Advice on going wireless with a Dell Dimension PC

  Audisportt 21:57 05 May 2006

I'd appreciate some advice.

I have a fairly new (2006) Dell Dimension 3100 PC
with a Intel HT521 processor.

We have AOL broadband (silver, 512mb) installed and we want to go wireless.

1. Understand you can buy a wireless router and a USB connection as opposed to installing a PCI ?
card which involves taking the back off the computer and also having to do some techy stuff so that the PC recongises the new card. Don't fancy the PCI card idea.

2. If you can get the wireless router allied with a USB connection, how does this work, and what's involved in the installation ?

3. What speed should I choose so that I get a fast connection - 802.11G ?

4. What would you recommend in terms of product/price and where to buy from ?

5. Lastly, are there any pitfalls in going to wireless (security, signal dropouts etc) ?

Thanks for your assistance.

Andy C


  ade.h 22:54 05 May 2006

You'd really be a lot better off with a PCI card. It is a more reliable device (many USB adapters cause problems, as you'll know by browsing the forum, and often have to be run without the 3rd-party software) and it gives you the opportunity to choose a card that has a proper desktop-sited aerial. Installation is very simple.

  Audisportt 10:06 06 May 2006


Would appreciate feedback on my other questions
and exactly what is involved in installing the PCI card.

Andy C

  ade.h 15:55 06 May 2006

To install a PC card:

1) Move the tower into a comfortable position, remove the cover and ground yourself.

2) Insert the card, replace the tower.

3) Power up and let XP detect the new hardware and find drivers for it, directing it to a file on the manufacturer's driver CD if necessary.


Some of your other questions answered in no particular order:

Security is essential; you must enable WPA or WPA2 and preferably MAC address filtering as well. Do not use WEP; it takes only modest knowledge and a few minutes of a wardriver's time to crack it. As more people are wising up to security, there are fewer open networks and the wardrivers are now going after the least well defended targets.

Connection protocol should be 11g, though you are welcome to try a boosted "Pre-n" system if you intend to stream large files across your workgroup. Such boosted systems are entirely proprietary, as 802.11n is a long way off. Bear in mind that 11g is more than fast enough for even the fastest UK ADSL speeds.

Routers are position sensitive, so care should be taken to avoid microwaves, large metal objects, large bodies of water, DECT phones.... This is not a 100% rule; my router is near to a radiator and works perfectly.

Routers are also susceptible to damage from surges and cuts; you must at the very least use a surge protector for both the power brick and the modem cable.

Where to buy? That's up to you. If you were reasonably experienced and had decided exactly what equipment you require, maybe you can find a nice price on the PC World website and use "Collect at Store". If however, you still need advice, stay around here before committing. I've lost count of the number of threads from people who can't get their router to work and it turns out that they have picked up the wrong kind of product. I tend to buy from

Product? Stay with certain well-established and well-supported network specialists; such as Belkin (my choice when helping people with new networks), Linksys or 3Com, for example. As a new user, you will benefit from a large and experienced userbase here on this forum, as well as good support on the manufacturer's website.

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