3Com OfficeConnect Wireless Cable/DSL Gateway reviewed

Wireless Performance

Frankly, I wasn't that impressed with the OfficeConnect 11g's wireless performance.

WinXP Zero Config utilty was used so "Signal Quality" readings were not available
Testing was done with a 3Com OfficeConnect Wireless 11g Cardbus client card in a WinXP Home Dell Inspiron 4100 laptop

OfficeConnect 11g: Throughput comparison

Figure 10: Four location throughput wireless performance
(click on the image for a full-sized view)

Figure 10 shows an average top throughput just over 19Mbps, which is about par for PRISM-based 11g products, but 15 - 20% below the average top speed of 22 - 24Mbps that I've seen from Broadcom or Atheros-based products.

My Location 1 test runs with 128 bit WEP and WPA-PSK enabled averaged 18.5 and 18.2Mbps respectively compared to 19.3Mbps with no encryption. Since these results are within 5% of each other, worst case, you have little to lose and a lot to gain by running WPA, or at least WEP.

Signal strength seemed to fall off pretty quickly, with my same-floor, two wall Location 2 test showing a drop from 5 to 2-3 bars (using XP Zero Config) and connection speed from 54 to 24-48Mbps. I was curious to see whether this was due to the router, 3Com 11g client card or both, so I ran a second Location 3 test using an Atheros-based NETGEAR WAG511 card [reviewed here].

OfficeConnect 11g: Location 3 throughput - 3Com 3CRWE154G72 vs. NETGEAR WAG511

Figure 11: Location 3 throughput - 3Com 3CRWE154G72 vs. NETGEAR WAG511
(click on the image for a full-sized view)

Figure 11 shows that the WAG511 improved performance by about 50%, but with similar throughput variation, which I'd have to say is due to the router's radio.

My bottom line is that I wouldn't recommend the combination of router and 3Com 11g card if you need to go through a lot of walls or long(er) distances - especially since you can't upgrade the OfficeConnect's antennas!

802.11g Wireless Performance Test Results

Test Conditions

- WEP encryption: DISABLED
- Tx Rate: Automatic
- Power Save: Disabled
- Test Partner: 3Com 3CRWE154G72 OfficeConnect Wireless 11g PC Card

Firmware/Driver Versions

AP f/w:
V 1.02.13
Wireless client driver:
Wireless client f/w:
No Info

Test DescriptionSignal Quality (%)Transfer Rate (Mbps)Response Time (msec)UDP stream
Throughput (kbps)Lost data (%)
Client to AP - Condition 1019.3
[No WEP]
[w/ WEP]
1 (avg)
2 (max)
Client to AP - Condition 209.81 (avg)
2 (max)
Client to AP - Condition 308.62 (avg)
25 (max)
Client to AP - Condition 4012 (avg)
14.2 (max)
See details of how we test.