Author:
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

I Have a Need, a Need for Download Speed

Thanks to Wendell from Level1Techs for his all of his help on this project and pointing us in the right direction!

A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to get a fiber internet connection installed at the PC Perspective office. Capable of 1Gbps download speeds and about 250Mbps upload, we were excited at the possibilities that laid ahead.

However, when you have access to a very fast internet connection, you begin to notice that the bottleneck has shifted from your connection to the servers on the other side of the content delivery networks (CDNs) that power the internet. While these CDNs have very fast links to the internet, they generally limit bandwidth so that there is more speed to go around to multiple people at the same time.

A look back at what once was

One of the services that we found would max out our connection was Steam. Since we download a lot of PC games at the office, it was a nice benefit to have an internet connection as fast as our NICs could handle, and that the Steam CDNs would serve us at our maximum potential. In fact, the bottleneck shifted over to storage performance, as the random writing nature of Steam thrashed our SSDs at the time.

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By no stretch of the imagination is 60MB/s slow.. but what happened to our 100MB/s!

Unfortunately, this has ceased to remain the case. At some point, Steam downloads started getting slower on our same internet connection. Not only did storage utilization during a Steam download start to increase, but also CPU usage, pointing to a potential change in how Steam distributed their data. While downloads on our high-end systems fell to around 50-60MB/s, systems with less CPU horsepower started to see speeds fall to 20-30MB/s. All hope was lost for fast game downloads.. or was it?

Recently, Wendell from Level1Techs mentioned on Twitter that they were running a local Steam caching server on their network with great success. After some guidance from Wendell, we decided to tackle this project and see if it would help our specific scenario.

Continue reading our experiences setting up a Steam cache!

The one, the only, Cooler Master's MASTERAIR MA621P air cooler for Threadripper

Subject: Networking | April 26, 2018 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: tr4, Threadripper, MASTERAIR MA621P, cooler master, amd, air cooler

So far we have mostly seen reviews of watercoolers for Threadripper but there is an air cooler designed to tame this multi-threaded beast.  The Cooler Master  MASTERAIR MA621P is one such heatsink, a 1.2kg beast with two fans.  [H]ard|OCP's testing shows this cooler to be capable of cooling your 1950X at stock speeds, but do not expect the overclocks an AiO watercooler allows.  The installation is a bit of a challenge but this is the least expensive cooler for Threadripper, as well as being the only air cooler for it from CM.  Check the full review to get a closer look at this large chunk of metal.

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"The AMD Ryzen Threadripper is a beast when it comes to overclocking and cooling. Cooler Master steps into the ring with the first Threadripper-specific air cooler that we have come across. We have put it through the paces here on our highly overclocked and overvolted 1950X. Does the MasterAir MA621P have what it takes?"

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

CES 2018: Rivet Networks Partners with Intel for Killer Wireless-AC 1550

Subject: Networking | January 9, 2018 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: Wireless-AC 1550, wireless, wi-fi, Rivet Networks, networking, killer, Intel, CES 2018, CES, 802.11ac Wave 2

For their new wireless adapter Rivet Networks has partnered with Intel, producing "the worlds fastest 2x2 11ac wireless networking adapter" in the Killer Wireless-AC 1550. This new adapter supports the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard and offers up to 1.73 Gbps throughput using 160 MHz channels.

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"The first product to come out of Rivet Networks’ new partnership with Intel, the Killer™ Wireless-AC 1550 is the world’s fastest 2x2 11ac wireless networking adapter. The Killer Wireless-AC 1550 has been designed to combine the speed, intelligence, and control of Killer Networking products with the power and performance of the latest Intel wireless chipset. Delivering faster than gigabit Ethernet speeds along with the gaming functionality that gamers love, the Killer 1550 is the ideal wireless networking product for competitive gamers and performance users who demand the most from their computers."

