Looking for a wireless AC adapter for your new AC router? Chances are you may have stumbled upon the Edimax AC 1200 Dual-Band USB Wireless Adapter(EW-7822UAC). But is it worth your money or should you look elsewhere?
Looking around in the market for an affordable wireless AC adapter you may find that this one is seems to check all the boxes at the lowest price available. This device comes with everything you could need or want in a an adapter and I found it on Amazon.com for around $30 USD when I purchased it last fall.
- USB 3.0 – When used in a USB 3.0 port this USB specification will allow maximum theoretical speeds for wireless AC of up to 867Mbps(Megabits per second) or 108 Megabytes per second.
- AC(draft)/N/G/B/A compatible – Backwards compatible with all previous wireless standards to allow it to connect to any network. One thing to note it that it is AC Draft compatible, so this would have been before the standard was finalized. This could mean some compatibility issues with other devices that are produced with the full finalized specification or with other draft compatible devices.
- Dual Band 2.4/5Ghz – Allows connection to the new AC standard as well as N 5Ghz access points.
- Swivel Antenna – Allows you to extend the antenna to different positions which could help with reception.
- Windows/Mac/Linux Compatibility* – Can be used on all major OS’s. (*More on this later, as Linux has a unique install process. Mac was untested as I don’t own a Mac at the time of this writing.)
I ordered this adapter specifically with the intent to use this to bring an old desktop online as a home server. The idea was to connect it to my new AC network so I could transfer files without wait as well as stream media without issue. Unfortunately I never got that far with it. Mainly I ran into issues finding enough time to fully dive into Linux as a server to the degree I wanted to. However I did use it for a time on my Windows desktop. During this time everything worked wonderfully. I even tested it with my laptop and was able to get stronger signal and better connection while wandering about our apartment and backyard area.
However, this was short lived. I only used it briefly before I got my wireless bridge set up between two AC routers and the adapter was then left to sit in a drawer without use for the next few months. Fast forward and I finally get enough time to install Linux on my old PC and I find that this adapter is not plug and play. Doing some searches online and reading the Linux section of the manual I discover that I need to compile the driver myself. What?! I have never had to do this before, even years ago when using random adapters with my old laptop in 2008. This adapter has been out for over a year so I made a bad assumption that it would be plug and play by now.
This process wasn’t nearly as awful as it sounds as I noticed that there were instructions for Ubuntu and although at the time I leaned more to openSUSE, I wasn’t ready to learn how to compile drivers on different distros. (Yes, I guess that makes me rather new to Linux for some, but honestly everything has just worked before so I never had time to learn.) So trying to get my server online as fast as possible I installed Xubuntu(as my hardware didn’t like Ubuntu Server 14.04 or 14.10 for some reason) and followed the commands and was able to install it no problem. I did note that searching online for the procedure (when I could not find the manual lying around) and discovered that I would need to recompile the driver after each kernel update. Great, so my WiFi will stop working after every kernel update? That doesn’t sound like a great thing for a server(I know servers are to be hardwired anyway, but I thought wireless would be fine for a home server). However, my worries were quickly put to rest once I tested the adapter. I was no longer able to detect 5Ghz networks, aka it can’t see my AC network and I would be forced to run on 2.4Ghz 300N. That would be fine if that wasn’t the entire reason why I purchased it. I already have cheap plug and play 2.4Ghz 300N adapters, I don’t need that!
With this I thought perhaps it was a Linux issue and it isn’t the hardware but the software causing the issue. I tried installing in Windows 7 Pro x64 as well as Windows 8.1 x64 with no luck. It appears the 5Ghz antenna is completely dead or incompatible with my current wifi set up that it doesn’t even detect it’s there. So I may have a defective product and am debating if it’s worth the hassle of trying to get it replaced as its out of its return period but still under warranty. If Amazon reviews are correct one user noted they had to pay to ship it to the company and received a refurbished unit in return. If that is the case it would be best for me to just swallow the loss and move on. To me it would be more time than it’s worth especially if additional costs are involved. However, this does happen from time to time and I honestly the last time I got burnt was with a defective motherboard 2 years ago. So all things considered this is a rare occurrence for me.
Although my experience was rather negative and ended with the main feature of wireless AC not being usable it did work wonderfully on Windows when I first bought it. Some of the things I enjoyed were:
- Stronger signal which increased range from my access point.
- I was able to achieve pretty much the full 15Mbps(at the time, now 30Mbps. We are in a more rural area.) of my internet connection over 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi. However I did not perform any LAN tests at the time for SSD to SSD transfer speeds between PC’s so I am not sure how close it reaches its maximum speeds.
- Windows 8.1 auto detected and installed drivers without any issues.
- Driver file for Windows includes all versions and files needed to perform a manual driver installation.
- Large and can block adjacent ports on both desktop and laptops.
- Antenna feels cheap and flimsy
- Painful Linux install requiring compiling the driver and possibly needing to be recompiled with future kernel updates.
- Personally had the 5Ghz band quit working/being able to see my 5Ghz network after a few months even with no use. (Update: the router I was using at the time seems to have suffered it’s own issues. That may have been the cause)
I am thinking I just got unlucky and had a dud. Several hundred reviews have given it an average of a 4 star rating on Amazon so I feel like my experience is the exception rather than the norm. For Windows 8 and above this works great to bring you the speed you need. However, if you wish to use it on Linux I would not recommend this as it involves a number of manual steps to get it working. Especially if you are new or just want something to work via plug and play. Overall while it worked it did do what it was advertised to do. So, would I recommend it? At this point I would say no. I would look for an adapter that has the full ratified AC standard. If looking for Linux look for cross platform support with as few manual steps to install as possible. Going back to my last point, being based on the draft of the AC standard could possibly mean compatibility issues with some AC access points and may be my current problem without additional testing. With that said though, if others cost too much and you don’t mind some manual effort this could work well for you.
If you would like to test it out yourself you can click the link below to leave NautilusMODE and go to the Amazon.com product page.
Do you own this product but had a completely different experience? Maybe you had similar issues or failures? Let all of us know in the comments below!