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Dual N band WiFi Card replacing 2.4GHz only in laptop

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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April 12, 2013 8:55:57 PM

Hi,

Today I replaced my laptop's 2.4GHz only wifi card to one that supports 5GHz as well.

I did this because of issues with interference caused by a sound system we recently bought (selects a new channel every time on boot, and sometimes the channel coincides with the one used by the 2.4GHz network.

I know 5GHz has much less range then 2.4, and this has been tested on the network with an iPad as well... My question though is would the internal antenna of the laptop cause the 5GHz range to be even less then it should normally be, or is that not an issue if the antenna is large enough anyway.

I am asking for 2 reasons: first, Mac computers (I dont have one) seem to be able to bring in the 5GHz range pretty well, almost always indicating 5 bars. I am not sure if they really get better reception though or just over state it.

The second reason is just that I am sitting pretty close to the router, only with about 2 walls and 20 feet between it and me, getting usually 3, sometimes only 2 bars.

Specifics:

Laptop: Lenovo z580 idea pad

Router: Linksys wrt610n (simultaneous dual band, circa 2010)

WiFi Card: Intel Centrino Advanced N 6235

Any input on this would be appreciated, basically I am wondering if it is most likely the fault of the router, the card, the antenna (idk if that can be fixed), or just thats standard for 5GHz and I should just get another AP to go with it (the room I use it in more is further and has even weaker reception)

Thanks very much,
Ryan

More about : dual band wifi card replacing 4ghz laptop

a b D Laptop
April 12, 2013 11:57:20 PM

Very tough to say. If the laptop was designed to take a dual card then the antenna in it were also designed to run both 2.4 and 5. If it was a 2.4 only they may have optimized the antenna for just 2.4 Still most antenna for 2.4 work very well for 5 also, it is close enough to a multiple of 2 times the frequency.

I bet it is the walls, it takes very little to block any wireless and 5g is affected even more. Although the air does absorb a little more at 5g than at 2.4g it is not significant at short distance so the actual distance in a house is normally not your problem it is the stuff other than air that is in between.

There is no one optimum solution since houses vary so much. If you can extend the network with a cable and place a AP at the end should improve you wireless signal since you are using a wire to bypass the walls.
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April 13, 2013 9:37:39 AM

Thank you for your answer, the idea that an antenna for 2.4 should work reasonably well with 5.0 is reassuring, and makes sense in terms of physics.

I guess I will have to get a bridge or access point or something like that, do you know of any good ones? I was thinking about getting an airport express, since I have a bestbuy card and they sell them there, it supports simultanious dual band, and would integrate well with stereo... At the same time though it seems like a big expense just to get away from the 2.4 band, so Im not sure, do you think I should get the Airport Express, or try and find some cheaper but still 5G 300mbps alternative?
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a b D Laptop
April 13, 2013 3:56:30 PM

From a performance standpoint they are all pretty close. The products are very mature so you don't see one vendor way ahead anymore.

Now some devices have lots more features like support for disk or firewalls or a number of other things. You would have to read carefully to be sure you do lose those feature when you use the device as a AP.

You key problem is going to be getting a ethernet cable part way to the new location. If you could get it into the same room then you should have excellent coverage and also have the option to plug a ethernet cable in to the AP and have ethernet all the way.
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April 13, 2013 8:03:08 PM

I ended up getting the Airport Express today... So far its pretty good though my only gripe besides the cost is the Ethernet is only 10/100 instead of gigabit... Already had an Ethernet cord going to the room to serve the desktop, so that was thankfully not a problem (though getting it there a few years ago was)

I ended up setting up the passwords and SSID's the same so devices can just roam between the 2, and its in bridge mode so they retain their addresses.

Thanks for your input, I guess the limited range of 5GHz is just always going to be that way... I wonder how 802.11AC will ever survive being 5GHz only...
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April 13, 2013 11:15:16 PM

I suppose in a way though the limited range of 5GHz is an asset, while it may still matter what channel your neighbor is using, it probably wont matter what is being used 2 houses down. Hopefully wireless AC wont ruin it though, as it is a lot faster (the 5GHz band)

Also it would help in high density deployments if more devices used 5GHz
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a b D Laptop
April 14, 2013 2:08:49 AM

We can hope there won't be issues with interference between people. The big problem with 802.1ac is it now wants to use groups of 4 channels or maybe even 8. There are only 1 or 2 blocks of 4 channels in most countries. There a few more but since the router must not use any channels that it detects radar on it only leaves these 1 or 2 that you can be sure won't randomly be disabled. This limitation on radar is there today but it is much easier to find groups of 1 or 2 channels.

The routers that are saying 1750 speeds are assuming they can get 8 channels which can't be done in the US using 8 consecutive channels and avoiding radar. They use 2 discontinuous blocks of 4 which is a optional support in the current 802.11ac draft standard.

Should be very interesting in a few years when 802.11ac is being used by a lot of people and we see reports of it doesn't work during certain periods of time....and it comes to find out a tv station was running its weather radar during that time.
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April 16, 2013 7:49:03 AM

Thats what I was referring to when I said hopefully the limited range will help (prevent the band from being congested as easily). I think the idea of using so much spectrum is stupid and should almost be illegal (at least to sell a product that uses all of it to itself).

Hopefully it isnt an issue, though it would be funny if everyone's AC routers stopped working because of radar
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