My range is great with the Intel 1000
Compatibility, heat, and power usage, Intel wins. Heat is not really an issue anymore, but back in the X60/61 era, where the wireless card is placed right under the palmrest, it was a big issue.
I'm not too sure about the range issue, and whether Atheros is any better than Intel's in terms of reception. What I know is that Intel's card has been giving be very good experience, so I'm sticking with them.
My statement of increased range is only based on first-hand experience. That said, I've repeatedly read other accounts here, and on NBreview etc, of Atheros' sensitivity in detecting more APs at further distances as well as holding connections better. In my experience, I've found that's true.
In this type of laptop all aspects play a big role. So unless one card is better in all against other, then it is a compromise.
Range, power usage, heat, all play a big role. I would say range is the most important thing, then power consumption.
I agree wholeheartedly. In a home environment, range and output is a non-issue. Intel cards would easily suffice, not to mention some of the others I mentioned. However, using a laptop on the go, and especially in a city like New York, a more powerful card with better range can be critical. Atheros has always met the challenge for me. In fact, I swapped out my VAIO Intel card for an Atheros when I couldn't get the same AP list side by side with my T61 equipped with similar antennae.
As for the heat and power consumption, I try to use my AC adapter when possible, turn off the wi-fi when I don't need it, and maintain good ventilation (space beneath the base with feet, or cooler), but didn't notice a great deal of wi-fi-related difference when I didn't. Of course, I would try to employ these methods regardless of the card.
All said, better range and reliability often mean more power consumption. Intel has consistently marketed their chipsets as low power consumers (ala Centrino), and if you usually work on your TP off the battery, and are close to the AP you use, I see little reason to invest the money in an Atheros replacement. It really depends on your needs.