Adding a Wireless Card

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Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:12 pm

I think I'm going to put a wireless card in my PC, partically as a "just to have," partially for LAN, and so I can generally move my PC around a bit when needed. I'll still be using ethernet 90-99% of the time.

But for that 1-10%...does anyone have experience with anything good or bad? PCI Express with n capability like this one.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:49 pm

Keep in mind that looks to be a 1x1 ("single stream") card, so while it supports "N" you won't be getting as much out of it as you could be. Of course if you don't have a MiMo access point (and near enough to make best use of the 5GHz band) that's moot anyway. For what sounds like your minimal intended usage, and the fact you can go to wired if you need anything requiring heavy bandwidth (big file transfers or reliable HD video), I'm sure it's fine (and at least it's cheap).
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:59 pm

Hm...I might want a better card, then. I was thinking about moving my PC into the living room occaisionally to use my big TV, and that could involve HD video. Good catch.
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:06 pm

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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:39 pm

If you have a PCI slot, I have this card and it's been excellent.

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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:06 pm

I've been using this PCIe adapter for some time in my primary PC (I only use WiFi inside the house):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6833166073
It's pretty inexpensive Realtek-based card, has good antennas, doesn't have useless 5GHz band (seriously, why was it even created if signal strength drops almost to 0 after a very short distance???), seems to work very stable with whatever drivers Windows 7 Update installs, doesn't require any changes of default driver settings. If you're interested, here are my SpeedTest results when using this card (I have Verizon FiOS 25/25 connection):
http://www.speedtest.net/result/2138565799.png
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:41 pm

It seems that customer reviews of these things (PCIe wireless N adapters) can be very hit or miss. I think this might have to do with the fact that even though wireless N has a greater advertised range and speeds, the protocol itself can be more finicky with interference/obstacles causing more dropped/intermittent connections to the router on average.

The one design "flaw" with these PCIe N adapter cards is that the antennae are positioned so they stick out of the back of a (normally) mostly steel PC case, and therefore are likely prone to shielding. As a result, I've heard people report better luck (more consistent connections) with the recent wireless N USB dongles than the PCIe cards.

In light of this, I'd recommend looking at something like the Trendnet TL-WN822N. You get a beefier antenna then what normally comes with a USB dongle, yet you can use a rear USB port and have more placement flexibility to get the best signal possible. Plus, you don't end up using up a PCIe slot.
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:38 pm

Many of the PCI cards have the antenna attached via a standard connector, so you can interpose a coax cable to bring it out to a better location. Of course if you're doing multi-stream you'll need to do that for two or three antennas

That said, you may be disappointed with HD streaming regardless. Depending on the protocol and the compression quality (and particularly 720p vs 1080), no wireless card may give you completely glitch-free operation because even the best "n" equipment may not give you the necessary realworld bandwidth(at least with the Quicktime player SmallNetBuilder tested -- I wish they'd followed up with other players to see if they do a better job of buffering).
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:55 pm

cynan wrote:It seems that customer reviews of these things (PCIe wireless N adapters) can be very hit or miss. I think this might have to do with the fact that even though wireless N has a greater advertised range and speeds, the protocol itself can be more finicky with interference/obstacles causing more dropped/intermittent connections to the router on average.

The one design "flaw" with these PCIe N adapter cards is that the antennae are positioned so they stick out of the back of a (normally) mostly steel PC case, and therefore are likely prone to shielding. As a result, I've heard people report better luck (more consistent connections) with the recent wireless N USB dongles than the PCIe cards.

In light of this, I'd recommend looking at something like the Trendnet TL-WN822N. You get a beefier antenna then what normally comes with a USB dongle, yet you can use a rear USB port and have more placement flexibility to get the best signal possible. Plus, you don't end up using up a PCIe slot.


There's nothing wrong with "antennas sticking out of the back of a steel PC case" - I have P183 case (with its left side "parallel" to the router, located couple of rooms away from it) and I have 0 issues with signal strength (I always have "full bars"). You just have to make sure the card comes with good antennas - the one I have has 5 dBi antennas included, which are better (yes, I've tested it) than the 2-3 dBi "stubs" that come with majority of cards :wink:
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:41 pm

JohnC wrote:
There's nothing wrong with "antennas sticking out of the back of a steel PC case" - I have P183 case (with its left side "parallel" to the router, located couple of rooms away from it) and I have 0 issues with signal strength (I always have "full bars"). You just have to make sure the card comes with good antennas - the one I have has 5 dBi antennas included, which are better (yes, I've tested it) than the 2-3 dBi "stubs" that come with majority of cards :wink:


Depends on the placement of the PC. If the back of the PC is close to a wall (particularly one with any degree of metal or concrete, etc) you may have issues. (I've seen this come into play with my parent's PC, for example. It's situated about 30 ft line of sight away from the router. When the PC is left facing the wall, Windows shows 3 bars. Moving it slightly away from the wall and angling it a bit gets the full 5 bars every time). Higher DB antennae may mitigate this issue to some degree, but having flexible antennae placement is worthwhile if it can be had without additional fuss or cost (hence the Trendnet USB adapter to which I linked above).

There is a reason wifi adapters come with user place-able antennas, such as that featured on this new Gigabyte mini-ITX board featured on TR recently...
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:54 pm

See, this is why I come to TR. For considerations I forget! :D

I think the Rosewill one JohnC and DPete27 linked is the best choice. That one should get good enough performance for me. Certainly better than the one I originally linked.
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:06 pm

I'd suggest a bridge instead of an adapter.

http://www.amazon.com/EA-N66-Ultra-Fast ... BLAL2B4TQ3
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:46 pm

Avoid TP Link. Poor reception for me.

The Asus card or Asus bridge seem like fine ideas, depending on cash available.
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 9:47 pm

I've had decent success with this inexpensive bridge (they've occasionally gone on sale for $40 or $50). The Asus unit that Ryu suggested should be better.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6833156307
Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:51 pm

Already purchased the card. Was significantly cheaper, and will make the process pretty hassle-free. Thanks for the input, though.
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Sat Aug 25, 2012 12:45 am

I prefer bridges since they don't require drivers and are cross platform. The Asus in question is also a three radio (450mbps) design!

Figured I'd toss the option out there, but apparently late to the party. :)
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Re: Adding a Wireless Card

Postposted on Sat Aug 25, 2012 4:11 am

Ryu Connor wrote:I prefer bridges since they don't require drivers and are cross platform. The Asus in question is also a three radio (450mbps) design!

Figured I'd toss the option out there, but apparently late to the party. :)


Bridges require wires (network cable + connected power supply "brick") which are (in my opinion) much more annoying to deal with (especially if you have to move stuff around) than the automatic driver installation using Windows 7 Update :wink:
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