D-Link DWL920 Wireless Network

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The DLink DWL920 Wireless Network - Page 2

The D-Link DWL-920 Wireless Network
Nice and Easy...

By, Jeff Bouton
March 14,  2001

 

D-Link has a reputation for building quality networking components and the DWL-920 USB Wireless Network is no different.  This kit maintains a very small footprint but yields excellent features and flexibility.  Transmitting and receiving at a frequency in excess of 2GHz will ensure that your wireless network will not interfere with, nor be interfered by any other electronic components in the area.  D-Link has taken the time to make a product that is both simple in design yet robust in it's features.  When it comes to quality and design, the DWL-920 USB Wireless Network kit stands out from the rest.

       

Installation and Drivers
It Doesn't Get any Easier...

When it comes to the installation of the DWL-920 USB Wireless Network, the term ?Idiot Proof? comes to mind.   Along with comprehensive and informative user manuals, individual Quick Install Guides are included for each version of Microsoft windows.  Following the procedures outlined in the Quick Install Guide for our Windows Millennium test system, the installation went perfectly.  Once the driver was installed and the system rebooted, we had to make a few adjustments in Network Neighborhood and we were on our way.

Thanks to one of the best Documentation packages we?ve seen, there is a good chance that you?ll find answers for just about any question that you may have when you install this kit.  D-Link has even included a basic networking lesson in the manual to help people with little networking knowledge understand how the system works.  They have truly taken that ?extra step? to insure all buyer find the information they need.

Not only does the DWL-920 cover all of the bases when it comes to installation, it?s handles security issues effectively as well.  For the user who has strong security concerns, the DWL-920 provides Automatic Dynamic Key Allocation and 40-bit WEP encryption to ensure that your data is secure.  There is also an optional 128 Bit WEP encryption available too.

Lets move on and see how this kit stood up against our trusty hard-wired network shall we?

Test System
The baseline for performance

Full Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS
Pentium III 933EB

Tyan S1854 (Via 133A) Motherboard
GeForce 2 Ultra AGP Card w/64MB of DDR SDRAM
256MB of Mushkin Rev. 2 PC133 True CAS2 SDRAM
IBM 15Gig 7200-RPM ATA100 Hard Drive

Pioneer 16max
DVD-ROM

Windows ME
DirectX 8.0

n
Vidia reference drivers (Detonator 3 6.50)

Performance
Real-World Stuff...

For our testing, we performed several routine tasks with both the DWL-920 and our wired test network, consisting of a Linksys EtherFast 10/100 Auto Sensing Hub and two Linksys LNE100TX Fast Ethernet Adapters.  We set the Linksys adapter to 10BaseT for all tests performed.  The DWL-920 was tested in both AdHoc mode (peer-to-peer), which doesn?t utilize the Access point, and Infra Structure mode which uses the Wireless Access Point to broadcast data across the network.

We started out by playing an MP3, AVI, and MPEG file across the network.  The MP3 quality was good across all configurations although a little skip could be heard in the beginning of each song with the DWL-920 in infrastructure mode.

We then played an AVI & MPEG file across each network configuration.  We found that the quality was good on the wired setup  but choppy with the DWL-920 in AdHoc mode and not playable at all in infrastructure mode.

We then followed up the test by installing Photoshop from a shared CD-ROM, Printing to a network printer and playing a round of Quake III Arena.  All of which performed flawlessly.  It seems like the combination of wireless transmitters / receivers and USB were not meant for sustained high-bandwidth use.

So with those rounds behind us, we have a pretty good idea how the DWL-920 compares to the wired setup, but it?s difficult to come up with solid number to demonstrate.  So we decided to transfer several files across the network and time the transfer of each, the first file being 2 MB, followed by a 5 MB and 40 MB file.  The chart below lists the results in Minutes: Seconds

The numbers speak for them selves.  As far as our tests have gone, the DWL-920 doesn?t compare to the old fashioned way.  We thought that that maybe the discrepancy was a result of us running LinkSys cards that were set from 100Mbs to 10 Mbs.  We confirmed with the Sandra 2001 Network Benchmark that we were in fact transmitting at 10 Mbps.  Needless to say, the differences were significant.

After running the D-Link DWL-920 USB Wireless Network through a series of tests, we've found that even though the transmission rate is a bit slower than traditional 10MBps setups, the DWL-920 is still a good product.  For the commercial user who needs to share files and printers and access applications across a LAN, the DWL-920 should perform well. This also would apply to the home user who needs simple sharing capabilities, as long as they don't need to play bandwidth hogging files like audio and video formats across the network.  Ultimately it will depend on how important it is for the user to have a wireless network...there are some situation where you simply cannot run a wire. The M.S.R.P. for the entire kit is $599 (street price will surely be lower), although the homeowner could knock it down a couple hundred bucks by buying two Network Adapters individually and configuring a peer-to-peer network.  If your rig is jam packed and there are no free IRQ's available for a standard NIC and running wires is out of the question, then the DWL-920 is a fine solution.  If we were rating on ease-of-use and coolness factor alone we'd give the D-Link DWL-920 a 9, but because of it's sub-par real world performance we give the DWL-920 USB Wireless Network a HotHardware Heat Meter Rating of...

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