No doubt the burning question is does the Nfiniti live up to the performance claims? And unfortunately the answer is no. We conducted testing in a residential environment and installed the Nfiniti PC Card in a 1.6GHz Fujitsu Siemens notebook running Windows XP SP2. Using the open source Iometer we wirelessly linked the laptop with a Supermicro Pentium D 3.2GHz on the LAN and with no encryption over a two metre line of sight connection it reported an average raw read throughput of 75Mbit/sec. With an AOSS negotiated WPA-TKIP encrypted connection we saw Iometer report a more modest 51Mbit/sec.
For real world performance we saw a 691MB video file copied from the laptop to the PC in 100 seconds for an average speed of 55Mbit/sec over an open link and 46Mbit/sec with WPA encryption in force. Extending the range had some dramatic effects. We moved the laptop to the floor below which also put a couple of brick walls in the way and we watched throughput level out at only 28Mbit/sec for an open link.
To test for compatibility we used a Linksys Wireless-G ADSL Gateway and Wireless-G PC Card. Buffalo’s client had no problems working with the Linksys card and we achieved a 100 per cent connection success rate with the Nfiniti router. However, performance wasn’t overly impressive with Iometer reporting a measly 22Mbit/sec raw throughput at close range over an open connection. The Nfiniti card also connected successfully with the Linksys gateway but once again speed wasn’t impressive with it churning out a modest 24Mbitsec.
When it comes to making a recommendation there are already massively conflicting views about whether these so-called draft-n products are a safe bet. First, we were advised by Buffalo that no company offering these products will guarantee they can be upgraded to standard-based 802.11n operations. This isn’t surprising as if they did so it would be tantamount to a commitment to replace the product if it couldn’t be upgraded. Broadcom has said that its Intensi-Fi is the ‘softest’ radio chip it has yet manufactured so upgrading it should be easy although this, of course, remains to be seen.
The first draft-n wireless products deliver a significant boost in overall performance but not as much as the manufacturers would have you believe. Range is no better than standard MIMO routers so only buy the Nfiniti products if you feel the need for speed and are prepared to take a big risk with regard to future upgrades. Remember that ratification of an 802.11n standard is probably at least a year away and could change significantly from what you have here.