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[x230] WiFi signal strength comparison of cards

X230 and later series specific matters only
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samveen
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Location: New Delhi, India

[x230] WiFi signal strength comparison of cards

#1 Post by samveen » Sun May 05, 2019 11:34 pm

My x230 came with a Intel Centrino Wireless N 2200 WLAN card. When I tried to share my 4G data via a phone hotspot, I discovered that by default my phone uses the 5GHz band (I think it's the 802.11n standard?) for creating a hotspot, and is thus invisible to the 2200 which is for 802.11b/g.

I've noticed that in the last couple of years (2017 onwards), most instances of new WiFi installations use the 802.11n standard routers, leading to wifi access problems with an old backup phone, which supported just 802.11b/g. I didn't want to face the same issue with my x230, which is quickly turning into my primary workstation (over my T480). A quick check on the localized Amazon (EBay is dead in India now, unfortunately) got me a Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 within USD 12 and 4 days, which is installed and working almost fine. After the change of cards, I find that the 6205 reports much lower signal strengths for all types of networks as compared to the 2200. Previously weak B/G signals are no longer registering on the 6205, and even the strong N signals (as indicated by my phone) are listing wit weak signal strengths.

Therein lie my questions:
- Is the reduced signal strength an expected behavioural difference between the 2 cards?
- Is this an antenna issue instead, as in that, are the antennas are better suited for b/g rather than a/n?
- Any hardware based amelioration I can do?

Google results for the keywords above gave me very little reading material, so any pointers to information would be great too.

RealBlackStuff
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Re: [x230] WiFi signal strength comparison of cards

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Mon May 06, 2019 4:05 am

Your 'dates' are a bit behind the time.
wifi-N was already introduced around 2009
The N 2200 (from 2012) is a single band (2.4 GHz) 802.11b/g/n with speed up to 300 Mbps.
The N 6205 is actually older (from 2011), is a dual band (2.4/5 GHz) 802.11a/b/g/n with same 300 speed.

In 2013 Intel brought out the AC-7260, dual band (2.4/5 GHz), speeds up to 300/867 Mbps.
But this requires an AC router.
And the X230 would require a modded BIOS with wifi-whitelist removed.
Without BIOS-mod, your fastest option would be the N 6300 a/g/n with speed up to 450 Mbps.
Lovely day for a Guinness! (the Real Black Stuff). And pigs CAN fly!
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Screamer
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Re: [x230] WiFi signal strength comparison of cards

#3 Post by Screamer » Mon May 06, 2019 7:08 am

samveen wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 11:34 pm
Is the reduced signal strength an expected behavioural difference between the 2 cards?
Generally speaking, this should not be the case.

I had used at least five MiniPCI wireless adapters in my old Satellite Pro 6100, and all of them did not have a noticeable difference in signal strength.
samveen wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 11:34 pm
Is this an antenna issue instead, as in that, are the antennas are better suited for b/g rather than a/n?
That could be possible, but I am sure that the other X230 configurations utilize the very same antennas as your X230 does. In other words, the antennas might not be related to the issue that you are facing.
samveen wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 11:34 pm
Any hardware based amelioration I can do?
There is not much that you can do, apart from installing a colossal high-gain SMA antenna. If I am not wrong, most MiniPCIE wireless adapters utilize the Hirose U.FL antenna connector.

That means that you could theoretically use a U.FL-to-SMA adapter, to connect the said antenna to your Centrino Advanced-N 6205 card to boost its signal strength. I cannot guarantee if it works, though. This is just a crazy idea that I had thought of.

A simpler method (software alternative), would be to change the 'transmit power' option to the maximum that it allows for your wireless card. Although, I have no idea if such a setting exists in Linux/macOS/BSD/Solaris. I am only aware that Windows has such an option, at least when it comes to Intel's wireless cards.

You could also try disabling any sort of power saving features that your wireless card has, but it may greatly affect your battery life.

samveen
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:28 am
Location: New Delhi, India

Re: [x230] WiFi signal strength comparison of cards

#4 Post by samveen » Mon May 06, 2019 7:28 am

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 4:05 am
<snip>
Without BIOS-mod, your fastest option would be the N 6300 a/g/n with speed up to 450 Mbps.
</snip>
I considered this. However, this introduces the problem of getting a 3rd antenna and placing it in.


P.S. Would you have the time to review some info if I send you a PM with further questions about parts for the x230?

RealBlackStuff
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Re: [x230] WiFi signal strength comparison of cards

#5 Post by RealBlackStuff » Mon May 06, 2019 1:46 pm

Sorry, no.
I'm in the middle of moving overseas.
But ask the Forum, that's what it is there for!

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