SilverStone Wireless Upgrade Roundup Review

by - 6 years ago

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Introduction


SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-headershot

It is one thing to buy a wireless network card and set it up, but a lot of the time you can improve the performance of these cards with a few aftermarket items. Today I’m taking a little look at some of the upgrade offering that SilverStone offers, the WAB1B Magnetic WiFi antenna base, the WAD17 7 dBi high-gain antenna, and the 9 dBi WA219 high-gain antenna.

An antenna base can help you with two things: Move the antennas to a more open space where it’s less crowded than behind your PC with all the add-in cards and cables running there. The second bonus is that you can move the antennas to a place where they will get a better reception than they would behind your chassis that’s possibly located under your desk. SilverStone’s WAB1B antenna base is also magnetic which allows you to place it on the side of things, such as your PC chassis if it is made of metal. This increases the placement options even further. To finalize the whole thing, SilverStone added gold-plated connectors at both ends to ensure the best possible signal transfer.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-roundup one

The included antennas might not be total to your liking when you buy a network card, for one reason or another. The most common reason to get aftermarket antennas is the higher performance that they offer over the mainstream and included antennas. Antennas with higher gain also come with an increased size as you can see on the photo below. The smallest antenna is the default antenna included with SilverStone’s ECWA1 PCIe card and the other two are the WAD17 and WA219 respectively.

The WAD17 is a dual-band antenna for use with both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz band while the WA219 only is a single-band antenna for use with the 2.4GHz band. Both have their usage scenarios, so which you pick comes down to what you need. The long WA219 has a performance of 9dBi while the WAD217 has a performance of 7dBi, both quite a bit better than default 5dBi antennas, or worse.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-roundup two

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Magnetic Base WAB1B


SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAB1B product

The SilverStone WAB1B is a circular magnetic antenna base for remote placement of your antennas in relation to the network card. The WAB1B magnetic antenna base has a standard SMA plug RP connection on both ends, the stand itself and on the end of the 1.5-meter long cable that connects to your wireless network card instead of the antennas.

With the magnetic abilities of the antenna stand, you can easily place them on the side of your chassis for front placement or you can just use them normal on your desk or a shelve. The WAB1B is easily strong enough to keep the stand and even the largest aftermarket antenna I’m testing here today up.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAB1B closeup 1

Both of the two connectors, the one on the stand and the one on the cable, are gold-plated for optimal connection and the cable used between the two is a low loss CLF 100 rated one.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAB1B closeup two

Feature Highlights

  • Circular magnetic base
  • Low loss CLF100 cable with gold-plated SMA jack RP
  • 150cm cable length

Specifications

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-SS-antenna base specs

Package and Accessories

The package isn’t large because it doesn’t need to be, but it is still beautifully designed. The front shows the device itself as well as the feature highlights.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAB1B box front

On the rear the whole thing is repeated in multiple languages.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAB1B box rear

The one side has all the specifications including weight, dimensions, and features.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAB1B box side

And the other side has a small introduction text on how it can be useful.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAB1B box side other

Inside is only a small leaflet with the warranty terms and conditions aside from the magnetic base itself.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAB1B box inside

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Dual-Band 7dBi Antenna WAD17


SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAD17 product

The antenna’s performance is a crucial factor in determining the transfer speed and reliability between both sending and receiving devices in a wireless network environment. An inadequate antenna may result in dropped connections or sub par speeds. So to offer users the best possible wireless performance, SilverStone created the WAD17.

