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Best desktop wireless card ideas?

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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July 31, 2012 11:21:34 PM

I am looking for a good wireless card for my PC. I have no idea what to get, or where to look for one.
Budget: $20-$100
wireless n is what I want.
I need one for when I go to a friend and they have NO wall connections in the house.
Any ideas?
August 1, 2012 10:13:27 PM

Honestly i don't think that would meet my needs. I would like a PCIe card with external antennas. It would be easier to just go to a friends and quickly connect to their router. Using the lan port means i need to haul another thing around and bring another cable. Any good PCIe wireless cards someone wants to recommend?
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a b F Wireless
August 1, 2012 10:43:10 PM

In all honesty, I don't know if it matters what anyone else has to recommend. Wireless products are like hard drives; ask enough ppl and you'll find those who utterly love and hate the exact same product. And when it comes to wireless, it’s even worse, since environmental conditions play such a big part in the performance and reliability. You have to take any reviews w/ a heavy grain of salt. I just assume 80% of the negative feedback is not the fault of the product itself. It's really a case of try it and hope for the best (unfortunately).

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I just searched Newegg and sorted by best ratings and lowest price. That's what I came up with. Even w/ the highest rated cards, you’ll find the usually litany of responses ("it stinks", "didn't work", "range is awful", "inconsistent", "died after two weeks", etc.). It happens ALL THE TIME. So what to make of it?

My approach is simple; find something that meets your minimum specs, w/ 4 of 5 stars, reasonably priced, preferably a name brand (Rosewill is the Newegg house brand), and cross your fingers.
a b F Wireless
August 1, 2012 11:52:50 PM

Oops, my bad.

The different frequencies are not for reasons of speed (more accurately, throughput), at least not directly, but simply because the 2.4GHz freq. is so congested. Of the 11 available channels, only three don't overlap; 1, 6, and 11. Now throw a bunch of these 2.4GHz routers into a densely populated subdivision or apartment complex, and it's not pretty. At least wireless routers are designed to tolerate each other. When a collision occurs, they back off, wait a random amount of time, and try again. But if this happens often enough, it cuts down their efficiency, and thus reduces their throughput.

To make matters worse, 2.4GHz is considered an “open” freq., meaning anyone, any manufacturer, is free to use it as they see fit, for any purposes, regardless if it interferes w/ any other devices. Besides wireless routers, it used for cordless phones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, wireless video adapters, RF remotes, wireless keyboards/mice, Bluetooth, security systems, and on and on, literally 100’s if not 1000’s of devices/systems.

That’s why you can’t take those reviews too seriously; are the bad ones the result of poor quality products, or simply due to local interference issues (something the manufacturer obviously can’t control)?

5Ghz was introduced to address some of these problems. Many more channels, none are overlapping. But it’s not a panacea. Naturally, you need a 5GHz wireless router (or another 5GHz wireless adapter if using ad hoc mode). Also, the higher the freq., usually the shorter the range and less ability to penetrate walls and other obstacles. So it’s a mixed bag. But under the right circumstances, it can definitely help.
August 2, 2012 11:12:41 PM

Is PCIe 1x plenty of bandwidth? i'm sure it is but just making sure, and does several Antennas help to get a stronger signal?
a b F Wireless
August 3, 2012 12:59:02 AM

You don't have a choice, at least not directly. The capacity of the wireless protocol will determine what the manufacturer decides to use in terms of PCIe bandwidth. Even the original PCIe 1.x was 250MB/s, per lane, which is waaaay beyond what wireless requires, so it’s nothing to be concerned about. In fact, that’s why they still produce PCI wireless cards, where PCI maxes out at 133MB/s, still plenty of bandwidth.

As for multiple antennas, the biggest benefit they offer is related to MIMO technology. Basically, the ability to dedicate individual streams (150Mbps) to each to increase throughput.

http://djw.cs.washington.edu/papers/mimo_for_dummies.pd...

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