Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Belkin Wireless AC USB Wifi Adapter (F9L1106) / Good Wi-Fi ac USB-Adapter, terrible drivers, good value

I have purchased this Wi-Fi ac USB adapter as an add-on item and at the time it was cheap enough, so I did not care about the lack of product picture and description and wrong brand in the title. I was rewarded with a Wi-Fi USB adapter that usually retails for a lot more. So my product review reflects the very low price I have paid for this item.

The good news first: This is the Belkin Wi-Fi ac Dual-Band USB adapter. Here are my pros and cons.

Pros:
- Great value (might be different depending on the seller)
- Once connected it works mostly reliable
- Fast for file transfer on Wi-Fi

Cons:
- Drivers from CD do not work properly (Windows Vista was able to locate drivers on disk and install them)
- Instructions are not really helpful (For help on getting this adapter to work, see below)
- Lack of information on Belkin's website
- Needs to be re-installed after reboot
- Larger than some other Wi-Fi USB adapters (this one is about the size of a large USB flash drive)
- Terrible product description

When I received the item I made sure to follow the instructions on the packaging. They recommend inserting the CD with the drivers into the disk drive and installing the drivers. I could not do that on my laptop running Windows Vista (although it should be compatible with Vista). The installation program would simply not start.

To solve this issue, instead of inserting the disk, just plug the USB adapter into a USB port. Windows will ask if you want to install drivers and if it should look for them or if you want to tell Windows where they are. I had it look for drivers, but the search came up with nothing. So Windows asked for the installation CD to be inserted. I did that and Windows was (to my surprise) able to locate the correct drivers and install them. Afterwards, I was able to set up my Wi-Fi connection through the USB adapter. If you are using the USB adapter to upgrade the Wi-Fi on a machine with a working Wi-Fi connection, make sure to turn the older one off at this point. The Wi-Fi USB adapter should then take over. According to Windows' network information I can reach speeds of 867 Mbps on the 5Ghz band. I did a few file transfer from a hard drive that is connected to my router and the speed increase compared to my old Wi-Fi g was very noticeable. A 700MB file took two minutes instead of 7 minutes. These speeds might have been exceeded, but the hard drive is connected to the router through USB 2.0 and also, I have tested the Wi-Fi USB adapter in a USB 2.0 port. Better results with USB 3.0 might be possible and according to the packaging the Belkin Wi-Fi ac USB adapter does support USB 3.0.

If not for the problems with the driver and the lack of support information on Belkin's website, I might have given a higher star rating to this item. I still give it four stars, but this is based on the very low price I have paid for this item and the value others get out of this adapter might be lower, when they are paying a higher price.

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