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I have a small mini-PC, running Linux, which I use as a wireless access point and router.

It came with a Realtek RTL8191SEvA mini-PCIe wireless card. It works very well under Linux, supporting AP/master mode and running hostapd quite stably and with adequate performance.

However, it's 2.4 GHz only, and 802.11n only.

I'd like to replace it with a newer card that…

  1. Supports 802.11ac (if not 802.11ax as well)
  2. Supports AP mode on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands (Intel WiFi adapters are out, because their firmware only allows 2.4 GHz AP due apparently to paranoia about FCC regulations for 5 GHz APs 🤦🏻‍♂️)
  3. Runs stably and efficiently under Linux with a driver that's in the mainline kernel
  4. Ideally, mini-PCIe… but I could live with an external/USB adapter if there's a much better option.

Based on reading Wikipedia's comparison of Linux wifi drivers and kernel.org's comparison, it seems like either an Atheros or MediaTek device would be the best choices… but I'm open to others. Any recommendations?

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Mini PCIe has fallen out of favor, being replaced by m.2. That said, there's a lot of adapters available.

Personally, I'm strongly in favor of Intel's wireless cards, they tend to have good open source support and quality drivers in general. You can buy AX210, which supports 802.11ax, bundled with the necessary adapter.

Edit: I didn't read closely enough and failed to notice the point about Intel. The point about the adapter by itself should be a comment, but SE doesn't allow deleting answers.

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  • Thanks. I'd be happy with an Intel card, since they work great in client mode, but the inability to enable 5ghz AP mode is a dealbreaker in this case.
    – Dan Lenski
    May 18 at 2:26
  • I ended up ordering an Atheros QCA9377 card which is known to work well as an 802.11ac AP (and has BT 5.0 too): amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B07HDXP9R4
    – Dan Lenski
    May 18 at 2:27

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