Windows 10: Dell Wireless Card - Antenna dBi Solved

  1. ericnixmd's Avatar
    Posts : 268
    Windows 10 Pro for Workstations
       02 Aug 2017 #1

    Dell Wireless Card - Antenna dBi

    Does anyone know what dBi antennae Dell uses in its built-in wireless cards?

    I'm having difficulty keeping a reliable connection to wifi when in certain areas at work. I've considered getting an external USB dongle with a 5 or 9 dBi antenna.
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  2. Posts : 866
    Windows 10
       02 Aug 2017 #2

    At a guess probably a theoretical 2 dBi.
    The problem with internal antenna is their placement and proximity to other electronics and the metal shells of some Laptops which may shield in certain directions.

    You will always do better to have an external USB dongle+antenna you can move around a bit, away from the Laptop.
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  3. ericnixmd's Avatar
    Posts : 268
    Windows 10 Pro for Workstations
    Thread Starter
       02 Aug 2017 #3

    Is it necessary to disable/uninstall the built-in Dell card prior to using an external wifi adapter? In other words, I would like to use the internal Dell wifi adapter while at home. I only need the USB at work and would like to configure it so that the computer will automatically connect to the work wifi when the dongle is connected.
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  4. ericnixmd's Avatar
    Posts : 268
    Windows 10 Pro for Workstations
    Thread Starter
       02 Aug 2017 #4

    Also, any thoughts on the TP-Link T9UH vs the Ourlink AC600? Wondering which would have a better performance on 2.4 GHz.
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  5. ericnixmd's Avatar
    Posts : 268
    Windows 10 Pro for Workstations
    Thread Starter
       04 Aug 2017 #5

    An interesting experiment at work yesterday:

    TP-Link T9UH performed the worst. Signals around -80. Next the Ourlink AC600 had signals around -65 to -70. The built-in Dell wireless card? -55 to -60.

    I would've never thought that the internal wireless card would beat an external device with a large antenna (I had a 5 dBi and a 9 dBi connected to the Ourlink USB dongle).

    Am I missing something here? Is the wireless on the Dell that much better? I would have thought an external device would have given a better signal. My hospital's wifi is 2.4 GHz only.
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  6.    04 Aug 2017 #6

    Maybe it isn't the Dell but the company Wi-Fi signal in some areas. This happens a lot, even in some homes and a Wi-Fi "extender" is used. I just bought a new Dell Inspiron 15 (5577) and the Wi-Fi signal in a far area of my house from the Wi-Fi router shows stronger than the old Toshiba laptop that it replaced.
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  7.    04 Aug 2017 #7

    There are many factors which come into play when working with RF (Radio Frequency) signals of any kind: Signal strength received, environment (open air, walls, floors, medical equipment) and antenna design. All of these elements play a part in the success (or degradation) of a received wireless signal. From the point of view of the built-in Wi-Fi antenna, this antenna design and impedance is most-likely very closely matched to the radio front-end and thus able to deliver a good transmit signal and a higher strength received signal from/to the laptop radio. Once the USB dongle is introduced, there are a couple more physical connections and a potential impedance mis-match (however slight) which can give lower readings for received signal.

    Based upon what I have seen in this thread, so far, I would suspect the environment and the widely variable signal strength within a building and especially within a hospital environment. We also cannot rule out interference from medical devices which are wireless in many cases these days as well.

    To Helmut's point, there are indeed advantages to an external antenna that can be moved in relation to its surroundings in order to mitigate against interference. I have spent many years doing physical walk-thru Wi-Fi signal strength surveys and it is often surprising the results that come out on the equipment displays and graphs.

    Just my two cents.
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  8. ericnixmd's Avatar
    Posts : 268
    Windows 10 Pro for Workstations
    Thread Starter
       04 Aug 2017 #8

    It is definitely a complex environment with thick walls, wireless medical equipment, saturation of various channels, multiple devices, etc.

    I'm not as concerned about speed as much as I am about reliability. When using a laptop and Dragon to dictate, if the wifi connection drops, it locks the chart in our electronic medical record. Occasionally, I can log back into the EMR system and it will open where it left off. However, frequently, it doesn't do this and I have to create a new chart and delete the one that was incomplete.

    I was hoping an external wifi USB device with a good antenna would improve this. Any recommendations? I really wish the hospital would authorize my computer to plug into the ethernet adapter. That would help tremendously.
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