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Fitzcarraldo
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 12:04 am    Post subject: Which of these laptop wireless cards should I choose? Reply with quote

I need to buy a new laptop in the next few months. I have decided on the laptop OEM and model of chassis I am going to buy, and on the specialist builder who will assemble it for me, but I have not yet decided on all the components. For this particular chassis the laptop builder offers the following five wireless card options (I'm quoting his text verbatim):

1. GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL N-135 (150Mbps, 802.11N) + BLUETOOTH
2. GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL N-7260 (300Mbps, 802.11BGN) + BLUETOOTH
3. GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL AC-7260 (867Mbps, 802.11AC) + BLUETOOTH
4. GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL ULTIMATE N-6300 (450Mbps, 802.11AGN)
5. GIGABIT LAN & KILLER 1202 WIRELESS GAMING 802.11N + BLUETOOTH 4.0

Looking at the specifications on Intel's Web site, Options 1 to 4 above all provide Bluetooth 4.0, so I don't know why the laptop builder specifically mentions "4.0" only for Option 5. Anyway...

Unless a Gentoo user can advise me that the Killer 1202 is a safe bet in Gentoo, I will rule out Option 5 because I prefer to go with a well-known manufacturer (Intel) with good Linux support.

I will rule out Option 4 because there is no Bluetooth, which I want. Mind you, Bluetooth support in Linux is a PITA (it does not work in KDE with Bluez-5 on my current laptop, but I live in hope.)

Looking at Intel's specifications for Option 1, it really supports 802.11BGN, not just "802.11N" as stated by the builder.

I'm inclined to choose either Option 2 or Option 3. However, is 802.11AC fully backwards compatible with 802.11BGN, or might I have trouble at some sites which have BGN wireless access points but don't support AC? What do you think? Does any Gentoo user reading this use the INTEL AC-7260 with 802.11AC (Option 3 in the list above)?

Any other advice on the above 5 options would be welcome. Thanks in advance.
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khayyam
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:08 am    Post subject: Re: Which of these laptop wireless cards should I choose? Reply with quote

Fitzcarraldo wrote:
Looking at the specifications on Intel's Web site, Options 1 to 4 above all provide Bluetooth 4.0, so I don't know why the laptop builder specifically mentions "4.0" only for Option 5.

Fitzcarraldo ... they look to be cut & pasted from the retailers catalogue (probably some database provided by their wholesaler), and so reflect the fact that it was probably not done by one individual who does data entry.

Fitzcarraldo wrote:
Looking at Intel's specifications for Option 1, it really supports 802.11BGN, not just "802.11N" as stated by the builder.

Yeah, that's probably just to do with the fact that its an N card, so they put N. N cards will also support BG.

Fitzcarraldo wrote:
I'm inclined to choose either Option 2 or Option 3. However, is 802.11AC fully backwards compatible with 802.11BGN, or might I have trouble at some sites which have BGN wireless access points but don't support AC? What do you think? Does any Gentoo user reading this use the INTEL AC-7260 with 802.11AC (Option 3 in the list above)?

No, I don't, but the card is supported by iwlwifi and as far as AC goes you won't (hedge my bets ... shouldn't) have any issues with BGN. 802.11ac is just building on N, wider bandwidth, and a possible 8 MIMO. That said, I'm generally sceptical of industry claims, so I would take the 500 Mbit/s (single stream) with a grain of salt, yes, you may get that under ideal (perhaps I should say, theoretical) conditions, but the adding of additional streams (MIMO) doesn't necessarily equate to better radio transmission ... they omit to inform you of what will happen to the radio signal if everyone in your airspace is likewise using these channels.

dmesg (not from me) ...

Code:
[  175.842808] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: Detected Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless AC 7260, REV=0x144

Fitzcarraldo wrote:
Any other advice on the above 5 options would be welcome. Thanks in advance.

I've never heard of this chipset/vendor.

best ... khay
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Atom2
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:00 am    Post subject: Re: Which of these laptop wireless cards should I choose? Reply with quote

Fitzcarraldo wrote:
I'm inclined to choose either Option 2 or Option 3.
According to Intel's specs, an important difference between option 2 and option3 (and also option 4) is that both option 3 and option 4 do support dual band operation (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) whereas option 2 only works with 2.4 GHz. The latter is usually pretty crowded which, depending on where you live and the proximity to your neighbourhood, may or may not be a factor to consider. Clearly to use the 5GHz band, your access point and (unless the AP provides simultaneous dual stack operation for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) your other wireless network gear also require 5GHz support.

