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My laptop's wireless is so much more powerful than the wireless card that I got for my desktop. Is that typical? Are there any wireless cards for desktops that can match the efficiency of a laptop's wireless receiver?


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migrated from Mar 7 '11 at 17:10

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

PLEASE read our FAQ next time, this question is clearly more suited to our sister site – Chopper3 Mar 7 '11 at 17:09
You're going to need to add waaayyyy more details. Depending on what types of adapters you're using in each, there could be many answers to this question. – nhinkle Mar 7 '11 at 17:15
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The problem is most likely the placement. With a notebook, the antenna is nicely set in the display frame, while a PCI(e) card is stuck behind a big metal box in some corner, which isn't exactly helpful with WLAN performance.

Try an non-cheapo USB adapter connected to a 2m USB cable and place it in the open, this will help a lot.

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Thanks, so it's not that laptop wireless technology is simply better than desktop? – Prabhu Mar 7 '11 at 22:23
No, they are technially identical, the only real difference is the antenna placement. – Sven Mar 7 '11 at 22:44
@Prabhu, @SvenW, not necessarily. If the laptop has Wireless-N and the desktop has Wireless-G, that could account for some difference. While it likely is due to positioning, that is not the only answer. – nhinkle Mar 7 '11 at 23:23

While it is hard to say without more details, here are some possibilities:

  • Placement of the machines: if a desktop computer is on the floor, and your laptop is on the desk, your laptop may just be in a much better location for reception. Try repositioning the desktop and see if that helps.

  • Antenna: The WiFi antenna in a laptop is typically built into the frame and fairly large. Often the antenna is part of the display assembly, and can be more than a foot long.


    In desktop computers, the antenna typically is only a few inches long, and is often behind the computer. It is less likely to get good reception there, even in the same position as the laptop.

  • Type of WiFi card: some wireless cards are better than others. If your router supports 802.11n and your laptop has a Wireless-N card but your desktop doesn't, you can expect to get better performance out of the laptop card than the desktop card.

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