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

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Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Intel_WiFi_AC-3When we started this project, we wanted to see just how difficult to replace and change out your existing wireless card and replace it with a new and modern one.  The Intel 7260 802.11ac card was a breeze to install and provided instant results and increased performance numbers.

When looking at the LAN Speed Test data however, it was quite obvious how the Average Read Speeds were affected where we saw an approximately 103%-130% speed increase over WiFi-N.  The weird thing for us is when you looked Average Write Speeds, they were fast, but not as fast as we had expected.  We played around with our router’s channels and were able to increase the speeds, however.  Our lesson here was that these mobile WiFi cards are really sensitive to the channels that they are tuned to.  Our recommendation is to try out various channels on your router paired up to the WiFi-AC card to determine which is the best sweet spot for your system.

When recalling the actual installation of the WiFi-AC adapter, I have to admit I was really expecting something more challenging.  The fact that our Dell only needed one small Philips screwdriver was fantastic.  It was also nice to see that there was already an extra antenna lead just in case I wanted to go to a 3×3 WiFi solution in the future.  As it was, this $30 upgrade was well worth it.

Intel_WiFi_AC-2Today’s upgrade shows that you can easily breath new life into your legacy Laptop or Netbook with a simple move to Wireless-AC.  Now instead of complaining about how slow your laptop is transferring files or loading that multimedia-heavy webpage, your older laptop will find its fountain of youth with the assistance of WiFi-AC.

Many people have been putting off purchasing an AC-ready routers because they don’t think they have enough legacy wireless devices to justify the cost.  Well prices for both routers and adapters have been falling since last year and you can not only get WiFi-AC Routers for under $100, and you can pick up one of these WiFi-AC adapters for $25-$30 making the move to faster wireless very affordable. 


Legit Bottom Line:

For less than $30 a simple upgrade for your WiFi card can totally transform your older model laptop. Our tests really just confirmed what we already knew – that 802.11ac can more than double the wireless speeds over a traditional Wireless-N network adapter.  This simple upgrade will certainly extend the life of your older laptop or notebook.

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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.