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Killer Networking lists these features for the Killer Wireless-AC 1550:

  • Gigabit Wi-Fi Speeds: The Killer Wireless-AC 1550, featuring 160 MHz channel support, has a theoretical max throughput speed of 1.73Gbps when connected to a router that supports 160 MHz channels. This is faster than gigabit Ethernet and twice the speed of standard 2x2 11ac products.
  • MU-MIMO Support: Killer 1550 includes full MU-MIMO (Multi-User-Multiple Input and Multiple-Output) support, which dramatically increases network efficiency by working with a MU-MIMO enabled access point. MU-MIMO allows wireless access points to support multiple transmissions at the same time, versus a single transmission at a time like normal access points. This creates additional efficiencies that can provide up to 60% faster download speeds, lower latency, and a better overall connection.
  • Transmit Beamforming Technology: Killer 1550 also has Transmit Beamforming technology, which allows the Killer Wireless-AC 1550 to share location information directly to your wireless access point so that the access point can better direct its signals to you. This creates stronger wireless signals at all ranges and faster data transfers.
  • Complete 802.11ac functionality: Supports dual band (2.4 GHz and 5GHz), IEEE standards-based 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, and includes Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

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While the big news might be the Intel co-developed hardware, as this is a Killer Networking product the software is a big component in the overall experience. Options configurable via the Killer Control Panel include Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 for automated traffic prioritization for games and streaming, along with Lag and Latency Reduction Technology and Killer DoubleShot Pro support.

The first devices with the new Killer Wireless-AC 1550 adapter are being released this month.

CES 2018: Elgato Shows Off Portable Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Storage, Mobile | January 8, 2018 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2018, Elgato, dock, thunderbolt 3, adapter

Elgato is launching a smaller Thunderbolt 3 dock aptly named the Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock to its family of docks (how many times can I use dock in one sentence?). The portable dock comes with a tail Thunderbolt 3 cable that is permanently attached and stows away into a groove on the bottom of the dock when not in use.

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Using the single 40 Gbps connection provided by Thunderbolt 3, the Mini Dock offers up display outputs, USB 3.1, and network ports including:

  • DisplayPort 1.2 (4k60)
  • HDMI 2.0 (4k60 and HDCP 2.2)
  • RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps UASP and 0.9A of power).

Users will need a newer laptop or desktop with Thunderbolt running Mac OS Sierra 10.12 or Window 10 operating systems or newer. The compact dock will be available in the sping with as yet unanounced pricing. It should be cheaper than Elgatos larger docks (currently their Thunderbolt 3 Dock is $291) though since it is not powered and offers fewer ports.

As notebooks continue to get thinner, these docks (along with ones based on USB Type-C) are going to become more useful in getting the most out of our faster mobile hardware.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES news as it develops!

Also read:

Source: Elgato

CES 2018: ASUS Announces 802.11ax Router and Lyra Voice, a Combination Mesh Hub and Smart Speaker

Subject: Networking | January 8, 2018 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: smart speaker, router, mesh network, mesh, asus lyra, asus, 802.11ax

ASUS today announced new products in its Lyra brand of connected devices. The Lyra Voice is a multi-featured device that acts as both an 802.11ac mesh Wi-Fi hub as well as a voice assistant-enabled stereo speaker.

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The networking side of the Lyra Voice integrates with ASUS's existing Lyra mesh networking system with a tri-band AC2200-class radio, while the personal assistant side relies on integration with Amazon Alexa, allowing users to play music, check the weather, control smart devices around the home, and all of the other Alexa-enabled capabilities.

For those looking for networking without the personal assistant features, the ASUS Lyra Trio is a dual-band, multi-hub mesh Wi-Fi system that features a design with unique antenna placement to increase wireless range and speed.

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Both the Lyra Trio and Voice can be used together to form a home mesh network and are controlled and configured via the ASUS Lyra mobile app. Detailed technical specifications for both products are not yet available.

Finally, ASUS didn't forget about its traditional RT-series of wireless routers. The company also announced the RT-AX88U, an 802.11ax router with maximum throughput of up to 6000Mbps. The RT-AX88U also includes 8 Gigabit LAN ports for wired connections, and utilizes MU-MIMO technology to provide maximum performance to all connected devices.

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Like the Lyra products, detailed technical specifications for the RT-AX88U are not yet available. All three products are expected to be available in the first half of the year, with pricing to be revealed closer to launch.

Source:

Just Picked Up: Google Wifi x4

Subject: Networking | December 28, 2017 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: just delivered, google wifi, google

While our house isn’t particularly large, there were quite a few wireless dead zones with our previous setup. For several months now, we’ve been patching it with a Linksys wireless extender that we move around the house to extend the network in a single direction. That had a few drawbacks, and the signal wasn’t too strong to begin with, but it worked okay.

