How CHIP Tests: WLAN Routers


How CHIP Tests: WLAN RoutersIn the basement of the publishing house that produces Chip, in the most protected part of this building from interference, there is a room for testing WLAN routers. There, data transmission parameters are measured to two “client” devices located at a distance of approximately four and ten meters from the tested WLAN router. And although some other Wi-Fi networks are visible in the 2.4 GHz frequency band, their power is only about 80 dB (access points are located on the first floor). In the 5 GHz frequency range, there are no other networks at all, so in this regard we can eliminate any significant measurement errors.

Equipment (30%)

How CHIP Tests: WLAN RoutersHere we examine hardware specifications such as connectors, buttons, and so on, giving the device rating points not only for their presence, but also for their quantity. In addition, the type of interfaces is also taken into account: for example, a gigabit LAN port or Fast Ethernet, USB 2.0 or 3.0, the type of modem (DSL, 3G), as well as the frequency bands used (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, simultaneous use of two bands, DFS function). The controls located on the body of the device (WPS, Wi-Fi on / off buttons, power, reset settings) and telephony functions (POTS / ISDN / VOIP, DECT, supported devices) are subject to the same differentiated assessment.

Functionality (30%)

How CHIP Tests: WLAN RoutersIn this test category, we check what functionality the router itself and its software are endowed with, as well as what security features are available. Functionality as such largely describes characteristics that are not related to the main purpose of the router. So, the assessment in this test discipline consists of the following parts:

  • security (30%): data encryption, unique passwords for the network and device, the ability to configure via HTTPS, recommendations for encrypting data transmitted over the network and using a password to control the device, VPN;
  • server functions (30%): print server, Samba, FTP, media server, USB transfer rate;
  • cloud functions / access to router data via the Internet (20%): the number of DDNS, configuration via the cloud, access from the cloud to locally stored data;
  • features and additional modes of operation (10%): Bridge, DMZ and Shareport wireless mode, WLAN timer, LED off, WOL function (from WAN and from the web interface), AccesPoint and Repeater modes;
  • Ipv6 device support (10%)

Productivity (30%)

We determine the number of rating points in this test category based on all the results of practical measurement of data transfer speeds. As already mentioned, all routers are tested under identical conditions. Tests are conducted using the free iPerf utility, with multidirectional streams (receiving and sending data) and with 8 streams simultaneously, to determine the maximum throughput of the device.

The speed of data transfer between the server connected to the router via a gigabit LAN port and two «clients» is also subject to measurement. The first «client» («optimal conditions») is located at a distance of four meters from the router (the same room, direct visibility). The second is located about ten meters from the router — there is a plasterboard wall between them with an open door, but there is no direct line of sight. «Clients» are equipped with modules based on Intel (Wireless-AC 7260) and Broadcom (Asus PCE-AC68) chips, respectively, as well as external antennas, which are fixed in a fixed position on the wall.

Ease of setup (10%)

How CHIP Tests: WLAN RoutersThe settings always follow the following rules: SSIDs are set to predefined values, so enabling and disabling can be done automatically (configured by scripts). The throughput is always set to the maximum and checked (for example, does the WLAN n actually cover all 40 MHz). In addition, each time it is checked if there are any WLAN networks that may conflict with our “test set”.




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