Upgrading the WiFi on my Asus P8H67-I Deluxe - the story

Discussion in 'Small Form Factor Systems' started by DesertCat, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

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    One of the things about the Asus P8H67-I Deluxe mitx board in which I was very interested but could find precious little information was its Wi-Fi capabilities. Yes, the Asus web pages, manual, and reseller sites were happy to tell me that it supported b/g/n. But that still leaves a person guessing as to what flavor of wireless N it supports. Is it 150 Mbps? 300 Mpbs? 450 Mbps? Is it 2.4 GHz only or is it a dual band card that also supports the 5 GHz channel? Sorry folks, just telling me “N” is not enough information.

    So… to cut to the chase here is what I found installed after I received my motherboard:

    [​IMG]

    The mini pcie wi-fi card that comes with this Asus motherboard is an Azurewave AR5B95 (can also be found under AW-NE785H). That is a 150 Mbps card that only broadcasts in the 2.4 GHz range. So it is wireless N but about the most basic version a manufacturer can use and still call it wireless N.

    So this left me underwhelmed. Admittedly wi-fi with those capabilities will meet the needs of many users, so why was I being so difficult? Well… I live in an apartment complex in a college town. Using inSSIDer (free software) to see available routers that were within range and what channel they were using was eye opening. The 2.4GHz channel in this area is as noisy as a chicken coop. The 5 GHz channel, on the other hand, is empty. Well wouldn’t that be nice to have my own private air space? My Netgear WNDR 3700 supports simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Now I just needed a way of being able to get my new little mitx motherboard to connect on that channel.

    Doing a bit of looking around, I identified an Intel Centrino 6200 mini pcie card that I thought looked promising. It supports both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels, has 2 antenna jacks (identical to the azurewave it is replacing), and can connect at up to 300 Mbps. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833106061 Fairly substantial upgrade for about $20. Yes, Intel also has a model that supports up to 450 Mbps but that one requires 3 antennas. That would not a good fit for my application. I just want to take advantage of the antenna jacks that already exist on the motheboard.


    Another complication was that the Asus supplied antennas are 2.4 GHz models. Who knows? Maybe they can work in the 5 GHz range as well, but I also was not fond of the Asus antennas on another count. Asus’ antenna choice are little desk units that connect to the antenna ports with a cable (they are little circles with one portion that can be flexed upwards). Maybe some people like those, but I find them highly annoying. Part of why I wanted a mitx case was to get rid of table clutter. These just defeat that thinking for me (ooh extra cables and doodads to get swatted around). I very much wanted antennas that would just attach directly to the antenna ports and supported both wireless N frequencies. It took some searching and some reading about the different connector types, but I identified a good candidate from Air802 LLC: http://www.air802.com/dual-band-dip...-polarity-sma-rp-sma-plug-male-connector.html I ordered two of them.

    One other concern was that I might be hosing up the Bluetooth capabilities of this pricey little motherboard. There are mini pcie wireless cards that provide both wifi and Bluetooth. In those cases, the wifi only uses one antenna and the Bluetooth uses the second one. Considering that Asus provides Bluetooth on other motherboards using an identical USB 2.0 w/ Bluetooth antenna module on the back panel, I figured I was probably safe (guess the Bluetooth is plumbed into the USB connection?). I’ll save any suspense on that, the mini pcie card on this motherboard has nothing to do with it’s Bluetooth capabilities. Replacing the Azurewave card with the Intel card did not hose up my Bluetooth connection.


    So… to wrap it all up, swapping in the Centrino 6200 and replacing the two antennas worked out just fine. My mitx setup is a room away from the router, with a closet full of metal clothes hangers, a washer & drier, and an entertainment center all between them. I connect at around 240 Mbps on the 5 GHz channel. Due to the physics of a higher frequency channel, I won’t have as large of a maximum range as if I was on 2.4 GHz, but it works very well for my needs. Due to the close spacing of the antenna ports to the adjacent USB ports, there isn’t a lot of flexibility for positioning the antennas (probably one reason Asus went with the cabled antennas), but it works fine. Here’s a pic of that just to give people a sense of how it all looks.

    [​IMG]

    Anyway… I hope this info is helpful to some others that might be considering upgrading the wifi capabilities on their mitx board. It took lots of searching and I finally just took some gambles that it would work. It did work and would save others the hassle and uncertainty of whether it can be done.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  2. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw [H]ardForum Junkie

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    nice, so the mPCIe is no blacklisted/whitelisted? :D
     
  3. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

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    It seems to work fine with the stuff I tried. As near as I can tell, the mPCIe is wide open. :cool:
     
  4. next-Jin

    next-Jin [H]ardForum Junkie

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    That was a very interesting read. My 2.4Ghz range is loaded too so I might have to give this a try on mine. Thanks for taking your time and posting.
     