Furthermore, when travelling, an option to chosse between the two bands may come in handy. The 5GHz band, for instance, is much more common in the US than in Europe which on the upside usually ensures less disturbance from other stations when used in Europe. On the other hand the 2.4 GHz band usually has a slightly better reach.

Finally (if I remember correctly) certain channels of the 2.4 GHz band overlap with bluetooth, so if you simultaneously want to use bluetooth, using the 5GHz band may also be of benefit.

So in a nutshell: Provided that option 3 works under linux (which I haven't tested), I'd go for option 3 from your choices listed above.

If you have other options available to choose from, I'd also look at Atheros cards: They are well know for great driver support in linux and most of their cards do not only work in client-mode but they do also support access-point mode (AP-mode) whereby your computer may operate as a wireless AP/router providing services for other wireless clients.

I hope that helps. Regards Atom2


Last edited by Atom2 on Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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Fitzcarraldo
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Atom2. Interesting to know about the dual-band capability of Option 3 (and Option 4). Option 3 is therefore looking more attractive to me than Option 2.

The laptop builder does not offer Atheros cards, so one of the five options I listed will have to be my choice. Intel do seem to provide good driver support for Linux, so I am happy to use an Intel wireless card (my existing laptop has the Intel Ultimate N WiFi Link 5300, which works nicely in all the many locations I use my laptop), but it would be comforting to know if the INTEL AC-7260 802.11AC version works well with older 802.11 standards (B, G and N). Any Gentoo users out there who use the INTEL AC-7260 802.11AC version with 802.11BGN networks?
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khayyam
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fitzcarraldo wrote:
[...] but it would be comforting to know if the INTEL AC-7260 802.11AC version works well with older 802.11 standards (B, G and N). Any Gentoo users out there who use the INTEL AC-7260 802.11AC version with 802.11BGN networks?

Fitzcarraldo ... as I said above 802.11ac is not fundementally any different to N, it just uses more streams (multiple input/output ... MIMO). IEEE 802.11{B,G,N,AC} is interoperable, though in my experience you tend to get less issues on networks where one is in use, rather than "mixed" ... but that's somewhat of a different question as it has a lot to do with the hardware in use.

best ... khay
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Fitzcarraldo
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

khayyam, yes, I understood you the first time (and thank you for that), but "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, theory and practice are different." (attributed to Albert Einstein). Hence I would also be interested to hear from someone with actual hardware.
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khayyam
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fitzcarraldo wrote:
khayyam, yes, I understood you the first time (and thank you for that), but "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, theory and practice are different." (attributed to Albert Einstein).

Fitzcarraldo ... yes, but he also said that e=mc2 and everyone who's read the Ladybird books knows 'e' is for 'ear' ... so I'd take anything coming from that particular source with a grain of gravity.

Fitzcarraldo wrote:
Hence I would also be interested to hear from someone with actual hardware.

bumping for that very purpose ... best ... khay
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Logicien
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

About Bluetooth, version 4 may not make any difference in usage than prior versions. What make a difference for me is the distance at which the device can send and receive the signal. The information of an integrated Bluetooth device for laptop must be retreive because, if it's distance is short, it may not be helpfull for you.

Presently I use IOGEAR BLUETOOTH GBU321 CLASS1 100M USB, an external Usb Bluetooth device that have 100 meters send and receice strench, according to specifications. I see a big difference with Bluetooth headset. No choppy sound and no desynchronisation.

I am gone receive a TRENDNET BLUETOOTH TBW-106UB USB soon. It have 100 meters specification too, the longest distance I found.

So, if you see that an integrated Bluetooth device have a short distance strench in it's specifications, you can not consider Bluetooth combo as mandatory and only make a choice for the best wireless network device and use a good external Usb Bluetooth device.
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szatox
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are BT devices designed for 100m, 10m, and it seems 1m. And ofcourse 10m (class 2?) are the most popular. Also, you will not find any BT device with bigger range, as it would require transmiter too strong to be legal in many countries. Those 100m provide 20dbm (100mW) already, and it seems some countries don't even allow this much (France, anyone?)

Anyway, I ran a quick search on google, and here's some hint:
Quote:
Killer Networks Gigabit Ethernet NIC (Standard)
Killer NIC 1202 802.11n WiFi (Standard)
5G WiFi Broadcom 4352 802.11n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0

Well, broadcom doesn't sound very optimistic
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pa1983
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GIGABIT LAN & WIRELESS INTEL AC-7260 (867Mbps, 802.11AC) + BLUETOOTH

have on my self. AC dont work in AP mode (accesspoint mode so not a problem for most).
Use it in my router as an accesspoint so Im stuck at N speeds but realy not a problem considering the AC model is a few dollars more then most intel N nics.

