-Link DWL-G650M Super G with MIMO wireless notebook adapter
D-Link's DWL-G650M Super G with MIMO wireless notebook adapter can be tough to install and delivers unreliable, balky performance. Worse, it can interfere with a notebook's built-in Wi-Fi radio. Despite its low price and good showing in CNET Labs tests, we can't recommend it.
In theory, installing a wireless notebook adapter should be simple. You insert the accompanying CD into your computer and follow a setup wizard. In our tests, the D-Link DWL-G650M's drivers appeared to install with no problem, but the utility wouldn't launch. Therefore, the adapter couldn't connect in Super G Turbo mode to its partner, the D-Link DI-624M Wireless G with MIMO router. D-Link's tech support couldn't troubleshoot the problem but did note that the router's software often conflicts with Intel Centrino notebooks that use the Atheros chip. Unable to coax the utility to install, tech support eventually recommended that we reinstall Windows XP--a harsh and time-consuming solution to a driver problem. Instead, we installed the adapter utility on a second, brand-new notebook, which proved successful. Once the adapter is up and running, the D-Link Wireless Utility offers all the standard tools you'll find in most clients. You can scan for available networks, view signal strength and other connection statistics, and configure encryption modes (WEP and WPA-PSK).
We encountered reliability problems with the D-Link DWL-G650M Super G with MIMO wireless notebook adapter. Sometimes it maintained the connection; at other times, it inexplicably dropped the signal. D-Link said a high number of wireless networks within range might be responsible for the uneven performance, although we've never encountered this problem in our home setting before. Worse, the adapter utility disabled drivers for the built-in Centrino Wi-Fi radio in one test notebook and crashed another when we uninstalled the software. As a possible solution, D-Link recommends that you disable the built-in Wi-Fi radio before installing the notebook utility. Unfortunately, D-Link tech support told us this after the fact; it's not mentioned in any of the setup or product materials.
In CNET Labs' tests, the D-Link combo topped the other MIMO duos with its 51.5Mbps score on our maximum-throughput test. The pair achieved a respectable throughput of 33.3Mbps at a distance of 200 feet but scored a lackluster 17Mbps in mixed mode. When we installed the router and the PC Card in a home setting, however, the signal dropped off at a distance of 70 feet, delivering worse throughput than our standard 802.11g router.