I’m unhappy with my wireless performance on my laptop so I decided to upgrade. If you decide to do this it is at your own risk, I’m not recommending it, just documenting my experience.
I’ll explain why later but for now above is the new card (Killer Wifi 1535) and the old one (Dell 1708/Broadcom 43142). Both cards provide Wifi and Bluetooth functions.
Taking apart the Dell 7000 2-in-1 is quite easy with care, you have no less than 10 Philips head screws on the base, removed them, then you need to (gently) pry the plastic base lose. There are a number of plastic tabs all around the edge , I used a plastic guitar pick to free them, if you get stuck don’t push it, just try again from the other side, take your time.
And we’re in…
Before you do anything else, remove the 2 remaining screws holding the large black battery and take it out!
Between the fan and the silver coin-cell battery you will see our WiFi card with a couple of aerials attached (black and white wires)
Lift the aerial until they detach from the card. Unscrew the black screw holding the card in place, the card will lift up at an angle, pull it out. The new card is a bit longer because the old one doesn’t use the full slot available to it. I would strongly recommend attaching the aerial cables before putting the new card in. When they are attached put the card back in at the same angle, then push it down and hold it in place while you put the black screw back in. (Magnetic head screw-driver or an extra pair of hands might be required)
Put things back together, battery first with 2 screws, then click the plastic back on, then put the 10 screws in the base. Its tempting to boot the notebook/tablet before putting the plastic back on but I’d advise against running this machine open!
On booting Windows 10 the device was automatically added and installed as a WiFi card using a generic driver. But we want the official driver and the Bluetooth driver also. Download and install them and run through the configurations.
This test is on 2.4 GHz channel 1 which has the least interference at my location. From the same location in my home previously my best download was 67 Mbps, so already I’m seeing a 37% improvement in download in typical usage, upload is limited by the broadband connection. 5 GHz easily breaks into the hundreds, so both together (more on that in a later post) should be able to get 150 – 250 Mbps in normal usage. 100 Mbps should be possible at the edges of the range where previously I would get 20 Mbps.
The WiFi connection is faster and more stable, the Bluetooth is so much better for listening to music. The combination of more stable network connection and Bluetooth connection means that voice calls and Skype is a far nice experience.
The old card was such a struggle to use with Linux, so I’m happy to report I’ve also had some success getting Arch Linux to work with the card, but that’s a story for later.