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mobilenvidia

GIGABYTE Aircruiser N300 GN-WS30N 802.11N b/g/n draft 2.0 review

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mobilenvidia

Been given an opportunity by Oxfordtec to give this WLAN card for a spin.

As some may know my other passion besides NVIDIA driver modding is WLAN tweaking.

So here are my thoughts on this device.

A parcel arrived in the mail, and within it was a thin plastic coated sleeve, once opened it contained a WLAN card and a CD.

Gigabyte is quite good regarding this, they pack all their WLAN cards like this.

Other manufactures often ship as OEM products, meaning no Packaging or Software.

wlan_ws30n_rh.jpg

I took the WLAN/Modem panel of the back of my Notebook.

Took out the SparkLAN WPEA-124N that I was currently using.

Plugged 3 antenna's in to the 3 sockets.

Now normally the Dell Inspiron has only 2 aerial cables but I got a set from Oxfordtec to play with.

So I used 2 x Oxfordtec Antennas and one (white) from the i9400, as I ran out of room to put them :)

If you only have 2 aerial cables no need to worry it will just use 2T/2R mode (instead of 2T/3R), but some range will be lost.

Once the card was in, I cranked up the Notebook and inserted the CD.

First minor glitch Gigabyte CD still doesn't' support x64 OS :P

So after doing a manual driver install of the CD I discovered the drivers were rather ancient, quick driver update via control panel got me a driver from Feb 2008.

Off to Ralink website I went and here were much newer drivers there (Sept '08), and a huge bonus as well, a fully working Client Utility that works in Vista AND with x64 :)

So armed with the latest driver and a client utility I could then do some tests to see how this baby behaved.

WLAN card:

GIGABYTE Aircruiser N300 GN-WS30N

Chipet Ralink RT2800E - BB/MAC RT2890 - Radio RT2820

Freq Band 2.4Ghz

Max Speed 300Mbps

2xTransmit/3xReceive Antenna scokets

Wireless Router:

Dlink DIR-655

Chipset Atheros

Freq Band 2.4Ghz

Max Speed 300Mbps

2xTransmit/3xReceive Antennae (2db)

Range tests:

1m Range Signal Strengh, 100%, 100% and 100%, link Quality 100% (no walls)

5m Range Signal Strengh, 100%, 95% and 100%, link Quality 100% (no walls)

8m Range Signal Strengh, 80%, 35% and 50%, link Quality 99% (1 wall)

15m Range Signal Strengh, 60%, 30% and 50%, link Quality 80% (2 walls)

20m Range Signal Strengh, 40%, 25% and 50%, link Quality 80% (3 walls)

40m Range Signal Strengh, 45%, 25% and 45%, link Quality 94% (1 wall)

60m Range Signal Strengh, 45%, 25% and 45%, link Quality 85% (1 wall)

Excellent range, 60m seems to be the max, after this the connection became unstable as the noise level bar shot up.

3 walls and 20m inside seems to also be at it's extreme edge.

Pros:

2T/3R aerial option

Client Utility works in all OS's and versions

Client Utility usability and information, excellent

Excellent range, picks up my neighbours router

Connects to router VERY quickly.

Very good driver and release notes on website.

Official Linux Support

Official MAC Support

Cons:

Only does 11n in G band (there is a RT2800ED version with 5Ghz but not from Gigabyte)

Driver CD only works with x86 OS's

Driver CD has ancient drivers and no way to get the client utility for x64 OS.

Conclusion:

Only real gripe is the included CD with the card, no much support for Vista x64.

Gigabyte really need to support all OS versions with their install CD.

The card costs $49.95, if you don't need A Band then very good value for money as Dual band cards cost around $10 more.

I can highly recommend this card, for both the novice and the pro.

It's easy to setup and use and the pro can play with a heap of settings in the Client Utility.

Range is very good, was able to download a file at 180KB/s at 60m through 1 wall without download accelerators this is normal download speed for me with my ISP.

Non like WLAN Chipset will only give a max link speed of 270Mbps, so the Dlink DIR-655 being Atheros based means that max connection speed will is 270Mbps, the loss of 30Mbs will not be noticed, as I doubt you'll ever get a transfer speed over 150Mbps in real life.

Connection to the router is very fast, takes but a few seconds to hook up, a very good thing when coming out of Standby.

I am very impressed with this card, my next review the SparkLAN WPEA-110N will have a hard job in out doing this good all rounder.

A full speed test comparison will follow to see how a selection of cards perform at various distances.

wlan_ws30n_rh_cu.jpg

Sample of Client Utility at work.

Links:

OxfordTec

GIGABYTE Aircruiser N300 GN-WS30N all the detailed specs.

Laptop internal Antennae

LAN surge proctectors

Latest Drivers hosted here

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