My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?

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I just got a new home broadband router that has both 2.4GHz & 5GHz  
and only then did I realize that both the Windows and Linux laptops
don't have a 5GHz Wi-Fi card (both only have 3.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n).

Neither has either 5GHz or 802.11 ac.
What are my options?

Note: I called Dell Hardware Sales for the "Inspiron 15 3521" at
800-289-3355 but they don't even have a part number for an internal  
5GHz NIC, so they suggested an external USB stick, Dell part number:
$60 + tax (free shipping) Netgear A6068352
$50 + tax (free shipping) Linksys A8024912

Googling, I find some of the specs here:

"Netgear N900 Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter"
http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=bsd&cs=04&sku=A6068352

"Linksys Mini AC Adapter AC580"
http://accessories.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=bsd&cs=04&sku=A8024912

My question is whether any of you experts has experience fitting an
*internal* 5GHz NIC into a Dell laptop, and whether it's true what
Dell said, which is that no internal Wi-Fi card will work?

If I must add 5GHz Wi-Fi externally, do you have suggestions as to how  
to get a good 5GHz (ac) Wi-Fi USB stick that is both convenient and  
powerful at a good price?

Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?


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I can't answer you from experience with Dell, but I CAN tell that finding  
the right replacement for an Acer Aspire laptop can be a venture into  
frustration and rage. The original was a Qualcomm Atheros AR5BWB222 that  
worked intermittently at best. Tried a couple of different cards, but they  
weren't recognized by the laptop at all. Finally settled on a Broadcom that  
works just fine (got it last August):
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)>

Whether or not it will work with a Dell is anybody's guess, but if Dell is  
like Acer (and a number of other manufacturers), certain cards seem to be  
"white-listed" by them, and it will be real fun finding one that will work  
as it should, if it's even recognized by the laptop.
--  
 SC Tom
  


Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?
On Fri, 21 Aug 2015 13:41:29 -0400, SC Tom wrote:

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The problem is that it has to work in the first shot, since
it's a laptop for my kid away at school. She is a government
major, so, she knows absolutely nothing about technical stuff
(they don't even need math, which is why she picked that major).

Sigh.


Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?
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As a datapoint, my Latitude D630 came with an a/b/g card,

Also you might try http://www.parts-people.com/ they specialize in
dell laptop parts.



Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?
On Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:52:49 +0000 (UTC), ceg

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Yep.  I do it all the time.  Oddly, most of the requirements are to
replace crappy internal cards with something better.  I don't really
have a favorite replacement except that I now try to avoid Intel.

There are two problems you are going to have unless you buy an
approved Dell wireless card.
1.  The FCC demands that the manufacturers only allow card and laptop
combinations that have been FCC certified.  Plug in a non-approved
card and you are likely to get a BIOS boot message that proclaims that
you have installed an incompatible card.  There are ways around this,
but I prefer to avoid the problem.  If you do get the approved card,
it is likely that you'll also find drivers on the Dell web pile that
will work.
2.  Many of the RF cables and connectors are cut for the exact length
needed to connect to the original card.  I've had to wiggle them
around in order to accomodate cards with slightly different layout.
3.  Non-MIMO cards have two RF connectors for diversity reception. 2x2
and up MIMO cards have at least 1 antenna per radio.  The higher end
cards may have 3 antenna connectors.  If you're going to use one of
these 3x3 cards, you'll need to add a 3rd antenna internally,
somewhere.  I've had fairly good luck with just a connector and
stripping back a few cm of coax shield to form a crude antenna.

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"Good USB" is an oxymoron.  Unless you need an external (directional)
antenna, I would avoid this option.

<http://www.dell.com/us/dfh/p/inspiron-15-3521/pd
Hmmm... no wi-fi card listed in the specs.  Yet, you seem to have one.

How to replace the wi-fi card:
<https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Dell+Inspiron+15-3521+Wireless+Card+Replacement/31938

Video of how to replace the wi-fi card:
<
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXXxFD07Yyc


Typical card vendor:
<http://www.parts-people.com/index.php?action=category&id=141&subid=427&refine=wifi+card

OK, I'm out of time... send me the Dell service tag number on the
bottom of the laptop so I determine exactly what you have.  More
later.

--  
Jeff Liebermann     jeffl@cruzio.com
150 Felker St #D    http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann     AE6KS    831-336-2558


Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?
On Fri, 21 Aug 2015 10:45:50 -0700, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

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The only thing needed is the 5GHz, since the router will be in the  
same apartment away at school.

The review of the Netgear 802.11ac A6200 WiFi Adapter concluded
what you said, which is that speeds are terrible.
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2422108,00.asp


Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?
On Fri, 21 Aug 2015 10:45:50 -0700, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

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Thanks for all the advice.

