Afterwards, compare your results. If they're pretty similar, it's probably your computer. If not, try repositioning your laptop and test again.

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It is probably the better CPU and more RAM that is doing it... Technically, I suppose depending on aerial position, you could get a dead spot, but on standard routers which are omni-directional, I don't think this would be the case and it is more likely down to other factors such as browser addons etc.

I would advise (If you want to do this scientifically) you swap places and see if there is any difference, and after that, if you can... Plug in a new device via wire, and try to copy a file to it from both laptops of the same size and see if there is a difference in speed.

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