There are four ways you can connect the internet to a Raspberry Pi board. You can use a built-in WIFI, add a WIFI dongle, use an ethernet socket, or add one via USB. In this article we will take a look at each option, to investigate what is the fastest connection option for each board. The boards tested:
Raspberry Pi 3
Raspberry Pi 2
Raspberry Pi Zero
Raspberry Pi Zero W
Each board will be tested for speeds using:
built-in WIFI (if possible)
built-in ethernet (if possible)
USB (3.0) to ethernet adapter (1 Gb)
WIFI USB 2.0 dongle
Testing conditions of the Raspberry Pi network speed test
This should lead to some interesting results as it turned out. Each test is run with an iperf server running on the target device (I’d rather see some CPU action on the board itself) and the client (PC – Windows 10) is connected through a LAN cable (1Gb) to the Linksys WRT-1900ACS. The test will be run minimum 3 times in a short period of time. In few cases where results have been inconsistent, the additional tests have been done. The USB ethernet adapter is backward compatible and auto-negotiation will determine the correct link speed. I have verified the adapter on my PC with the test speeds in excess of 700Mbits/s.
Each board is tested with the same (latest at the time of writing Raspbian Pixel image) class 10 microSD card, the same power supply is used in all cases (an original adapter for indoor tests, and the battery bank for the range tests).
The wireless performance tests have been done at 1m, 5m (through walls), 10m, and 20m. As the board and adapter orientation do matter, I tried to orient the board and the adapter in a way that would allow for the best internet speeds. The orientation of the adapter has been consistent across the tests. This should cover the test environment setup, but feel free to ask me any questions about it.
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