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

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Wireless Speed Tests with Intel WiFi-AC

Intel_AC_Netgear_6300We were very interested to see the real-world wireless speed performance of our newly upgraded Dell Latitude E6410 so we approached our speed tests much like we have done in the past when evaluating wireless adapters and routers. Our Dell PC is running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and we paired it to connect to our Netgear R6300 802.11ac Dual-Band Router. Let’s check out what our new 802.11ac wireless card can do. 

For our experiment, we took the Dell laptop and moved it 25-feet away from the router and made sure to connect to the faster 5GHz band. For the fastest possible data throughput, we set the router to “Unsecure Mode” and with WMM turned ON

After connecting, we ran the application LAN Speed Test (LST) to measure file transfer and network speeds. LST builds a file in memory and then transfers the packet without the effects of windows file caching.  It then reports the time and calculates the network speed.

LAN Speed Test

We repeated the test 2 more times rotating the laptop 90 degrees after each test to make sure that the measured speed was not affected adversely by the laptop’s orientation.


Laptop WiFi 1MB_Speed_Test

Benchmark Results: Obviously, there is a tremendous difference between the older 802.11n wireless card and our new 802.11ac card.  The Intel 7260 card increases the WiFi throughput (Average Read Speed) by a whopping 103% over the Intel Centrino 6200 WiFi-N card which is substantial. Even though these are somewhat small data packets, you are able to tell how significant the differences are between the legacy card and the modern 802.11ac card.


Laptop WiFi 100MB_Speed_Test

Benchmark Results: We look at the 100MB data because we are able to get a better feel of how larger data packets that emulate multimedia data behave. In our test, the newer Intel WiFi-AC chip, the 7260 again easily outperformed the “legacy” Intel 6200 card.  This time we see a 130% increase in Average Read Speeds over the “legacy” WiFi-N device.  While average speeds of 177Mbps were good, there aren’t as great as our three-antenna solutions that we have seen in other WiFi-AC tests. Even with that said, we certainly wouldn’t turn down these speeds and consider them the minimal performance you should get with an 802.11ac device.


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  • Ian Chisnall

    Dear Friends
    I have a Dell Latitude E6410 laptop : please can you advise whether the AC adapter you are using is compatible with mine. Ian

  • Matthew Karlsson

    This looks like a good approach. Going to have to try this on a Latitude E6430s. Just to be clear, the antennas from a 2.4Ghz only model will work OK with a 5Ghz AC connection?

    Also, this article is 2 years old now, is the 7260 still the way to go?

  • Stephen Zarella

    I found this thread when troubleshooting driver issues after following in the same steps. I upgraded the HP Envy 17-3077NR but my system was still loading the old Intel Centrino Advanced N drivers. Several iterations of uninstalling and deleting software later, I found a thread who advised to use the pnputil.exe commands to list and remove old drivers. I did that, and I must have removed something I should not have. I’m having difficulty with EVERYTHING around using the Intel Software installation, since it just runs . . .but nothing changes.

    The life of a hardware enthusiast …

  • paul

    Will this work with my dell d630?

  • pharmacol

    My ASUS F3Jm has a mini PCIe card and these INTEL cards are half-size mini cards. Failed to notice this before ordering one.
    I guess I will be looking for some sort of adapter

  • 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.

    • paul

      Did this work on your dell d630?

      • Mark Spears

        Yeah the drivers sometimes a bit glitchy but hey I got the intel Dual band Wireless AC 7260 for like $15 at the time from ebay.

  • 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.

    • Fred

      Not true. Most newer HP laptops (built within the past 5 years) do NOT restrict the use of the Intel 7260. It is a myth that they do. I have an HP Envy dv6, Intel 3rd generation Core i7-3630QM 2.4Ghz, that came installed with a Ralink RT5390 b/g/n adapter, a two-antenna model. I bought the Intel 7260ac adapter for $30 from Amazon, and within the 10 minutes it took to take the old one out and put the new one in, I was up and running. Just be sure to use the right drivers for the card. I had best results using the 16.xx version rather than the newest drivers (the new ones caused the card to stop functioning after a sleep/resume.

  • 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.