Upgrading an Old Dell Latitude Laptop With The Intel 7260 HMW 802.11ac Wireless Card

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Installing the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC

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Before you purchase one of the WiFi cards, you want to make sure it compatible with your laptop or computer.  We originally wanted to upgrade our Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, but Lenovo in all of their wisdom has made it impossible for most of their devices to be upgraded with third-party peripherals.

This is a concern that we didn’t have to worry about that with our Dell Latitude. Before starting this process, make sure you head over to the Intel website and download the latest driver software onto your hard drive or a thumb drive.Intel_WiFi_AC-5

After taking out the center screw from the back of the laptop and removing the batter, we slid the cover off to give us access that we need to swap the WiFi card.Intel_WiFi_AC-4

The WiFi card is very easy to get to and after disconnecting the two antennas from the chassis, we removed the one retaining screw to remove the card. Intel_WiFi_AC-1b

Installing our new Intel Wireless-AC card was very simple and because the socket is uniquely keyed, the install was dummy-proof.  All in all the swapping out of cards took less than 5 minutes with no real issues.Intel_WiFi_AC-1

Here we see the Intel 802.11ac WiFi card installed and ready to go.  (You’ll notice that there is an extra wire for a third antenna.  This might make for an interesting follow-up article!  :) )

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Here is a close up of what the Intel 7260HMW IEEE 802.11AC card looks like (image is flipped):

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After putting the cover back on to the laptop, we restarted the machine and installed the driver software from the Driver Download Site on the Intel PROSet page.

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 After the correct drivers are installed, we see that our Wireless speeds move from 300 Mbps to 867 Mbps which is consistent with our 2×2 802.11ac adapter card speeds.Intel_7250-4

Now let’s see if this $25 upgrade makes a difference in real-world WiFi speeds.

 

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  • Mark Spears

    Hey I was wondering about doing this with my Dell D630. I have a 4965agn in it which is only draft N. I just bout an AC dsl router combo and saw your post. Made me think about getting a newer wireless card.

  • Trevor Hardy

    As I said about your most recent article on the subject of upgrading mini/micro PCI-Express card wifi devices, EVERYONE with an HP laptop can just forget about this unless they purchase the upgrade card from HP – cards not included in HP’s white list will brick the laptop until they’re removed. Toshiba also do this for most models, while other manufacturers have implemented it to varying degrees.

    • Digtial Puppy

      Good point. Def. check the white lists from the manufacturer and check the prices before you buy. I have the feeling that a $25 part on Newegg will cost $40+ from the manufacturer.

      • Trevor Hardy

        The problem is, for many manufacturers (not just HP, but HP are particularly bad in this regard) they simply don’t offer updated cards for older model notebooks – why would they bother testing and qualifying outdated models? So that perfectly good 18-month old laptop that is going to do you fine for another two to three years just can’t be upgraded to 802.11AC. Period. Unless you use a USB wifi dongle, with it’s limited range and predisposition for snapping off if you’re not careful. Yay. Thanks, HP. Well done, Toshiba.

        The funny thing is, I used to sell quite a few Toshiba/HP/Lenovo business products, but once I came across this issue a few years ago and discovered just how pervasive it is from the big brands, I refuse to sell or recommend anything from them now.

    • dca919

      The only 3×3 PCIe mini card I know of is a DAXA-92 from Unex Technology, but you would lose the Bluetooth 4.0 and they aren’t a retail seller. If anyone can find a price on this one or knows of another 3×3 PCIe mini please reply…

      I did upgraded the Intel card into a Toshiba Satellite S55 notebook. Connected to a LAN to download the Intel drivers. Restarted and it worked just fine. So I am not sure about this being true for most Toshiba models.

      The pain was all the screws you had to remove to get under the keyboard to remove the mini pcie card. Unlike the Dell it only has 2 antennas.

      After that did an older ASUS A53E series for my parents and it also worked fine.

      Once the price comes back down to the $28 range (currently $33) will be doing it in my Toshiba A55 notebook…here’s to hoping I discover a 3rd Antenna.

  • Paul Margettas

    I was thinking of upgrading myself.

  • basroil

    How does it fare with wireless N?

    • Digtial Puppy

      The WiFi-N performance was exactly the same as before the upgrade. This particular model seemed to be a bit slower in general, but we think that is the fault of the laptop and not the WiFi card.