questionswireless home networking challenge

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I don’t have too many issues with my desktop since it’s right next to the router. However, I often experience minor lag when playing online Xbox, and sometimes get dropped from the router (which either requires a reset of the Xbox or the router). This is getting old. Secondly, I have difficulty streaming video (especially HD) on my MacBook and Xbox (haven’t actually tried on my desktop as my wife stole my speakers…). Thirdly, I want to have internet access out at the shop/barn located 150’ from the router. I’m guessing I’ll need a range extender and place it in my sun/mudroom (big windows facing the shop/barn).

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Here’s my ranking of importance from most to least: network reliability, speed, range, cost, aesthetics. I know that I’m looking at way more than $17 (which is what I paid for the SMC), but of course being on Deals.Woot, I’ve developed a natural ability to find deals. I don’t know anything about terms like DD-WRT, different brands, etc. I do not have a price limit set since I’m inexperienced in this. Thank you everyone in advance for your input and guidance to a wireless noob.

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What I'm going to tell you, I don't think you are going to want to hear, but..

You best bet, given what you have told me, is to wire the house for Cat6. You didn't say if you have an attic or crawlspace, but if you do it may not be such an awful job. Or very expensive. I bought a larger house and bit the bullet and paid to have it wired. And I'm very happy I did. Even though most of the house is reached by the wireless, the speeds and reliability of the wired structure can't be beat. You can even run a line out to the barn (bury it, if you want to be very safe run it through buried conduit)

If you can't/won't do that, consider a wireless repeater:
http://www.amazon.com/Uspeed-Repeater-Access-Extender-standards/dp/B007MXGG5Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351784892&sr=8-1&keywords=wifi+repeater

I don't see any decent way to reliably run that far to the outbuilding with current tech. There are some hacks you can try (parabolic antennas and such) but they won't work well.

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@wilfbrim: What if he ran a single cable and hooked a wireless access point to this. (I am not sure how this works in the consumer world without research)

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Don't waste your money on Cat6. Cat5-e is significantly cheaper and far easier to handle/terminate

I imagine part of your lag on xBox is your slow upload speed. You do a lot more uploading than you think with console gaming.

You can use wireless extenders, but your distances shouldn't be that bad. A good wireless G signal from a decent router is roughly 300ft around the router. This is effected by thick walls (Brick/cement) and excessive wiring.

If possible, get a dual band wireless g/n router and get Wireless N cards for your PCs. this will help with performance. I'm not sure if xBox can handle N or not.

Recently we've had a lot of success with 4000 series Cisco Linksys routers. Something like a Linksys EA4500 should work well and cover everything you wish to do. I also recommend setting up QOS on the router so when your xBox is running, it takes priority over other connected devices.

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@wilfbrim: alternatively, get powerline bricks. They plug into the wall and act as ethernet connectors. Something like this would get the job done, probably.

Despite that, I'd agree that getting your house set up for ethernet is the best. I've had bad luck with the powerlines. They work fantastic when they work. In my parents house, I was never able to get it working. The best I could come up with was that it was an electrical issue, that the signal degraded by being on different circuits or breakers or whatever.

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Thanks for the responses guys. I'm guessing wiring the house for ethernet would be fairly expensive (I do have a creep attic though), so it may not happen for some time (popcorn ceiling is a bigger priority :\ ).

The EA4500 looks like a major improvement over my current router, so I'll probably try this route before I get too involved with hardwiring anything. QoS is something I never knew of, and will probably help my xbox lag A LOT when my wife is surfing the web next to me.

I will most likely end up buring some cables out to the shop/barn eventually, so I'll add some CAT cable also to the bunch.

Thanks again guys, I at least now have some knowledge of where I need to go from here...

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I ran Cat-5e around my split level. Some rooms were a PITA, but it really wasn't bad. You can get a cheap crimper on ebay for like $10 (its not going to be a good one, but for a 1 time job, it is workable). A spool of cable is cheap and the crimp ends are also cheap. Just look up a diagram to crimp the ends. You can also get keystone jacks if you want to actually have wall jacks (which I did as well). Have to have another tool (a phone puncher) but again, cheap on ebay.

If you want to go wireless, you can use wireless access points (but you will still need to run cable to where you wish to place them).

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Does anyone have any experience with the Amped Wireless High Power Wireless-N Smart Repeater and Range Extenders - either the SR150 or SR300?

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004NBN5UY
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004NBL9WK

I was thinking about getting them for my parents house - they want better wireless connection upstairs and do not want to run any additional wires.

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I also will recommend Installing Cat 6 or Cat5e... We just rewired work with Cat6, a 1000ft roll runs about $175.00... The termination points are what cost, plan ahead and buy in bulk...

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@seanbon008: If you aren't comfortably doing it yourself, what can it hurt to get a few estimates? It may not be as bad as you think.

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I have the same issue but I purchased two DD-WRTcompatible routers, made one of the primary and one the bridge, now I have coverage all over the house. I was able to triple the signal strength just by using the DD-WRT software.

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I would definitely recommend hard-wiring everything before I bought the power-line connectors -- never did have really good luck with those.
I re-wired my house in CAT6, it's not really as expensive as other describe (especially if you get it on sale). I'm not going to go out and say it will "future-proof" your house, because that's just dumb; however, it will buy you a few more years over CAT5 or CAT5e.

If you wanted to do the "least amount of work for the best outcome" type of job, I would recommend:
Hardwire the shed/barn and plug in a Wireless Access Point there. That will give you wireless coverage around that building as well.
I would also recommend doing the same (buying another Wireless Access Point) and putting that in the basement (or other area you were having poorer signal).
Those two new Access Points would be connected to your main router and function as one main network.
Worst case: the 2 APs would be different SSIDs and different channels.

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I set up 3 Diamond brand wireless range extenders in 3 different buildings over the past couple of months and they are working fine. They are currently on sale on Daily Deals