1. #1

    Recommendations for a wireless adapter?

    Funny thing...my brother and I got our mother a new computer for Christmas. But, it doesn't have any wireless at all. Guess we both kinda blew it on checking to make sure before buying, as you'd think stuff like that by now is standard and included, but apparently not...

    So, main question is, what are some good recommendations for quality ones? Is it worth having to install an internal one, or will one of the many USB ones out there suffice just as well?

  2. #2
    Moderator chazus's Avatar
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    Need more information. Is this a laptop? Desktop? Does it have free PCI/PCI slots?

    Very few motherboards come with WiFi. Usually just the high end stuff that includes it as a perk or accessory.

    If you're going to go USB, get something with an actual antenna. For a desktop, if you absolutely can't use wired, then any PCI/PCIE with a big antenna ought to also work well. Keep in mind that every house is different, so just because you have a good one doesn't gaurantee good connection.

    Most laptops usually have good wireless connections because their antenna runs around the entire frame more often than not.

  3. #3
    Herald of the Titans Saithes's Avatar
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    If you go USB with a desktop I'd recommend getting a USB Extension cable and using that to allow you to position the adapter for the best signal. From the about 6-7 PCI Wireless Adapters I've used I've experienced more interference on them than USB. So I normally only try to recommend USB but either should work as long as you get a decent one with good antennas.

  4. #4
    Guess I forgot to mention, this is a desktop. And it should have free PCI slots, though I'll have to check.

    Overall though, do both offer the same level of quality for the most part? Or does one outperform the other?

  5. #5
    Moderator chazus's Avatar
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    Again, it's sort of situational. Saithes success with the extended USB deals probably factor in that sometimes a computer is just in a bad place, and being moved elsewhere with a long cable can help. With all other things equal (Speed, Standard, Cost), just make sure whatever you get has an actual antenna.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by chazus View Post
    Again, it's sort of situational. Saithes success with the extended USB deals probably factor in that sometimes a computer is just in a bad place, and being moved elsewhere with a long cable can help. With all other things equal (Speed, Standard, Cost), just make sure whatever you get has an actual antenna.
    So nothing like those USB doggle things? For example (since I live near a Frys Electronics), would http://www.frys.com/product/7184542?...%20date:122812 be good or bad?

  7. #7
    Moderator chazus's Avatar
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    Yeah, that thing likely has like.. no antennae. While it might be wort $5, it also might be worth $5. Personally, I keep one of those around for testing purposes, but you'll likely get much better mileage out of something with an real antenna.

  8. #8
    I'd recommend using power line adaptors for most desktops that aren't close enough to your router to run an Ethernet cable directly .

    They use the wire in the walls of your house to provide a connection which you can just plug a standard short cable in
    http://www.ebuyer.com/263575-tp-link...ck-tl-pa211kit
    or US / fry's as the OP lives near one
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833127481
    http://www.frys.com/product/7294913?...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG

    of course you can go wi-fi but if its a desktop i dont think you will be moving it too much so the main advantage of "wireless" is moot
    Last edited by elye; 2012-12-29 at 12:21 PM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by elye View Post
    I'd recommend using power line adaptors for most desktops that aren't close enough to your router to run an Ethernet cable directly .

    They use the wire in the walls of your house to provide a connection which you can just plug a standard short cable in
    http://www.ebuyer.com/263575-tp-link...ck-tl-pa211kit
    or US / fry's as the OP lives near one
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833127481
    http://www.frys.com/product/7294913?...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG

    of course you can go wi-fi but if its a desktop i dont think you will be moving it too much so the main advantage of "wireless" is moot
    Well that's the problem, I don't think this desktop can pick up whatever signal is coming from that device? Or does it have an ethernet plugin somewhere that I'm not seeing (the picture doesn't tell much). Otherwise yeah, that does sound kinda interesting as opposed to using a wifi adapter on the computer itself in ways. Though since I have no experience with those, how well do they perform compared to wireless adapters?

  10. #10
    Moderator chazus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xezar View Post
    Or does it have an ethernet plugin somewhere that I'm not seeing (the picture doesn't tell much).
    They have ethernet ports. I've heard good things about powerline, it's still sort of a fringe tech that hasn't been standardized or advertised well, but it seems to function well enough. I've used a few in client houses before, and they seem to work well. But they're a bit pricey, too.

  11. #11
    Well I went out and got one of the powerline things (another brand) from best buy, but it's giving me a pretty bad signal, so meh, probably taking it back. So much for 100+ Mbps lol...

    Dunno whether to try another brand for the powerline or just find a good USB wifi connector.

  12. #12
    Well in case anyone can offer some advice, what I did was buy a wireless USB adapter (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Belkin+-...0750&cp=1&lp=1) and an internal PCI wireless adapter (http://www.frys.com/product/5970654;...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG) to compare which I could get faster speeds out of.

