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dual band USB Wifi adapter

The place to chat about audio/video devices & software, computer hardware & software, and other electronic gadgets.
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craig11152
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dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by craig11152 » Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:14 am

I just "upgraded" my Comcast router/modem/gateway or whatever I'm supposed to call it. It has both a 2.4 Ghz and a 5.0 GHZ network. My phone sees both but my computers (one desk top, one laptop) only see the 2.4 because my Wifi cards are not state of the art.
Its not a big deal because my desk top is hard wired with ethernet /cat5 and the laptop use doesn't need the faster speeds.....

BUT

I see these USB Wifi adapters that suggest I could make use of the 5.0 network if I stuck one in a USB port.
Out of curiosity does anybody know if they work well? And more importantly if I plugged one in would my 5.0 network suddenly appear as an option?
As it stands on my cell phone I see both the 2.4 and the 5.0 networks and can log in to either but on the computers the 5.0 network doesn't even show up.
Would installing the right USB Wifi adapter magically make the 5.0 network show up?
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audiophile
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Re: dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by audiophile » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:27 pm

Yes...
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craig11152
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Re: dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by craig11152 » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:39 pm

audiophile wrote:Yes...
thanks
Finally, he switched to a bone saw to finish the job, and at 9:17 p.m., Mountain time, the head of the greatest hitter who ever lived had been sliced off.

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craig11152
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Re: dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by craig11152 » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:40 pm

:blink
Finally, he switched to a bone saw to finish the job, and at 9:17 p.m., Mountain time, the head of the greatest hitter who ever lived had been sliced off.

bmw
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Re: dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by bmw » Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:00 pm

Beware that the only way you can get full use of the 5GHZ spectrum over USB is if you're using a USB 3.0 adapter on a USB 3.0 port. If either is only 2.0, your theoretical cap is at 60mbps, and realistically that number will be considerably lower. In other words, your connection speed will be comparable to what you can already get on the 2.4 GHZ spectrum.

Your best bet if you want to take full advantage and if your PC doesn't have USB 3.0 ports is to use one of your PCI expansion slots and buy a PCI card. Beware though they're kinda pricey, ranging from $60 to $120. Search Amazon or ebay for AC 1900 PCI.

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Plate Cap
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Re: dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by Plate Cap » Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:34 pm

My experience, at 2 different rural residential locations with 2 phones, a tablet, and 3 laptops, is to continue to utilize the 2.4 GHz 802.11 connection. It talks further, and more reliably.

First and foremost, the speed delivered by the carrier at each occasionally bursts to about 50 Mbps, but is consistent around 20-30.

Second, #1 is insignificant, as the serving sites rarely move that fast. Even YouTube takes a minute or more to download a 200 m TV show. What good is an ultra-fast connection to the curb, but not so fast out into the cloud? I mean, I have 1 Gbps cat 6 Ethernet too, but I don't move data that fast on that either. Do I need faster, and am I willing to give up the range (below) to get it from the few sites than may be able to deliver it?

Third, I find the connection quality, given the same router and the exact same device, about 1/2 as good at 5.8 than 2.4......the RF field strength is about half as good. Wooden houses, etc. Did a lot of testing with that.

Fourth, although okay for some location-changing uses like my phone or a laptop, anything important that I do with lots of data (desk computer or 4K UHD TV) is done over Ethernet anyway.

I think you might find some advantage in apartment or condo environs where there is a lot of 802.11 use and (for the time being) not so much said use at 5.8 G......but given the RF penetration and quality I'm seeing, not so much. You may also have data-moving tasks between devices on the same routers that may also be improved at 5.8, but......really?

Equipment at both locations is ASUS RT-AC66U router, new Panasonic Toughbooks, Samsung Tab S2, and Samsung S7 edge.....so I don't think it's an equipment problem.

Personally, I think that internet service beyond the 20-30 Mbps I'm seeing consistently on speed tests is pretty much a waste of money until the rest of the 'net' and all the important serving sites can deliver data faster than that.
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SaveFerris
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Re: dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by SaveFerris » Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:21 am

I bought a cheap 5ghz usb 3.0 adapter off eBay and I wasn't impressed at all... Half the time I have to put my finger on it in order to make it load webpages. I use 5ghz on my phone as well, shaves a considerable amount of time off app updates. I never move that far from the router so the diminished signal strength isn't a big deal to me.

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syntheticexctasy
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Re: dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by syntheticexctasy » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:17 pm

As suggested above i'd go with a PCI/PCI express wifi card.

5GHZ does indeed have a shorter range, but much better throughput. For most people this doesn't matter, since most people don't even have an internet connection that is any faster than 100mbit anyhow.

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Re: dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by bmw » Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:42 am

Plate Cap wrote:
Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:34 pm
My experience, at 2 different rural residential locations with 2 phones, a tablet, and 3 laptops, is to continue to utilize the 2.4 GHz 802.11 connection. It talks further, and more reliably.
***
Third, I find the connection quality, given the same router and the exact same device, about 1/2 as good at 5.8 than 2.4......the RF field strength is about half as good. Wooden houses, etc. Did a lot of testing with that.
***
I think you might find some advantage in apartment or condo environs where there is a lot of 802.11 use and (for the time being) not so much said use at 5.8 G......but given the RF penetration and quality I'm seeing, not so much.
Having myself designed the layout for and installed a wireless network consisting of over 90 access points in a 3-campus school district, I can say that what you are saying is generally true. If you're out in the middle of nowhere with very few people in your immediate vicinity on wifi, AND you aren't using many devices at once on your own network, then a 2.4 GHZ N-router is the way to go - you can set the bandwidth to double (40 mhz instead of 20) and you can still get 50 MB connection speeds and at least a usable connection at greater distances.

