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I am trying to diagnose why my iPhone and Desktop - both right next to each other - experience such drastically different speeds when connected to Wi-Fi. As measured on fast.com, the phone averages about 190 Mbps, whereas the desktop is around 2.9 Mbps. The desktop (a Dell XPS 8700, circa 2015) has always felt slow, but this is the first time I've seriously looked into the problem.

I'd appreciate any pointers you guys may have. Here's what I've tried so far, but the issue persists, and I've reached the limits of my troubleshooting ability. (Edit) In response to a user comment, I have provided a screenshot of connection settings on the two machines, here.

  • Assumed it was a measurement issue. Laptop (MS Surface) and phone (iPhone 8 - with cellular data disabled for good measure) both clock in around 190 Mbps. The issue is solely with the desktop
  • Assumed it was a driver issue (the original adapter is a Dell Wireless 1703 - on the motherboard) so downloaded and updated from Dell website - no effect
  • Assumed it was a weird Windows issue, so did a clean install of Windows 10 Pro (10.0.18362 Build 18362) and installed all Windows Updates - no effect
  • Assumed it was a hardware issue, so bought and installed a TP-Link AC1200 PCIe Adapter, to replace the original adapter. Confirmed in adapter settings that the Dell 1703 is disabled, and the sole wireless connection enabled is the TP-Link - no effect
  • (Edit) Assumed it might be something more broadly wrong with the motherboard, so connected the machine by Ethernet cable instead - excellent speeds [D: 300 Mbps / U: 290 Mbps / P: 3ms] but sadly impractical
  • (Edit) In response to a suggestion from the comments, I tried Speedtest.net instead of Fast.com. At the time of editing, speeds are higher - but equivalent - on both tests. Speedtest gave [D: 15.09 Mbps / U: 16.30 Mbps / P: 5ms] while Fast gave [D: 15 Mbps / U: 15 Mbps / P: 6ms]

I have since run out of ideas...

  • Try Speedtest.net to compare with and see if you get the same results – John Apr 24 at 18:59
  • Two things: first, your iPhone may be compatible with a more recent, better performing version of WiFi (say, WiFi 5) than your PC, which would explain why it gets a faster downlink; secondly, your access point will emit at a certain rate (say, 300Mbps for WiFi n, or WiFi 4 as they call it these days) on a double range of frequencies (2.4GHz and 5GHz), but maybe your PC can't accomodate those speeds, so your access point will throttle down on the standard it uses to grant access to the slower WiFi 3 (b/g) your PC WiFi card can tolerate, hence the difference in speeds. – user1019780 Apr 24 at 19:12
  • @Didier - Adapter incompatibility isn’t the issue. Please read the entire question. The author specifically purchased a WiFi 5 adapter. iPhone 8 doesn’t support WiFi 6 at this time. – Ramhound Apr 24 at 19:15
  • I've read the (long) entire question, and I'll stick to my guns: maybe the PC just can't accomodate the speed its brand-new WiFi adapter could give it, were it (the PC) more recent, so the adapter is throttling down, not electrically or thermally speaking, but in terms of data rate. An iPhone 8 can connect on the 5GHz range, but most probably the PC can't, even with the new adapter, so the access point will give the phone full speed on the 2.4GHz, or downplay the 5GHz speed, and the PC will get what its motherboard will allow, new adapter or not, because it's got PCIe 2.0, not 3.0. – user1019780 Apr 24 at 19:22
  • Possible, but a 2015-era machine should have decent wireless. My 2013 laptop keeps up with my phone. That is why I suggest trying a different external speed test site. – John Apr 24 at 19:25

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