Here I compared the performance of 3 popular high power USB devices in Windows: • AWUS036H (RTL8187L) 1000mW • AWUS036NHR (RTL8188RU) 2000mW • Kasens G9000 (RT3070) 6000mW (claimed) Here are the contenders, notice I only have the AWUS036H chipset and not the casing They both use the same casing, but ALFA spends a bit more on graphics and information and are made in Taiwan. RT3070 | RTL8187L | RTL8188RU The RT3070 is the smallest and one would say least complex of the other two. The RTL8187L chipset is huge. The RT8188RU looks like a complicated build, which is probably the main reason why the price is so high. Note that if you take the chipset from the adapter you void your warranty with ALFA devices as they have an anti tempering sticker. Aims The main aim was to determine which card performs best: • Most signals (sensitivity / war driving purposes) • Most usable signals (practicality / able to connect and use) • Speed performance (download / upload) of b/g/n networks It is one thing to be able to hack a network, you also want to be able to connect to it. Methods Tests were conducted in the afternoon at 6:00PM to 6:45PM. Each USB wireless adapter used the same 5dBi omni directional antenna and USB plug to ensure conclusive results. The mount that was used was a U-Mount Squid Design. A straight edge was clamped with a g-clamp to the front window of a car in order to ensure the U-mount was sitting in the optimal vertical position. Tests were conducted in Windows 7 64bit as a virtual machine in Parallels Desktop (Build 7.0.15106) on a 13inch mid 2010 Macbook Pro. The adapters used the latest drivers from official Reltek and Ralink sources. Software used to test sensitivity and practicality was inSSIDer 2.0. Each adapter received a 60 second network scan. Internet speed was conducted using the online tool at speedtest.net. The cutoff for useable networks was established at -70 RSSI or better. We also tested to see if the 18dBi antenna that came with the G9000 to see if it performed better than the standard ALFA 5dBi antenna. The tests showed that there was minimal to no difference in sensitivity or usability. To buy a genuine ALFA unit, expect to pay $24.00 or more U.S. Background AWUS036H (RTL8187L) 1000mW This card has been around for many years and continues to be a favourite for pentesters using BackTrack, Xiaopan and Beini. It is one of those cards that just works. Offensive Security and Tactical Network solutions both recommend this card for their courses as well as testing. Another issue is that this card is getting old and new systems may become incompatible. Linux compatible and incompatible with the new 64bit versions of Mac OS X (10.7+). For those who want this card in Mac OS X, I suggest you get an ALFA R36 with the right firmware, which will enable you create an extender to connect the RTL8187L to the R36. One of the major issues with this card is that is not an N network card. It can connect to these, but the rate is limited to the same speed as b/g networks. Background AWUS036NHR (RTL8188RU) 2000mW The AWUS036NHR is N compatible and the newest out of the 3 tested on the scene and has equal power output (2000mW) as the AWUS036NH (RT3070). It essentially competes with RT3070 devices, as there is not much difference between the two. This device is also compatible with the R36 providing you have the right firmware. The NHR drivers and utilities work well in Windows and Mac OS X. One of the biggest downfalls with the NHR is that packet injection is possible but difficult to obtain in Linux. This is not a card for those who want to 'plug and play' type compatibility in Linux. This card uses duel USB cables to supply 5v power from your computer to the device. If you want a genuine one of these you are looking at about $29.50 U.S. Background Kasens G9000 (RT3070) 6000mW (claimed) This device is N compatible, was the cheapest out of the three ($21.00 US) and claims to be the most powerful. The G9000 either comes with an RTL8187L or RT3070. Many vendors particularly on eBay do not state which one. There is a big difference between these cards you would think they would have another model number to help consumers chose the model they are after. The RT3070 is probably the best all rounder if you want something that works in Windows and Mac (even compatible with Mountain Lion 64bit) as well as hacking in Linux. It comes with a huge 18dBi antenna, which you should be careful of as bumping that around could leave you with a broken SMA connector. I will also add that it came with a mini CD with Beini installed which I found interesting. As with the other adapters, this too is compatible with the R36. AWUS036H Results The control NETGEAR router achieved -53 RSSI with the 2000mW ALFA and 21 useable networks of -70 RSSI or better. The average out of the 24 networks it picked up was -61.16 RSSI. Kasens G9000 (RT3070) Results The control NETGEAR router achieved -69 RSSI with the 6000mW Kasens and 3 useable networks of -70 RSSI or better. The average out of the 23 networks it picked up was -72.39 RSSI. AWUS036NHR (RTL8188RU) Results The control NETGEAR router achieved -72 RSSI with the 2000mW ALFA and 0 useable networks of -70 RSSI or better. The average out of the 24 networks it picked up was truly shocking, -87.375 RSSI Results Clearly the AWUS036H is the winner. Bear in mind the H is the old 500mW version. Expect better results with the 1000mW version of the H. But this might change with driver updates. Fantasma has indicated installing an updated driver can improve performance by a significant margin. Remember this was a comparison of chipsets and not of manufacturers. There is some evidence that ALFA devices perform better than others, but this was certainly not a test for comparing manufacturers. Useable Networks (-70 RSSI or better) AWUS036H 21 Kasens G9000 3 AWUS036NHR 0 Control NETGEAR Router (RSSI) AWUS036H -53 Kasens G9000 -69 AWUS036NHR -72 Average Signal Strength (RSSI) AWUS036H -61.16 Kasens G9000 -72.39 AWUS036NHR -87.375 What Else Needs to Be Done? I will explain the results at a later date and finish off this post. I am also going to use speedtest.net to determine if there is any internet speed differences between the cards. Has anyone got these cards and can make any other comparison?