External WiFi adapter for laptop

bz42

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I recently just bought an Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black, which came with a really * internal wireless card. I can't even get on the internet from my room which is directly above the router on the second floor. I looked online and found that a lot of others have had this same issue with the laptop. I guess Acer decided to go with some cheap Atheros wireless card.

Anyways, my question is What is the best external wifi adapters for laptops?

I did some research and it looks like a lot of people are enjoying the BearExtender USB Wi-Fi Booster.

Link here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA0AT14C9882&cm_re=bearextender-_-0E6-0037-00001-_-Product

Just wanted to see if you guys had any idea on what I should get. Preferably, something I can buy at a brick and morter store because I don't want to wait over the weekend with shipping. But, I am not completely closed to the idea.

Thanks in advance to all of your guys' help.
 

Tom Tancredi

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May 9, 2013
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All depends really because when you go through floors (and not even considering piping, steel beams, etc.) signal for ANY router drops, it is a known limitation of Wireless signals, especially older signals like 802.11g and even N. The newer standard of 802.11AC greatly improves with MIMO and multiple antenna, better signal penetration, speed and distance. But you need BOTH ENDS (laptop and router) to be using AC to get that benefit.

Before you invest in more hardware than may solve the issue, try this simple solution;
Go downstairs to the router and fire up your laptop and you will see a signal bar there OR use a nice tool like
Xirrus Wifi Inspector http://www.xirrus.com/resources/free-tools/ and watch the signals. Now if you see ALOT of other 'networks' you could be suffering from cross over traffic and you would best improve the signal by switching the 'channel' the router broadcasts on.
Walk your walk around the first floor then the second floor. As more 'objects' (walls, refrigerators, piping) gets in the way over distance you will see the signal drop in proportion. Then do the same on the second floor.

What you just did is mapped your Wifi area, so if you DO invest in a Booster, that would be placed BETWEEN your router and where you want to be to 'boost the signal range' now you have a idea where to optimally put it BUT IT WILL CUT YOUR SPEED IN HALF (problems with boosters).

If you want to 'confirm' your suspicion the Acer is the problem do the same thing with another laptop or maybe your cellphone (plenty of 'wifi scanner apps' out there) and see what you get on that device. If you see the SAME THING then it isn't the Acer.

As a helper you can do these basics just to make sure the laptop is 'up to snuff' as your expecting:


Did you install all Windows Updates? Including OPTIONAL except BING? Check them and repeat till ALL are installed.

Download and run Slim Drivers, install all the latest updates but you don't need to reboot until you do the last update

Go to www.filehippo.com
Download Malwarebytes do a CUSTOM scan and select your drives to do a full system scan (it does NOT do this by 'default' and AV doesn't pick up alot of malware) - this resolved almost ALL other similiar posts to date as most had Malware the AV didn't pick up.
Remove whatever AV your using and download AVIRA, AVG, Comodo or Panda and do a CUSTOM scan and select your drives to do a full system scan (it does NOT do this by 'default') - this repeatedly has resolved alot of people issue relying on MS Essentials.
Repeat the AV/Malware scans till the system comes up clean.

Download and run SPECCY, copy and paste the first tab to show your idle temps

Open Computer, Can Air dust out the bunnies and use paint brush on the vents, coolers, fans, etc.

Go through and provide a response on each point, don't SKIP IT because "I ALREADY DID IT" , just try doing it again as of THIS post so we know NOW what is happening as compared to BEFORE you posted.
 

bz42

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May 5, 2012
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Tom, thanks for your detailed post on the issue I am having. Just some more information, my laptop is brand new and running Windows 8.1. I'm not sure if there is an issue with the Windows 8 or not, just thought I'd mention it. Also, I have an old Dell laptop (6-7 years old) and I get decent speeds in my room. I also have a desktop in my room with an old Netgear wireless card that does amazing. So, when you buy a brand new laptop for ~$1200, you would expect the wifi to be way better.