  5. tikiman2012

    tikiman2012 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Did you try it with the original Asus supplied antennas and the new card? Just wondering what the performance was in that scenario.
     
  6. Machupo

    Machupo Gravity Tester

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    excellent -- definitely doing this!

    thanks for the exploration.

    now we need to find the pinout on that mini-pcie plug and see really how wide-open it is :D
     
  7. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

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    I'll admit that I have not tried that yet. I suppose I could just unscrew the replacement antennas and try the Asus ones. I'm very busy over the next few days so I'm not sure when I can squeeze in that experiment. Will try to remember to do that though.
     
  8. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

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    Heheh. I feel like I just threw some gasoline on the [H] fire. Will be interesting to see what all people do with this port.
     
  9. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

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    Ok, I did the test of using the supplied Asus antennas vs. the Air802 antennas on the 5 GHz channel. The Asus antennas do work but not as well as the Air802 antennas. The max speed that I can get out of the Asus antennas is 150Mbps. Since these antennas are primarily intended for the 2.4 GHz channel (and the original 150Mbps card that comes with this motherboard), that's probably not too surprising. With the dual band Air802 antennas that I linked, I've seen my speeds go up to 300Mbps on the 5GHz channel. That's with the computer 1 room away (~50 feet from the router) with a wall, hanger filled closet, and an entertainment center in between.

    So... I guess a person could get by just changing the mini pcie wifi card and not swapping out the antennas. The results are not as good for throughput, probably because the asus antennas were never meant for 5GHz, but a person would have access to the 5GHz channel.
     
  10. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw [H]ardForum Junkie

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    hee hee, I now has the ASUS board incomming :D
     
  11. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

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  12. Hanakuso

    Hanakuso [H]ard|Gawd

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    Awesome write up. This seems to be a nice upgrade for pretty cheap. So for long range the 2.4Ghz is suppose to be better?
     
  13. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw [H]ardForum Junkie

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    due to the lower frequency, yes, it's supposed to have greater range and obstacle penetration.
     
  14. tikiman2012

    tikiman2012 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Thanks for checking that DesertCat.
     
  15. Machupo

    Machupo Gravity Tester

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    Got this back from Asus support:

    looks like we'll just have to plug one in and see (i'm going to try a mini-pcie to pcie1x adapter and plug in my TV tuner, personally) :)

    gah, forgot it was half height -- pcie1x adapter won't fit :(
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  16. Zap

    Zap [H]ard|Gawd

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    Fail. It is pinouts.ru.
     
  17. Machupo

    Machupo Gravity Tester

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    anyone got a bplus PM3N so we can check this guy?
     
  18. RVWinkle

    RVWinkle Limp Gawd

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    I don't know enough about the technical details of radio to give an exact explanation but you're not going to find much of a difference between antennas for wifi. They're all just straight copper wires encased in plastic or rubber. The only real difference is that a 5ghz antenna doesn't need to be as long because the radio signal sine wave is smaller. In a practical application you'd be hard pressed to find any difference whatsoever.
     
  19. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw [H]ardForum Junkie

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    is that a mPCIE to full size PCIe adaptor? 0.o I've seen it in reverse before but woah... :eek:
    Probably due to the higher frequency being converted to radio waves before reaching the antenna, due to lessor protection on the long cables of the ASUS antennas? Just a horrible guess from me, though :(
     
  20. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

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    One of the things that occurs to me is that my replacement antennas are rated as 5 dBi while most standard manufacturer antennas are rated around 2 dBi. The Air802 antennas have a different profile as well. They have kind of a flat, spade look to them instead of just a single circular rod.
     
  21. Machupo

    Machupo Gravity Tester

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    yep :)
     
  22. tikiman2012

    tikiman2012 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I have a Intel Centrino 6200 adapter on the way. I'm gonna check to see how it works with my modified Linksys SRX antennas. The modified antennas doubled the reception over the stock antennas. Should be interesting.
     
