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Need New PCI Wireless Network Adapter

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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September 2, 2012 6:59:11 AM

What is the best value for price PCI (or is it PCIe for me? I do not know, so I will post my mobo as well) wireless network card for a desktop?

My motherboard is: Abit IN9 32X-MAX

My router is a cheap Linksys E1000

I read among b, g, and n, that n is the best. Is this true? My laptop has an n-capable wireless card, while my desktop has a g-capable card. The laptop has full signal strength while the g has near minimum signal strength. I am not sure if that is caused by the n and g radio type, though. I pretty much have no idea what any of the radio types mean, and what the pros/cons of each one are. Information on that would be greatly appreciated!

I would like a list of at least 3 cards to compare what options I have for a strong wireless internet connection.

Thanks,

John

Best solution

September 2, 2012 3:22:13 PM

Most laptops will have far better signal strength than a desktop using either a PCI/PCI-E or USB wireless adapter (assuming the same conditions) because the laptop has a nearly ideal antenna solution; it typically runs around the frame of the display. You simply couldn’t ask for anything better! And which should provide a vital clue as to what really matters when it comes to wireless; better to have good ears than have someone shout louder.

If we assume performance is the only issue, then yes, N is better than G (and by extension, G better than B). But I’m not a big fan of either PCI/PCI-E or USB wireless adapters for many reasons, esp. when it comes to the antenna(s). Instead, I recommend a wireless ethernet bridge.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/41136-43-good-desktop...

Of course, most ppl miss the boat on this one because they don’t even know it’s sailing. They’re completely boxed in on “PCI or USB” and then wonder why they have connectivity issues when their PCI adapter’s antenna is behind the desktop, and not facing the wireless AP, but shoved under a desk facing the wall. The fact a desktop is typically lower than a laptop doesn’t help either (you want the antenna ELEVATED, at least at tabletop level).

So if you go the PCI/PCI-E route, you need to take into consideration whether it will provide a good antenna solution given your environment and how you intend to orient the desktop wrt the wireless AP. In some cases, you might have to consider an aftermarket antenna to resolve these kinds of problems. But that’s obviously premature at the moment. Beyond that, within the plethora of PCI-based wireless solutions, I’m not sure it matters all that much which one you buy.
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September 2, 2012 6:44:06 PM

That sounds quite intriguing actually. Do you have any recommendations of a wireless ethernet bridge/access point that has at least 2 ports? My roommate and I could split on one and since he is using a USB adapter, maybe he can notice a difference in performance and reliability.

I am not entirely sure how another wireless access point would make it better than a PCI/PCIe when they are still relatively far (and the same distance) away from the router. What makes it so much better or reliable? Could you explain that a bit? That would be awesome!

Thanks,

John

EDIT: What are your opinions on this product?: http://www.amazon.com/TRENDnet-Wireless-4-Port-Bridge-T...
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September 2, 2012 11:32:51 PM

Well now you've introduced another requirement, which is another wireless AP. If you had a wireless ethernet bridge AND a wireless AP in the same device, you'd essentially have a repeater. But as you said, in its presumed location, it wouldn't help. A repeater is normally placed somewhere between the devices having range issues and the remote AP.

But that was never my point. I was only addressing the issue of the wireless client, and whether that should be PCI/PCI-E, USB, or a bridge.

As far as the TrendNet, that’s the kind of product I had in mind, but I don’t necessarily have an opinion on that product since I’ve never used it. Frankly, I prefer using routers, ones w/ dd-wrt (third-party firmware) capability so I can configure them as either a wireless ethernet bridge, repeater, AP, or whatever, as my needs change. But standalone, dedicated devices like the TrendNet are fine too.
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September 3, 2012 12:55:19 AM

But among the PCI/PCI-E, USB, and bridge, will this TrendNet have a better connection? This is the cheapest multi port bridge I could find (performance wise, my cheap router will probably inhibit the bridge anyways).
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September 3, 2012 2:30:10 PM

All wireless networking choices are a roll of the dice wrt what will or won't work well, if only because environmental conditions can vary widely. All we can say is that given the same environmental conditions, which is more likely to produce better results. And in that respect, if I had to bet, it would be the wireless ethernet bridge, if only because it offers more flexibility to deal w/ those environmental conditions. Plus, you get all the other features I mentioned as well (OS independence, sharing, WOL, etc.).

That said, if you have either an extremely ideal set of environmental conditions, or extremely terrible set of environmental conditions, then it’s probably not going to matter. ANY solution will probably produce the same good or bad results, respectively. As always, we’re talking about the average/typical case, not the extremes.
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September 5, 2012 6:47:01 PM

So I have tried my roommates USB adapter, and it works. Only problem is it is significantly slower than my laptop or when connected directly via ethernet cable. Will this MWR102 model be able to handle gaming situations? My roommates Cisco Valet Connector does not do the job.

And wow, I did not realize how tiny that router is... that is a major plus.
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September 5, 2012 7:24:41 PM

It's not only small, but like most travel/pocket routers, can be powered off a USB port.

As I've always said, no one can predict if any solution, whether PCI/PCI-E, USB, or bridge, is going to work well under all circumstances. The biggest variable is your environment. I'm not even sure what you mean by the Cisco Valet Connector not doing the job. Not fast enough? Too much lag? Can't handle the number of connections required? All of these?

When it comes to wireless, every choice is a roll of the dice. All we can say for sure is given the same set of conditions, a bridge offers far more bang for the buck since it brings w/ it its own processor, memory, flash, OS independence, superior antenna(s), flexibility in placement/orientation, etc. And if you want even more of these, get a bigger and even more powerful bridge.

So if you held a gun to my head and said I had to pick the one that ultimately proved to be the best solution and given no other information, I’d gamble (because it’s always a gamble) on the bridge. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t end up dead once all the unknowns became known, but most likely, I’d walk out to live another day.

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September 5, 2012 9:27:01 PM

Best answer selected by reido.
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September 5, 2012 9:29:28 PM

Not doing the job as in not nearly fast enough connection in comparison to the laptop's wireless network. Anyways, I am probably going to purchase the zyxel portable router.

Thank you for your help!
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