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mini-pci wireless card(s) for Dell Inspiron 5150 laptop

Discussion in 'Laptops' started by swangdb, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. swangdb

    swangdb Guest

    I have a Dell Inspiron 5150 laptop running Windows XP. It has an Dell
    Truemobile 1300 internal mini-pci wifi card. This card works okay but
    it seems flaky at times and will drop the signal for seemingly no
    reason.

    When I purchased the computer a few years ago I had the choice of
    getting either the 1300 or the 1400 wifi card and I got the 1300, it
    was slightly cheaper. After that, I had uneven wireless performance,
    sometimes pretty good, sometimes it would just die. On a Dell message
    board, some claimed the 1300 was a lemon and others said it was fine.
    1400 owners seemed happier with their cards.

    I've updated drivers for the 1300 and it works okay but still loses its
    network connections sometimes. At home there are three computers that
    share a Netgear wireless router. One is a desktop computer that has an
    external usb wireless device and it always works great, never any
    drops. I could get one of those but I only have two usb ports and
    don't want to use a hub for this.

    So I thought about getting a 1400 wifi card if I could find one for the
    right price. So far I haven't found one, but Dell has a lot of
    different mini-pci wifi cards. I found a Dell Truemobile 1470 wifi
    card for sale, the seller claims it is compatible with my laptop even
    though Dell doesn't claim this on their web site.

    Are all of the Dell mini-pci wifi cards basically interchangeable and
    just need different drivers? I don't want to throw good money after
    bad. Heck, I'd be happy to keep the wifi card I have if I could just
    make it work more reliably and a little faster.

    Thanks for any help you can give!
     
    swangdb, Jun 16, 2006
    #1
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  2. swangdb

    John Navas Guest

    Check for possible interference -- see Fast Fixes below.
    TrueMobile 1300: Broadcom BCM4306 reference design
    TrueMobile 1400: Broadcom BCM4309 reference design
    TrueMobile 1470: Broadcom BCM4318 reference design

    1470 should be better than the earlier models, but I personally prefer:

    * Atheros AR5004G
    * Intel 2200BG
     
    John Navas, Jun 16, 2006
    #2
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  3. swangdb

    S.Lewis Guest


    Replace it with either an Intel 2200 or 2915 a/b/g mini-pci card.
     
    S.Lewis, Jun 17, 2006
    #3
  4. swangdb

    Jerry Park Guest

    No. Replace with anything except an Intel.
     
    Jerry Park, Jun 17, 2006
    #4
  5. Add my vote for the Intel 2200BG card. Much better drivers, and I've
    never noticed the issues they are rumored to have.
     
    William P.N. Smith, Jun 17, 2006
    #5
  6. swangdb

    John Navas Guest

    Why would you say that? Intel 2200BG is a very good card.
     
    John Navas, Jun 17, 2006
    #6
  7. swangdb

    John Navas Guest

    Even the best products will get a certain amount of negative feedback --
    there are people that will blame the product even when it's their own
    fault -- so the more popular the product, the more negative feedback
    there will be, and the Intel 2200BG is a very popular card. Thus it's
    important to weigh the relative amounts of positive and negative
    feedback, as well as the kind of negative feedback.

    For example, see
    <http://www.newegg.com/Product/CustRatingReview.asp?Item=N82E16833106221>.
    Most of the votes are glowing. The one bad review was from someone that
    couldn't get it to work, probably the result of a computer BIOS lock;
    i.e., not the fault of the Intel card. The only other review at less
    than 5 stars is probably WEP (yuk!) cockpit error, since the Intel
    software does work properly.
     
    John Navas, Jun 17, 2006
    #7
  8. swangdb

    Jerry Park Guest

    I would say that because I have an Intel2915abg (same drivers as the
    2200bg). It has connectivity issues. The connection speed varies wildly
    and disconnects when it drops to 1mbps. The transmit power settings
    can't be set permanently. That is, what ever you set it at changes back
    to about 40% each time the card is restarted.

    Worked with that card over 6 months trying to get a stable connection.
    Tried every new Intel driver for the card. Intel never addressed the
    driver problems. I still have the card. Makes a good bookmark, but
    doesn't make a good wireless card.

    All other cards I have ever used work well. Currently using an Atheros
    card which works extremely well.

    The Intel cards really do have problems. But, as you note, many people
    are happy with them anyway. Thats fine. But doesn't make for a
    recommendation.
     
    Jerry Park, Jun 17, 2006
    #8
  9. swangdb

    John Navas Guest

    It's nonetheless a *different* card.
    1. Transmit speed is set by the access point (not the card) as a
    function of error rate. You're probably getting a lot of errors.
    2. Interference may be the source of the problem (causing errors).
    3. Have you looked at the Statistics in the Intel software?
    4. The card may be defective.
    Why would you want to set the transmit power? That's usually only an
    issue in ad hoc mode.
    What specific driver problems?
    Atheros (AR5004G) is my favorite, but I also like Intel.
    What other specific problems? I find that Intel cards work quite well
    in general.
    Fair enough, but you went well beyond that, based on only one bad
    experience that might be a sample defect, or not even the fault of the
    card, and it was a different card in any event.
     
    John Navas, Jun 17, 2006
    #9
  10. swangdb

    WSZsr Guest

    I have the Intel 2200 and I have no issues. Why don't you send me your book
    2915 bookmark?
     
    WSZsr, Jun 17, 2006
    #10
  11. swangdb

    Jerry Park Guest

    Yes. I realize that. But if you remove a card which is having continual
    connection and speed issues and replace it with a different card -- same
    computer system, same antenna -- and you no longer get any of those
    problems, you can discount interference. It is also pretty certain it
    was a problem with the hardware or with the drivers for the hardware.
    If your card can't run at sufficient power to contact the AP, your
    connection is going to be bad. Most cards run at 100mw. The Intel
    defaults (and resets itself) to about 40 mw. That is probably part of
    the reason the connection speed varies so wildly.
    Inability to permanently set the transmit power.
    Many people profess satisfaction with Intel cards. I see a lot of others
    noting the same issues that I noted. One other thing I noted with Intel
    is that if you are using the Intel client, it will report an excellent
    signal even when the connection is so poor the connection is about to
    fail. I've noted people posting 'Whats wrong with my router. My Internet
    speed is like dial up but I have DSL'. Turns out the poster was using an
    Intel card. Replacing the card 'fixed' the router problem. Lots of
    things like that. I'm glad some people have good results with Intel
    cards. I just think they are a very poor implementation. Intel seems
    more interested in saving power in your notebook than providing good
    connection.
     
    Jerry Park, Jun 17, 2006
    #11
  12. swangdb

    John Navas Guest

    Not necessarily -- different products can and do perform in different
    ways. I know of one network card that performs well except with
    Bluetooth interference, as compared to another card that's not as good,
    but handles Bluetooth interference better.
    I doubt it. Intel actually sets the transmit power automatically by
    default, and that's not as big a difference as it might seem in any
    event. What matters is the balance between effective transmit power and
    receive sensitivity -- it won't help to have a card 'shouting' if it
    can't hear the other end -- so boosting transmit power alone isn't
    usually effective.
    Sorry, but I don't see that as a "problem" -- at most it's a limitation,
    and not an unusual one, or that's likely to be a problem. Intel cards
    have performed well in my tests, equal to or better than most other
    cards.
    That's usually when no data is flowing, when it's hard to detect signal
    quality problems -- what matters is the error rate when data is flowing.
    With all products -- no matter how good the product, there are always
    people that had problems with it.
    My own experience is that Intel performance and stability are first
    rank.
     
    John Navas, Jun 21, 2006
    #12
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