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tjc
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Wi-fi speed stuck at 54.0 Mbps

I have a Dell Inspiron 17R SE (7720) with Windows-10 Home 64-bit, running latest Dell BIOS A17. I just upgraded the wireless adapter from stock to the Intel AC-7260. No problem with the hardware upgrade and installation of Intel's latest driver, other than the current wi-fi status is maxed out at 54.0 Mbps with full steady quality signal.

I am not looking for super fast wi-fi since I'm only paying ISP for 60Mbps, but I have another laptop running same OS using a Realtek 8822BE Wireless 802.11ac and it is consistently running a status speed of 144.4 Mbps.

Because the second laptop is showing faster status speed on the same wi-fi network (network security is AES), I don't believe it has anything to do with the router's settings. 

When I run an independent xfinity speed test, the Dell laptop with Intel card hits around 25-28 Mbps download, while the other laptop with Realtek is 65-70 Mbps (obviously not running tests simultaneously). Seems the Dell has some kind of cap on the max speed, but I don't know where. I verified the Intel adapter is set to the default 802.11ac wireless mode.

Anyone know if there is Dell setting that caps wifi?

 

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7 Replies
jphughan
5 Tungsten

Re: Wi-fi speed stuck at 54.0 Mbps

Dell doesn't cap WiFi speeds, in fact I don't even think that would be possible to do from a system firmware level because the system firmware just sees PCIe traffic, not specifically WiFi traffic.  I've seen some non-Dell systems that restrict the cards that can actually be used in a system, but that's it.

Since you mentioned you installed a 7260 yourself, did you make sure you did in fact get a Wireless-AC 7260 rather than a Wireless-N 7260?  I have no idea why Intel used the 7260 model code for two cards with very different capabilities, but they did.  Check the device name in Device Manager.  Then if you haven't already, try disconnecting and reattaching the antennas.  A weak antenna connection can cause poor throughput.  I've found that the best way to connect them is to do it before inserting the card into the slot, because that way you can put your index finger on the underside of the card beneath the antenna connector, and then use your thumb to "pinch" the antenna onto the connector.

Next, check Settings > Network & Internet > WiFi, then click the network you're connected to, then scroll down.  What Protocol and Band is your system connecting with?  In general you'll get best throughput if you're on 802.11ac and 5 GHz, respectively.  If you're still stuck, what router do you have, just out of curiosity?  If you have an old router that offers 144 Mbps only by allowing 40 MHz channels in 2.4 GHz (rather than the normal 20 MHz), then that might be the issue.  Some WiFi devices won't use 40 MHz channels on 2.4 GHz because that requires occupying almost the entire available 2.4 GHz spectrum.  That would make you a bad neighbor in environments that have other WiFi networks around, and in many cases it can actually result in worse real-world throughput anyway, both of which are why some WiFi clients won't use 40 MHz in 2.4 GHz by default or sometimes at all, even if the router is configured to allow them, which it generally shouldn't be.

Out of curiosity, what router are you using?

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tjc
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Re: Wi-fi speed stuck at 54.0 Mbps

Thanks for the quick response, I did get the AC-7260 model, full model is 7260.HMWG.R Revised WiFi Wireless-AC Dual Band 2x2 AC+Bluetooth. 

And I have already tried re-seating card and reconnecting antennas making certain they were clicked all the way in - made no difference. And not getting intermittent signal, quality shows steady full green bars and never drops below the 54.0.

Protocol shows 802.11g at 2.4GHz, I think this is where the problem is... the other laptop shows protocol 802.11n.

I am running a Netgear WNR3500Lv2 Gateway, which I know is only "n", but that still supports my ISP limit.

Is there any way I can get the Intel adapter to drop the g and pull the n protocol?

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jphughan
5 Tungsten

Re: Wi-fi speed stuck at 54.0 Mbps

Interesting, I actually had that model router long ago until I decided to get a 5 GHz router since at the time I lived in an apartment building, and there were too many 2.4 GHz networks competing for radio time.  The 5 GHz band has many more non-overlapping channels available to reduce interference between nearby WiFi networks, so you'll usually get better performance for the reduced interference alone, on top of the fact that 802.11ac works faster even under equivalent conditions.

But back to your issue, the fact that your WiFi card is only connecting at 802.11g is definitely the problem.  In terms of a fix, since it sounds like you're already running the latest drivers for the WiFi card, you may want to check for updated router firmware in case the version you're running might have some issue that affects the specific combination of that router and the 7260.  However, given the age of that router, I also wouldn't be surprised if it hasn't been getting firmware updates for a while now already, in which case this could end up being an issue that won't get fixed.  But if you're not already on the latest release, you may as well try updating; you never know.  Other than that, my only other admittedly long shot suggestion would be checking the WiFi settings on the router to make sure that the WiFi mode is set to "Up to 145 Mbps" rather than "Up to 300 Mbps".  The latter enables 40 MHz channels, which as I said you generally don't want to do on the 2.4 GHz band.  Even if it's on 300 Mbps now, theoretically the 7260 should still be able to ignore that and connect at 802.11n speeds on just 20 MHz, but I'm wondering if maybe having 40 MHz channels available might be causing it to fall back down to 802.11g for some reason.  And even if that doesn't solve the issue, like I said it's a best practice anyway.

