Intel 7260HMW 802.11AC Versus Intel 7260HMW BN 802.11n

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What Intel 7260 Wireless Card Should You Get?

Do you want a new wireless card in your laptop or desktop PC? Last year Intel released their first 802.11ac wireless card and you can purchase one for under $30, which makes it a rather inexpensive upgrade for your system. The vast majority of laptops and desktops that already support wireless network cards and the existing antennas can be reused. This means that you can easily upgrade your 802.11n or older wireless card with a newer 802.11ac card if you wanted to do so. All you really need to know is if your platform uses a PCIe Half Mini Card or the new M.2 NGFF style as Intel offers each card in both versions.

Intel came out with five new wireless cards in 2013 and it can be tough to figure out the differences between each of the cards. We poured over the Intel product briefs for the popular PCIe Mini Card Slot (Half Length) and came up with the table below to help you figure out which is best for your system.

2013 Intel WiFi Card Models PCIe HMC # Dual Stream Speed Bluetooth 4.0 Cost
Intel Wireless-N 7260 7260HMW BN Yes 300 Mbps Yes $14.99
Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7260 7260HMW NB Yes 300 Mbps No $20.94
Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7260 7260HMW AN Yes 300 Mbps Yes $24.99
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160 3160HMW No 433 Mbps Yes $23.23
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 7260HMW Yes 300/867 Mbps Yes $29.94

 

As you can see there are three 802.11n cards and then two 802.11ac cards to pick from. The Intel Wireless-N 7260 cards all have the same max speed of 300 Mbps, but differ in the number of bands and if they have Bluetooth 4.0 or not. The lowest cost card is the Intel Wireless-N 7260 under part number 7260HMW BN that has just a single band (2.4GHz) and costs around $15. From there you can move up to a dual band card (2.4GHz and 5GHz) that either comes without Bluetooth 4.0 (7620HMW NB) about $21 or with Bluetooth 4.0 (7260HMW AN) for around $25.

The lowest priced Intel 802.11ac card is the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160 under part number 3160HMW. This card has a higher maximum speed rating of 433Mbps, but has just one TX/RX stream and a rather affordable price tag of around $23 shipped. The flagship card is the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 with part number 7260HMW for around $30 shipped that has everything (dual band, dual stream, Bluetooth 4.0) and a maximum speed rating of 867Mbps since it has dual streams.

intel-7260-wireless-cards

Today we’ll be trying out the cost effective Intel Wireless-N 7260 card versus the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 card. This pits the cheapest part versus the most expensive, but we just wanted to see how the real world performance differs at different distances in the home. We all know that the maximum speed ratings on these cards are just theoretical maximums, so let’s see if there is any upload and download speed differences in our testing. 

Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYKH

We’ll be testing out these cards on the Intel NUC DN2820FYKH, which is the lowest priced NUC and it just happens to come with the Intel Wireless-N 7260 wireless card in the $128 suggested retail price. We’ll test out that card and then see what happens when we upgrade that card to the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 card ( Intel 7260HMW ).

intel-nuc-baytrail-installed

Installing the wireless card is very simple. You just need to remove bottom case cover from the NUC along with the drive tray and then you’ll have access to the Mini PCie wireless card. After pulling off the two antennas all you need to do is remove the screw holding the card down and you can swap it out with a new one and then reverse the steps. Let’s take a look at the performance of the Intel Wireless-N 7260 Card versus the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 Card.

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  • Nélson Cunha

    How about the 2.4GHz performace? It would also be interesting to know if this new Wi-Fi cards get closer to the theoretical limit on the 2.4GHz, “n” networks.

  • Mikkel Georgsen

    “…and found roughly 160Mbps (23MB/s) average write speeds and 285Mbps (41MB/s) average read speeds”

    Err – 1MB/s = 8Mbps – so your numbers are completely wrong.

    160Mbps = 20MB/s
    285Mbps = 35.6MB/s

    • ht

      yes 8 bits = 1 byte but in networking you add 2 bits for security. so its 10bits. anyways, close enough.

      • Mikkel Georgsen

        First off – there is NEVER a case where 10 bits = 1 byte on Intel platform..

        Secondly no you don’t add bits to change the size of a byte because of security on the network – this is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever heard. Security comes at a different layer in the OSI model so has nothing to do with the actual physical data exchange.

        Take SATA – it does 8b to 10b conversion by inserting 2bits for parity but that doesn’t mean a byte becomes 10 bits – it’s just 125% of a byte.

        If LR wants to avoid this whole ordeal they need to only list speed results in throughput benchmarks as bits not bytes.

  • iCrunch

    You lost me at dual-band. How about 3×3 Mimo for full 1.3Gbps 802.11ac WiFi? AC WiFi really IS all that and a bag of chips. I never bother with an Ethernet cable anymore. :-D

  • AWG

    As far as hardware whitelists, I have successfully added the Intel 7260 AC wireless card in the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro. It is well worth the wait. Unfortunately, these things aren’t available retail in the US and must be ordered/shipped from Hong Kong. Without a doubt, this is what the Yoga “PRO” should have shipped with rather than the lame single band 7260. Many of the complaints from Yoga owners regarding dropped connections are resolved with the 7260 AC.

    • Bhavin

      I have a Yoga original… do you think 7260AC card replacement is possible with that? How hard was it?

  • Trevor Hardy

    You should make it clear to readers that most manufacturers use qualified hardware whitelists for mini/micro PCI Express cards. That means if you try to upgrade your HP/Toshiba (Lenovo, Sony, even Dell are guilty of these practices) it will brick the device until you remove the unauthorised card. Doesn’t matter if it is exactly the same chip/firmware/version from an OEM like Intel, if it’s not the authorised version from your particular manufacturer your notebook will not boot. HP have gone to the extent of encrypting their firmware to stop people hacking it to restore functionality.

    Oh and the fun part is they won’t tell you beforehand if a device will work or even that there is a whitelist control in place – you get to find that out for yourself!

  • raider

    I think you need to update your table. Isn’t the 7260HMW BN single stream? If not, according to the table the only difference from the 7260HMW AN is price.

    • Nathan Kirsch

      Nope, it is a 2×2 card that is single band. I didn’t put a column for bands as it is in the product name already. So the difference between the 7260HMW AN and 7260HMW BN is just the bands. Here is the chart that I sourced to make the table in this review – http://ark.intel.com/compare/75442,75439,75440,75174