The WAD17 is a high-gain Wi-Fi antenna with SMA plug that easily replaces the stock Wi-Fi antennas found on routers or wireless network cards for immediate performance improvement.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAD17 closeup one

While this is a dual-band antenna, the WAD17’s strength lies in the 5GHz band where it has a performance of 7 dBi. The slower and older 2.4GHz band will still get an impressive 5 dBi gain with this antenna. The antenna can be turned 360 degrees and angled at either 45 or 90 degrees next to straight position.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAD17 closeup three

The SilverStone WAD17 is a dipole-type antenna with a linear vertical polarization and a Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR) is specified of 2.5 to 1 max. The 2.4GHz band is covered with a spectrum from 2400 to 2500 MHz and the 5GHz band is covered from 5150 MHz to 5875 MHz.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAD17 closeup two

 

Feature Highlights

  • High gain Wi-Fi antenna improves wireless connectivity
  • 2.4~2.5GHz 5dBi and 5.1~5.8GHz 7dBi dipole
  • SMA plug RP

Specifications

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-SS-antenna 7dbi specs

Package and Accessories

The colorful package contains a photo as well as the name of the antenna on the front that also highlights the 7 dBi gain.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAD17 box front

The rear of the package has the specifications in multiple languages.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAD17 box rear

Inside the box, you’ll find the antenna itself and a warranty terms and conditions note.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WAD17 box inside

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High-Gain 9dBi Antenna WA219


SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WA219 product

As mentioned on the previous page, the antenna you use is a crucial factor when it comes to your wireless network performance. The SilverStone WAD17 was a dual-band antenna, but this WA219 is just for the 2.4GHz band. The 2.4GHz band has a better coverage than the 5GHz and that can be improved even more with this massive high-gain antenna.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WA219 closeup 3

Just as the previous antenna it features a standard SMA plug for great compatibility with almost any router and wireless network card that allow you to change and replace the default antennas.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WA219 closeup two

The WA219 can be turned 360 degrees and angled in 45 or 90 degrees aside from the straight out position.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WA219 closeup 4

The dipole antenna has an impressive 9dBi gain that should provide plenty of power for the most demanding ranges. It does however also weigh 40 grams and is over 38 centimeters long. That’s about as long as a TKL keyboard is wide, just to put it in perspective.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WA219 closeup one

Feature Highlights

  • High gain Wi-Fi antenna improves wireless connectivity
  • 2.4~2.5GHz 9dBi dipole
  • SMA plug RP

 

Specifications

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-SS-antenna 9dbi specs

Package and Accessories

The colorful package contains a photo as well as the name of the antenna on the front that also highlights the 7 dBi gain.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WA219 box front

The rear of the package has the specifications in multiple languages.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WA219box rear

Inside the box, you’ll find the antenna itself and a warranty terms and conditions note.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Photo-WA219 box inside

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Test Procedure


For comparison purposes, I’ll be using SilverStone’s ECWA1 mPCI-E Adapter and ECW02 mPCI-E 802.11ac that I’ve reviewed not long ago and use those default antennas as a baseline comparison. I will then switch one of them out with an aftermarket, one at a time, for comparison tests. SilverStone sadly only sent me one of each, so I’ll pair that one with a default antenna in each test.

The dual band antenna will be tested on both bands while the single band naturally only can be tested on the 2.4GHz band. I’ll be using both static and variable package sizes to simulate as many conditions as possible.

SilverStone_ECWA1_ECW02-Photo-adapter-and-module-2

Hardware

We would like to thank our sponsors for supplying us with the equipment needed to perform these tests.

Software

  • PassMark PerformanceTest Suite
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Wireless 2.4GHz Performance


The 2.4GHz band is the older of the two wireless bands that are in use today. On this band, we find 802.11b/g/n wireless standards with up to 600Mbps bandwidth on offer when using wireless-n compliant devices. Due to the lower operating frequency, 2.4GHz signals offer a wider level of coverage, but the lower throughput speeds are a disadvantage to this aging band.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Bench-7db-graph 2ghz

Fixed Block Size

To test the maximum throughput speed that a wireless connection can handle, a fixed block size of 16384 Bytes is sent from the client to the server over a period of five minutes. The higher block size will allow the transfer rate to stay as high as possible – in the same way that large files transfer from one drive to another quicker than lots of small files of the same total size.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Chart-2GHz Fixed

