Wifi Setup: Which is better? PCI wifi NIC? or AP + LAN NIC?

  • Hi,

    Need some recomendation, I'm doing some home wireless network gateway ATM, so wonder which setup is better for performance wise.

    1. Wireless PCI cards big ass antenna + pfSense
    2. Wireless AP with big ass antenna + LAN NIC + pfSense

    Please vote! and if posible with some reasoning :D

  • Why the big ass antenna? I have a wireless PCI card (TP-Link TL-WN651G with Atheros chipset) with 'standard' antenna which gives good coverage to 3 laptops around my more than 200sq mtr home.

    Since my current setup does what I want I prefer it over using a wireless AP plus pfSense since it is one less box to manage and provide power to.

    I contrast, my father, in a much smaller home gets only 'marginal' wireless coverage (1Mbps) between his ADSL wireless modem and Windows system with USB wireless adapter. There is probably less than 10 metres between modem and PC. Nevertheless, despite the low bandwidth its 'good enough' for his needs and avoids having to run cables. because its 'good enough' I haven't tried to squeeze any high speed out of the wireless link.

  • because I need it to have 500M access radius, that the athenna are for :), something like a hostspot portal, only using pfsense as a gateway and freeradius on seperate machine with webase accounting

  • You can't just stick an antenna on and expect to get 500m of effective range, even outdoors with clear LoS. If you're lucky and have good visibility across your site you might manage with poor signal at 1mbps, but I'm doubtful. Antennas work by focusing the energy more - it becomes a more directional signal. 'Omnidirectional' antennas really aren't - they attempt to focus the energy into a plane instead of radiating in all directions, but they only gets you so far (not very). You can't just up the power due to FCC regulations (or your local radiotelecom regulator). What might work for you is using several radios at the same location, each with sector antennas to each cover a portion of the radius.

    I would suggest that you contract a local wireless consultant to come take a look at your site and figure out a plan that will work for you and your particular site. Getting what you seem to need working is definitely non-trivial and probably not doable with a single radio/AP. It would also be a good idea to make sure you don't run afoul of any telecom regulations, as there are some complications when you get into high gain antennas and multiple colocated radios.