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Out with the old, and in with the new.
4x Google Wifi routers + 1x Cisco 8-port Gigabit switch

I’ve now picked up a three-pack and a one-pack of Google Wifi devices, after having it recommended to me by some coworkers in my software development job (and a Boxing Week sale at BestBuy Canada). The internet comes in from the basement, so I figured that one on each floor (roughly in a vertical line) and a fourth near the deck (with rough line of sight to the middle one) would provide optimal coverage. Each Google Wifi device can only drive a single wired device, so I opened a Cisco gigabit switch that I purchased several years ago to increase that to seven.

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Setup was quite easy – just plug the first one in and follow the directions on the Google Wifi app. One step will ask you how many more hotspots you have, excluding the one connected to the internet modem. I answered three, so it asked me to set them up one at a time. I needed to scan the QR code on the first of the three pack, and the QR code on the fourth (which came from the one-pack).

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Yeah, I totally need to clean up these wires...
... some day.

When it was all done, everything had internet except the wired devices; that was automatically resolved by the Windows networking troubleshooter, though, so it wasn’t really a problem. Now, as I walk around the house, I see the Wi-Fi drop for an instant (seems like literally a second or two) and reconnect as it chooses a new access point. I suppose this could be annoying if you’re on a Skype chat and walking from room-to-room. The wired devices are getting the full 125/10 that my internet provides, so that’s good.

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One interesting note is that, while I have the option to prioritize devices using my phone, there doesn’t seem to be a “permanently prioritize this device until further notice” option. All I can select is one hour, two hours, or four hours. Seems like an odd omission, but I almost never use prioritization in real-world scenarios anyway.

Source: Google

AmpliFi Announces Teleport, a Zero-Config VPN For Travelers

Subject: Networking | November 7, 2017 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: wi-fi, vpn, ubiquiti, networking, mesh, Amplifi HD, amplifi

Earlier this year we took a look at the AmpliFi HD Home Wi-Fi System as part of our review of mesh wireless network devices. AmpliFi is the consumer-targeted brand of enterprise-focused Ubiquiti Networks, and while we preferred the eero Mesh Wi-Fi System in our initial look, the AmpliFi HD still offered great performance and some unique features. Today, AmpliFi is introducing a new member of its networking family called AmpliFi Teleport, a "plug-and-play" device that provides a secure connection to users' home networks from anywhere.

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Essentially a zero-configuration hardware-based VPN, the Teleport is linked with a user's AmpliFi account, which automatically creates a secure connection to the user's AmpliFi HD Wi-Fi System at home. Users take the small (75.85mm x 43mm x 39mm) Teleport device with them on the road, plug it in and connect it to the public Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and then connect their personal devices to the Teleport.

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This provides a secure connection for private Internet traffic, but also allows access to local resources on the home network, including NAS devices, file shares, and home automation products. AmpliFi also touts that this would allow users to view their local streaming content even in locations where it would otherwise be unavailable -- e.g., watching U.S. Netflix shows while overseas, or streaming your favorite sports team while in a city where the game is blacked out.

In addition to traveling, AmpliFi notes that those with multiple homes or a vacation cottage could also benefit from Teleport, as it would allow you to share the same network resources and media streaming access regardless of location. In any case, a device like Teleport is still reliant on the speed and quality of your home and remote Internet connections, so there may be cases where network speeds are so low that it makes the device useless. That, of course, is a factor that would plague any network-dependent service or device, so while it's not a mark against the Teleport, it's something to keep in mind.

Teleport's features, while incredibly useful, are of course familiar to those experienced with VPNs and other secure remote connection methods. In terms of overall functionality, the AmpliFi Teleport isn't offering anything new here. The benefit, therefore, is its simple setup and configuration. Users don't need to setup and run a VPN on their home hardware, subscribe to a third party VPN service, or know anything about encryption protocols, firewall configuration, or network tunneling. They simply need to plug the Teleport into power, follow the connection guide, and that's it -- they're up and running with a secure connection to their home network.

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You'll pay for this convenience, however, as the Teleport isn't cheap. It's launching today on Kickstarter with "early bird" pricing of $199, which will get you the Teleport device and the required AmpliFi HD router. A second round of early purchasers will see that price increase to $229, while final pricing is $269. Again, that's just for the Teleport and the router. A kit including two AmpliFi mesh access points is $399. There's no word on standalone pricing for the Teleport device only for those who already have an AmpliFi mesh network at home.

Regardless of the package, once you have the hardware there's no extra cost or subscription fee to use the Teleport, so frequent travelers might find the system worth it when compared to some other subscription-based VPN services.

