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What kind of "wireless adapter card" should I purchase

by rwj58 / March 19, 2009 12:07 PM PDT

I have a Dell 531S (Inspiron Desktop) running Vista. I will be purchasing a notebook soon and want to run it, along with my Dell via wireless. Is there a certain brand or a type of wireless adapter card I will need for my Dell (it came with no wireless card) or will any manufacturer work in it? I don't want to spend a fortune though. Also, I assume the card is easy to install, right? Thanks for any assistance provided.

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Any name brand . . .
by Coryphaeus / March 19, 2009 7:57 PM PDT

Linksys, D-link, Netgear. Under 50 bucks for a PCI card. Plug-n-play, run the install CD and plug it in. Do not use USB.

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No logo.
by fihart / March 19, 2009 7:59 PM PDT

You can probably use any brand. That choice comes down to price versus support -- no-name brands usually work fine as they use the same chipsets as the big boys, but the latter will still have driver and firmware updates for you 2 years hence.

The second choice is format -- USB works with desktop or laptop, PCI seems to offer the best performance (if you can be bothered to open the lid of your desktop).

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I went with LinkSys
by gkamer / March 20, 2009 12:05 PM PDT

I also have an older model Dell desk top. It also did not have a wireless network card. When I purchased my laptop, it came with built in wireless. So to eliminate the need to have a bunch of cables running all over the place, I brought two of those USB wireless adapters that plug into your USB port.

BIG mistake. They were a pain in the butt to set up and when I got lucky and got them to work, they would seldom if ever connect.

Then I decided to try a LinkSys card. I went with the LinkSys Wireless G PCI adapter. I only brought one, having learned my lesson with the USB ones. I installed it in my wife's Dell desk top. It pratcially installed itself and has been rock steady from Day 1.

So needless to say, I purchased a 2nd one for my desk top. again, setup was a snap, and again it has also been rock steady. Connects and stays connected with no muss no fuss.

Keep in mind, you need to have a wireless router (duh!) Also you need to hard wire the wireless card initially, but once the install program finds the router you pull the plug and it's full steam ahead.

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LinkSys Wireless (Network) Cards
by MarkinTO / March 20, 2009 3:33 PM PDT
In reply to: I went with LinkSys

I've always used Linksys routers and laptop cards, and as mentioned they practically install thenselves and 'always' work flawlessly.

I would "highly" recommended them to anyone adding wireless features to their laptop (or desktop for that matter).

The software included, is excellent and support, should you ever need it is quick and supurb.

Mark in Toronto

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WIFI and router
by mjd420nova / March 21, 2009 3:16 AM PDT

If this is going to be hooked up wirelessly to an existing router, purchase one from the same manufacturer as the router. This will make it easier for you and the install software will be quicker. If the router is a Linksys, go with the Linksys WIFI card. I agree that it is best to use a plugin card than the USB type as this would require an external connector that will become a point of bumping and banging that will jam the connector and in some cases even cause damage to the board inside the laptop.

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Look for an 802.11n adapter
by john3347 / March 21, 2009 5:10 AM PDT

For the benefit of future upgradability and considering the small price difference, I would recommend that you only consider a wireless "n" adapter. Whether you have a "b", "g", or "n" router, the "n" adapter will work. If you have a "b", or "g" router and want to upgrade later, you will already have the "n" adapter. As others have pointed out here, it is usually better to have brand names consistent throughout your network. I like USB adapters because you can reposition them for better reception if your adapter and router have difficulty "talking" to each other. Under ideal conditions, however, the PCI card will give you a stronger signal.

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