Need a new Wi-fi card

  SHUNNA 20:19 19 Mar 2009

Can anyone recommend a good card to replace my intermittent 3COM 3CRWE154G72 fitted to an old Packard Bell 3 Series laptop.
The router I am using is a SpeedTouch 585V6 and the signal has to be capable of passing through a stone dividing wall.

  Ashrich 00:12 20 Mar 2009

Can we have a bit more info about the laptop please , processor/memory/OS, etc.
Low power laptops , in general , will struggle decoding WPA encryption , sometimes failing completely , WEP they can handle better due to the lower overheads , also , maybe the router signal won't travel well through the stone wall rather then the wireless card being at fault .

For PC card adapters I have always favoured D-Link for what it is worth .


  SHUNNA 11:34 20 Mar 2009

The laptop is a Packard Bell EasyNote E3243. Processor is AMD Athlon XP Mobile 2400+, 512mb DDR Ram, OS. is Win Xp pro. Using WEP encryption.
Don`t think its the router as my son`s more modern Dell Inspiron with built in WiFi has no problem receiving signal.
Main reason for changing card is that it has become intermittent even close to the router and is causing the laptop to freeze.

  Strawballs 12:41 26 Mar 2009

I have used a few different USB adapters on older laptops that have no inbuilt wireless and Linksys and belkin seem to work ok and with the spec you gave for the laptop it should run WPA without any problem which is far more secure

  Ashrich 22:43 27 Mar 2009

Some EasyNote E3243 laptops came with inbuilt WI-FI and some didn't , the serial number denotes whether it has or not . I have been looking for a strip down for this laptop to see if internal wireless can be fitted but , as yet , I cannot find one , but I'll keep looking ....


  Ashrich 23:21 27 Mar 2009

Okay , found a strip down of the E Series laptops , and you can fit an internal wireless adapter to it , these are really cheap at the moment , I bought an Atheros AR5007eg the other day on eBay for just a fiver inc. p=p . They are dead easy to fit , takes two minutes . I suggest locating one and buying it , and while waiting for delivery download the relevant drivers for it and either keep them on the laptop or on a memory stick for further use .

If you turn the laptop upside down with the batter nearest you , you will see , almost in the middle , a cover with two screws in it ( they are on the left side of the cover ) , unscrew the 2 screws and lift the cover , here you will find a mini pci compartment . The card fits a bit like a laptop memory module as it pushed into the slot at a 45 degree angle the the other end gently pushes down to fit into 2 clips . The antenna leads will clip onto the 2 connectors on the card ( marked Main and Aux , connect both )

Remove the mains power and battery before doing this procedure . Having fitted the card , boot up the PC and let it find the card , Windows will ask for the drivers , this is when you point it to the previously stored file on your laptop or pen drive .

Let Windows manage the connection , you will see the wireless icon on the task bar , bottom left . Double click , scan for networks , find yours and enter the security key and away you go !!

For a reference to finding the necessary cover to unscrew , click here .


  Ashrich 23:56 27 Mar 2009

Forgot to say , you want a mini pci NOT a mini pci-e ( mini pci has motherboard connectors on long side of card , pci-e is smaller with connector on the short side )


  SHUNNA 13:59 28 Mar 2009

Very interesting Ashley. Have looked in the compartment you suggest but can`t see a slot where a mini pci card could fit? Most of the space is taken up by a shinney piece of metal which may be a heatsink. I am wondering if this laptop does have onboard Wi-Fi. How can I find out? I have looked in the Device Manager and under Network Adaptors it shows it shows a 1394 Net adaptor which i believe is something to do with Firewire and also Via Rhine II Fast ethernet Adaptor? I bought the laptop on Ebay when it was still under guarantee after having a new motherboard fitted. Also on the programs running bar has always shown a Wireless Lan Connection Indicator Symbol with a red cross. Clicking or right clicking on this appears to do nothing?

  Ashrich 22:56 28 Mar 2009

I suggest unscrewing all the compartments that you can and having a look in each , the wireless card slot is right up against the side of it's compartment to provide the space for fitting ( it looks for all purposes like a memory slot ), also the antenna wires would give the game away .

It seems odd that the wireless icon is there without the card actually being present in Device manager , maybe it was there originally when Windows was loaded and was then removed before it was sold to you , with the possibility of the drivers being present but no card , Windows may be still looking for it , hence the icon .

I just tried opening the link I posted and it didn't work , if you PM me I can email the full .pdf to you showing the underside of the E series laptop in the guide , it might give you an idea of where to look .

A last thought for the night , are there any pictures of something like a radio mast on your keyboard ? If so , try pressing the fn ( function ) button and at the same time press the radio mast one and see if that indeed turns the wireless on , other combinations to try are fn+f1 and fn+f2 , try those ....


  SHUNNA 22:37 29 Mar 2009

Checked all the compartments as you suggested Ashley. One contains the HD, another the RAM, a third the processor and cooling fan, leaving just the one that you directed me to. There is definately no slot in this compartment or antenna wires.
When i First purchased the laptop, it came with no Windows and the HD had been wiped, so had none of the Packard bell software or drivers. I loaded my own Win Xp and downloaded the drivers I needed from the PB. site. Maybe this is why there is a wireless icon on the programs running section of the task bar and nothing else.

  Ashrich 23:50 29 Mar 2009

Shame , obviously one of the ones that didn't have wireless fittings on the motherboard then , so , back to the drawing board .

Belkin PC cards seem to work well , as do the D-Link cards that I favour ( most of them use Atheros chipsets which I prefer ) , and they have less hardware sticking out of your laptop than an easily breakable USB adapter .

Whichever one you end up buying , do a little homework first . Find out who makes the chipset inside and see if you can download just the driver for the card and not use any utility that might come with it , that way you can easily use Windows to manage the wireless connections , it seems to generally make a better job , and remove ALL the driver and any utilities that came with your existing card , to avoid any problems later on . Hope it all goes well !!


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