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My Dell Studio xps laptop has just started experiencing extremely low signal strength. I did set up a wireless printer the other day, so maybe I screwed something up in the process.

Here's what I have tried so far:

  1. connecting to several different networks that all work fine for other computers, so it is most certainly my laptop.
  2. getting the latest driver, or at least I think I did. Some of the scanner software out there, like Software Informer, suggest there is a later one, but trying to apply the suggested update was not successful.
  3. Running a Dell diagnostic on the wireless lan card, which confirmed poor signal strength but not a suggested fix. It is quite lengthy so I have just put some of the seemingly more relevant info below.

Can someone help me troubleshoot this?

Dell diagnostic output:

**Signal Strength Test**
Test Started        1/1/2012 4:22:55 PM
Error Message:  Unable to locate any available networks because the radio for the interface is turned off.  1/1/2012 4:23:41 PM
Error Message:  Unable to locate any available networks because the radio for the interface is turned off.  1/1/2012 4:23:42 PM
Warning Message:    The network might not have been configured properly.    1/1/2012 4:23:49 PM
Error Message:  Unable to locate any available networks because the radio for the interface is turned off.  1/1/2012 4:23:49 PM
Test Finished:  Completed   1/1/2012 4:25:34 PM

**Wireless Connectivity Test**
Test Started        1/1/2012 4:25:35 PM
Test Finished:  Passed  1/1/2012 4:25:36 PM
Wireless Signal Strength Test
Test Started        1/1/2012 4:25:36 PM
Warning Message:    Received Wireless Signal Strength: Low [16%].   1/1/2012 4:25:37 PM

**Network Card - Dell Wireless 1510 Wireless-N WLAN Mini-Card**
MAC Address 00:24:2b:c9:e0:27
Adapter Connected   Yes
Current Speed   19.50 Mbps
IP Address
IP Mask
Gateway IP Address
DHCP Server
Adapter DHCP Enabled    Yes
Driver Provider Broadcom
Driver Version, 10-22-2008
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What operating system are you running? – Tom Wijsman Jan 2 '12 at 4:02
@Tom Wijsman. Windows Vista 64 – Berryl Jan 2 '12 at 14:47
up vote 2 down vote accepted

If I had your laptop, the first thing I would do is reseat the card and antenna connections, then replace with known working if the reseat fails. More than LIKELY the card is going out. I've had it happen to a Dell I owned as well. You seem to have done enough troubleshooting to determine it is most likely something with the card itself.

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How do I reset the card and antenna? Any idea what the cost of replacement is and if is worth paying a repair shop to do it v buying online and doing myself? – Berryl Jan 2 '12 at 14:49
What specific model do you have? Searches yield more than just one Dell Studio XPS. Generally its on the bottom of the Studio series under a panel. – Paperlantern Jan 2 '12 at 21:03
xps 1340. I uninstalled / reinstalled the adapter and its still at low strength :-( – Berryl Jan 2 '12 at 21:49
Oh no, I'm sorry, RESEAT. Not reset. You need to pull the card from the machine and put it back in making sure its secure. Then make sure the antenna are secure as well. I found a tear down guide here – Paperlantern Jan 2 '12 at 22:10

Another option is to see if your laptop is simply receiving a low quality signal. That is - if there's too much interferance between it and the access point / router.

The simplest way is to load Wifi Analyzer on a smartphone and walk around checking the strength at various points in between. If you can move them closer together or remove obstacles (perhaps the new printer is blocking?), that may help.

I've watched signal strength double simply by opening a door. ;)

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