Microsoft MN-730 wireless PCI adapter review: Microsoft MN-730 wireless PCI adapter

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Wi-Fi certified; comes with easy setup and configuration software; includes an external antenna; offers WEP/WPA security.

The Bad Supports Windows OSs only; hardware installation requires opening the computer.

The Bottom Line One of the first 802.11g desktop adapters, the MN-730 is easy enough for beginners and fast enough for everyone.

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Review Summary

The MN-730 wireless PCI adapter is one of several new Wi-Fi-certified 802.11g networking products in Microsoft's broadband-networking product line. We tested it together with the MN-700 wireless base station and were pleased with its ease of use, performance, and security features.

Sure, a USB adapter such as the Linksys WUSB12 would be easier to install--the MN-730 requires opening up your PC--but not everyone has a free USB port, and other people may prefer to use an available PCI slot and leave their USB port free. To Microsoft's credit, the software and the documentation for the MN-730 make the process impressively painless. When you run the Setup Wizard on the included CD, it gathers the necessary information before you install the adapter, then it configures Windows networking on your PC once the adapter is in place. The Setup Wizard also installs the Broadband Network Utility for configuring the adapter once you've installed it, a straightforward process, although Windows XP users can use their OS's Wireless Zero Configuration service instead. Possibly the most daunting step--opening the PC and locating a free PCI slot--is covered thoroughly in the included Start Here booklet. Microsoft also gives you a detailed printed user guide with complete installation instructions, a wireless networking primer, and a lengthy FAQ.

We did uncover a bug in the Setup Wizard software that prevented the application from completing normally when we attempted to use a workgroup name that contained a period. Microsoft tech support worked quickly to determine the cause and promised a fix in a future release.

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The MN-730's antenna is removable and can be replaced with a directional antenna for increased range.
Unlike most of the wireless PCI adapters weÂ've seen–usually a PC Card inserted into a PCI adapter--the MN-730 is a hardwired unit that can connect to both 802.11b and 802.11g networks. It has a single LED to indicate its connection status, and its external antenna is adjustable and also removable, so you can substitute a directional antenna for increased range.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Microsoft MN-730 wireless PCI adapter

Part Number: MN730 Released: Sep. 16, 2003
MSRP: $39.99 Low Price: $21.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Sep. 16, 2003
  • Data Transfer Rate 54 Mbps
  • Connectivity Technology Wireless
  • Interface (Bus) Type PCI