CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. How we test routers

Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G Notebook Adapter review: Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G Notebook Adapter

Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G Notebook Adapter

Allen Fear
2 min read
The Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter adds 802.11g connectivity to any laptop with an available PC Card slot. Linksys sells an enhanced version of the card called the WPC54GS, which adds Linksys's proprietary SpeedBooster technology. Both the WPC54G and the WPC54GS are Wi-Fi certified and backward compatible with 802.11b devices. If you use your network primarily as a means of sharing an Internet connection, you don't stand to benefit much from the SpeedBooster enhancements, so for Internet-connection sharing and light home networking, we suggest that you stick with the less racy but generally cheaper WPC54G. The Linksys WPC54G is a good value, and it's easy to install.
The Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter comes with a printed quick-installation guide that walks you through the setup for Windows PCs. (Unfortunately, this adapter doesn't support Macs.) The WPC54G setup is slightly differently for XP than for the other supported versions of Windows (98SE, Me, and 2000), because you'll need to use XP's native wireless configuration tool rather than Linksys's configuration utility. Both configuration tools are easy to use, but XP's native Zero Config utility has security advantages, which we'll discuss later. Regardless of the Windows OS you're running, setup is foolproof and entails little more than loading the accompanying CD and inserting the PC Card.
The WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter is Linksys's plain-Jane 802.11g adapter. It doesn't tout proprietary speed enhancements, such as Netgear's WG511T, or an external antenna connector, such as the Buffalo AirStation Adapter-G, but the WPC54G does cover the basics. It's Wi-Fi certified for both 802.11g and 802.11b, and it supports both the older WEP and the newer and stronger WPA encryption schemes. If you're using the WPC54G with Windows 98, Me, or 2000, you'll have to settle for WEP, though, since the Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter needs XP's Zero Config tool for WPA support.
In our informal tests using NetIQ's QCheck to measure throughput, the Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter clocked a speedy 24Mbps. You can get about twice the throughput with enhanced PC Card adapters, such as the Netgear WG511T, the D-Link DWL-G650, and the Linksys WPC54GS. These enhanced adapters also offer slightly better range in most environments, but the WPC54G will be adequate for most home networking scenarios or for connecting to public hot spots.
The Linksys WPC54G Wireless-G notebook adapter comes with a respectable three-year warranty that falls short of Belkin's lifetime policy but is on a par with the warranties of other networking vendors. You also get toll-free 24/7 support for the lifetime of the product. In addition, Linksys has one of the best online-support offerings in the business, with product-specific setup guidelines, FAQs, troubleshooting solutions, drivers, firmware, live chat with support staff, and a copious knowledge database that contains how-to information for the WPC54G's setup and configuration, as well as problem fixes for a collection of common networking issues.