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WiFi: PCI card or USB dongle?


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I want to wifi-enable a friend's desktop PC.

I've checked the signal in the room with my laptop, and it works, but is not very strong.

So I wonder which would give the better performance: a PCI card or a USB dongle?

I know of course that each model and brand will be different, but I wonder if there is a general rule.

I expect that a PCI card, just because it's bigger and has a bigger antenna, would have better reception. But that's just a guess. There isn't much cost difference, and it only takes a few minutes to install a card, so performance is the only issue for me here.

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Replacing the antenna will not make up for a lack of raw power.

I needed more WiFi power.

I already have a Dlink G520 internal PCI card. (very nice)

I bought a USB WiFi adapter, EUB 362EXT and have been extremely pleased with my purchase and have not looked back.

This little sweetheart has all the power I needed to get the job done.

Some info on external antenna upgrades; I hooked these adapters to this antenna.

As you can see, this is no usual home wifi system. Using this antenna, I connect to an AP provided by a Linksys WRT54G router that is aprox 2 Kilometers away. I aim the antenna just over the horizon because the AP is beyond it.

The G520 could not do this reliably, the USB adapter does it flawlessly.

To further add information, having decent drivers is a must. I did a lot of testing with different drivers from different sources.

99% of the time you will get the best results from manufacturer supplied drivers but this wasnt the case with the USB adapter and Vista. The manufacturer does supply a driver for 32bit Vista but the driver installed by Microsoft Update has better connectivity.


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Good God man! :o Are you trying to contact the shuttle with that thing? Possibly search for ETs? With an antenna of that size, I don't think the medium really matters, as long as you have the correct power to it be it USB/PCMCIA and enough power for the antenna... who cares. Do what works for you.

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Do you guys have as much luck getting the stronger signals through barriers (walls, buildings, etc) with antennas like that? Distance is one thing, but I more often need the signal to get through especially thick structures over a moderate distance. I've tried some higher-gain antennas and they helped a little, but I haven't tried one of these monstrous ones yet.

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So considering the total lack of consensus, I took the easy option and bought a USB dongle.

The signal as feared was rather weak.

However, I've just found this amazing page about how to make your own booster for dongles -- from cheap cookware.

Poor Man's WiFi

So next weekend I'll be using wifi via a Chinese wok.

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The term for such things was "cantenna" (can + antenna) in the past, but I don't follow it anymore.

These don't use cans, they're parabolic reflectors, not cylindrical wave guides, so "cantenna" is not really apt.

Also, as they put a USB dongle at the focus of the reflector, the cable is digital USB, not a traditional radio antenna lead.

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