I called Acer, and they told me to install the latest drivers which I did. Then, they told me to reinstall Windows which I also did. Like I mentioned in the OP, I saw a lot of people had issues with the integrated Atheros card on these Acer laptops.

I would also like to mention that today I went to a Starbucks, and the wifi seemed to be working perfectly fine.

As far as the router goes, it is a basic one from Comcast. I am sure it is not as good as some of the other ones you can buy, but until now most devices connect and have a somewhat stable and decent connection.

I guess my question should be:

If all else fails, and the problem is within the Acer hardware itself then what would be the best thing for me to do. I don't really want to ship it to Acer and have them "repair the hardware".

Thanks.
 

Tom Tancredi

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As I said in my post, those are the steps to determine what the situation is. just because a old Dell runs 'one way' and this new laptop runs 'another' can't be honestly compared. As I suggested, this would be the most 'precise' way to measure and 'match' things to see how they are not how you 'perceive' / expect them to be (your expectations could be off for a number of reasons too).

If you follow the step by step I also laid out, this will ensure nothing is 'hiding' or getting in the way to skew the results as I mentioned. Simple Malware can cause all sorts of issues on your Acer, but it isn't on the Dell, so the Dell acts better, and so on.
 

bz42

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May 5, 2012
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Okay, so I did some testing using my Samsung Galaxy Note 3's tethering as a wi-fi hotspot.

I also bought a Netgear AC1200 USB Adapter.

I have concluded:

Whether I am using the internal wireless card or the external Netgear USB adapter to connect to my home's router makes little to no difference. I am getting very poor signal in my room which is literally right above the router. I can now rule out the wireless card as being faulty since it connects fine to my phone (I put my phone in the same spot as the router downstairs), and also earlier today while connected to the public wi-fi at starbucks.

I believe the issue is more the modem/router's compatibility with "newer wireless receivers" than anything else.

If anyone knows more on this issue, please let me know.

Quick update:

I tried using the new Netgear AC1200 USB Adapter on my desktop, which currently has an older Netgear RangeMax PCI Adapter and I am getting the same results from the laptop. I could barely open speedtest.net on my desktop when using the USB Adapter and home router. When I used the USB Adapter and my phone's tethering, it was fine.

Looks like there is some issue with "newer vs. older". When I use and "old" wireless card with router, it works. When I use a "new" wireless adapter with router, very slow. Just thought I would update.

Thanks.
 

Tom Tancredi

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Uhmmm if your using the 'old wireless card' then your only hitting the max speed of the old card which is 802.11g http://www.downloads.netgear.com/files/GDC/WPN311/WPN311_ds_02Feb05.pdf and that means as well the router is probably only up to a 802.11g and needs to be REPLACED by Comcast with the newer model. The newer adapter is using 802.11n, but that won't "speed things faster" because the router is still pumping out only 802.11g speeds (can be also a configuratiuon issue again you need to contact Comcast) so the "''"new' wireless adapter with router (isn't) very slow" it is running at the only speed it can.

The issue is your router's wireless standard, it either needs to be 'swapped out' for the newest signal or it needs to be reconfigured. You can Validate this by clicking (in Windows) the wireless icon and seeing the signal and seeing the type of connection it is making or as I suggested before the steps to using Xirrus to confirm this

NOTE; SPEEDTEST.NET IS NOT A VALID TEST - YOUR USE OF THIS IS NOT HOW YOU TEST WHAT YOU THINK THE PROBLEMS IS.

Speedtest.net is from the ROUTER TO the SPEEDTEST website your hitting speed. Your Wireless card has NO EFFECT and WILL NOT SPEED UP YOUR INTERNET (is that what your trying to achieve???). To TEST a wireless connection SPEED between LAPTOP/DESKTOP and the ROuter, you need to say copy a file between the laptop and desktop / vice versa and watch the speeds / use a tool like Xirrus to show you what your 'speed' and signal is capable of.
 
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