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Wifi speed vs signal strength?

Discussion in 'Networking & Security' started by Black Panther, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    Whenever I check with speedtest, it shows I'm getting correct speeds and a ping of 6ms.

    The signal strength is 3 bars out of 5.

    Will repositioning the router to get full signal strength be making any actual difference?

    I didn't really 'see' any difference whether I got 3 bars or 5 bars, but perhaps there's something I'm missing?

    Thanks.
  2. Aquinus

    Aquinus Resident Wat-man

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    As long as the wireless device gets the packets and the quality is good enough to read the packet, you're fine. Most wi-fi devices will adjust the data rate as the signal gets better or worse to keep the connection stable. So unless your signal was really bad to the point where packets were getting dropped, I doubt you will see your response time get any better. You might get more bandwidth but if you're already running over the speed of your internet it doesn't matter unless you're transferring something locally.
  3. digibucc

    digibucc

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    it won't, 3 or more will saturate your isps's network speed. if you were doing internal file transfer you may want 5 to speed it up, but for regular internet 3 is plenty.
  4. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    Electronically, no it would not make any difference, however positioning the router for full signal strength may give you more peace of mind and fulfill your inner geek knowing that your setup is running at it's optimum potential. :)
    Black Panther says thanks.
  5. Fourstaff

    Fourstaff Moderator Staff Member

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    Only if you are experiencing packet loss, otherwise its fine.
  6. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Unless you got ridiculously high internet bandwidth (at least 20 Mb/s), it won't even come close to the WLAN bandwidth. A stronger signal will increase WLAN speed on 802.11n or newer but it won't touch WAN speed unless it's inadequate in the first place.

    Ping the WLAN access point to check packetloss.
    Crunching for Team TPU
  7. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    Bandwidth and data rate are not the same thing, but they are proportionally related.
    The issue is that you must have sufficient signal strength in order to maintain an adequate signal to noise ratio so that the packets are not lost or distorted by the background noise (noise being anything that is not the desired signal).

    If at 3 bars the signal to noise ratio is sufficient to overcome any packet loss, going to 5 bars will not make any different. However, if there is a change in background noise, for whatever reason, having a high signal strength (and thus a higher signal to noise ratio) will make it less likely that packets will be lost by the temporary increase in background noise as you will still be maintaining an adequate signal to noise ratio.
    cadaveca says thanks.
  8. RejZoR

    RejZoR

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    Whats most important is SNR. Signal to Noise Ratio. Basically it means a sweet spot between signal strength and noise generated by the signal strength itself. You can use 400mW antenna power but if that generates more noise than expected, you may get even worse results than with much weaker antenna power which would result in a significantly lower noise.

    Some routers display SNR in the settings, increase antenna power for as long as the noise levels are low. As soon as they start to climb, stop. It also depends on antenna type and design but in theory thats pretty much it.
  9. cadaveca

    cadaveca My name is Dave

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    I was going to say...my setup at home would beg to differ with many of the posts here, but then you posted this.

    In my house, 3 bars - 350kbps MAX. 5 bars = 1900kbps. However, also in my house, 3 bar zone is 18-inches wide, then 2 bars is 12 inches, and 1 bar is 12 inches. Everything inside that zone(my house is very much square, with router directly in the middle of the house) is 5 bars.

    Also, different adapters are going to have different tolerances, too.
  10. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    There is no end to the fun of transmission at any frequency.
    In 2011 a company called lightsquared tried to launch an LTE service but ran into a bit of trouble with the FCC because it was shown that their network frequency (which was approved by the FCC) caused problems with GPS navigation. From all accounts it looks like the GPS devices were not filtering on the band edges (which they should have been to prevent overlapping). Yay for lawsuits and stuff.

    Anyway, without going into detail of band channels, the quality of both your transmitting and receiving notch filters, compounded noise and all that other mundane electronic stuff, it's just best to try to get the best signal strength you can.

    Here at home in the sticks I get one bar on my dumb phone. I am happy with this as I usually don't get voice mail notifications for a couple of days. Life is peaceful. :D
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
  11. Black Panther

    Black Panther Senior Moderator™ Staff Member

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    I'm paying for 15Mb/s. (It's the slowest speed available in my country but it's also quite cheap and I need cheap at the moment), and getting what I'm paying for. Pinging gives no packet loss.

    [​IMG]

    I get a 3 bar signal because there are 3 mirrors in the way between the router and my pc. After reading on how much mirrors affect wifi I'm surprised I'm getting any signal at all.
    To solve this I would either have to move the pc, or place the router as an unattractive centrepiece in the hallway.

    Probably I'll just leave everything as it is.
  12. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    Then you are good.
    But I know you BP ... you want to fiddle with it, don't you. :D

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