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I have a HP6510 notebook and I need to switch to a better Mini PCI Express wireless card. I have two antenna cables in my notebook, and I want to buy an Intel 4965 WiFi card.

Can I use a wireless Mini-PCI Express card that has 3 antennas and I only have 2 antennas?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted


The point of multi aerials is to get a better signal as they are usually spread out across different points.

Personally and just imho, I have used many different configurations and I find that the cards designed for multiple inputs are usually of higher quality, and you will get better reception using one with some empty ports than smaller cards that are full. (drivers/software aside).

Just remember to plug in 1/2 and leave 3 out otherwise you may have problems... but, I highly doubt it.

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In the off chance you have any issues @gaskopeter, antennas are pretty cheap for that application: example. – nerdwaller Dec 18 '12 at 20:17
You will likely not get as good of a signal, but still better than the existing wifi. – Joshua Nurczyk Dec 18 '12 at 21:53
@nerdwaller that's not the appropriate type of antenna for this application, which require internal laptop antenna, e.g.… – ernie Dec 18 '12 at 23:19
@ernie Thanks! For some reason I was thinking PCI 1x, my mistake. Fortunately, still pretty cheap :D – nerdwaller Dec 19 '12 at 1:42
does it matter that which cable (from the available two) will I plug in in 1 and 2 on the card? can there be problem if I swap the cables, like: 2&1? – gasko peter Dec 19 '12 at 10:49

Sorry that I warm up this old topic.

Well, this matter has gained new importance in conjunction with the actual 802.11ac Wifi standard. And to make it even more complex, there exist meanwhile also some Wifi / Bluetooth combo cards with up to four antenna connectors.

Just to be clear, I absolutely understand, a Wifi card with three antenna connectors will work with just two aerials. My question is how good / reliable this will work?

For example, with only two antennas, a three stream 3x3 802.11ac Wifi card like Broadcom’s BCM4360 will not reach it’s 1.3 Gbps maximum data rate. Most likely you will get only 867 Mbps, one third less, because one antenna (one „stream“) is missing. Even more difficult is the situation with the mentioned combo cards with up to four antenna connectors. Such cards would work absolutely inefficient with only two aerials. In the worst case, the Bluetooth part will be completely unusable.

Therefore one of the most ideal 802.11ac upgrade solutions seems currently Intels 7265 Mini-PCIe card range. These models only needs two antennas (2x2) and offers 867 Mbps maximum data rate. Interestingly, no additional bluetooth aerial is needed on these Intel cards. The previous Intel 7260 range may be also an option, - it seems that their initial hardware flaws are fixed with the latest driver releases.

Well, regarding any three stream 3x3 802.11ac solution, there is no way around, you have to add an additional antenna. On most laptop devices that may be near impossible but at some All-in-One computers this should be less tricky.

For instance, my older Apple iMac computer has 2x2 configuration 802.11n Wifi (2 antennas) and a separate Bluetooth module (1 antenna). My plan is to replace these two parts with one Apple BCM94360CD 802.11ac Wifi / Bluetooth combo card. The new one has four antenna connectors, so one aerial is missing in my case. I can decide between full 1.3 Gbps performance in 3x3 configuration but no working Bluetooth, - or 867 Mbps in 2x2 mode including working Bluetooth. As mentioned above, the best option is to add an additional fourth antenna, then I will have full 1.3 Gbps Wifi performance and working Bluetooth 4.0.

Finally, the last crucial point is the correct attachment of all these aerials. The four connectors on the new card are different labeled. They are described with A2, A3, A1 and A0 (sometimes also J2. J3, J1 and J0). Currently I have absolutely no plan regarding the right connection order. It seems only sure that one of these connectors is Bluetooth exclusive…

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