But its stable and works very well and range is good so cant complain (antennas effect range so get some good once).
Have a Nexus 4 and 7 and a RPI connected to it over N speeds. Tested a PC with 300Mbit and a 150mbit USB adapter ertc with good results. Have not had any connection problems related to the intel card it self.
make sure to use relatively new kernel and firware tough.
I run kernel 3.14 atm.

Would stay away from anything with "KILLER" in its name tough.
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ROUTER: Celeron J1900 2Ghz, 8Gb ram, 128Gb SSD, NICs: 2x1Gbit, WIFI: Intel AC 7260, Atheros AR5005G
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Fitzcarraldo
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2014 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Regarding Bluetooth, I only want it in order to be able to transfer files to and from my mobile phone, so the distance will be very short. I used to use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse but stopped a few years ago, so my requirements are very straightforward. When Bluetooth used to work for file transfers in the good ol' Bluez-4 days, I did find it convenient to transfer photos from my mobile phone via Bluetooth, as I find KDE Connect does not work with the WiFi networks in hotels and most offices. I am hoping some bright spark will get Bluez-5 working with KDE on Gentoo before too long.

pa1983, your post is very welcome. Thanks! I'm using the 3.13.7 kernel at the moment on my existing laptop, but will make sure to go for a later version kernel when I install Gentoo on the new laptop. I like your comment "Would stay away from anything with "KILLER" in its name though." Those were exactly my feelings when I saw that name. I had never heard of the Killer WiFi controller chip before, but apparently it is a Qualcomm Atheros product designed for gamers who need low latency WiFi:

Qualcomm Atheros wrote:
Killer Wireless-N 1202 high-performance wireless networking adapters have exclusive Killer Wireless Technology, combining intelligence and control along with up to five times the wireless networking speed of competitive wireless adapters. Killer Wireless-N 1202 modules also include Bluetooth technology for maximum flexibility and connectivity for online gamers. The Killer Wireless-N family includes Advanced Stream Detect™ technology to automatically classify and prioritize latency-sensitive network traffic for online games, HD video and high-quality audio to maximize your online experience.

Killer Wireless-N 1202 adapters support dual band (2.4 GHz and 5GHz), 2-stream MIMO and IEEE standards-based 802.11a/b/g/n in a half-size mini-PCIe form factor. Killer Wireless-N 1202 adapters offer data rates (up to 300 Mbps) with range-enhancing 802.11n technologies to deliver faster wireless throughput over longer distances. Killer Wireless-N adapters also feature reduced power consumption and Wi-Fi Direct™ peer-to-peer technology to ensure maximum flexibility for mobile gamers.

I'm going to choose Option 3. Thanks again to you all.
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pa1983
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use ES File explorer on both my Nexus 4 and Nexus 7, works well both on stock roms and rooted. Then I use samba to transfer files just like any PC. Fast and simple. FTP and other methods are supported to. I stream most stuff to my Nexus 7 using ES File Explorer or BSPlayer.

I dont use bluetooth much (keyboard mouse at the most), allergic to it. Also some motherboards dont support Bluetooth over USB on Mini-pcie cards, my router dont so could not use it even if I wanted to. Its a limitation of the motherboard not the card.

3.13.6 was teh first kernel I used. I had problems with the firmware for that tough but it might be AP mode related. Intel devs had not heard about any problems but I cant imagine many runs them as routers at home? Ran 3.13.7 kernel alter but most for better Bay Trail-D support and later I upgraded to 3.14 that supports newer firmwares. 3.15 supports the latest firmware for sure.
As I sad had no problems in AP mode after a firmware upgrade so rock solid ever since. Been running as Accesspoint for almsot 4 months now.

Useful page. Has all the latest firmwares etc. Some times portage lags behind and its easy to add one manually to so.
http://wireless.kernel.org/en/users/Drivers/iwlwifi
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ROUTER: Celeron J1900 2Ghz, 8Gb ram, 128Gb SSD, NICs: 2x1Gbit, WIFI: Intel AC 7260, Atheros AR5005G
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder what is the status with the Killer wireless cards. Pretty much all Asus RoGs come with it now, and I've been considering to get myself one. I just don't want to be handicaped with the wifi...
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