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Question Improve connectivity from my PC to Wi-Fi router with a range extender

Boyan Kushlev

Honorable
Aug 17, 2013
39
0
10,540
1
I recently brought my old PC to my new flat in one of those Georgian buildings in west London - the walls are mostly wood and drywall. Our ISP is EE and we're on a 70 Mbps contract. The router is in the living room about 7-8 meters (25ft) from my PC and the signal goes through the bathroom, which means two layers of tiles and other objects in the way.

I have been using one of the cheapest Wi-Fi dongles out there - TP-Link TL-WN823N operating at 2.4GHz, which means better range, but a lot more interference, as there are about 20 other devices in the bandwidth with 4-5 on the same channel, according to my Android Wi-Fi Analyzer app. The signal strength is at around -70dBm.

For online gaming, I'm using my Samsung Galaxy S7 as an Ethernet hotspot, as it can run on 5Ghz and I position it closer to the router by using a longer USB cable. In the 5Ghz range, there is no interference on my channel, and about a couple of other devices visible. Signal strength is a bit worse at -80dBm, which is understandable.

However, recently I started experiencing immense drops in speed on the dongle - down to 0.1Mbps from the usual 50Mbps I was getting before. After some googling, I found out that a possible reason could be if the DLM system puts me on a banded profile in response to past errors. So I think this might be due to interference from other devices in the area, even though I had no problems until recently. I had the same problem with my Galaxy phone when running on 2.4Ghz too.

So that made me consider a permanent solution instead of constantly plugging my phone into my PC, changing dongles, and resetting routers. I was looking at either better dongles or Wi-Fi extenders. Here are my thoughts about it so far:

My PC is facing the router, so currently I'm connecting the dongle to the front USB port of the case, and not directly on the motherboard. If I were to connect it on the back on the machine, it would be even more obstructed, and facing the other direction too. I could get a longer USB cable and put it on top of the case, but I'm not sure it will be an improvement, and that's even more cable management I need to worry about. On the other hand, along the wall, there is a power outlet that's facing my bedroom door, which in turn is facing the door of the living room, behind which the router is located. So I could get a Wi-Fi extender with an Ethernet output, plug it in there, and pass an Ethernet cable straight to my machine. That way the signal will only go through a couple of inches of wood. There, the 2.4Ghz signal strength improves to about -60dBm, and the 5Ghz - to about -65dBm, even with one of the doors open.

I have been looking at some options online, but the better-rated options are in the area of $150, and I'm not sure I need such a thing for just a few meters. I have looked at some options in my price range of $50-$75:

  1. TP-Link TL-PA7010PKIT (https://www.amazon.co.uk/TL-PA7010PKIT-Passthrough-Powerline-Streaming-Configuration/dp/B06VW1WCCD)
  2. NETGEAR 11AC 1200 Mbps (https://www.amazon.co.uk/NETGEAR-802-11ac-Extender-External-EX6130-100UKS/dp/B01IR41A40)
  3. TP-Link AC1750 (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Extender-Broadband-UK-RE450/dp/B013SYHHI2)
Is there anything I haven't considered? What do you think of these extenders?


PC specs:
MB: Gigabyte P55-US3L
PSU: Cougar 650W 80-Plus Bronze
OS: Windows 10 Pro
 

RealBeast

Titan
Moderator
Forget a wireless extender, they don't work well. The TP-Link TL-PA7010PKIT is quite good and would do the job well if you can attach it to your computer with a cable at the gaming end and to an LAN port at the router end. Low lag compared to wireless, very important for gaming.
 

Boyan Kushlev

Honorable
Aug 17, 2013
39
0
10,540
1
Forget a wireless extender, they don't work well. The TP-Link TL-PA7010PKIT is quite good and would do the job well if you can attach it to your computer with a cable at the gaming end and to an LAN port at the router end. Low lag compared to wireless, very important for gaming.
Wait, what are you saying exactly? The TP-Link is a wireless extender. I mentioned in my post that I plan on connecting to the extender with an Ethernet cable. I'm going to use the extender not so I can get a better signal, but as a hotspot I can connect my PC to.
 

RealBeast

Titan
Moderator
Wait, what are you saying exactly? The TP-Link is a wireless extender. I mentioned in my post that I plan on connecting to the extender with an Ethernet cable. I'm going to use the extender not so I can get a better signal, but as a hotspot I can connect my PC to.
The TP-Link TL-PA7010PKIT is a pair of powerline adapters. The Netgear (#2) is a typical range extender.

If you plan to run an Ethernet cable from the router to your room (best choice), then you would want an access point, but that is not what I understood. For attaching a cable to your gaming PC, the TP-Link TL-PA7010PKIT is the best choice.

You can get a pair of powerline adapters that include a wireless function on the distant end unit like THIS TP-Link unit. If you want wireless and a wired port that is the better choice.

Whatever you do, if you go with powerline be sure to get an AV2-1000 or higher. The older AV600 and earlier units have really slow speeds, like 20Mbps. The AV2-1000 get around 180-250Mbps but have a lot less latency than using a typical wireless extender.
 

Boyan Kushlev

Honorable
Aug 17, 2013
39
0
10,540
1
No the TP-Link TL-PA7010PKIT is a pair of powerline adapters. The Netgear (#2) is a typical range extender.

You can get a pair of powerline adapters that include a wireless function on the distant end unit like THIS TP-Link unit. If you want wireless and a wired port that is the better choice.

Whatever you do, if you go with powerline be sure to get an AV2-1000 or higher. The older AV600 and earlier units have really slow speeds, like 20Mbps. The AV2-1000 get around 180-250Mbps but have a lot less latency than using a typical wireless extender.
I see... What if there are many electrical devices on the network like gas boilers and ovens? Also, I had electricians come over to fix some flickering lamps some months ago and they said the powerlines were really messed up, so I'm not sure about the quality of the circuits. Wouldn't a Wi-Fi extended be better in that case? I guess it doesn't hurt to try it out and return it to Amazon if it doesn't work out.
 

RealBeast

Titan
Moderator
I would try the powerline adapters first as they are far superior for gaming -- the wireless extender adds an extra level of latency and reduced bandwidth. I would only return them and go with a wireless extender if the PL adapters failed.

Usually, PL adapters are most affected by devices with large motors that go on and off frequently and florescent lights (particularly if the ballasts are failing). The AV2-1000 have much better tolerance to line noise. I have one set for HD video streaming that has a large floor fan plugged into the extender without any problems.
 

Boyan Kushlev

Honorable
Aug 17, 2013
39
0
10,540
1
I would try the powerline adapters first as they are far superior for gaming -- the wireless extender adds an extra level of latency and reduced bandwidth. I would only return them and go with a wireless extender if the PL adapters failed.

Usually, PL adapters are most affected by devices with large motors that go on and off frequently and florescent lights (particularly if the ballasts are failing). The AV2-1000 have much better tolerance to line noise. I have one set for HD video streaming that has a large floor fan plugged into the extender without any problems.
Alright, I'll order one now, and will tell you how it works in a couple of days.
 

Boyan Kushlev

Honorable
Aug 17, 2013
39
0
10,540
1
So I just installed everything without any issues! The speed and the latency are about the same as before, but at least it'll be more consistent, I hope. And I won't have to constantly switch between my phone and the WiFi dongle. Overall, a success! Thanks again.
 

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