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Florian Kapfenberger
Florian Kapfenberger

Posted on • Originally published at phiilu.com

Check your LAN network speeds with iperf3

When you are installing new network cables or a new router/switch you might want to test if your equipment performs as it should.

I recently installed new CAT 7 cables which I had crimped myself. Therefore I wanted to test if what I did was actually working and giving me the maximal theoretical speed of 1 Gbit/sec in my network.

When you want to test your internet speed you are usually used to going to a website like speedtest.net or fast.com. Those websites are great if you want to test your ISP's network speed, but usually not great if you want to test your LAN network speed. Of course, if you have a 1 Gbit/sec up and downlink contract with your ISP, those sites should work too.

For the rest of us, who don't have those extreme speeds we need to use tools that are using our LAN network.

iperf3 is an excellent tool to measure LAN network speeds and to find bottlenecks or bad network equipment.

In the following, I will show how to install iperf3 and how to use it for a basic network test.

Install iperf3

First of all, we need to install iperf3 on both devices that you want to test.

Debian/Ubuntu

sudo apt install iperf3

macOS

brew install iperf3

Testing your LAN speeds

iperf3 is a client-server application, which means it will need to run on two different computers to work.

First, determine which of your device should be the server and which should be the client. It does not matter which device has which role.

In my case, I chose my Raspberry Pi as the server and my MacBook Pro as the client.

On the server device you just start the iperf3 in server mode:

iperf3 -s

In your terminal window, you should now see that your server is ready

-----------------------------------------------------------
Server listening on 5201
-----------------------------------------------------------

On your client device you will now have to connect to the server:

iperf3 -c 192.168.1.10

Note that you should change the IP address to the one of the server

Connecting to host 192.168.1.10, port 5201
[  5] local 192.168.1.179 port 63816 connected to 192.168.1.10 port 5201
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate
[  5]   0.00-1.00   sec   114 MBytes   956 Mbits/sec
[  5]   1.00-2.00   sec   112 MBytes   941 Mbits/sec
[  5]   2.00-3.00   sec   112 MBytes   935 Mbits/sec
[  5]   3.00-4.00   sec   111 MBytes   928 Mbits/sec
[  5]   4.00-5.00   sec   113 MBytes   945 Mbits/sec
[  5]   5.00-6.00   sec   112 MBytes   943 Mbits/sec
[  5]   6.00-7.00   sec   112 MBytes   941 Mbits/sec
[  5]   7.00-8.00   sec   112 MBytes   941 Mbits/sec
[  5]   8.00-9.00   sec   112 MBytes   941 Mbits/sec
[  5]   9.00-10.00  sec   112 MBytes   941 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate
[  5]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.10 GBytes   941 Mbits/sec                  sender
[  5]   0.00-10.01  sec  1.10 GBytes   940 Mbits/sec                  receiver

iperf Done.

Now you can see how fast your LAN speeds are. If you have a 1Gbit/sec network like me you should see speeds around 940 Mbits/sec.

This is really close to the theoretical 1Gbit/sec. You can repeat the test multiple times as there can be different results depending on the systems load.

Additional options to use

Here I will list some extra options that you can pass to iperf3. If you want to check out more options use the man pages by typing man iperf3 into the terminal.

Parallel test streams

If you have more than 1 Gbits/s you can try to use the -P parameter to run multiple test streams at once at parallel.

