Just got Gigabit internet; networking/ethernet help needed
December 2, 2016 3:50 PM   Subscribe

Recently got Comcast Gigabit (deal with the devil - I know), along with a Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 router. Installation was simple. Getting the best speeds and home network experience has left me with a bunch of questions and problems I'm not sure how to solve.

Here's the rundown of what I'm seeing:

1. Macbook Air 2012- via wifi, connected to the 5.1ghz network, I'm seeing a bit over 200 Mbps down. Via ethernet cable, 600Mbps. This seems good to me. Is there a wi-fi USB dongle I could attach to this that would increase the speeds when I'm not wired?

2. My desktop PC with Windows 10 is where I need similar help. I have a TPLink 150Mbps Wireless Lite N USB adapter. It doesn't even show me the 5.1ghz network, just the standard 2.4ghz. Why is the speed on wifi slightly slower now (around 45Mbps) than when I had the previous modem/router combo with 75Mbps speed plan (was pretty much hitting 75Mbps)? I see in my wireless adapter settings it shows speed "65.0 Mbps."

Wired into the Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller, I'm seeing a maximum speed of 90-99Mbps. I set "Speed and duplex" to 1.0 Gbps Full Duplex but no change. Ethernet controller still shows "100 Mbps."

Is there any way to increase my download speeds on the PC that doesn't involve a new motherboard? My PC only has USB 2.0 inputs.

Some more questions:

3. Should the bandwidth on my network theoretically be better for torrenting while also streaming video, browsing, etc. at the same time?

4. My router is broadcasting three networks: the regular (I presume 2.4ghz), then 5G-1 and 5G-2.
What reasons would I have to use one of the three over the other. The only thing that's most apparent is I'm only going to get fast speeds via one of the 5G options.

5. Lastly, are there any settings on the router I should toggle, configure, etc. to improve the experience?

Thank you!
posted by rbf1138 to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. no. fastest wireless connection is gonna be what you have built in. 2012 air only does 802.11n, an older/slower standard than 802.11ac.

2. if your adapter is branded as "N", i bet your usb adapter can't see 802.11ac. if i were you, with a fancy connection and router, i'd certainly shop for a better wireless adapter. if it's a desktop pc, consider a PCI-based card, instead of USB, especially if you only have 2.0 ports. USB Wi-Fi adapters are a useful tool but are never the best option. make sure it can do wireless AC.

if you're negotiating 100Mbps over ethernet, maybe try a different ethernet cable. get a brand new CAT6 ethernet cable and see what it negotiates at. you should see 1Gbps.

3. i'd say so, since you now have a high maximum up and downstream.

4. 5GHz has less radio interference and more throughput but can't penetrate walls as easily. 2.4GHz generally has better range, but is more susceptible to 2.4GHz spectrum interference by things like microwaves and cordless phones, and a lower theoretical throughput.
posted by moons at 4:47 PM on December 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

Ethernet controller still shows "100 Mbps."

Check the Ethernet cable that you're using. Some older ones only have two pairs which is fine for 100Mbps but won't work with gigabit. They're fairly easy to tell since the connector doesn't have all of the wires in it, like this.
posted by zsazsa at 4:50 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

If the path from the router to the desktop computer leads through a wall jack, it's also possible that the house was wired with older cable, or that whoever wired it used a naughty shortcut and stole a couple wires from the CAT6 to connect a telephone jack (this was a surprisingly common practice before Gigabit became the norm.) If it's the latter and you don't need the phone jack, you could remove it and punch the cable down again to properly populated RJ45 connectors at each end.
posted by contraption at 4:59 PM on December 2, 2016

On that router you can also tether the two 5G connections together to get a single extra-high-speed one. I do this (I have the same router) and run just a few devices on the high speed 5G, and leave most older devices connected to the 2.4GHz network. I can get close to 900Mbps connection doing this.
posted by tillsbury at 5:59 PM on December 2, 2016

On the 1Gb wired, enable auto-negotiation only, don't set any speed/duplex/etc. manually, auto-negotiation is pretty much mandatory for 1Gb with anything that's less than a decade old and if you do set it manually you *have* to set it manually on both sides. Along with the checking of cables (it's almost always the cable). Cat-5e is fine for household distances.

Are you plugged into the new router or do you have a switch in the mix?
posted by zengargoyle at 7:04 PM on December 2, 2016

I'll give that a try when I get home. I'm plugged directly from the router into the computer.
posted by rbf1138 at 7:41 PM on December 2, 2016

You're getting good answers from others so I'll just add that if you 'set "Speed and duplex" to 1.0 Gbps Full Duplex' on one end of the cable you MUST also set it on the other end of the cable.

All of your devices are new enough that you should leave them in autonegotiate. In olden times there were issues with autonegotiate but those have been fixed in new gear.

PS. When say "end of the cable" I really mean the port the cable is plugged into.
posted by Awfki at 5:37 AM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I changed Full Duplex back to Auto-negotiate. I'm using a CAT 5E but still seeing the same 90-100 speeds. A new CAT6 is on the way to me and will be here Monday. The PC and router (and modem) are all in the same room so a very short distance.

Unfortunately I don't have an open PCI-e slot in my PC open so I'd have to get a USB wifi adapter that supports AC. May just have to keep it wired (assuming the CAT6 solves the speed problem).

I setup the 5G bands to be tethered as as single network.
posted by rbf1138 at 6:55 AM on December 3, 2016

I'm also finding that if I'm pulling a torrent down at 10Mbps on the PC via a wired connection, my speedtest results on the Macbook come to a crawl of less than 10Mbps...
posted by rbf1138 at 10:35 AM on December 3, 2016

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