Intel Wireless Card Woes

I wasn’t going to post a full blog entry for this, but was going to post it to my mini blog instead ( Then I decided that other folks may benefit from this too, and the rant will be a little longer than I thought so I will post it here.

I have been having issues of late trying to hook up my Asus laptop to one of my wireless networks here at home, and yes I did say one of my wireless networks. With my back problems I have been working from home and off of my laptops of late connecting via remote desktop to my main PC. Rather than run 3 cables to the laptops I need I was hoping to hook up via wireless to do my work.

When I said wireless networks I did mean more than 1. At home I run up to 5 wireless networks at the same. My main network has an older Netgear WG602 Access point with one SSID and a Linksys WRV 200 router with two SSIDs set up on it, one is WPA security and the other is WEP for a couple of devices that don’t have WPA ability. My SBS 2003 server network has a Belkin N1 Wireless router set up in Access Point mode (I am testing the N speeds) and there is another Linksys WRV 200 with a wireless network set up for a new MS server I am in the beta program for. I am currently trying to connect to laptops to the various networks. My Asus Z62FM custom built machine with Vista Ultimate and an Intel 3945 ABG Mini PCI-E wireless card in it and my new Acer TM6292 laptop (Out of the box review coming soon) with an Intel 4965 ABGN mini PCI-E card in it and Windows XP Pro.

I know what many will say is that the interference from the networks is causing the problem, but I don’t think that this is the reason. All of the SSIDs are different and the devices are set for different channels. The Netgear on 11, the Main Linksys on 6 and the Belkin on 1. The Linksys on the beta server is currently disabled.

Let me start with the Acer machine. This one took a while to fix but I did fix it and it was strange. I updated the drivers to the latest Intel drivers for the card and could not see any of my wireless networks except for the one on Channel 11. I checked the settings on the card and could not figure it out at all. If I moved away from the other two wireless laptops that were there I could then see and connect to the other networks. But if I happened to lose the connection I could not re establish it without moving away again. I uninstalled and reinstalled the drivers several time. Finally I tried changing the ad hoc channel settings to channel 6. All of a sudden I could see the two SSIDs. This really shouldn’t be happening at these SSIDs are set up for infrastructure mode and not AD HOC mode. I have since been able to connect without problems and have been able to now see all of the three networks I have set up.

The 4965 card does have the problem that other Intel wireless cards have in that it will after a long period of time drop the connection. Re-establishing the connection usually involves disabling and re enabling the card in the Control Panel Network Icon. The problem also occurs after bringing the machine out of sleep mode or hibernation mode.

On my Vista Asus machine the problem seems to be specifically pointing at the network card itself. I have tried several fixes that I have found on the net and none seem to work. Again I was only seeing the network that was on Channel 11 (this is the default ad hoc channel setting in the Intel driver). Changing it to channel 6 allowed me to see the SSIDS on that channel. But for some reason I cannot connect to any of the networks. Nothing I tried worked (enabling/disabling the card, registry hacks from MS knowledgebase, disabling IP6). Finally I put in an old Netgear WG511 PCMCIA wireless card in the system and boom, I could see all of the SSID’s and connect to any network. There were a couple of problems that Vista identified that the router did not support and it offered to fix those. Once that was complete the card was stable and would connect fine. After a while I removed the card and connected with the Intel card and everything was fine for a couple of hours with it. After installing more software and rebooting the machine, I found I could not get connected with the Intel card but again had no problems with the Netgear card. Now this Vista machine has been newly reimaged twice this month (a couple of weeks ago I did it because of wireless problems) as well) and this last time I tried default Vista drivers, as well as the latest Intel ones.

I have picked up a used Dell DW1500 Mini PCI-E card from EBay to try in this machine. This card does feature the Draft n spec but I am more concerned about the connectivity of the machine. This card is based on the Broadcom chipset, and if it performs like the Broadcom card in my wife’s Acer I should be fine. I hate the idea of having to carry around a second wireless card in case I can’t connect with the one that I have.

Of course I will no longer be able to say that the laptop is a Centrino Duo after the change because one of the components will be gone (the Intel wireless card) but if this card works I will be happy. Watch here for an update after the card arrives and is installed.


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