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Getting a new Wifi router and NICs. Will cheap NICs do?

#1The cranky hermitPosted 8/30/2013 9:48:51 AM
I have had Verizon FIOS for awhile, but now I am switching to Comcast. Verizon included an Actiontec modem/router, but Comcast charges a monthly fee for that, so I'm buying a modem and wifi router myself.

When I first had the Actiontec router, I bought a cheap Rosewill NIC, but I had terrible performance with it. I tried switching to a slightly more expensive Edimax NIC, but I had the same problem. Then I got a USB adapter by TP-Link, attached it to the side of my monitor, and it worked fine, though is slightly inconvenient.

Another thing, I have a Lenovo G550 laptop and a Kindle Fire HD, and both of them work wirelessly fine with the Actiontec router, from distances slightly farther than where the computers are.

Did I have problems because the router was crap, or because the cards were crap? Newegg's ratings of the cheap cards were decent. This is the router I will be getting (feel free to try to convince me to get another one if you think I should):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833124190

Is there good reason to believe that the problems I had with the cheap NICs will be resolved by having the above router instead of the Actiontec 3-in-1? I don't have them any more, but if I could buy them again and have good performance, I would buy them and use them instead of the USB adapters.

I could also get separate wifi antennas, or get more expensive NICs - Asus has one for $30 and another for $100, but I'm not really sure what you get for that. But ideally I'd like to have solid wifi performance for as little money as possible.
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#2ein311Posted 8/30/2013 10:01:13 AM
What sort of problems were you experiencing with those NICs? Your issues could stem from a bad cable just as easily as bad NICs or a bad router. Although you really can't rule anything out.

Personally, I'd move to something a bit more technologically advanced than a WRT54GL. Sure, it has DD-WRT support, but so do many newer routers. A router with 802.11n will offer better range, signal stability, and local network transfer speeds for devices compatible with it (the Fire has wireless N, and the G550 most likely does too).
Something like an Asus RT-N12 would be a good choice.

Also... just curious as to why you picked up NICs in the first place. Modern computers will almost always have at least one onboard NIC available which negates the need for a dedicated NIC for most people.
For me, though, if I do need to buy a NIC I tend to buy Intel products.
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#3The cranky hermit(Topic Creator)Posted 8/30/2013 10:43:34 AM
What sort of problems were you experiencing with those NICs? Your issues could stem from a bad cable just as easily as bad NICs or a bad router. Although you really can't rule anything out.

I guess this wasn't clear - I'm talking about wireless NICs. None of my computers or devices use wired connections.

The problem was that performance was terrible - sometimes it appeared to have zero connectivity. IIRC, wireless strength seemed fine, but frequently the browser would simply be unresponsive when trying to connect to anything.

A router with 802.11n will offer better range, signal stability, and local network transfer speeds for devices compatible with it (the Fire has wireless N, and the G550 most likely does too).
Something like an Asus RT-N12 would be a good choice.

I've also got a PS3, a network printer, and a laptop, all of which only do 802.11b/g. I see that the RT-N12 does both N and G - can it do both at the same time? And would the N and G devices be able to "see" each other on the network?
Also, the RT-N16 is just as good or better, right? It looks like it's a newer revision of what you are recommending.
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#4gsf4lyfePosted 8/30/2013 10:47:33 AM
Why exactly are you switching to Comcast? Everyone I know with FiOS loves it, and everyone I know with Comcast hates it.
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#5The cranky hermit(Topic Creator)Posted 8/30/2013 11:04:09 AM
Because I'm selling the house and moving. The new address doesn't get FIOS, only standard Verizon DSL. Comcast offers Xfinity there, which is what I believe most in the area use.
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#6WerdnAndreWPosted 8/30/2013 11:47:29 AM
I think the problem you had with your computer is antenna placement. The antenna should be high and away from any obstructions. The Linksys WRT54GL is old and I'm pretty sure there is something much better but I really don't know...
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#7ein311Posted 8/30/2013 11:49:31 AM(edited)
The cranky hermit posted...
I guess this wasn't clear - I'm talking about wireless NICs. None of my computers or devices use wired connections.


Ok, this makes a whole lot more sense.
For a wireless NIC I wouldn't skimp. I've had good experience with Linksys and D-Link. If you're getting PCI wireless NICs, you'll probably want to get a NIC that offers an extended antenna. Usually they're attached with a cable and have a heavy or magnetic base that you can position to receive an optimal signal.
I used to hate USB devices, but they have improved a lot. I know D-Link at least has a USB NIC that lets you dock it to an extension, so you don't have to have it sticking out of the back of your computer or from a monitor.

The cranky hermit posted...
I've also got a PS3, a network printer, and a laptop, all of which only do 802.11b/g. I see that the RT-N12 does both N and G - can it do both at the same time? And would the N and G devices be able to "see" each other on the network?


G and N can work simultaneously. Your devices will all be configured on the same network, so you'll be able to see each other.
There are some routers that allow for separate networks for different APs, etc., but those features are usually reserved for more advanced, expensive routers. No worries there.

The cranky hermit posted...
Also, the RT-N16 is just as good or better, right? It looks like it's a newer revision of what you are recommending.


The N16 is an upgraded N12 and includes extra features. I picked the N12 since it was more in line with the WRT54GL's price.
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#8The cranky hermit(Topic Creator)Posted 8/30/2013 12:20:21 PM
I think the problem you had with your computer is antenna placement. The antenna should be high and away from any obstructions.

Without extended antenna, I don't understand how that's possible on a PCI NIC. The tower is on the ground, and the antenna is sticking out of it, pointing upwards. The tower itself is a pretty big obstruction, so if being high up and unobstructed is that important, then the whole concept of a PCI wireless card with a dipole antenna seems fundamentally flawed.

One other parameter - one of the computers has no PCI ports. It's a Micro ATX, and has a PCIe 3.0 x16 (used by the GPU), and a PCIe 2.0 x1 (free).
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#9PhilOnDezPosted 8/30/2013 12:28:32 PM
I have that router and it's great. I used it for years with only a handful of minor problems (I keep it on one end of a 3000 sq ft house and I was on the other end). Then I had to rent a router with a VoIP phone jack from the cable company that just never worked right, everything was slow, my phone would randomly decide to not send IMs/iMessages over wifi, devices would drop connection even in the same room, even holding my laptop inches above the router I wouldn't have full reception, etc etc. I went through three of them to make sure I didn't just get a bad egg and each one ended up being worse than the last. I finally had enough, turned off its wifi, and hooked this one up to it. I added some windsurfers to it to help point it towards my bedroom (where I had those minor problems before) and I literally haven't had a problem out of it in months.
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