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TP-LINK > 
Item#: N82E16833704129
TP-LINK TL-WN881ND Wireless N300 PCI Express Adapter, 300Mbps, w/WPS Button, IEEE 802.1b/g/n, 64/128 bit WEP, WPA/WPA2
  • 300Mbps PCI Express Adapter
  • Stronger signal with 2T2R MIMO technology
  • Detachable Antennas,easy upgrade
  • Advanced Security-WPA / WPA2
  • Plug & Play for Windows 8
  • $39.99
  • $18.99
  • Save: $21.00 (53%)
  • Free Shipping (restrictions apply)

Pros:

- Biggest pro (probably only for nerds): supports HostAP! ('hostapd' in linux.)
What is that? The chip can make your computer a wifi router/firewall/server if you want. Not perk for everyone and it not easy and only on linux. Research it for a weekend hobby some day. With this card, I hosted a wifi network.
This is awesome for $20.

- Price point. You can't beat it, but see OTs.

- Low profile card (If you wanted to build a small router in a micro-ATX case?) it comes with a second bracket for a tiny case.

- Generic SMA antenna ports. You can purchase external antennas (TP-LINK TL-ANT2405C, SKU: N82E16812997086 for $8) and run them away from your router. I recommend it if you can afford it. Your case filled with components through which electricity flows and potentially (but not necessarily) interfers should be avoided if possible.

If too much you can look at simple SMA extension cables. (3M for $5, SKU:9SIA1NV0UF6248, 6M for $6, SKU:9SIA1NV0NY4981.) These cables extend the antennas off your tower so you can tack them to a wall or move them higher.

- 2T2R MIMO, two transmit, two receive, multiple-in-multiple-out. Basically means the card uses both antennas to communicate as effentiently with the AP (or clients in hostapd ;) as it can.

- No driver setup on Windows 7/8 or even linux. Most atheros stuff was enabled in a generic linux kernel and Windows recognized it already as well. I can't speak for an older OS, however. If it doesn't detect, I cover options below to fix that :)

- It performs as expected for a 802.11n 300 device. No reason to beat a dead horse with that one. The speeds are on par with actual (not theoretical throughput) speeds. My apartment is small so strength is adequate. In linux you have additional power commands and other features (also true in Windows to a lesser extent if you know where to look.) This card is way faster than my USB Edimax EW-7811Un.

- Unless you're using >Windows XP then you may not need the disk. Look into the features of TPL's software to see if it offers anything else you need. Like easier WPS but I highly recommend to *not* use WPS. "Shortcuts are security risks." WPS has proven security risks. Research the Reaver WPS exploit to know the risks!

Sidenote: It is a minidisk. In the [rare] event you have a slot-loading drive it won't work.
Here: http://www.tp-link.com/en/support/download/?model=TL-WN881ND&version=V1 for the software.
Download driver ONLY (~5MB .zip) OS, right click the .inf file ("Type: Setup Information" in Windows explorer), and click "Install." It installs the basic driver detect your card WITHOUT full software! This is also on the disk at X:\\TL-WN881ND\Driver Files\

THE WEBSITE .ZIP FILE INCLUDES WINDOWS 8 32/64bit DRIVERS AS WELL AND THE DISK DOES NOT. DISK ONLY INCLUDES UP TO WINDOWS 7.

Cons:

- THIS IS NOT A CON AT THIS PRICE POINT, but this card is only 2.4GHz. At $18 you can't beat an internal card with this quality and with these features but if you can afford $10 more then the TP-Link's WDN3800 is dual-band and equally as great of a card.

- No cons to speak of.

Other Thoughts:

To test this card I pulled my TP-Link TL-WDN3800 (NeweggSKU: N82E16833704162) and, naturally, it wasn't as fast. But it was intended for a different user base as well. If you only have a 2.4GHz (non-dual band) network then it's no question that this card will be perfect for your network, assuming you don't want to get a cheap $10 USB adapter. If, however, you plan to use TP-Link for it's hostapd abilities of it's Atheros chip or if you plan to upgrade to a dual-band network in the future then consider spending the extra $10 to $12 on the N600 model.

It's never a bad idea to future-proof your tech whenever it's not too much of a hassle to do so!

This is a great starter card but as technology improves it'll quickly become less than adequate. Overall, this card offers some killer features at a great price point. For a spare $20 (or two with external antennas) you can have a capable connection to your network or even turn your computer tower into a router itself. In my many years in the tech world TP-Link has always had a name for itself as a dependable, quality company with a budget price point. By no means am I a complete TP-Link fanboy, but they have definitely earned my respect over the years for what products I've purchased and reviewed, how they've lasted, and how they've stacked up against competitors. But if you have an extra $10 and a dual-band wifi router then consider the TL-WDN3800!!

This is a 5-egg card for filling a role targeting single band 2.4Ghz requirements. It's bigger brother, the TL-WDN3800, is more of my fancy, personally. But if this card is what you need then TP-Link won't let you down with filling that requirement. And considering their customer service history, well, that speaks for itself as well.


I'll end with what I always like to advise people:
Know your requirements.
Do your homework.
Consider your options.
READ REVIEWS. (Customers speak for a company's actions/competency.)
When you review be humble but honest. Don't be afraid to be critical but being bitter doesn't help anyone researching the product.

Cheers.

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  • Theodore P.
  • EggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week


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Item#: N82E16833704129
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