HOW TO INSTALL AN INTERNAL WIRELESS WIFI NETWORK ADAPTER CARD IN YOUR IBM THINKPAD, HP, COMPAQ, DELL, OR TOSHIBA LAPTOP NOTEBOOK
Installing a wireless card in a laptop may seem like a big deal. I’m going to take the fear away and get you on the road to happy, mobile computing. So let’s get started!
QUESTION: WHY GO WIRELESS?
The benefits for going wireless are relatively obvious. Being able to have the freedom to be anywhere within that wireless coverage and being able to connect to your network or the Internet is convenient. You may be on your deck sipping coffee, laying in bed trying to finish homework, or playing your favorite online game from your comfy recliner.
QUESTION: WHAT TYPE OF CARD DO I NEED FOR MY LAPTOP?
There are two types of internal wireless cards; mini PCI and the smaller mini PCI express. Depending on when your particular model was manufactured and what processor you have will determine which card you need. All pre core duo processors require the type 3 mini PCI card and all newer core duo processors, and later, use the mini PCI express card. I have extensive stock of both cards in MY EBAY STORE
Many laptops will only accept certain manufactured wireless cards, especially both IBM and HP notebooks. Both will only accept proprietary specific parts. Meaning, if the card doesn’t have the correct part number for your particular model, you will receive a BIOS error on first startup. In addition, HP models require different cards for the INTEL and AMD Processors.
You can find both cards at the following links;
Both Dell and Toshiba will accept most generic Intel, Broadcom, or Atheros wireless cards, provided you can find and install the correct driver.
You can find both cards at the following links;
QUESTION: IS MY ROUTER COMPATIBLE WITH THE WIRELESS CARD I HAVE PURCHASED?
Once you have determined which card you need. Next you need to consider what connection speeds your router / cable modem is compatible with and capable of. Currently, the fastest and most reliable connection is Wireless-N, 802.11n capable of delivering the range and capacity to support today's most bandwidth-hungry applications, like streaming HD (High Definition) video, voice and music. Wireless N routers are also backwards compatible with 802.11 a/b/g wireless cards. If your router is a wireless g router, you can only install an 802.11a/b, 802.11b/g, or 802.11a/b/g wireless card.
QUESTION: HOW DO I INSTALL THE WIRELESS CARD?
Once you have the correct card for your wireless needs that is both compatible with your router and particular model notebook, you will need to install the card into your laptop. For most, this is the scary part. Where does it go? Do I have the correct tools? I’ve never opened up my laptop and don’t know where to start.
Do I have the correct tools?
For tools, I suggest you purchase a decent Micro screw driver set with dipped magnetic tips for easy screw removal. Without the correct tools, you can easily strip a screw head slot and have a bigger problem on your hands.
Where does it go?
The wireless card slot location varies by manufacturer and laptop model. I have seen them install under a panel on the base of the notebook, underneath the palm rest, or keyboard and even in the back of the LCD screen
I’ve never opened up my laptop and don’t know where to start.
Most major laptop manufactures provide some installation assistance on line in the form of Product Manuals, Installation and removal videos, and customer Question and Answer Forums.
QUESTION: I’VE LOCATED WHERE THE CARD INSTALLS AND HAVE TAKEN MY LAPTOP APART. WHAT NEXT?
All wireless cards are notched along the gold connector side of the card to insure proper installation. Place the wireless card into the wireless card slot at a 45 degree angle and then push the card down into place. Some models have clips that will lock in the WIFI card and other models require you put in one or two screws.
Please note: it is very important you have the correct screw(s), if it’s too short it will not hold the card in place and if it is too long you could easily put it through the base of the notebook, or even worse, the motherboard!
After installing the card properly, you will next need to connect the two, or sometimes three, wireless antennas. The antennas are necessary, and can be found within the wireless card bay. Please Note: Most newer models have the antennas preinstalled, however, not all of the older laptop notebooks have them. They are thin, black and white wires with gold or silver post connectors on the end. If you dont have the antennas preinstalled, they are just a couple of dollars, and can be easily found by searching "universal laptop antenna" on EBAY. It doesn’t matter which wire goes on which post, however, it is customary to have the White cable antenna attached to Main, and the Black cable antenna attached to Auxiliary (AUX) post. Make sure both post connectors rotate freely to insure they are properly installed.
Once complete, reverse the process you used to take apart the laptop and reboot the laptop for the first time with its new wireless card.
Wireless N Cards have three antennas.
The installation is the same as above, however, you will want to connect the third green, or sometimes grey, antenna to the center antenna post #3.
Question: I have a wireless N card, however, my laptop only has two antennas installed.
The third antenna isn’t necessary for the card to function, however, for optimal performance; you will want to install a third antenna. Any generic universal Mini PCI U.FL laptop antenna cable will do so long as it is 5 MHz compatible.
QUESTION: WHERE DO I FIND THE CORRECT DRIVER FOR MY LAPTOP WIRELESS WIFI CARD?
Reboot the laptop for the first time with its new wireless card. What happens next depends on which operating system you are using. If it’s Windows 2000 or newer operating system, it should automatically detect that something new was added. Depending on the model card that you buy, the laptop may be able to find all the needed drivers to complete the install. If not, you will have to download and install the correct driver for your particular model laptop and operating system from the laptop manufacturer’s website.
Voila, you are done with the installation! You may need to reboot your laptop for the newly installed drivers to take effect. Your next steps would be to configure the card to match the settings of the wireless network you’re attempting to connect to. If you don’t know how to do that, you’ll need to check with the system’s administrator.
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