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things I break/fix for fun and learning

Jun 6, 2018 - 2 minute read - Comments

Gigabit Upgrade for my Homelab

My current homelab consists of dual gigabit NICs for my Dell PowerEdge servers and a single gigabit NIC for my laptop Lenovo ThinkPad T420s. I also have several USB gigabit ethernet NICs in case the built-in NIC dies or if I need to expand the connectivity of my laptop. The only thing slowing things down is my D-Link DIR-615 router / switch combo - it only runs at 10/100MB speeds. Eventhough I have gigabit NICs on my equipment, file transfers are slow because of the bottleneck in my router / switch.

Then I recently acquired a TP-Link WDR3600 from my favorite thriftstore. It’s a dual band router with gigabit ethernet ports. It will be the perfect upgrade for my home lab! After modifiying the bootloader and installing the latest version of OpenWRT / LEDE, I decided to run some tests.

For testing, I will be copying a 4.3Gb CentOS ISO file from my laptop to a test VM (plex).

First test – gigabit router is connected. File transfer is at 71.3MB/s and the transfer completed in 1min.

Second test – old 10/100MB router is connected. File transfer is at 11.0MB/s and the transfer completed in 6min 31secs.

Third test – gigabit router is connected again. File transfer is at 66.3MB/s and the transfer completed in 1min 4secs.

Clear winner is the gigabit router! I have retired the D-Link router and will be using the TP-Link WDR3600 from now on.

UPDATE

I received several recommendations that instead of testing by transferring files via ssh which has many factors (encryption, protocol, disk read / write speed) is to use iperf instead. Iperf is a network throughput testing tool which runs on a server-client model. You install iperf on two machines, one will act as server, and the other will act as client.

I’ve installed it locally on my laptop and on one of my test VMs (plex). I’ve run iperf as client / server in the laptop and the test VM respectively. And below are the results, it looks like I’m pretty close in getting gigabit speeds!

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