Need some network advice.

By Druegan
Dec 15, 2006
  1. Salutations all,

    I'm hoping one or more of the network gurus here can lend some advice on how best to set up this network, and some product recommendations. Here's the overall situation at the moment:

    Large house, with 9 housemates. We currently have 6 computers, will be adding at least another 2 in the near future. We have a 6mb down / 1mb up highspeed cable connection via RoadRunner. We also have VoIP through Vonage. Computers are located in basement, main floor, and second floor.

    We are looking to redo our current mess of a network. We would *like* to run gigabit *wired* ethernet to all users in the house. (we really don't want wireless)

    Our current setup is as follows: Cable modem is connected to WAN input on our Motorola VT2142 phone adaptor/router (vonage VoIP box, nat disabled). This is connected to the WAN input on our Linksys BEFW11S4 4-port router. Port 4 on the Linksys runs to a 4-port switch my roommate had, don't remember the make or model, possibly a Belkin, that services the 3 connections at the back of the house.

    All computers in the house are running Windows XP, SP1.

    As you can tell by the description, the current network is a bit of a mess. We would like to clean it up, and possibly fix some of the issues we're having with it. I'm "head geek" here, but I'm not a network guy. I just build/fix PC's.

    These are our usage requirements.. of the 6 computers, 4 see primary usage as mere internet terminals, with the occasional use for online MMORPG's or LAN games. The other 2 are heavily used, for p2p, online gaming, etc.

    Originally, we had a different Vonage box connected to one of the LAN ports on the router, but call quality was utter crap, even though we had far in excess of the required bandwidth free. Switching to the Motorola VT2142 and putting it in front of the Linksys solved that issue. With the NAT disabled, the Motorola box is pretty much just acting as a pass-through (I think...)

    The problems we have with our current setup, besides the mess... 1) the entire mess needs to be power-cycled at *least* once a day, because certain computers will suddenly cease to have connectivity, be unable to ping the Linksys at all, and only a power-cycle solves the issue.. sometimes it is one or more of the systems plugged into the switch, sometimes it is one of the systems plugged directly into the Linksys... but the remainder of the systems will still have full connectivity.. and 2) Whenever one of our systems is connecting to a P2P network, Latency goes through the roof. Normal latency is between 10-20ms, once p2p connection is made, latency for entire network jumps to 500-900ms. This makes for bad online gaming experiences.

    The only 2 computers which connect to p2p networks are the "heavy use" systems, one is connected to the switch, one directly to the Linksys. bandwidth usage on *either* system should be nowhere near to maxing out our pipe.. with a 1mb up/6mb down, we get this massive latency increase even when total transfers are only equalling 100k up / 200k down. (We're using Direct Connect network via DC++, if that matters any)

    The LAN addresses are handled through DHCP in the Linksys.

    What I'd like:
    I'd like to simplify this mess, honestly.. I'd like to find an 8-port gigabit router, and get rid of the current linksys and switch, and just then have Cable Modem -->Motorola VT2142 ----> new 8-port ---> all house computers. I'm kinda leery about having the Motorola box handle both the VoIP *and* all the NAT routing bits at the same time. I know we'll need to get gigabit NIC's for 4 of the house computers, which isn't an issue.

    I was hoping, however, that some of you wizened network gurus might advise me on a good setup to optimize our network.. Simplify it, if possible, and maybe help us solve the latency and/or connectivity problems. Product recommendations for said 8-port would be also much appreciated. Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. zephead

    zephead TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,569

    i would go with a linksys router, but i doubt they make one with an 8 port gigabit switch. regular 100 MB/s ethernet should be fine, it your internet usage will have the router working at a mere fraction of its capacity. furthermore, your average computer cannot fully utilize a gigabit connection on account of other performance bottlenecks, namely the hard drive controller.

    connectivity problems can be hard to track down. it could be caused by bad cabling, EMI, bad drivers, or a faulty router.
  3. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    If you really want gigabit, get a GB switch and plug it into the router. You will have gigabit between computers and 100Mbit to the internet (which should be more than enough).
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,173   +989

    Your gamers/p2p users will impact the bandwidth for all others.
    Using a switch will help;
    modem -- router -- switch -- (6) client systems.
    It will reduce the traffic to each client to only that associated with that IP address,
    thus saving LAN bandwidth downstream from the switch. Your router can still
    use DHCP to manage all client addresses.
    Another technique you might try;
    modem -- router -- switch -- (4) other clients
                + ---- (2) gamer/p2p systems.
    or flip the gamers to the switch and the others directly to the router.
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