What's your go-to 802.11N Wireless Card?



  • Hey everyone,

    We're being a bit stubborn and trying to get an internal wireless card configured in our two pfSense units. They are running 2.3 and 2.4, respectively. Our first try was the Intel 7260 as it's supported in FreeBSD 11; however the iwm driver necessary for it's functionality wasn't ported over.

    Because of this, and the reality that 802.11AC support is in the not-so-near future, what's your go to Wireless-N card? Our current configuration needs 3 separate SSID's, so any cards that would fall into that realm would be most appreciated. While I understand the "compatible wireless cards" thread is above, it's not as updated and is lacking personal testimony.

    Best Regards,


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    There is no go to card.. The go to would be an actual AP..

    The unifi line seems to very popular around here.
    https://www.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ac/

    If you really want only N, they still make those..  But why??



  • We're trying to incorporate a wireless card so we can have a single enclosure, UTM device for our clients. Many don't want to see two devices and it would drive up costs for everyone.

    Honestly, most ISP's don't provide nearly close to AC speeds in our region and N would be a good place to start (since they're supported in pfsense). We're just trying to keep this in one case.


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    Where are they going to deploy this utm??  What would be the uses of the wifi?  It highly unlikely that you device is going to be properly placed for any sort of good wifi.

    The cost of the card vs an AP is going to be minimal.  What are you customers after wifi that is actually useful or 1 box.



  • Look for an Atheros card with a supported chipset. Atheros has always been the best choice on FreeBSD.



  • The UTM is going to be deployed in the home network. The use of the wifi is to replace the home router with a single UTM; consolidating both security and wifi. In regards to price, we're looking at quite a large difference; <$20 for a decent internal card and >$100 for an equivalent AP. We've got two cards working on the last 2.3 stable (1 Atheros card and 1 apple airport card), but 2.4 isn't giving us any wiggle room.

    With the rapid development of 2.4, we're trying to stay on pace and keep a working hardware configuration.

    Do you guys know if the iwm driver was included in 2.4? It has support for some intel cards. Or if it could be loaded manually?



  • Haven't messed with wireless on pfSense seriously in years, but the Intel cards traditionally never worked in AP mode on FreeBSD. You had to  add a line in the loader.conf accepting the license to get them to show up at all. I don't see why an Atheros card working on 2.3 wouldn't work on 2.4

    Edit- if you meant iwn, that doesn't do AP mode either-
    iwn supports station and monitor mode operation.  Only one virtual interface may be configured at any time.



  • Update: We've gotten the intel driver loaded up in there but to no avail.

    At this point, we're trying out multiple different atheros cards, an apple card, and others. The most common problem is not the typical "ath0 stuck beacon reset" error and "ath_tx_default_comp" error with deviced getting booted off from the network almost immediately. I can post all the cards we've tried if other want to know and maybe have stable recommendations.


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    So a month of dicking with this??  Just so you can have some shitty wifi coverage via some card in the same box?

    You could pick these up for $20.. Even does POE..
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833704048

    Or you could get its big brother that does 2x2 for $5 more
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833704052

    Or the bigger brother that does 3x3
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833704049

    For like $35.. How much are these cards you trying to get working cost??  And they support up to 4 SSID and do vlans…  Like I said a month ago, why are you wasting your time...

    Prob be cheaper and easier if you really want 1 box to do a case modification and take the guts of these, or put them in a new little case and attach to the top of your box if you can not put them in side..  The antennas detach so you could prob mount the antennas to your case and if there is any room inside the case put these inside and have a ethernet connection.. You would have to work out the details if you want it all in the same box.  But this prob be easier and faster and better speeds than what your dicking with ;)


  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    What's your go-to 802.11N Wireless Card?

    Ruckus 7372

    Is your time worth nothing?



  • @spartasolutions:

    At this point, we're trying out multiple different atheros cards, an apple card, and others. The most common problem is not the typical "ath0 stuck beacon reset" error and "ath_tx_default_comp" error with deviced getting booted off from the network almost immediately. I can post all the cards we've tried if other want to know and maybe have stable recommendations.

    Would be interesting to hear what you have tried.
    I also went through allot of cards untill I finally decided to try the Marvell 88W8363 card that is on the recommended cards list.
    Disappointingly while I got 300Mbps link speed the actual throughput was 54Mbps.
    I tracked this down to FreeBSD 10.3 used in pfSense 2.3.2 not supporting N rates at all.

    Upgrading to 2.4.0-beta (FreeBSD 11) did allow higher speeds it seems, but also more problems.
    On 2.3.2 it was at least stable (not crashing the firewall and no errors in DMESG).
    But with 2.4.0 I've had several complete crashes/reboots, so that's a no go…
    I also put in an Atheros to try in 2.4.0 but it was a complete disaster as well.
    If you want to all in one box maybe a distribution based on Linux would be better.
    Because the Wifi drivers for Linux are allot more mature!

    This might be of interest as well: https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=115272.0



  • @johnpoz:

    Prob be cheaper and easier if you really want 1 box to do a case modification and take the guts of these, or put them in a new little case and attach to the top of your box if you can not put them in side..  The antennas detach so you could prob mount the antennas to your case and if there is any room inside the case put these inside and have a ethernet connection.. You would have to work out the details if you want it all in the same box.  But this prob be easier and faster and better speeds than what your dicking with ;)

    Unfortunately it wasn't my decision to wrestle with these wireless cards :\ Fortunately, I set up one of the boxed with the guts of a particular OEM's AP unit and got the approval to go ahead with this setup. Now it's off to figure out heat dissipation and case modeling.

    @Per:

    Would be interesting to hear what you have tried.

    Man, attempting to get a solid setup had been up uphill battle going nowhere. Originally, we had an atheros card that only occasionally gave the ath beacon error. The speed was terrible, and we also found out about the limitation of 10.3. We started up some demo units, and got all different cards to test out (Atheros, Apple, Intel, Realtek). Eventually, I began just building new kernels with either the 2.3 or 2.4 drivers. The apple card, surprisingly, worked the best on the 2.3 box and a little bit on the 2.4 boxes. After working with the 2.4 atheros driver for a while it became pretty clear that it just didn't like pfSense at all. So, after getting down into the different drivers, we rolled back to just 2.3 stable. Lo and behold, the cards had started working worse. The beacon error was joined by the "Ath_tx_default_comp". We quickly found that the disconnects were linked to the amount of traffic on the particular wireless network.

    In short, the instability of wireless in 2.3 is still present in 2.4 and, because of the efforts being made to get 2.4 released, any errors in 2.3 will probably be there indefinitely. If you want to get one working, you'll most likely have to get your hands dirty with the drivers and the pfsense kernel itself.


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