Article Update: Upgrading the Wireless Card in the Toshiba Satellite C55D-B5214

Article Update: Upgrading the Wireless Card in the Toshiba Satellite C55D-B5214

Hi NautilusMODERs,

This week I upgraded the wifi in my Toshiba Satellite laptop. So instead of making a new article I updated the old one found here!  So if you want to see more of the innards of this machine go check it out now!

Yes, that means no new separate in depth article for today, but I do want to take this opportunity to let you in on how much of trouble this install turned out to be.  Yes the install process is straight forward and only took about 10 minutes, but testing this new device has caused me a number of headaches which I want to share if you want to try this yourself. I feel these are configuration issues I have yet to discover, which I also warned of in the article itself. Overall the upgrade does work though so I wanted to share my findings! With that out of the way, let’s get to the heart of the problems encountered with my particular hardware upgrade.

After getting the new wireless card installed and working I began to test it by transferring files between my PC and my laptop.  This sounds simple, but the first thing I noticed is that I was only getting a max transfer speed of 20MBps(upload/download) across my 867Mbps 5Ghz AC network.  Yes, 867Mbps is the theoretical maximum, but 20MBps * 8 bits (8 bits per byte) only equals 160Mbps!  That’s 1/5th of the theoretical maximum. Surely I can get closer to 1/3rd or half that! So I tested with the laptop connecting directly to the router that is hardwired to the PC(as regularly a wireless bridge is between the PC and the main router) and still no luck.

Next I then tested Allyson’s and my pc’s transferring files via wireless bridge[as that’s part of our home network set up] (getting 50MBps) and via wired (110MBps).  I tested standing various places around my house thinking that it may be related to interference and even toggled between the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz connections to see if that was causing the problem.  Nothing pointed to any specific cause, but at least the issues were isolated to the laptop only.

Next I decided to try installing the manufacture drivers for the card as Windows had auto installed what it needed.  This actually made the transfer rate drop even worse to a paltry 5MBps upload and download.  Thinking it may be a software issue I fired up a live CD of xubuntu and attempted the same transfers.  The same results but got to fight with Windows networking for a half hour to even get them to communicate at all.

The one interesting item I noticed is that during the file transfer my Samsung 830 SSD only showed reads and writes as fast as the wireless transfer.  So perhaps it’s related to the health of my current SSD or the wireless rate is determining the max read/write speeds?  I have yet to examine the SSD for issues. As of this writing I still do not have a solid answer as to why the transfer speeds are so slow and I would hope that I could get at least closer to the 50MBps that the desktops were able to when connected over the wireless bridge.  At the very least I want to ensure I can get a stable 20MBps again.

So, if you attempt the same upgrade and do not have issues or encounter similar problems, please share! Otherwise I will keep searching for an answer to this slow connection issue and will post my results when I find them.  My guess is that by the end of this I may end up reinstalling Windows and at the very least uninstalling at least one driver that may be causing conflicts. If you have any thoughts on this I would love to hear them!

~Trevor

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