    According to speedtest.net, the USB one is basically kicking the PCI one's ass, it caps out around 20.49 mb/s download and 5.31 mb/s upload. In comparison, for the PCI wireless adapter, it was barely hitting 12 mb/s download at most, and when I put the PC back into the desk it dipped down to a very slow 5 mb/s download. And just running stuff in the browser the USB one is notably faster as well.

    So I guess the question here is...is the USB that much better? I thought they were allegedly slower. I mean, both products allegedly are dual-band wireless N and all that other jazz, so yeah...just kinda confused. I'm gonna yank the PCI wireless adapter out and just go with the USB one I think, but I wanted to get your guys' opinions first, perhaps there's a way to get the PCI wireless adapter to perform better? I mean it's slotted in right, both antennas screwed in and such, so yeah...just kinda confused. And it's a pain to take stuff out, so was wondering if there is any way to get better performance from it first or not?

    Thanks!

  13. #13
    Well where you can place the antenna for a pci card is a bit limimted and its possible its in a bad spot, the usb is typically more flexiable and can put on desk or something. It seems to be your best bet.

    As for powerline, if the house as bad electrical wiring, its going to give bad performance.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Onomatopoeia View Post
    Well where you can place the antenna for a pci card is a bit limimted and its possible its in a bad spot, the usb is typically more flexiable and can put on desk or something. It seems to be your best bet.

    As for powerline, if the house as bad electrical wiring, its going to give bad performance.
    Well with this PCI/antenna it is behind the computer (aren't PCI slots usually behind anyways?), so I guess that could be why, though I don't quite get how much that should affect the signal, as I mean lots of desktops have it built right in with no antennas sticking out and they work fine. It's not like it's a concrete house or a lead lined one lol...but yeah, I guess USB is the way to go for now, at least until sometime in the next year I can run an Ethernet cable through the top of the house and down into the room.

  15. #15
    Mechagnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by xezar View Post
    Guess I forgot to mention, this is a desktop. And it should have free PCI slots, though I'll have to check.

    Overall though, do both offer the same level of quality for the most part? Or does one outperform the other?
    You will not notice ANY difference if you pay 40$ or 240$ seriously...wi-fi is crappy vs wired...If you have the chance get her a good wired router instead...it'll be better for everyone in terms of speed and reliability of the connection.

    If you HAVE TO buy wi-fi...don't overpay...Go for a 40-60$ usb with an antenna as the others said.

  16. #16
    Scarab Lord Cyanotical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Somebodyelse View Post
    You will not notice ANY difference if you pay 40$ or 240$ seriously...wi-fi is crappy vs wired...If you have the chance get her a good wired router instead...it'll be better for everyone in terms of speed and reliability of the connection.

    If you HAVE TO buy wi-fi...don't overpay...Go for a 40-60$ usb with an antenna as the others said.

    eh, no

    if your wifi is setup properly, you wont notice a difference from wired unless you are transferring a large file on LAN

    if you HAVE to get wifi, get the right thing first, get a PCI/PCIe card with dual antennas using perferably using an atheros chipset

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  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyanotical View Post
    eh, no

    if your wifi is setup properly, you wont notice a difference from wired unless you are transferring a large file on LAN

    if you HAVE to get wifi, get the right thing first, get a PCI/PCIe card with dual antennas using perferably using an atheros chipset
    Well we aren't gonna be transferring any large files over LAN, so that's good lol.

    Again this is the one PCI I had gotten: http://www.frys.com/product/5970654;...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG

    It has 2 antennas and should be dual band as well, but I have no clue if it's using the chipset you recommended or not? Is there a way to tell that?

  18. #18
    Scarab Lord Cyanotical's Avatar
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    the wmp600n uses a Ralink RT2860 chipset

    a few tips:
    use wireless G, not N, N is technically faster on speed, but it lacks range and throughput compared to G which is much more mature, because it's more mature often it has lower latency and faster connecting

    make sure your access point or router are using WPA personal /pre-shared key; WEP is not secure and only takes a few minutes for just about anyone to crack

    if you have it, make sure you disable WPS (wifi protected setup/one touch connect) as this has major security holes, and like WEP can be broken in as little as a few seconds

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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyanotical View Post
    the wmp600n uses a Ralink RT2860 chipset

    a few tips:
    use wireless G, not N, N is technically faster on speed, but it lacks range and throughput compared to G which is much more mature, because it's more mature often it has lower latency and faster connecting

    make sure your access point or router are using WPA personal /pre-shared key; WEP is not secure and only takes a few minutes for just about anyone to crack

    if you have it, make sure you disable WPS (wifi protected setup/one touch connect) as this has major security holes, and like WEP can be broken in as little as a few seconds
    Yep I'm using WPA, know all too well how weak WEP is. I haven't thought of trying it on G though, I think the router itself is broadcasting on N, so there should be some option to put it on G on my adapter?

  20. #20
    Scarab Lord Cyanotical's Avatar
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    depending on your router, you may just want to set it to G mode for your whole home, N (or even the new AC) provide no benefit for 99% of users of wireless, and often have drawbacks for gamers

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