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Reviewed by: Bryan Pizzuti [02.18.03]
Edited by: Carl Nelson
Manufactured by: D-Link

Dual-Mode PC Card NIC: $129
Dual-Mode PCI Card: $129
Dual-Mode Router: $270

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Performance tests

First, we tested compatibility with 802.11b network devices, using a Belkin 802.11b wireless network card in a Dell Inspiron 4100.  Then we re-tested using a D-Link 802.11b wireless CF card in a Sharp Zaurus SL-5000d.  Both worked flawlessly as long as the router's 802.11b mode was turned on and NOT in Turbo mode, but differences in the way each software setup handles encryption keys made it best to just input hexadecimal values.  Then we began testing performance of the D-link network devices.  The PC Card was tested in the Dell Inspiron 4100, and the PCI card was tested in an Athlon 1.2 GHz system.  The performance results were within such a narrow range as to be virtually identical, so we will present the PC Card results here.  The cards were tested in regular 802.11a mode as well as D-Link's proprietary 802.11a turbo mode. 802.11b+ and 802.11b were not tested, since they are primarily there for backward compatibility.  All encryption settings were tested to determine performance differences as well.

SiSoft Sandra

This is normally a very good general benchmarking package, but for some reason, its networking portion sometimes has serious trouble trying to test wireless networks. After repeated testing, we can usually come up with some fairly steady benches for most settings, though we couldn't get a figure for 802.11a turbo with 152 bit WEP no matter how many times we tried.  Apparently SiSoft Sandra was attempting to send packets that were just too large.  The rest of our results are below.

For some reason, 128 bit encryption seems to always end up being more bandwidth efficient than the 64 bit encryption, leaving no real reason to go with the smaller key length.  152 bit doesn't show much of a drop from 128 bit, so it's quite useful as well, though it feels like there's a latency increase.

Timed file transfer

For this test we took a 16.1 MB copy of the NVIDIA Detonator 41.09 drivers, and recorded the time it took to transfer from a desktop PC connected to a 10/100 NIC and switch, to the laptop with the wireless card installed.

As you can see, all of the 802.11a times are fairly close, even with Turbo mode enabled.  Turbo doesn't seem to offer a huge performance increase, but it is a definite increase as the tests show.  So don't worry too much about creating a mixed-band network, since the performance increase is slight.  But if you're using all D-Link hardware anyway, Turbo mode will get just a bit more performance out of your network.   Once again here, the higher encryption speeds don't seem any slower.  In fact, they seem faster.  I can hardly wait to test the AEP encryption when it's available.

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