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Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

hollytree
Rising Star
Posts: 72
Fixes: 1
Registered: 30-08-2007

Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Evening all
I'm upgrading my (very) old Dell Dimension 3100 pc to Windows 7 and plan to upgrade my connection to the Plusnet Technicolor 582 n. from wired to wireless.  Both bits of kit will be in the same room so distance shouldn't be a problem.
Trouble is, the sheer range of usb network adapters out there is just vast. Ditto the cost!  So I'm wondering
- what should I avoid?
-  which is the best for the price?
19 REPLIES
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Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Quote from: hollytree
Dell Dimension 3100 pc

I've got one of those, good bit of kit.
Mine happens to be dual-boot XP and Vista, but it should run W7 fine.
Quote from: hollytree
- what should I avoid?
Forget USB adapters, get a decent PCI one with an aerial on a lead. I have an EdiMax one in in mine.
Something like a EW-7711IN is less than £15.
hollytree
Rising Star
Posts: 72
Fixes: 1
Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Hi HP really appreciate your thoughts
Re the Dell Dimension 1300, mine has been brilliant... used it all day everyday for the past 9 years!
Quote
I've got one of those, good bit of kit.
Mine happens to be dual-boot XP and Vista, but it should run W7 fine. 

I've been chatting with a couple of guys on the Dell forum as Dell themselves seem incapable of providing upgrade advice. Apparently there is a problem with upgrading from XP to Windows 7 in that the onboard graphics on the Dimension 1300 just can't cope with it.  So I'm having to buy and fit a decent graphics adapter plus a low profile bracket to the motherboard. Also, you won't get the 64-bit version of Win 7 to work on less than 4gb of memory. I'm planning on buying the 32-bit version of Win 7 seeing as I have only 2gb memory.
Re going wireless:
Quote
Forget USB adapters, get a decent PCI one with an aerial on a lead. I have an EdiMax one in in mine.
Something like a EW-7711IN is less than £15.

My original intention was to buy an internal wireless adapter but these usb versions are easier to fit (obviously) and I guess they don't add to the heat inside the computer itself - always an issue as software places ever-increasing demands on the OS.  What do you think?
Community Veteran
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Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Quote from: hollytree
Re the Dell Dimension 1300
Quote from: hollytree
Dell Dimension 3100

1300 or 3100?  Undecided (I have a 3100)
My Vista is Business 32-bit and has 4GB ram though there's no Aero, but that's not a problem for me; a better graphics card would be good for W7.
hollytree
Rising Star
Posts: 72
Fixes: 1
Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

3100...... 'scuse the dyslexia Cheesy
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Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

I have one of these: http://www.tp-link.com/en/products/details/?model=TL-WN823N
It seems fine but I've not had experience of any others. Also being on 20CN with a TG582 router I can't comment on the performance as both those will the limiting factors!
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
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gnicholson8
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Posts: 319
Registered: 06-11-2013

Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Hollytree,
Firstly, is there a particular reason for wishing to "Upgrade" to wireless, a wired CAT5/6 (Ethernet) connection will always offer the best quality in terms of speed and latency over a wireless connection, I've only just moved my PC to a wireless connection and this is only due to a logical problem with cabling.
secondly, are you on Fibre/or Standard ADSL,
Either way you'll want to get an internal PCI/PCI-E Wireless Card,
A USB wireless card is good for quick, short uses but prolonge usage is not recommended for the reasons bellow.
1 - USB  will bottleneck the speed. especially if on Fibre your speeds will be very slow.
2 - Prolonged usage will cause disconnects. in my experience prolonged usage of USB wifi adapters (in high bandwith, high usage situations with downloading) will cause random disconnects of the devices. I've seen this with a wide range of USB devices.
3 - Massive increase in ping/latency. As the data is being sent via wireless, to a usb device, then going via the usb ports to be converted to data the ping or latency of usb wifi is terrible and really high
4 - Wastes a USB port. Obviously a small reason but still a valid one.
Get a PCI/PCI-E card, they're easy to fit and work the best. Obviously it takes a little more to install them however this is as simple as turning the PC off, taking the side off and plugging it in, only a single screw is required and is the simplest of PC upgrades (internally) the heat given off the wireless cards is not noticeable but the speed increases vs USB is amazing. A decent Wireless card will hit 300-600Mbit/sec over a usb which will be lucky to hit 12-15Mbit (in my experience)
Best of luck with whatever you choose but I would never recommend a USB adapter for a desktop PC.
hollytree
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Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Hi gnicholson8
First off, can I thank you for this extremely helpful reply. In response to your q's:
(1) The phone line connection point is t'other side of the room, so trailing cable is the main reason. I'm not a gamer, and skyping with family, surfing the net and emails are my main reasons for needing to be online.  We do have another computer that IS wireless in a distant part of the house and I have to say that we've no complaints about latency - touch wood! I think the figure's around 20mbit/sec.. does that sound right? That said our son complains that the speed is pathetic when he's accessing our PN wireless system. But then I get the impression from him that PN has a pretty awful reputation with the "younger generation".
(2) I'm on standard ASL
To a layperson like me, your arguments for an internal card are extremely convincing - especially the point about USB wireless cards being most suited to short usage...  However, my PC has only one PCe slot and that will be taken up with a graphics card as part of my upgrade to Win 7 OS. I do have a couple of empty PCI slots - would a wireless card work in one of those?
Another issue has crossed my mind: if 2 computers are wireless on the same network, does this adversely impact on their speed/latency?
Heartfelt thanks again for your thoughts!
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Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Something like this, fits a standard PCI slot and has an external antenna.
Disclaimer: I haven't tried one, so have no idea of performance, etc.
gnicholson8
Grafter
Posts: 319
Registered: 06-11-2013

Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Hey hollytree,
No thanks necessary, I am actually part of the "younger" generation or I like to think so at 25 but youngun's always complain about speed, this isn't PN's doing but what your line is capable off and of course the fact you're not on Fibre (but of course you don't need to for your type of usage)
If you're on Standard ADSL (or even ADSL 2) you'll be sub 20Mbit/s
It doesn't have to be PCI-E and yes, deffinately use this for your graphics card, do you have any idea on what card you'll be getting, if you need a hand picking. let me know as you don't want to blow a ton on a gaming card when it's not required.
A PCI Wireless card will go perfectly and for non Fibre lines will work just as effectively as a PCI-E as the actual broadband speed doesn't even hit the throughput of the card. to explain.
To answer if two computers are running of Wifi will they be slower than one on Wifi one on Network, the simple answer is NO, I'll explain more bellow if you care for details but feel free to skip it.
Quote
Two PC's running on Wifi on a 802.11G network will be able to get a MAX bandwidth of 56Mbit/s between the two PC's (as this is the broadcast limitations of the 802.11G frequency at the 2.4Ghz range) but as your broadband line is running sub 20Mbit you'll never notice a difference as they can both access the bandwith (subject to distance from router/wireless card used/signal strength)

This card here is PCI, supports up 150Mbit/second which is WAY more than you'll ever need and is good quality for the price. D-link are also one of the leading brands in Wifi Technology.
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/d-link-dwa-525-pci-(32bit)-150mbps-80211g-n-24-ghz-wireless-adaptor
I think that answered most of the questions but If you do need more help with this or anything let me know or drop me a message, I am always willing to help.
gnicholson8
Grafter
Posts: 319
Registered: 06-11-2013

Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Quote from: Jaggies
Something like this, fits a standard PCI slot and has an external antenna.
Disclaimer: I haven't tried one, so have no idea of performance, etc.

I have and wouldn't recommend it. Drivers are a pain in the ass to get working and in all honesty, for something being place across the room, antenna's on the back of the card will be perfectly suited.
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Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Quote from: Jaggies
Something like this, fits a standard PCI slot and has an external antenna.
Disclaimer: I haven't tried one, so have no idea of performance, etc.

Well, in contrast to gn8 I'd point out that is EXACTLY what I recommended above, I've used several, and they work fine.
My Dell 3100 has one installed right now. Drivers are not a problem at all.
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Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Fit a standard 100mbps PCI network card and then buy these to connect the card to the router: http://www.amazon.co.uk/TP-Link-TL-PA211KIT-200Mbps-Powerline-Ethernet/dp/B004INVKP4
That gives you very near fully wired speed and latency with no wires trailed across the room (and it's a bit more secure than wireless).
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
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Community Veteran
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Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Quote from: jelv
Fit a standard 100mbps PCI network card
No need, that PC already has one onboard.  Wink
Alternatively buy a TP-Link TL-WR702N, though you will need to configure it (quite easy).
http://www.tp-link.com/en/products/details/?model=TL-WR702N
Basically it's a little box with loads of uses. I keep a couple "lying around" for "instant Ethernet" via wireless bridging.
They have a USB lead (just for power in this mode) and a RJ45 Ethernet cable. You configure them as a link/bridge from your base wireless station and plug into the PC Ethernet port for network and a spare USB port just for power.
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Re: Going wireless.. What's the best usb network adapter?

Quote from: HPsauce
Quote from: jelv
Fit a standard 100mbps PCI network card
No need, that PC already has one onboard.  Wink

Well in that case the homeplugs are the obvious solution. For under £20 and the only configuration needed being to push a button on each of the plugs it's ultra simple and achieves the objective of removing the wire across the room. Also if needed he could buy another plug to give an effectively wired connection elsewhere in the house.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)