What I found when testing actual RF strength was that the 5 GHZ signal was consistently 10 db weaker than the 2.4 GHZ signal in open space and through 1 or 2 walls, and even weaker after about 2 walls. Walls get more in the way of 5 GHZ signal than 2.4 GHZ because of the higher absorption rate.

HOWEVER, usable distance in a crowded band was very similar to 2.4 GHZ because the more signals you cram onto the airwaves, the higher your noise floor. If you're in the middle of nowhere, on the 2.4 GHZ spectrum you can still make marginal use of a signal as weak as -90db. However, in an area saturated with other users, that number is realistically closer to -70db, so in some situations, your usable distance on 5 GHZ is actually farther. The problem is, 5 GHZ dual band routers are quickly becoming mainstream, and it won't be long before they're saturating the airwaves. Fortunately there are 8 non-overlapping channels in the 5 GHZ spectrum compared to 3 in the 2.4 so there's a lot more bandwidth available.

One tip on 5 GHZ - you will get slightly better penetration if you set your router to the lowest channels (36/44 as opposed to 149/153). The lower channels are 5.2 GHZ and the higher ones 5.75. May not sound like much of a difference but the lower frequencies, in my testing, do penetrate walls a little bit better. Also if you're using a lot of devices at once on your network, you might want to set your router's bandwidth to 40 or 80 MHZ.

Bottom line is, it really depends on your application and your location as to which spectrum is better. What would be ideal is if devices had a band-preference option where you could tell it to prefer the 5 GHZ signal, but after dropping below a specified signal strength (say, -70 db) to automatically revert to the 2.4 GHZ signal. I'm not aware of any such option. You can set roaming options and strength cut-offs, but devices will almost always prefer the 2.4 signal because it is almost always stronger than the 5ghz signal at any location.

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MWmetalhead
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Re: dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by MWmetalhead » Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:52 pm

This is a great topic!

My experience is similar to that of Plate Cap's. There is a proliferation of info on the web about how wonderful 5 GHz is compared to 2.4 GHz, but unfortunately, many of these same info sources fail to point out the drawbacks of 5 GHz, namely the fact it has relatively weak signal penetration.

As far as 2.4 GHz is concerned, it seems to me band crowding should only be a potential issue if, say, you live in a multi-unit residential building or trying to connect from a public place.

My 5G connection on the computer I'm using now generally ranges from 2 bars out of 5 to as many as 4 bars out of 5. My 2.4G connection almost always holds steady at 4+ bars. If you can toggle between the two, I suggest visiting speedtest.net (or any similar speed check site or utility) to compare download & upload speeds of the two options.

In my case, the 5G connection does allow for modestly quicker downloads most of the time despite the relatively weak signal.

Now, onto the topic of USB WiFi adapters - if you go to Micro Center's web site (or, alternatively, to their store in Madison Heights across from Oakland Mall), you can get some pretty good ones for REAL cheap!!! I'm using one right now. It is 2.4G and 5G compatible and syncs to my Netgear AC1200 dual band router in the basement. "As the crow flies," the router is probably 25 feet away, but it's beneath a hardwood floor and a drop ceiling. My old N600 router - which worked well at my old house - wasn't cutting the muster at my new house.

Given the fact the WiFi adapter I'm using cost only $10 or $11 (it was on sale when I bought it), I must say that I am extremely pleased with its performance! Mine is made by Tenda, and its model number is W1200U. I believe it comes with a one-year warranty, and they also offer a toll-free technical support hotline between 9AM and 6PM pacific time.

I have the 75 Mbps internet package from Comcast (Blast! internet). Using my wireless WiFi adapter, my current download speed is 90 Mbps and my current upload speed is 12 Mbps.

I have three smart TVs, an X-1 cable box, this computer, a smart printer, my smartphone and a laptop all running on the same WiFi network. (Granted, I'm never streaming or downloading content on all of them at the same time. At most, four will be active simultaneously.) It's about 50/50 between which of these devices are connected to the 2.4 GHz band vs. 5 GHz.
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bmw
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Re: dual band USB Wifi adapter

Post by bmw » Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:02 pm

MWmetalhead wrote:
Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:52 pm
...my Netgear AC1200 dual band router in the basement. "As the crow flies," the router is probably 25 feet away, but it's beneath a hardwood floor and a drop ceiling. My old N600 router - which worked well at my old house - wasn't cutting the muster at my new house.
Many of Netgear's AC routers default their 5ghz channel to 153. You should log in and check that out and change it to 36 or 44 if not already done. Aside from the fact that that channel is probably less congested than 153 (if you have neighbors with wifi), your signal penetration will be slightly improved due to the slightly lower frequency (about 10 percent lower).
MWmetalhead wrote:
Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:52 pm
I have three smart TVs, an X-1 cable box, this computer, a smart printer, my smartphone and a laptop all running on the same WiFi network. (Granted, I'm never streaming or downloading content on all of them at the same time. At most, four will be active simultaneously.) It's about 50/50 between which of these devices are connected to the 2.4 GHz band vs. 5 GHz.
That can also improve bandwidth usage, having at least one or two of your devices connect to the 2.4 GHZ signal. Sounds like you're already optimally set up.

Also keep in mind that a lot of routers default their 2.4 ghz channel to 6, so that is probably the most congested channel. You may get better results on 1 or 11. I don't like auto-settings because they often choose in-between channels like 3 or 8, and those still overlap with 6.

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