In the Forums...
Posted: January 13, 2000
Written by: Ryan "Xero" Martinez
Note - this is "Take 2" of our 3Com Internet Gaming Modem review. Read the original review from a couple weeks ago here.
After tapped's experiences with the 3Com IGM, he sent it to me for further and more conclusive testing... so, benevolently, I took it upon myself to test the modem rigorously by gaming (the things I do for you guys :) ). What did I discover about the modem?
Performance, Performance, Performance!
In a nutshell (I won't BS you around), it performs much like any other modem. It had about the same ping times as my Lucent Tech Winmodem. In light of the price tag, that's not uplifting news for us modem users. But, the 3Com IGM does hold redeeming values.
3Com wasn't lying about connection stability... Having two phonelines in my residence, I get just enough crossover line noise that when the main phone line rings, my connection normally craps out until the phone has finished ringing. While testing the modem in a heavy firefight in Counter-Strike, I heard the dreaded ring of the phone... but no lag ensued. Encouraging news for those of you with poor phone line connections.
When it came to ping times however, the IGM wasn't holding an edge over my Lucent Tech Winmodem (which is the most reliable Winmodem)... with a 550MHz Celeron, there was no latency induced by the Lucent's well-written software drivers. On the flip side, testing it against a Rockwell-based Winmodem yielded laughable results. The 3Com beat it in every facet, including ping, stability, and average bandwidth. CPU usage from the Rockwell was ridiculous, using as much as 35% of the CPU during heavy load times (that doesn’t include the 100% CPU usage spike while connecting/disconnecting).
Reading the fine print, I noticed that 3Com promised faster ping times only for connections to 3Com modems. Since the drivers were tweaked for 3Com connections, if your ISP uses 3Com equipment, you can expect the best ping results with the IGM. In spite of my ISP's Lucent Tech equipment, the 3Com modem still gave stable connections.
So what's my recommendation?... Have no illusions, this modem is not the Grail of online gaming. It's not going to give you the bandwidth and ping of an ADSL or cable connection. But if your ISP uses 3Com equipment, it's going to be the best connection you'll get from a 56k modem. Those of you with bad phone lines should give this modem a try. Its increased stability is most noticeable on bad phone lines. Price-wise, it's expensive, but it's not much more than most other hardware modems... and you can't forget the excellent bundle that comes with it. If you already have a good modem that's giving you a sub-200 ping, you probably won't gain much from changing.