The AmpliFi Teleport is expected to ship to early purchasers in December. We don't have the hardware in hand yet for performance testing, but AmpliFi has promised to loan us review samples as the product gets closer to shipping. Check out the Teleport Kickstarter page and AmpliFi's website for more information.

Source: Kickstarter
Author:
Subject: Networking
Manufacturer: Ubiquiti Networks

Ubiquiti Upgrade

For longtime readers, it should come as no surprise the robustness of our internal network at the PC Perspective offices isn't necessarily our primary focus. We spend a lot of time here dealing with misbehaving hardware and software, so when something works, we tend to stick with it—especially when our day-to-day workflow depends on it.
 
However, I have recently taken it upon myself to make some changes. The main impetus for this project was our desire to move to a mostly 10 Gigabit-enabled network. With the release of lower cost NICs such as the ASUS XG-C100C, it finally started to seem like the right time to 
upgrade our network.
 
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Previously—and try not to laugh too hard—the backbone of our production network was the Zyxel Gateway included with our Gigabit fiber service from our ISP. Honestly, this piece of hardware worked surprisingly well. We were able to get full Gigabit download speeds (our upload speed is restricted at the ISP level to about 300Mbps), and it worked without much of a fuss. The router interface was fairly awful, and confusing at times, but it worked. Additionally, we were using an ASUS RT-AC66U as an access point, not the built-in wireless from the Zyxel.
 
In the past few months, we started to see some odd performance issues with our network and streaming video. While we could do standard file transfers and HTTP traffic at the full 300Mbps upload speed, video streaming from applications like Plex seemed to stop working at about 4 or 5 Mbps. After diagnosing our internal network performance, we started to place blame on the ISP-provided Zyxel gateway.
 
After talking to a few friends who are invested into the HomeLab communities and doing some additional research, I decided that while roll-your-own solutions like pfSense are compelling and have come a long way, they weren't quite right for us. We were looking for more of a turnkey solution that remained flexible, but would also require less initial setup.
 
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The Dark Knight returns, the ASUS RT-AC1900P wireless router

Subject: General Tech, Networking | July 12, 2017 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: RT-AC1900P, asus, wireless router

If you are more interested in quick wireless networking than you are in upgrading to a 10Gbps wired network then perhaps this review over at The Tech Report will catch your fancy.  It is similar in design and size to the RT-AC68U, at 6.2x8.6x3.2" but it hides some upgrades inside.  The processor has been upgraded to a dual core Broadcom BCM4709C0 running at 1.4 GHz and the internal memory has been doubled to 256MB though the radio remains the same with rated transfers of 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 1300 Mbps on the 5GHz band.  Testing showed some improvements compared to the previous model when it came to range and broadcasting through obstacles, with some increase in transfer speeds as well.  Check it out here.

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"Asus' RT-AC1900P carries on the legacy of the company's popular RT-N66U "Dark Knight" router. This time around, the unit comes armed with an 802.11ac radio for faster performance on the 5GHz band. We fired up this router in our crowded wireless airspace to see whether it can stand above the rest."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Overview

To say that the consumer wired networking market has stagnated has been an understatement. While we've seen generational improvements on NICs from companies like Intel, and companies like Rivet trying to add their own unique spin on things with their Killer products, the basic idea has remained mostly unchanged.

And for its time, Gigabit networking was an amazing thing. In the era of hard drive-based storage as your only option, 100 MB/s seemed like a great data transfer speed for your home network — who could want more?

Now that we've moved well into the era of flash-based storage technologies capable of upwards of 3 GB/s transfer speeds, and even high capacity hard drives hitting the 200 MB/s category, Gigabit networking is a frustrating bottleneck when trying to move files from PC to PC.

For the enterprise market, there has been a solution to this for a long time. 10 Gigabit networking has been available in enterprise equipment for over 10 years, and even old news with even faster specifications like 40 and 100 Gbps interfaces available.

So why then are consumers mostly stuck at 1Gbps? As is the case with most enterprise technologies, the cost for 10 Gigabit equipment is still at a high premium compared to it's slower sibling. In fact, we've only just started to see enterprise-level 10 Gigabit NICs integrated on consumer motherboards, like the ASUS X99-E 10G WS at a staggering $650 price point.

However, there is hope. Companies like Aquantia are starting to aggressively push down the price point of 10 Gigabit networking, which brings us to the product we are taking a look at today — the ASUS XG-C100C 10 Gigabit Network Adapter.

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Continue reading about the ASUS XG-C100C 10GigE add-in card!