Comprehensive “Over the Air” Wi-Fi Tests Show the Impact of RF Interference and High Client Densities on the Wireless Performance of Leading Products from Cisco, Aruba, HP and Others
SUNNYVALE, CA – July 18, 2011 – Ruckus Wireless today announced that its ZoneFlex midrange Smart Wi-Fi system performed up to 10 times faster than higher end competitive wireless products from Cisco, Aruba, HP and others, in the industry’s first independent Wi-Fi interference and capacity tests released by Tom’s Hardware, one of the Internet’s premiere resources for unbiased reviews, news and information on technology.
According to Tom’s Hardware, the wireless LAN testing was developed to determine how advanced Wi-Fi capabilities affect real-world wireless performance at different distances and within high-density environments when wireless interference is introduced. In nearly every Wi-Fi test, Ruckus delivered demonstrably faster and more consistent performance over competitive products. Ruckus did not pay for the Tom’s Hardware testing or influence the results.
“Given the insane number of wireless-only smart phones, tablets and laptops hitting networks today, our readers must now deal with new Wi-Fi issues such as interference and higher client capacities,” said Chris Angelini, worldwide editor-in-chief of Tom’s Hardware. “We were unable to find any definitive or comprehensive testing in this area, so we decided to give give readers a first-hand view of how the best Wi-Fi products we could find would actually perform in a real world environment when lots of users try to connect and interference is present. We knew this would be a difficult to get done but, after months of work, we were able to build a reliable test bed that let us clearly determine if advanced Wi-Fi capabilities really have an impact on performance. They do.”
The Tom’s Hardware Wi-Fi testing is the first exhaustive industry evaluation of the impact of RF interference and high client capacities on new leading 802.11n products.
“The RF spectrum within the unlicensed band is becoming increasingly noisy and crowded,” said Steve Martin, vice president of engineering at Ruckus Wireless. “These types of tests are extremely useful to enterprises that often don’t have the time or resources to properly test Wi-Fi systems and every new capability introduced. Tom’s testing clearly demonstrates how important RF optimizations are to the performance and reliability of Wi-Fi - an area where few vendors have focused attention but where the greatest gains are achieved. These results substantiate this.”
Because many enterprises cannot perform comprehensive wireless testing, they are forced to compare Wi-Fi systems at close range under ideal conditions that don’t typically reflect the challenging environments within which the products will actually be used. Subsequently, after spending time and money deploying Wi-Fi, they find little difference between wireless products and after deployment begin to see performance and coverage problems that become difficult and costly to repair.
Test Methodology and Tools
For the comparative WLAN interference and capacity testing, Tom’s Hardware reviewed the following wireless devices and related software under their default configurations:
- Aruba AP125
Dual-band 802.11n (3x3:2) with Aruba 3200 controller running ArubaOS (ver. 220.127.116.11)
- Cisco Aironet 3502i
Dual-band 802.11n (2x3:2) with Cisco 4402 controller (ver. 18.104.22.168)
- HP E-MSM460
Dual-band 802.11n (3x3:3) standalone (ver. 22.214.171.124-01-9514)
- Meraki MR24
Dual-band 802.11n (3x3:3) running Meraki Enterprise Cloud Controller
- Apple AirPort Extreme
Dual-band 802.11n, standalone (ver. 7.5.1)
- Ruckus ZoneFlex 7363
Dual-band 802.11n (2x2:2) with Ruckus ZoneDirector 1106 (ver. 126.96.36.199.38)
Tom’s Hardware focused on two Wi-Fi test types: single-client and multi-client performance. To mimic the typical Wi-Fi experience, Tom’s Hardware measured TCP uplink and downlink performance of a single, dual-band (three stream capable) Centrino-based 802.11n laptop operating in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrums. The Wi-Fi testing was performed at 10, 70 and 100 feet in clear line-of-sight and non-line-of-site channel conditions with and without RF interference present.
Non-802.11 interference in the 2.4 GHz band was generated using an interference generator. In the 5 GHz band, 802.11n co-channel interference was introduced using 60 laptops contending for access to the same channel as the device under test.
Tom’s Hardware testing was conducted in 20,000 square feet of office space surrounded by glass, metal, drywall and numerous obstacles.
Tom’s multi-client testing included measuring the aggregate throughput of leading Wi-Fi systems when 60 high-performance laptops simultaneously streamed volumes of data, as well as each system’s implementation of airtime fairness, when these laptops were used in combination with iPad tablets.
For the testing, Tom’s Hardware used the industry-standard IxChariot test tool to simulate typical TCP data traffic. A server running IxChariot (version 7.10) software generated upstream and downstream data and reported the results to the console while each wireless client ran an IxChariot endpoint. The IxChariot traffic profile used for the testing was the WLAN High Throughput TCP Test using a continuous 1MB file transfer. For the single client performance tests a Dell Latitude E6410 equipped with a three-stream capable 802.11n was used. For the multi-client performance tests 60 Dell Vostro laptops were used.
Over the course of the testing, more than 300 individual test runs were performed. Each single client wireless test was run four times with the laptop turned 90 degrees for each instance. Throughput results represent an average of these four test runs per client.
Highlights of Tom’s Hardware Competitive Wireless LAN Testing
Except for close range single-client testing at 10 feet, the mid-range Ruckus 7363 (2x2:2) consistently outperformed higher end competitive products in virtually all test runs.
High Density Client Capacity Wireless Testing
According to Tom’s Hardware, in high-capacity wireless testing performed within the 5GHz band, the midrange ZoneFlex 7363 delivered 111 Mbps of aggregate downlink throughput among 60 clients while its nearest competitor, the new HP E-MSM460 (3x3:3) product posted throughput of 88 Mbps. Aruba (76 Mbps), Cisco (38 Mbps), Meraki (47 Mbps) and Apple (3.8 Mbps) delivered markedly slower speeds.
In high-capacity uplink testing, the ZoneFlex 7363 delivered 97 Mbps of aggregate through performance over the nearest competitor, HP’s new E-MSM460 product that delivered 77 Mbps of throughput. Aruba (69 Mbps), Cisco (62 Mbps), Meraki (42 Mbps) and Apple (54 Mbps) delivered slower speeds.
And in high-capacity bidirectional testing, the ZoneFlex 7363 delivered 104 Mbps of aggregate throughput compared to the nearest competitor, the HP E-MSM460, which posted 85 Mbps of throughput. Aruba (83 Mbps) and Cisco (54 Mbps) delivered much slower speeds while the Meraki and Apple APs were unable to complete the testing.
Single Client Interference Testing
With 802.11 interference present, the Ruckus ZoneFlex 7363 delivered 89 Mbps of TCP downlink performance and 79 Mbps of uplink performance (5GHz, 70 feet). Its nearest competitors in this testing were the Aruba 125 that posted 68 Mbps of downlink throughput and the Cisco 3501i that posted 48 Mbps of uplink performance.
According to Tom’s Hardware: “Ruckus puts forth the best effort in the largest number of tests, but it does so with a mere 2x2:2 design through engineering and deep attention to the factors necessary to provide a high-quality wireless experience in increasingly hostile RF conditions.”
To view all the competitive results of the new Wi-Fi testing, visit: http://www.tomshardware.com.
On Tuesday, July 26th, at 10 a.m. PDT, Ruckus Wireless will hold a free Webinar regarding the Tom’s Hardware test results. Register today at: http://ruckus.adobeconnect.com/toms/event/registration.html