Wireless Freedom for the Pi-ple

When the Raspberry Pi Foundation introduced the Raspberry Pi Three, many a developer was fascinated by the integrated Wi-Fi module.

 

When the Raspberry Pi Foundation introduced the Raspberry Pi Three, many a developer was fascinated by the integrated Wi-Fi module. Sadly, practical performance was not quite as good. Let’s find out if the next generation brings any improvement.

The most important thing first: the Raspberry Pi 3B+ can now connect not only to 2.4 GHz networks but also to ones operating in the 5 GHz band. This means that you can escape congested areas more easily, albeit at the price of shorter range.

Performing actual Wi-Fi performance tests is a bit difficult – let us stick to using Ping and iperf, yielding the results shown in the table. The Raspberry Pi 3B had lower ping latencies, but the new model achieves better signal strength and more network throughput. This can also be verified in practice – surfing the web is much more comfortable on the new model.

Measurement Old PI New Pi
iPerf [ 3] 0.0-120.1 sec 5.90 MBytes 412 Kbits/sec [ 3] 0.0-124.9 sec 20.6 MBytes 1.38 Mbits/sec
ping 100 packets transmitted, 88 received, 12% packet loss rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 1.872/11.935/87.561/10.758 ms 100 packets transmitted, 84 received, 16% packet loss rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 1.728/14.319/151.091/23.329 ms

The inclusion of gigabit ethernet raised quite a few eyebrows: after all, the actual SOC is not able to provide more than about 480 Mbits of total bandwidth to all of the peripheral devices. In practice, this limitation shows up doing iperf runs:

0.0-120.0 sec 4.44 GBytes 318 Mbits/sec

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