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I bought a new desktop computer and my old one will be used in the living room. It is not very practical to lay a network cable through the living room to the desktop, so I was starting to think about how to make it wireless.

Beside the explicit solutions, like buying a network card with antenna, I was wondering if my broken laptop could help. The laptop has a functioning wireless adapter inside and I want to know (before tearing apart the laptop) if I could plug that somewhere in my desktop.

My doubts:

  • What type of connector would a wireless adapter have?
  • Is it even possible to get the adapter out of the laptop?
  • What steps to take to build it into my desktop?
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This may depend very specifically on the laptop model itself. Can you please be more specific? –  Shinrai May 23 '12 at 19:38
    
I had a laptop where the wireless device was a small card in a slider, but I doubt that this applies to all laptops and I doubt even more that there are adapters to plug them in a normal desktop. –  Baarn May 23 '12 at 19:40
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and even if there was such an adapter it would presumably cost more or the same than some generic wireless-card or usb-stick. –  Baarn May 23 '12 at 19:43
    
There are CardBus to PCI adapters and maybe also ExpressCard to PCIe adapters. So this is possible at least for older CardBus type wireless NICs. But you are probably right about the price. –  Gurken Papst May 23 '12 at 21:28
    
I found an adapter for $7 on eBay... and I already have a space mini-PCIe WiFi card from when I upgraded my laptop's wifi. This looks perfect! –  nhinkle Mar 28 '13 at 4:33
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Assuming that the wireless card inside the laptop is a mini-PCIe card (which most are), it's pretty easy to fit it into a desktop. It's the exact same standard as PCI Express (just with a different connector and smaller form factor) and adapters are easily found on eBay:
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=wireless+mini+pcie+to+pcie+adapter
As you can see, most even come with an antenna or three already attached to the mounting bracket.

On the off-chance that it's an older laptop, converters from mini-PCI to PCI (sans the Express part) also exist, just modify that eBay search query accordingly.

For instructions on how to remove the wireless card, consult your laptop's service manual. The work needed to get to it may range from a simple removal of a bottom access panel to complete disassembly, but once you have access to the card, you just need to unscrew it from the motherboard and disconnect the antenna cables.

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Thanks for the clarification, I think I'll give it a try. This was the information I needed! –  Mixxiphoid May 24 '12 at 6:54
    
It's also possible that it's hard soldered onto the motherboard (which is why I was curious about the exact model). That said, most newer laptops are indeed just mini PCIe, and adapters are plentiful. –  Shinrai May 24 '12 at 18:01
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Usually the wireless card inside a laptop is a mini-PCI or mini-PCIe device. Desktops don't have slots that fit them.

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