iperf3 -c 192.168.1.13 -P 3
Connecting to host 192.168.1.13, port 5201
[  5] local 192.168.1.179 port 63847 connected to 192.168.1.13 port 5201
[  7] local 192.168.1.179 port 63848 connected to 192.168.1.13 port 5201
[  9] local 192.168.1.179 port 63849 connected to 192.168.1.13 port 5201
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate
[  5]   0.00-1.00   sec  15.0 MBytes   126 Mbits/sec
[  7]   0.00-1.00   sec  42.8 MBytes   359 Mbits/sec
[  9]   0.00-1.00   sec  56.7 MBytes   476 Mbits/sec
[SUM]   0.00-1.00   sec   115 MBytes   961 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[  5]   1.00-2.00   sec  10.8 MBytes  90.8 Mbits/sec
[  7]   1.00-2.00   sec  49.5 MBytes   416 Mbits/sec
[  9]   1.00-2.00   sec  52.1 MBytes   437 Mbits/sec
[SUM]   1.00-2.00   sec   112 MBytes   943 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[  5]   2.00-3.00   sec  17.7 MBytes   149 Mbits/sec
[  7]   2.00-3.00   sec  47.5 MBytes   398 Mbits/sec
[  9]   2.00-3.00   sec  47.3 MBytes   397 Mbits/sec
[SUM]   2.00-3.00   sec   113 MBytes   944 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[  5]   3.00-4.00   sec  24.8 MBytes   208 Mbits/sec
[  7]   3.00-4.00   sec  46.6 MBytes   391 Mbits/sec
[  9]   3.00-4.00   sec  41.0 MBytes   344 Mbits/sec
[SUM]   3.00-4.00   sec   112 MBytes   943 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[  5]   4.00-5.00   sec  26.0 MBytes   218 Mbits/sec
[  7]   4.00-5.00   sec  43.2 MBytes   362 Mbits/sec
[  9]   4.00-5.00   sec  42.9 MBytes   360 Mbits/sec
[SUM]   4.00-5.00   sec   112 MBytes   940 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[  5]   5.00-6.00   sec  32.2 MBytes   270 Mbits/sec
[  7]   5.00-6.00   sec  43.2 MBytes   363 Mbits/sec
[  9]   5.00-6.00   sec  36.6 MBytes   307 Mbits/sec
[SUM]   5.00-6.00   sec   112 MBytes   940 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[  5]   6.00-7.00   sec  33.4 MBytes   280 Mbits/sec
[  7]   6.00-7.00   sec  39.6 MBytes   332 Mbits/sec
[  9]   6.00-7.00   sec  39.3 MBytes   330 Mbits/sec
[SUM]   6.00-7.00   sec   112 MBytes   943 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[  5]   7.00-8.00   sec  27.5 MBytes   231 Mbits/sec
[  7]   7.00-8.00   sec  41.5 MBytes   348 Mbits/sec
[  9]   7.00-8.00   sec  43.0 MBytes   361 Mbits/sec
[SUM]   7.00-8.00   sec   112 MBytes   940 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[  5]   8.00-9.00   sec  23.2 MBytes   195 Mbits/sec
[  7]   8.00-9.00   sec  45.3 MBytes   380 Mbits/sec
[  9]   8.00-9.00   sec  42.6 MBytes   358 Mbits/sec
[SUM]   8.00-9.00   sec   111 MBytes   932 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[  5]   9.00-10.00  sec  26.2 MBytes   219 Mbits/sec
[  7]   9.00-10.00  sec  43.9 MBytes   368 Mbits/sec
[  9]   9.00-10.00  sec  43.4 MBytes   364 Mbits/sec
[SUM]   9.00-10.00  sec   113 MBytes   952 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate
[  5]   0.00-10.00  sec   237 MBytes   199 Mbits/sec                  sender
[  5]   0.00-10.01  sec   236 MBytes   198 Mbits/sec                  receiver
[  7]   0.00-10.00  sec   443 MBytes   372 Mbits/sec                  sender
[  7]   0.00-10.01  sec   442 MBytes   370 Mbits/sec                  receiver
[  9]   0.00-10.00  sec   445 MBytes   373 Mbits/sec                  sender
[  9]   0.00-10.01  sec   444 MBytes   372 Mbits/sec                  receiver
[SUM]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.10 GBytes   944 Mbits/sec                  sender
[SUM]   0.00-10.01  sec  1.10 GBytes   940 Mbits/sec                  receiver

iperf Done.

You see that there are now 3 test streams occupying the full 1 Gbit/sec bandwidth.

Changing the displayed speed format

By default iperf3 will show you the speed in Mbit/sec, but you can change that with the -f [kmgtKMGT] option.

To display Gbit/sec you can you use the following command:

iperf3 -c 192.168.1.13 -f g
Connecting to host 192.168.1.13, port 5201
[  5] local 192.168.1.179 port 63952 connected to 192.168.1.13 port 5201
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate
[  5]   0.00-1.00   sec   112 MBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec
[  5]   1.00-2.00   sec   112 MBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec
[  5]   2.00-3.00   sec   112 MBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec
[  5]   3.00-4.00   sec   112 MBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec
[  5]   4.00-5.00   sec   112 MBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec
[  5]   5.00-6.00   sec   112 MBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec
[  5]   6.00-7.00   sec   112 MBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec
[  5]   7.00-8.00   sec   112 MBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec
[  5]   8.00-9.00   sec   112 MBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec
[  5]   9.00-10.00  sec   112 MBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate
[  5]   0.00-10.00  sec  1.10 GBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec                  sender
[  5]   0.00-10.01  sec  1.09 GBytes  0.94 Gbits/sec                  receiver

iperf Done.

Conclusion

Now you know how you can test your own LAN network and it is not that difficult too. Next time you notice a drop in transfer speed between your NAS and computer, you may want to check your connection with iperf3 and figure out where the problem could be 😄

Top comments (2)

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

I'm not too too far off from moving into a new place and going to be setting up a home network. This is super helpful — bookmarked!

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phiilu profile image
Florian Kapfenberger Author

Great that you liked it Michael!

Let me know the result of your home network, I am super curious how it will turn out! I recently did mine as well with products from Ubiquiti. I love how you can connect all the devices to a single controller and see the whole network in one place!

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