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Getting the most out of your Internet subscription

I recently spent a few weeks squeezing the most performance possible out of my fast internet subscription. Here's how you can do it too

Brian Benz

3 minutes read

A couple of months ago I upgraded my internet plan to the max available Gigabit plan, but was dismayed that it made little difference to performance.

After some research and trial and error and relatively small investments, I now have vastly better performance, with several wired gigabit ethernet connections directly from my router to the PCs we use for streaming, slightly slower but still fast ethernet connections in all rooms, and relatively fast wireless for other home devices.

Heres how I made that happen:

Getting started:

Fast.com is a good, independent place to check your speed. I currently get typically 400-500 MBPS upload, 90 MBPS download on my Gigabit cable plan, depending on what and who are online sharing the connection during the day.

Make sure you have at DOCSIS 3.1 modem if you get internet though your cable provider. The Arris SB8200 is a safe bet.

A good wireless router is important too. The Amplifi home Wifi router is great.

Even with this setup, my wireless typically maxes out at 120-220 MBPS due to router limits and how many home devices are sharing wireless connections (cameras, doorbells, etc.).

Switching to wired connections for household laptops took me to 300 MBPS immediately, then a few adjustments got me to 400-500 MBPS.

Notes on wired connections:

Cables matter! Upgrading from CAT5e to CAT8 ethernet cables directly plugged into the wireless router took me to 400 MBPS.

Adapters matter too. I had USB adapters, but they were all USB 2.0. Adding this Cable Matters USB 3.0 adapter added another 100 MBPS. Theres also a USB-C version.

NOTE - Not all USB 3 adapters are the same! This TP-link adapter made no difference to my speed vs. a USB 2 adapter, but the Cable Matters USB 3 adapter made a significant difference of aruond 100 MBPS.

Multi-port adapters

If you have limited USB ports on your PC, you probably need a multi-port adapter with plugs for HDMI, power, ethernet and other USB accessories.
I’ve had bad luck with several multi-port adapters not working after a few months, but my apple USB-C adapter has never failed me and works with non-apple devices just fine, and doesn’t slow down the connection as some other adapters do.

Other stuff:

If you have ethernet outlets in rooms, that means that you have an old switch somewhere. It’s usually a panel somewhere in a closet or attic covering a junction box.

My speed maxed out at 100MBPS with the original 2005-installed switch, slower than wireless.

I bought a new Gigabit ethernet switch, and plugged all the cables inside the junction box into the new switch.

Because of the format of the junction box I had to use CAT8 1-2 foot cables for the connections to the new switch. With that quick change, I doubled my wired speed to 250 MBPS in all rooms in the house. This is half as fast as my connections directly from the router because of the CAT5e cables from the junction box to the rooms, but still a major speed improvement and convenient when we need to move around but still need a better-than-wireless connection.

DIY Stuff:

To see which room is connected to which wire in a junction box and what he quality of the connection is, use this tester. To plug the tester into outlets, use CAT8 1-2 foot cables](https://amzn.to/332Fd6N).

If you want to run cables to replace your older cables with CAT8, use a fish tape.

If you go directly from the router you’ll probably need some help hiding cables My wife didn’t notice that I had run one cable over a door and across the room using D-line cable raceways along the baseboards and molding. Great stuff.

Hope that helps!

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