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tjc
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Re: Wi-fi speed stuck at 54.0 Mbps

I really appreciate your help. I did confirm I'm running the latest Netgear router firmware, and tried the switch to lower speed, but no luck, was still stuck on 11g. When I switched back to 300, I got this message... "Per Wi-Fi Alliance guidelines for 40 Mhz and 20 Mhz coexistence, even if you select "Up to 300Mbps" mode, your product’s service rate might drop to 20 Mhz. This typically corresponds to 145 Mbps performance."

So I suspect you are right that the Intel adapter and router are not compatible for anything above 11g, in order to comply with the "alliance".

Guess I will keep my eyes out for new ac router; but no hurry, like I said only paying for 60Mbps from the ISP anyway.

Thanks again.

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jphughan
5 Tungsten

Re: Wi-fi speed stuck at 54.0 Mbps


@tjc wrote:

I really appreciate your help. I did confirm I'm running the latest Netgear router firmware, and tried the switch to lower speed, but no luck, was still stuck on 11g. When I switched back to 300, I got this message... "Per Wi-Fi Alliance guidelines for 40 Mhz and 20 Mhz coexistence, even if you select "Up to 300Mbps" mode, your product’s service rate might drop to 20 Mhz. This typically corresponds to 145 Mbps performance."

So I suspect you are right that the Intel adapter and router are not compatible for anything above 11g, in order to comply with the "alliance".

Guess I will keep my eyes out for new ac router; but no hurry, like I said only paying for 60Mbps from the ISP anyway.

Thanks again.


11g operation wouldn't be the result of Wi-Fi Alliance guidelines, because 802.11n can operate on a 20 MHz channel as well.  11g is 54 Mbps, and as that message indicates, 11n even with a 20 MHz channel should allow up to 145 Mbps.  So this seems like an interoperability problem, not something by design.  I'd still recommend keeping your router at the 145 Mbps setting though.  As I said, 40 MHz channels in 2.4 GHz can end up performing worse even when clients try to use it, and best case it makes you a bad neighbor.  But if you don't have any nearby WiFI networks, then I go for it, I guess.

If you decide to look at newer routers but don't want to spend a lot, one option you might consider is the ASUS RT-N66U.  It's "only" 802.11n, but unlike the one you have, it supports 5 GHz, which typically yields better performance, and the N66U has a well-deserved reputation as arguably the best 802.11n consumer router that was ever made before things shifted to 802.11ac.  Its range and WiFi throughput are top notch, and it's also rock stable.  It doesn't hurt that ASUS provided firmware updates for several years after it was introduced, unlike most other vendors -- in fact it might STILL be getting updates.  Anyhow, I believe you can still buy it new, or you shouldn't have trouble finding one on eBay or Craigslist.

If you want to step up to AC but don't want to break the bank, look at the ASUS RT-AC68U.  It's a few years old by now too, but it remains a very popular AC router choice again because it's rock stable and has all of the AC performance that you can actually use today without the price premium for the extra "Wave 2" features like MU-MIMO that pretty much no client devices on the market support.  It too can be bought new or used.  Good luck!

(NOTE: Avoid the RT-AC87U.  Unlike most other ASUS products that use a Broadcom chipset, the 87U uses a Qualcomm chipset, and it proved to have serious 5 GHz performance issues with certain client chipsets.  The AC88U on the other hand is back to Broadcom and is a fantastic router, but it's still quite expensive and arguably not worth the premium over the 68U today unless you're really into futureproofing.)

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tjc
1 Nickel

Re: Wi-fi speed stuck at 54.0 Mbps

Ended up picking-up an ASUS RT-AC68U on the cheap. Thank you for your recommendation. All is good, getting better test download numbers than my service plan says I am paying for (can't ask for more than that). And all seems really stable so far. I appreciate the help.

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jphughan
5 Tungsten

Re: Wi-fi speed stuck at 54.0 Mbps


@tjc wrote:

Ended up picking-up an ASUS RT-AC68U on the cheap. Thank you for your recommendation. All is good, getting better test download numbers than my service plan says I am paying for (can't ask for more than that). And all seems really stable so far. I appreciate the help.


Excellent!  Glad I was able to help and that you're all sorted. Smiley Happy

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