Three-stream Wi-Fi proves its worth

Three-stream 802.11n access points deliver impressive performance gains compared with two-stream APs

Stephen Sauer

Three-stream 802.11n access points deliver impressive performance gains compared with two-stream access points.

Story version: Three-stream MIMO delivers significant performance gains over two-stream 802.11n 

A note on nomenclature 

What you need to know about 802.11ac 

Tips for buying a three-stream access point

Product: Belkin N750 access point ($99.99)

The Belkin three-stream 802.11n access point delivered throughput of 157Mbps in our test in which the access point and client device were in the same room, and 72Mbps in our test in which the client and AP were on separate floors. The Belkin AP demonstrated an 80% increase in throughput compared to results that we recorded using two spatial streams. That was in the "near-distance’’ test. In the "far-distance’’ test, throughput jumped 13% when we added the additional stream.

Cisco Linksys E4200 ($159.99)

The Cisco Linksys 802.11n access point came in second in raw throughput, with 191M and 125Mbps in our "near’’ and "far’’ distance tests. It also showed impressive improvement when we upgraded from two streams to three streams, with improvement of 158% and 100% respectively.

Cisco Aironet 3600 ($1,495)

The Cisco 3600 access point delivered 179M and 97Mbps in our two three-stream tests – one near and one far. In terms of how much of a boost you would get moving from two-stream 802.11n to three streams, the Cisco 3600 demonstrated a jump of 133% in the near-case scenario, and 50% in the far-case scenario.

D-Link DIR-665 ($99.99)

The D-Link 802.11n access point delivered throughput of 123M and 91Mbps in our near and far distance tests, which represented improvements of 35% and 34% in the two test cases, compared to two-stream throughput.

Netgear WNDR4500 ($179.99)

In terms of pure throughput, Netgear turned in the best performance in our test, with 223M and 128Mbps respectively, in our near-distance and far-distance tests. When it came to two-stream vs. three-stream gains, Netgear improved a whopping 320% in the near-distance test and 48% in the far-distance tests.

Meraki MR24 ($1,199)

The Meraki MR24 deliver strong performance in our near-distance test, with 185Mbps throughput, a 27% performance boost compared with two-stream MIMO. Results in the far-distance test were 93Mbps throughput, a 35% improvement compared with two-stream.

Xirrus XR4830 ($6,450)

The Xirrus array delivered 161M and 98Mbps in the near and far distance tests. That’s a performance boost of 93% and 39% when using three-stream MIMO.