In the short term, I decided to buy a WiFi USB card, since
it has to work this weekend, and I don't have time to get
the Dell WiFi card until the next visit after school starts.
http://i.imgur.com/yw8xgPG.jpg

I opted for the same brand as the router, assuming they'd
work better together that way, a TP-Link 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
1200 device (if it works).

Here's a picture of the Archer T4U for about $25 at Frys.
http://i.imgur.com/yw8xgPG.jpg


Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?
On Sat, 22 Aug 2015 02:40:52 +0000 (UTC), ceg

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Curt,

Please post back with comments on how the USB WiFi worked out.

Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?
On Sat, 22 Aug 2015 10:52:16 -0500, Charlie Hoffpauir wrote:

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I hooked up that Archer T4u today, and I'm not too happy with
it (as Jeff Liebermann had correctly predicted).
http://i.imgur.com/pAc1YYC.jpg

The thing worked, even though the bands were crowded:
http://i.imgur.com/nnZJY0J.jpg

But, the bad is that it's HUGE (way larger than a USB stick)  
and as a result, it's a pain to plug in the USB adapter, and,  
if *directly* plugged in, it kept getting bumped, causing the  
operating system to beep and to lose connectivity momentarily.

Luckily, the manufacturer saw fit to include a usb-extension
cable, which is really the *only* way you'd want the TP-Link
Archer T4U (as you can see in the photo).

However, the good is that while Comcast nominal 45Mbps speeds  
were about 30 to 38Mbps down on 2.4GHz (whether I used the  
internal 2.4GHz NIC or the external Archer T4U 2.4GHz NIC), the
5GHz speeds were *phenomenally* better at 90Mbps down, which
you can see in the picture below:
http://i.imgur.com/pAc1YYC.jpg

Notice that the *wired* speed coming out the modem was about
90Mbps; and that the wired speed coming out of the back of  
the router was similar; so the 5GHz speeds from the external
USB NIC were as good as wired.

The funny thing was that, at this college-friendly atmosphere,  
the 5Ghz band was pretty crowded, as compared to the 2.4GHz  
band; but I'm not exactly sure how to read this side-by-side
output from my Android WiFi-Analyzer app in the 5GHz bands.
http://i.imgur.com/nnZJY0J.jpg

Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?


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We had a few of those at my job a number of years back. When using the  
extension cord, we'd use Velcro to stick the receiver to a top corner of the  
laptop lid. Worked OK like that, and it was out of the way. (Plus my  
engineers were less likely to lose it if it was attached to something LOL!)
--  
 SC Tom
  


Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?
On Sun, 23 Aug 2015 05:32:55 +0000 (UTC), ceg

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I knew it was big, but not that big.  If you want speed, you'll need
MIMO (802.11n) spatial diversity support, which means more than one
antenna.  2x2 requires 2 antennas, 3x3 requires 3 antennas.  If it
only has one antenna, you don't get spatial diversity, but still get
beam forming, assuming it's supported by your access point, and that
one of the two conflicting standards actually work.  In order to get
decent separation of multiple streams, the antennas need to be some
distance apart.  I don't know the magic minimum, but my guess(tm) is
about 2cm or so.  That means a 3 antenna affair is going to be mostly
antennas, with maybe some electronics stuck into a corner.

Might as well look it up.  The Archer T4u is rated at AC1200:
<http://www.tp-link.com/en/products/details/cat-11_Archer-T4U.html
 n600  = Simultaneous dual band, both 300Mbps
 n900  = Simultaneous dual band, both 450Mbps
ac1750 = Simultaneous dual band, 2.4GHz n450 and 5GHz ac1300
ac1900 = Simultaneous dual band, 2.4GHz n450 +QAM and 5GHz ac1300
I'm having problems remembering and finding the others.  Duz anyone
have a good chart?

We're not done yet...  With 802.11ac, which can use both the 2.4 and
5GHz bands simultaneously, using one antenna for both bands
simultaneous antenna is problematic because it might transmit one
band, while trying to receive on the other.  Some claim that it works,
but I'm not a believer.  So, you might get separate antennas for 2.4
and 5GHz, times the number of streams, which could easily mean 6
antennas.  Dig out the FCCID number and see if there are any photos.
<http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid/

Incidentally, with antennas, bigger usually is better.  The rule of
thumb is:  Small size, gain, bandwidth... pick any two.

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Atmosphere?  In the local colleges, that's the smell of beer accented
with marijuana.  During finals week, add the smell of sweat.

--  
Jeff Liebermann     jeffl@cruzio.com
150 Felker St #D    http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann     AE6KS    831-336-2558

Re: My 5GHz Wi-Fi is broken (how to add an internal 5GHz 802.11 n/ac adapter)?
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That is probably due to a whole pile of Apple devices.  Don't they like 5G
by default?    

To quote Yogi Berra, "No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

--  
Clarence A Dold - Santa Rosa, CA, USA  GPS: 38.47,-122.65

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