I am trying to turn an old laptop into a wireless router/repeater. The laptop's built in card is not working correctly so I can't use it. What I am looking for is a USB WiFi card that supports simultaneous AP and normal mode so I can both connect to WiFi and provide it.

I currently have a card that supports only one of those modes at a time so if the performance is much better with two separate cards than I can do that but I would prefer to use only one card.

Edit: The laptop also has a full length mini pci-e slot so I can also use a mpci-e wifi card.

  • Does it have to be a USB-connected wireless card, or could we replace the built-in card with another mPCI-E card? The issue is that you need MIMO to simultaneously act as an AP and a client, but USB sticks are typically too compact for the antennae to be sufficiently distant from one another, so most companies don't make them, and those that do usually make poorly conceived products. – Adam Wykes Aug 21 '16 at 4:30
  • It's a laptop so I don't know how easy it would be to change an internal card. I can take a look and see if it would be possible. – Samuel Aug 21 '16 at 7:00
  • Look up the "maintenance manual" for XXX type:pdf on google, where XXX stands for your laptop's model number. – Adam Wykes Aug 21 '16 at 7:02
  • It does have a mini pci- e WiFi card in it that could be replaced. – Samuel Aug 21 '16 at 15:07
  • Some manufacturers lock down what wifi cards you can use. It's worth checking if the manufacturer has a whitelist. – Journeyman Geek Aug 24 '16 at 8:14

OK, so the better answer for you is the Atheros AR9287 mPCI-E card. It is:

  • Atheros, so well-supported in Linux
  • Can run two modes simultaneously via MIMO
  • mPCI-E, so it has the faster interface and the location in the laptop less likely to incur damage
  • Costs way less

It is only B/G/N, does this matter?

One final caveat - sometimes laptop makers put in whitelists in their BIOS to prevent people from changing the mPCI-E card in their machine. You should find out if your model has such a whitelist and either circumvent it by flashing a non-proprietary BIOS or else get the USB stick option.

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    It works great. I had to buy a bracket to mount the half-mini pci-e card in a full-mini pci-e slot but that's no problem. – Samuel Sep 1 '16 at 17:58

I recommend the LINKSYS WUSB6100M Next-Gen AC AC600 Mu-Mimo USB Adapter. This device uses an Atheros chipset, which is quite well supported on linux. It also has pretty good performance, which is surprising given its form factor. It's probably a lot more expensive than a good internal card would be, but it is well-reviewed, well supported, and has the MIMO you need to run an AP along with a client. Mind you, I haven't ever set that up in linux so I can't tell you for sure it would work, but from a pure capabilities standpoint, it should.

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  • How is it that there's any drivers for this one? The WUSB6100M is a USB version of the QCA9377 chipset. The ath10k_pci drivers do not appear to be set up for any current distribution with the Linux version shipped with the same. I can't get it to work with Ubuntu 16.04, as a prime example. – Svartalf Oct 1 '16 at 0:50
  • I'm not sure I understand the comment – Adam Wykes Oct 1 '16 at 1:54
  • It's a comment about someone suggesting something that will not work. This is a modern, Ath10k class device. There is no USB/SDIO interface support for Ath10k devices...yet. I know this one for a fact because I own one of the dongles...ON YOUR SUGGESTION...that doesn't work on any modern distros, coupled with conversations with Silex Technology America and Qualcomm which would know that there isn't any support right now...and they don't discuss planned rollouts until they happen. – Svartalf Dec 10 '16 at 18:05
  • Don't recommend things that don't work. – Svartalf Dec 10 '16 at 18:05
  • @Svartalf It CAN work, because Atheros is usually easy to work with: askubuntu.com/questions/642794/… – Adam Wykes Dec 11 '16 at 4:52

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