WiFi, Cable or Powerline Network?

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  • WiFi, Cable or Powerline Network?
  • I’ve just bought one of those old fashioned Desktop PCs, because I need something meatier than my ageing MacBook for working on photos and such. We currently just have laptops, on wifi. The desktop will be far away from the router.

    Should I:

    a) Get a wifi card for the desktop, thus having to faff with drivers (doubly because I’m half thinking of hackingtoshing it)
    b) Run a long cable through the house, possibly being shouted at by the Mrs in the process (The desktop has a gigabit network, not sure what the router has)
    c) Try one of these fancy powerline connectors. Doesn’t seem to offer much advantage over wifi, except I won’t need drivers for the PC.

    Gary_M
    Member

    I use powerplugs and I’m still amazed that they work as well as they do, so there’s no need to run a cable all over the house. Can’t fault them at all.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    If your not moving files then WiFi is fine. If your going to transfer lots of Data then wired.

    Nah, not going to be transferring much data at all, all backup is going to be done via USB3. Although actually, I’m looking at cloud backup too, but I guess wifi won’t throttle the upload speed that much?

    jon1973
    Member

    You could also use a wifi dongle, which just plugs in to a usb port, rather that getting a card to go inside. They seem to work fine.

    Hmm, I never thought of dongles. I shall investigate.

    sharkbait
    Member

    Generally I’d go with cable every time if possible, followed by powerline/homeplug then wifi.
    Wifi is great for devices that move around but it can be a faf sometimes.
    For your setup I think I’d go powerline because:

    The desktop will be far away from the router.

    might be an issue for wifi.
    99% of the time your broadband connection is going to be way slower than your network capability so whether your network is 10/100/gigabit is not an issue.

    I must admit, wifi on a machine that doesn’t move seems pointless. Powerline seems worth a punt, around £30 for a pair of 500mbps plugs. Because we’re in a rented house the run from the router would be a pain in the arse with a proper cable.

    *edit* the laptop works fine in the same place the desktop will be (using wifi) it’s just a circuitous route for cable.

    sharkbait
    Member

    I think laptops usually have the wifi antennae all around the screen whilst a dongle would not have this facility so reception ‘may’ not be as good.

    Premier Icon somouk
    Subscriber

    I’ve got a few powerlines dotted around the house and they’re great until they have to cross the fuse board.

    Between the two that are on the same line I get really good transfer speeds, the the one behind the TV in the living room it’s poor, down to 11Mb which is slower than the wifi connection.

    The advantage of the powerlines is that it’s a rock solid connection and very rarely varies in speed which for web browsing and online gaming is excellent compared to wireless.

    Premier Icon cheshirecat
    Subscriber

    Another happy Powerline user here. Got three PCs connected – two desktops and a laptop on a docking station. Just works.

    danielgroves
    Member

    For simple web access WiFi is fine, but when it comes to moving files around via the network nothing competes with a good old cable. When it comes to file transfers a neither a power-line or wifi will compete with the speed a cable will provide.

    Premier Icon BigJohn
    Subscriber

    I bought a dongle at the weekend for £20 from Maplin. I’m using it on a Mac Pro so I had to google for a driver but it’s working fine. I just did a speed test (using the BBC site) and it comes up at a streaming speed of 14mbps so that should be enough.

    If I go cable, what type do I need? Last time I looked at networking I think there was a choice of Cat5 and that was it, now there’s Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a…

    I’m guessing Cat5e for a gigabit connection, though I’m not sure if the router is gigabit and I’m pretty sure the Xbox and laptops on wifi aren’t, so will that limit the network speed?

    IT’S ALL SO HARD!

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Cat6 is certified for Gigabit, Cat5e isn’t. Really, that’s the only difference. In practice, for home use it’s unlikely to make a fig of difference to you either way.

    Cat5 (non-e) should only be used for 10/100 connections, and even then I can’t see any compelling reason why you’d want to pick it over Cat5e unless you’re buying in bulk at PC World over-the-counter prices.

    TL;DR – use Cat5e.

    Thanks Cougar 🙂

    sharkbait
    Member

    I’m guessing Cat5e for a gigabit connection, though I’m not sure if the router is gigabit and I’m pretty sure the Xbox and laptops on wifi aren’t, so will that limit the network speed?

    No, your internet will do that for you.
    Frankly unless you’re moving vast quantities of data (around very frequently by which I mean 10,000s of files every day) 10/100 will more than adequately fill your requirements. For just browsing, a piece of spaghetti would probably do!

    danielgroves
    Member

    You won’t notice the difference between cat6 and cat5e unless your dealing with frequent *persistent* connections. For example if your editing high-quality footage from a network volume, streaming multiple large files etc. For your average home user it’s overkill.

    So I guess the next question is will I notice much difference betwixt Cat5e and powerline?

    sharkbait
    Member

    So I guess the next question is will I notice much difference betwixt Cat5e and powerline?

    For web use (including streaming) – no.

