Long Range Wi-Fi Card Shootout
We tested the 3 longest range 802.11 wireless cards on the market today. The Engenius / Senao 2511cd plus ext2 200mW with 2 clip on antennas, Z-com XI-325HP+ 300mW and the SMC2532w-b 200mW.
The measurements were taken outside the building 40 feet from the 200mW Engenius ap pro plus access point through one interior and one exterior wall.
Engenius 2511 cd plus ext2 200mW
Engenius card had a 80% signal strength but with the best in class receive sensitivity of -95dbm it matches the 66% link quality of the Z-com. The better receive sensitivity gives the Engenius card the advantage as we move farther from the access point the link quality was maintained the longest.
Z-com XI-325HP+ 300mW
The Z-com with 300mW posted the best signal strength reading of 100%. This card has a maximum receive sensitivity of :-92 dBm making it less sensitive than the Engenius card. In this short range test the extra power makes up the difference so it matches the signal quality of 66%. If we went much farther from the access point the signal quality dropped off quicker.
The SMC card came in last with a signal strength of 72%. This card has a receive sensitivity of -94dBm giving it a link quality of only 26% even with 200mW of power. The connection was still solid at this level and I was able to access the Internet without problems.
All three cards performed well in this limited test and they all should be used in different situations. The Engenius card will give the best range and speed in most long and short range application. The Z-com card would be good for a area with bad multi path interference (metal in walls). The SMC card has the best driver and utility for use in a Enterprise environment.