Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Notebook Card review: Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Notebook Card

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MSRP: $59.99

Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Notebook Card

(Part #: F5D9010) Released: Aug 1, 2005
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Using MIMO technology, the Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Notebook Card is easy to install and comes with a comprehensive configuration tool, a lifetime warranty, and WPA and VPN support.

The Bad This notebook card is much slower than the Belkin Pre-N card.

The Bottom Line The Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Notebook Card can't compete with another member of Belkin's wireless-adapter family, the Pre-N PC Card, but it compares decently with other pre-802.11n/MIMO adapters and kills the plain 11g competition.

7.1 Overall
  • Design and ease of use 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Service and support 8.0

Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Notebook Card

Belkin's new Wireless G Plus MIMO Notebook Card adapter proves that newer is not necessarily better. In our tests, it offered slower maximum and mixed-mode throughput than its older counterpart, the Belkin Pre-N PC Card ; it also achieved less than half of the Pre-N PC Card's speed at long range. The G Plus MIMO line (including a companion router ) is part of Belkin's push to span the divide between plain-vanilla 802.11g devices and the first generation of (expensive) MIMO devices, both in terms of performance and price. The Wireless G Plus MIMO Card's performance almost overshadows its other enticing elements, which include simple setup, a comprehensive configuration utility, WPA and VPN support, and an unlimited warranty. Our advice: stick with the slightly more expensive Pre-N PC Card (and companion Pre-N router ), which provides all these benefits plus better overall performance.

From a design standpoint, the Wireless G Plus MIMO Card resembles many Wi-Fi PC Card adapters. Three-quarters of the card disappears inside your laptop's PCMCIA slot. The remaining quarter, which houses the wireless antenna, protrudes about an inch outside the slot. The protruding bit features two very small, green status lights; one blinks on and off when the card is searching for available wireless networks, while the other lights up when you've connected to one of those networks.

The Wireless G Plus MIMO Card installs as easily as most wireless PC Card adapters. It ships with well-organized hard-copy installation and user guides that feature lots of helpful screen shots and explanations of wireless topics. The installation guide prompts you to pop the included CD into your laptop's drive and click the Install Software option in the onscreen menu. The CD takes over from there, loading the requisite drivers and the configuration utility. A more full-featured take on Windows XP's Zero Config tool, the utility displays pertinent information about the wireless networks in the area, such as SSID, MAC address, security type (if any), channel, signal strength, and MIMO support. You can also use the tool to configure and store profiles for the wireless networks you use most, inputting associated WEP or WPA keys where applicable. Lastly, the card won't conflict with any VPN programs running on your portable.

The Wireless G Plus MIMO Card houses an Airgo Networks True MIMO antenna and chipset, which the company claims will significantly enhance the card's speed and range. However, compared with the Belkin Pre-N card, the device gave a generally uninspired performance in CNET Labs' tests, though it stacked up favorably with some other MIMO and non-MIMO cards. At a long distance of 200 feet, the card achieved a mediocre throughput speed of 18.2Mbps, while the Belkin Pre-N PC Card scored a spectacular 36.4Mbps. The Pre-N PC Card also beat the Wireless G Plus MIMO Card in mixed-mode throughput, with the former transferring data at a very fast 42.1Mbps and the latter at 27.6Mbps. Though the two were nearly on a par in maximum throughput (the Pre-N Card scored 45.7Mbps, and the Wireless G Plus MIMO Card 43.3Mbps), the D-Link DWL-G650M edged out both of them with its fantastic 51.5Mbps time. Still, the Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO card fared well against the more expensive Buffalo MIMO card and the Linksys WPC54GX .

CNET Labs maximum throughput tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

CNET Labs maximum throughput tests with mixed 802.11b/g and MIMO clients
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

CNET Labs long-range tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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