I have some nice wireless consumer routers, but will soon be running into their limits in terms of bandwidth/throughput capabilities (assuming my ISP delivers on 1Gb connections). Hence, I am looking to roll my own router again for the first time since I started to use WiFi. I also have an eye on the future (IPV6) and generally like building my own gear. I have enough parts lying around (CPU, case, RAM etc.) to provide most of the building blocks of a nice beefy router.

One thing I don't have, and have no experience with is the wireless card itself - I have never purchased one separately, only used the ones already in laptops or SFF PCs. My larger machines have all been wired only. My short-list of preferred features:

  • Linux driver support (native preferred, not religious about it being open, just stable and performant)
  • 802.11ac/n/g support
  • PCI Express preferred over USB (half height option a bonus, not required)
  • Decent performance (throughput) and range (anecdotal experience is fine)
  • 1
    Based on the canonical Linux wireless driver list, the only cards that meet your requirements are those based on the Atheros QCA988x chip family and those supported by the Broadcom bcmfmac driver. There are some Intel devices that support both AP mode and AC wireless, but I think they're laptop-only.
    – Mark
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 20:02
  • Many Intel adapters support both AP and AC, but most of them don't support both. That is, they only support G in AP mode. According to Emmanuel Grumbach at Intel, it's because of "This is because of regulatory matters that can't be worked around." Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 12:06

2 Answers 2


I recently decided to build my own wireless router - and I found the Airetos AEX-QCA9880-NX performing very well on my DIY machine: 3 channels 802.11ac/n/g in a miniPCIe shape.

  • finally got around to this, and got 2 of these (one for 2.4Ghz and one for 5Ghz) and after a little work to get the 5Ghz operating, these are working perfectly. If, like me, you will be putting these in a standard case then you will need something like this adapter: amazon.com/Sienoc-Wireless-Adapter-Antenna-linux/dp/B00GRJ5L52 Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 16:23

I personally have yet to find a better component for this job than the Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I PCI-Express x1 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi Adapter.

  • Native linux support at least in debian/ubuntu
  • AC/N/G support
  • PCI-E 2.0 1x (probably the single best balance between performance and compatibility of any interface type)
  • Good performance reviews
  • Half-height compatible
  • Fully modular - antennae and chip can be refitted
  • Extra bells and whistles like bluethooth
  • Please note that Intel cards do not support being used as AP on the 5Ghz band. This article explains it well.
    – Philippe
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 22:17

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