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USB or PCI Wireless Adapters Selection

Community Veteran
Posts: 38,307
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Registered: 15-06-2007

USB or PCI Wireless Adapters Selection

I am going to switch to a wireless router (Speedtouch 585 - so I can use DMT to adjust the default noise margin) and I am confused about the choice of adapters.
USB would be easy but comparing a USB adapter and a PCI card the card normally has a large aerial. Does this mean that the reception distance is likely to be significantly less with a USB adapter.
Also is there any appreciable advantage in using the Speedtouch adapters over say the Linksys adapters which are about the same price.

USB or PCI Wireless Adapters Selection

There are those who prefer USB adaptors as these usually have a long cable and can therefore be positioned for optimum reception.

Used to be that PCI was felt best as USB bandwidth limitations led to a bottleneck, but USB 2.0 has largely dealt with this problem, and lots of people are coming to realise that a computer is a metal box that isn't all that friendly to WiFi signals that may need to pass through.

I still use PCI cards, but you might want to consider the path between the router and the computer, and if the positional flexibility of the wifi adaptor might be an advantage.

Also worth noting that the latest generation of Netgear PCI cards also have movable antenna's on cables- giving you the best of both worlds.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 01-08-2007

USB or PCI Wireless Adapters Selection

Personally I don't have a preference.

USB is neat and can work on an expandable data connection which can be used for other things... BUT if you have a USB stick sticking out of your case and you accidentally knock it somehow... damage.

PCI is neatly built into the system where it cannot be damaged.... BUT PCI cannot have a chain of devices attached to it. Once a slot is used it's no longer available.

It depends what you want from your system.

Personally on my Internet PC, I use a PCI wireless card. This has a software operated access point running as a system service. On my laptop, I use a PCMCIA wireless card for the reason that most of it slots in and only about 1 inch sticks out. If I had a USB adapter on the back I would be forever knocking it into things and would probably destroy my only good USB socket (the other one is intermittent). On a laptop, a USB hub isn't very practical. On a desktop it is.

My only reason for using a PCI card on the main machine is simply because the device has a software AP which means I can restrict MAC address's (in other words unauthorised users cannot connect to it). If it was used in ad-hoc mode anyone could gain access - if they cracked the wep key. If I had a USB access point device (which DO exist but are rare and I don't have £10 spare at the moment) then I would prefer to use USB.
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