    Premier Icon DaveRambo
    Subscriber

    I used to use a WiFi printer hub but it was flakey – went for powerline about a month ago and all is well – it’s faster and has been reliable so it gets my vote.

    I bought passthrough ones so I don’t lose a plug socket.

    danielgroves
    Member

    So I guess the next question is will I notice much difference betwixt Cat5e and powerline?

    To an extent it will depend on the hardware at each end. If your router is 100Mbit then no, probably not. If on the other hand you router is Gigbait, like your desktop, then you’ll probably get higher speeds from it, but again for web use you wouldn’t be able to max-out the power-lines connection anyway.

    Although 5e isn’t rated up to 1Gigabit in reality it will normally get close.

    So, if your router is 100Mbit, then no.

    If your just using the network connection for the web and occasional files, then no.

    If your frequently trowing gigabytes of data between machines over it, it depends on your router.

    sharkbait
    Member

    If on the other hand you router is Gigbait, like your desktop, then you’ll probably get higher speeds from it

    Not if it’s data from the internet.

    If your frequently trowing gigabytes of data between machines over it, it depends on your router.

    [pedant]A router connects an internal network to the big bad wide area network (the internetz), if you’re moving serious files all the time you’re better off with switch for internal traffic before the router.[/pedant]

    giant_scum
    Member

    Was going to ask much the same question myself, think I will go the wired route as I have a box of CAT 5 and RJ45s a plenty in the garage!
    Next question is would it be possible for the old desktop pc to sit close to the switch and act as some kind of server, or would that be pointless?

    dobo
    Member

    I happily stream dvd over 10/100 lan and 200mbps power line adapters.

    even though my server has gigabit conections my laptop, bluray player (with love film) are 10/100 so anything more than cat5e is overkill. no need to get stp or ftp either for a home network just get cat5e UTP from a reasonable brand. no 22p ebay jobies

    all streaming works just fine, but if i try that over wireless its all very hit and miss.
    fwiw my setup doesnt achieve super high speeds either, i do lan transfers at about 10MB/s about 80mbit?
    over wireless i can do lan transfers at about 3MB/s 24mbit

    if everything on your lan is gigabit then you will achieve much higher transfers over cable, but wireless remains the same

    what this means in practice is that if you transfer home movies and large pictures from pc to pc or nas/server etc then wireless is going to be a lot slower than powerline or cat5e….

    i think you will need a 24mbit dsl conection before your wireless starts to limit your internet downloads and pron streaming by my rough calculations.

    Premier Icon somouk
    Subscriber

    Next question is would it be possible for the old desktop pc to sit close to the switch and act as some kind of server, or would that be pointless

    Depends on what you would want it to serve? Stick some form of lightweight OS on it and no doubt it would be okay so long as you don’t want it to do much.

    danielgroves
    Member

    Not if it’s data from the internet.

    Said that in my first post.

    A router connects an internal network to the big bad wide area network (the internetz), if you’re moving serious files all the time you’re better off with switch for internal traffic before the router

    Very true, this happens to be the set-up I use, with a couple of big NAS units and a whole load of Cat6 cables.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    would it be possible for the old desktop pc to sit close to the switch and act as some kind of server, or would that be pointless

    ‘s exactly what I do. The old desktop PC is a ‘server’ largely for streaming, backups and downloading stuff these days. It’s cabled into the router(*), can’t remember the last time I used it as a regular PC.

    (* – or if you’re a pedant, it’s plugged into a switch port on the combination router / switch / wireless access point / ADSL modem / firewall multifunction device commonly referred to as a ‘router’ for convenience.)

    dobo
    Member

    would it be possible for the old desktop pc to sit close to the switch and act as some kind of server, or would that be pointless

    sure, my server is upstairs in spare room, via powerline adapters, instead of making noise in front room, missus no likey.
    going off topic but i can ssh to it or manage over the web via webmin, other tools available.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    In a related topic,

    I may be in the market for a powerline wifi adapter. Any brand recommendations, or are they all largely the same?

    dobo
    Member

    not tried a powerline wifi adapter but quite happy with my tplink powerline adapters, they probably do them but try check out some reviews.

    So… Decided on cable, ‘cos it’s cheaper. Will I regret buying this?

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/BlueRigger-Premium-Cat5e-Meters-Ethernet/dp/B005LS2J14/ref=sr_1_3?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1362004467&sr=1-3

    Or should I spend another tenner and get Belkin or something.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Cat5e is Cat5e, there’s a certification involved. Be right.

    Cool, cheers. Now looking forward to the fun job of laying 30m of cable!

    sharkbait
    Member

    I may be in the market for a powerline wifi adapter. Any brand recommendations, or are they all largely the same?

    Not sure. I’ve been using a Solwise stuff for ages and it’s been great so I installed a wifi adapter but it’s started sounding dodgy (whining) after two years.
    Personally I think I prefer using normal adapters with a standalone wifi base station. Just fitted a [used] Apple Extreme base station to go with the Airport Express we already had (which seamlessly extends the wifi range) – great system.

Viewing 35 posts - 1 through 35 (of 35 total)

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