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Agere ORiNOCO USB Client Adapter Gold

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 7/17/2001

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Model: 848623856

Pros:

- 64 and 128 bit WEP encryption
- Good performance vs. range
- Excellent client utility with profiles and helpful signal strength utilities

 
Cons:

- 20% throughput decrease with WEP enabled.

 

 

Review Updates

7/23/01  Corrected Antenna connector info.

 

The Basics

 
Indicators:
  • Transmit/Receive

  • Power

Comes with:
  • Driver and Utility CD

  • Printed "Getting Started" Guide

  • USB cable

Chipset:
  • Agere Systems (formerly Lucent)

Other:
  • Internal antenna

 

Introduction


The ORiNOCO USB Gold Client adapter has the same great features as its PC Card cousin.  In fact, the resemblance is not just coincidence as you'll see...

 

Details


Inside the "shark fin" case that looks like it's styled to match the RG-1000 Gateway product, the USB Gold actually contains an unlabeled ORiNOCO PC Card Gold, plugged into a small board that provides the PC-card-to-USB adapter function.  There are a couple of good points to this design.  First, you get the superior performance of the ORiNOCO Gold card. Second, since the Gold card has a connector, it's possible (although not part of the intended design) to attach a "booster" antenna, if you're willing to open the case and drill a hole. And third, if you decide you'd rather have a PC Card adapter (and don't mind violating your warranty), you can just open the case, uplug the card and go!

Update 7/23/01 The Antenna connector type is proprietary to ORiNOCO.  See this page for information on obtaining adapters.

 

Managing the Client


The Client Manager is covered in detail in the PC Card review, so hop on over there to see why I like it so much!

 

Performance


I ran performance tests using the D-Link DWL1000AP Access Point as the test partner.

Test Conditions:

- WEP encryption:
DISABLED
- Tx Rate:
Automatic
- Power Save:
disabled

Firmware/Driver Versions:

AP f/w:
3.0.35
Wireless client driver:
Variant 1, V6.44
Wireless client f/w:
 
 - Primary Functions: Variant 1,  V4.04
 - Station Functions: Variant 1, V6.16

Test Description

SNR (dB)

Qcheck Transfer Rate (Mbps)

[1Mbyte data size]

Qcheck Response Time (msec)

[10 iterations 100byte data size]

Qcheck UDP stream 
[10S@500Kbps]

(Actual throughput- kbps)

(Lost data- %)

AP to Client - Condition 1

43

3.8[No WEP]
3.0[w/WEP]

4 (avg)
5 (max)

452

0%

AP to Client - Condition 2

41

3.9

4 (avg)
6 (max)

450

0%

AP to Client - Condition 3

23

3.7

4 (avg)
6 (max)

443

0%

AP to Client - Condition 4

18

3.5

5 (avg)
9 (max)

455

0%

(Details of how we tested can be found here.) 

Comments: The data shows consistent throughput performance over the tested range.  Signal fluctuation seemed high, but this didn't appear to affect performance.

SNR readings for Conditions 2 through 4 were better than measured for the PC card, and were reflected in better data transfer speed for Condition 4.  This is a direct result of the better antenna orientation (vertical vs. horizontal) and placement of the USB's antenna vs. the PC card's.

I found the same approximately 20% throughput degradation with 64 bit WEP encryption applied as I found for the PC card.

 

Summary


If you've been envious of the folks who are using ORiNOCO PC Card Gold's (or Silver) in their laptops,  but didn't want to hassle with using a PCI or ISA adapter to get one into your desktop, then your solution has arrived!   The USB Gold provides the same solid performance and excellent utilities, and has the added benefit of being two products in one (as long as you don't mind kissing your warranty goodbye)!  We're happy to add it to our PracticallyRecommended list!

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