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Scrapping old B for new N network

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I am new to the forum! :) I have spent several days researching here at SmallNetBuilder and my understanding of the issues and options has grown tremendously. But, I still have a few questions that I haven't found answers to. Any help and direction will be appreciated!

I currently have a pretty good XPpro machine wired to an old Linksys BEFW11S4 which is connected to the cable modem for our ISP's 6/1 Mbps service that is soon going to 12/2 Mbps when Docsis 3.0 comes to our area. I have an old laptop running WinMe (don't laugh) that used to be connected wirelessly to said router via a PCMCIA card until the card died. I bought a new card a couple of years ago, but could never get it installed correctly (registry issues with the old card I think), so we have just had that machine wired to the router, too. But, the laptop is dying in several ways, so Santa bought 2 new laptops for Xmas that will replace the old laptop and connect wirelessly; we will still run the wired XPpro machine.

Since we are ditching the old lappy, there is no reason to stick with the 11B router and since the new lappys will each have 11N capability, I should go straight to a new 'all-N' network and skip the 11G altogether, yes?

Another question is about compatibility. I have read in the articles here that you should 'match' the router and the adapters. I don't have that luxury. One lappy will have an Intel Next-Gen Wireless-N Mini-Card and the other will have Acer Nplify WLan. So based on that, how do I choose a router?

Do I need / should I get a router with gigabit switches for my wired connections? I really don't swap files or stream HD but I'd like to look to the future a bit when making this router decision.

And what of this dual-band and the 5.0 frequency? I can see 3 or 4 of us surfing the Net at the same time. I think these lappy adapters are 5.0 capable, but will I use it / do I need dual band?

Should I look for a router with a USB printer port? But then willl my older HP Officejet 6110xi all-in-one work over the network I am proposing?

We have a 2-story house and the router will be in the basement - should I look to a 3 antenna router or does that not matter?

Lastly, Santa will be leaving a Wii under the tree Xmas morning so I need to also consider possibly hooking that up to the network.

I am looking at the Belkin N+ on sale this week at BestBuy for $99. Would that do it? Too much specs for my needs? Too little?

Whew!! Can you tell I am a bit confused and overwhelmed? I just want to make a sound router choice given the variables of my particular network and with foresite to the future of my network and wireless technology in general.

I would be very grateful for the expertise and experience you all have. Thanx much! :D
Start by reading How To Choose the Right Wireless LAN for You for general advice.

Also look at Thinking of Upgrading to Draft 11n? Here's What I'd Do... for some general background on draft 11n.

Since you are upgrading from 11b, even moving to 11g will provide a big increase in speed. Draft 11n can provide even higher speeds, but our testing has shown that there is more throughput variation.

The "match" recommendation is for those who are trying to get the maximum wireless speed, generally for those trying to do HD video streaming or move large files via wireless. In many cases, yours included, that is not practical, so don't worry about it.

A router with gigabit switch will help only if your wired clients support gigabit or are upgradeable to it. I strongly recommend you consider doing this, especially if you see yourself building a large library of media files. Backups of large files/folders can take a long time over 100 Mbps Ethernet.

Dual-band is useful only if your adapters support it. The 5 GHz band is less crowded than 2.4, but range is signifcantly reduced. Both bands yield the same maximum throughput.

I would not select a router based on USB print or file server features. The built-in print servers are very basic and don't support all multifunction printer features. And file sharing / NAS capability is very slow.

A three-antenna router can help improve range, but a lot depends on the clients. If at all possible, I'd get the router up to the second floor. Drill a hole in a closet or something, but you'll be much happier with the result.

As far as the Belkin N+, it's a nice router, but overpriced. But I see that you can get it online for about $80 right now, which is more like it.

Finally, there are many good routers available for under $100, (use the Wireless Chart price filter to see). In the end, you're not talking about a lot of $ compared to everything else in your network. So don't sweat the decision too much. Technology marches on better price / performance is always around the corner.
Tim -

Thank you so very much for your detailed reply! I really appreciate the help. ;)

I have spent the day doing additional research and I have just a few follow-up questions if you don't mind:

Regarding Gigabit for my wired client, I looked on my computer in Device Manager under network adapter and it lists 3Com Gigabit LOM (3C940). Is this the right piece of hardware and because it says gigabit does that confirm it supports gigabit?

Regarding dual band for the adapters on my 2 new lappys, I believe both to be Intel 4965agn which supports both 2.4 and 5.0 GHz frequencies. So I am leaning toward a dual-band router where I can put the 2 new lappys on the 5.0 band and the Wii & a Netflix Roku box (Santa again) on the 2.4 side. Sound good?

I had gotten hung-up on the Router Chart and didn't realize there is a separate Wireless Chart - duh! Using that one has been very helpful in narrowing this decision down.

I think I will not get the Bellkin N+, but rather go with the Linksys Simultaneous Dual N Band Wireless Router WRT610N. I am aware of the overheating issues (I hit Fry's for a couple of their $5.99 {shipped} USB notebook coolers), but this router seems the best solution for me: 5.0GHz support and Gigabit switch. Comments?

Pricewise, CostCentral has the WRT610N for $137.72 (incl. free shipping, no tax and a $10 mail-in rebate).

I'd so appreciate if you'd hit me back with your thoughts one more time! :)
Regarding Gigabit for my wired client, I looked on my computer in Device Manager under network adapter and it lists 3Com Gigabit LOM (3C940). Is this the right piece of hardware and because it says gigabit does that confirm it supports gigabit?
A simple Google query yields

As for your other questions, as I said, 5.0 GHz range is less than 2.4. Unless you get the router up to the middle floor, I wouldn't bother with dual-band.

If you are determined to go for simultaneous dual-band, my choices would be between the WRT610N and D-Link DIR-825. Neither is perfect, however. Ya pays your money and takes your choice. But, again, unless you can relocate the router, you will be unhappy with 5.0 GHz range.

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