Variable Packet Size

In a real world situation, the blocks of data that pass through a wireless adaptor are not of the same size each time, so to give a more realistic impression of how an adaptor performs, the adaptor is once again tested at each range for a period of five minutes. This time, however, the block size will vary from 32 Bytes up to 16384 Bytes in increasing steps of 148.7 Bytes each time.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Chart-2GHz Variable

 

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Wireless 5GHz Performance


5GHz is a more recent addition to the consumer WiFi specification and on this frequency we find both 802.11n and AC standards on offer. We note that 802.11n is the only standard to run at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies and this is the most common standard for ISP routers to feature. Unlike the 2.4GHz band, 5GHz radio waves and solid brick walls do not go that well hand in hand, so whilst it does support a much faster throughput speed, its range can be severely crippled in a dense operating environment.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Bench-7db-graph 5ghz

Fixed Block Size

To test the maximum throughput speed that a wireless connection can handle, a fixed block size of 16384 Bytes is sent from the client to the server over a period of five minutes. The higher block size will allow the transfer rate to stay as high as possible – in the same way that large files transfer from one drive to another quicker than lots of small files of the same total size.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Chart-5GHz Fixed

Variable Packet Size

In a real world situation, the blocks of data that pass through a wireless adaptor are not of the same size each time, so to give a more realistic impression of how an adaptor performs, the adaptor is once again tested at each range for a period of five minutes. This time, however, the block size will vary from 32 Bytes up to 16384 Bytes in increasing steps of 148.7 Bytes each time.

SilverStoneWiFi Upgrade-Chart-5GHz Variable

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Final Thoughts


Pricing

At the time of writing, SilverStone’s WAB1B Magnetic WiFi antenna base can be had for $9.99, £6.81, and €18.13 respectively on US, UK, and DE Amazon.

The WAD17 7 dBi high-gain antenna can be had for $9.99, £6.81, and €18.06 respectively on Amazon US, UK, and DE.

The SilverStone 9 dBi WA219 high-gain antenna can be yours through Amazon US for $9.99, Amazon UK for £8.02, or from Amazon DE for €19.47

Overview

Getting the best possible wireless speeds can be a tricky situation, especially when your system is located far away from the router or access point. To help this, SilverStone released a row of accessories that can help us here. We saw the magnetic antenna base that allows us to move the antennas to a more optimal placement than where they’re originally located and thereby already get a better reception with our current antennas.

Aftermarket antennas are a great way to boost the signal strength and while we didn’t see that huge of a performance impact in our reviews, we would if I had more space and could set up a longer distance test then my apartment allows me to. It would also have shown far better result if I had two antennas of each kind instead of just one, forcing me to pair the one with a default antenna in each case.

The upgrade costs for these antennas is relatively cheap, at least if you’re not in Germany where it seems to cost a bit more. Considering the hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars you’ve otherwise spent on your setup, a few bucks more for some proper antennas could be money well spent.

The 9dBi 2.4GHz antenna is more specialized in the way that most people will want to use the 5GHz band too, but the dual-band one would be a great power boost instead of your existing and lower powered antennas.

Pros:

  • More gain means better reception and longer range
  • Cheap upgrade
  • Universally usable SMA plug
  • Dipole High-Gain

Cons:

  • You’ll need to purchase two or three for a full upgrade

“SilverStone’s WAB1B, WAD17, and WA219 are all worthy upgrades for your router and network cards. Together they help to place the antennas better and increase both coverage and throughput.”

Thanks to SilverStone for providing this review sample

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Magnetic Base WAB1B
  3. Dual-Band 7dBi Antenna WAD17
  4. High-Gain 9dBi Antenna WA219
  5. Test Procedure
  6. WAD17 Performance
  7. WA219 Performance
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. View All

Author Bio

1 Comment on SilverStone Wireless Upgrade Roundup Review

  • Avatar Marcus Schulz says:

    On page 4 under package you wrote that it is a 7dbi antenna 🙂
    But again a very good review so far

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