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How to evaluate the comparative performance of two 4G/LE routers

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Hi - a disclaimer: Less than two weeks ago I knew virtually nothing about getting internet access using LE modems/routers :)

So in the last ten days I have been on a steep learning curve when trying to decide whether we could replace our adsl internet connection with an LE router. I am in the UK and have ended up with BT as they have taken over the small specialist provider we started with. BT have done us no favours, we cannot get fibre where I live and we are paying a small fortune for a connection that never goes faster than 12 Mbps. I have no loyalty to them and although we want to keep our land-line I would much rather get it from the Post Office which is much cheaper (and there is something satisfying paying them just as we did 30+ years ago when the line just carried voice !)

For a always on domestic solution I started with a Tp-Link AC1200 (Cat4) then read about 4G+ so changed to a Huawei B525 (Cat6) and finally have ended up with a Huawei B618 (Cat11) which I have linked to a new innovative Huawei hybrid mesh/powerline wifi system. It was an easy progression as each succeeding router had a noticeably improved performance.

I also want a Mifi type solution to use on our boat and have had problems choosing. I first chose a Huawei E5785 which is a cheap and cheerful Cat6 unit. I was amazed how well it performed and it gave the B618 a run for its money. I then read about the Netgear AirCards and despite being tempted by the Cat11 AC810 I managed to restrain myself and ordered a AC790 Cat6. This has a much better build quality than the Huawei and the GUI is also nicer. However it does not seem to perform anywhere near as well as the Huawei.

Because I know so little, all I can do is try to compare figures I do not know much about. I have tested each router in turn using their internal antennas and then using both a Netgear and Poynting omni directional one. I have used the same SIM card (Vodafone) and in the same position in the house. The first interesting discovery was that the smaller and cheaper Netgear antenna performed much better in both devices. I have booted them up in turn and noted down the RSRP, RSRQ & SNIR figures for each. They are both very similar on each of the sequence of tests. I have then done a sequence of Speed tests using the Ookla android app and a 5GHz WiFi connection on each. I have now done 3 sequences of tests, with antenna and without and run 5 speedtests on each setup. In total that is 60 separate tests and the Huawei has done better every single time and I guess it averages at least 30% faster.

I have not much time to decide and return the looser to Amazon so is there a better methodology I can use to determine which device works better for me ?

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from my experience there are a few things that affect their performance.

1) standards, do they accept higher categories and combining frequencies?
2) does the modem let you pick your tower, frequencies and more?
3) Directional antenna, using one can improve speeds as long as you have the right antenna pointed right at the tower
4) Chipset, this is only minor but some chipsets are better than others. Qualcomm typically has better range and performance, broadcom has better stability (applies to other modems like DSL too)

What i use is pretty pricy.

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