  23. jeremyshaw

    jeremyshaw [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Mine works well (no functionality issues) with the Intel 5100 adaptor, however, I already wired my room with Cat6 gige :D So back into my laptop the adaptor goes :)
     
  24. Prizm4

    Prizm4 n00bie

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    Thanks for this write-up. I just bought a P8H67-I Deluxe, and I'm having problems with the wifi. I haven't tried the supplied Asus antennas, I just plugged in one normal antenna from my old PCI Wifi card. The reception was poor (yet if I swap the antenna back in my old system, everything is good).

    Should the wifi still work fine with one antenna if it's situated close to the modem, or do both antennas pretty much always need to be plugged into the board? I'm only a few metres away from my modem in direct line-of-sight, so I didn't think it'd be a big deal.
    I'll try the Asus antennas when I get a chance.
     
  25. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

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    Yeah, I would try using both of the Asus antennas at least. Most of these wireless N wifi cards are set up to use multiple antennas to increase throughput, reduce interference issues, and increase range (at least that's my understanding of MIMO). I specifically went searching for antennas that were intended for dual band (both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz) for my replacements. For people sticking with the included Azurewave model, pretty much any standard Wireless G/N antenna should work since it's all on 2.4 GHz.
     
  26. Prizm4

    Prizm4 n00bie

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    So what I did was plug two stick antennas in and run some speed tests (over at www.speedtest.net). I was going to use the Asus antennas, but then I thought: even if they worked, I'd have to put them on my desk somewhere and they'd just be a pain. I simply wouldn't want the hassle even if the speed was good.

    So with the speed tests with the stick antennas, I found the wireless rather erratic. On odd occasions I could max out at 1.2MB/s (which is the average fastest speed I get from my ISP), but more often the speed results were maxing at 600KB/s, 300KB/s, or even worse. It was all over the place.

    I had an Intel 5300 half mini PCI-E card lying around, so I put that in and took out the Atheros. I ran a number of speed tests again. Now I'm getting an average of 1.2MB/s to 1.4MB/s (even cracking 1.5MB/s and 1.7MB/s), the lowest tests being 800KB/s and 900KB/s.
    Overall the Intel 5300 is a definite improvement over the Atheros, and I certainly won't be switching back.

    Thought I'd post this for information purposes to help others who might have this board.
     
  27. Machupo

    Machupo Gravity Tester

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    what are your signal strengths? that seems like a pretty low throughput.

    download inSSIDer and see what other networks are out there / strengths ;)
     
  28. Prizm4

    Prizm4 n00bie

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    yeah, welcome to Australia :rolleyes: The WiFi icon shows full bars for signal strength. That throughput is rather normal for us.
     
  29. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

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    Yeah, I really like the Intel WiFi cards. They just seem to perform well for me. Anand recently did a review of a BigFoot wifi card and included an Intel 6205 for comparison. It did pretty well overall, though I think it seemed a little shorter range on the 2.4 GHz channel for him than some other cards. I've never had anything to compare about there.

    When my wife's company purchased her a new laptop from Dell, one of the options I really pushed for was spending an extra $20 to replace the stock wifi with Intel wifi (partially so she would also have the 5 GHz channel as an option). It has been rock solid for her.
     
  30. bendit

    bendit Limp Gawd

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    just want to thank OP for this upgrade. I copied it exactly and now have a better connection! great idea well executed.
     
  31. tikiman2012

    tikiman2012 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I went for it too. I ended up wiring my zacate and putting the intel wireless card in my laptop. The only reason I did this was to free up my routers time. Some punk in the neighborhood was constantly trying to get on my wireless on the 2.4Ghz band with his PS3. Problem solved, no more 2.4G band. lol
     
  32. bendit

    bendit Limp Gawd

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    how did you discover that? and can't you just put a solid passkey on the 2.4 side?
     
  33. tikiman2012

    tikiman2012 [H]ard|Gawd

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    It showed up in the router log.

    Solid passkey? Explain please.
     
  34. DesertCat

    DesertCat Gawd

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    I believe he is referring to setting up an encrypted connection (e.g. WPA2-PSK) on your router with a password. Unless the guy guesses your password somehow, he shouldn't be able to access your internet connection.


    Glad to hear that my explanation is helping some people out!
     
  35. Machupo

    Machupo Gravity Tester

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    or just put a MAC_ID whitelist :)
     
  36. tikiman2012

    tikiman2012 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I had both. I'm using WPA2-PSK and the MAC list.

    He couldn't access it. He was just constantly trying and pissing me off. lol No more problems now though.
     
  37. fr500

    fr500 [H]ard|Gawd

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    WPA2 is more than enough, don't mind him trying as he won't break it. MAC list is worthless as it's very easy to spoof