Upgrading Macs to 802.11n wireless with USB adapter
Posted on 8 Feb ’08 by Earl
I recently found an affordable solution for upgrading an older Mac Computer to the newer and faster 802.11n wireless standard.
My wives computer is a 1.66 Ghz Core Duo Mac Mini that includes an internal 802.11 b/g airport card. She connects to the home network wirelessly and sometimes suffers slow or unreliable network access. The home router is a 802.11 b/g/n wireless D-Link DIR-655.
I’ve been considering how to upgrade her Macs wireless network connection speed and at the same time improve the reliability of the connection. One option, replacing the internal Airport card in the Mac Mini with a 802.11n capable wireless card, could cost over $150. That’s not cost effective for this system in my opinion.
Looking for another solution, I discovered an Encore 802.11n Wireless USB Adapter (ENUWI-N) that functions well in a Mac. This adapter not only has the higher speed of 802.11n but seems to have better range and reliability from being outside the metal case of the Mini. It also supports older 802.11 b/g standards.
The Encore USB Adapter comes with a very short USB extension cable but will plug directly into one of the four USB plugs on the back of the Mac Mini without blocking the other USB ports.
For this adapter to work on a Mac, free OS X 10.4x (Tiger) or 10.5x (Leopard) drivers must be downloaded from Ralink and installed. Set-up is straight forward using the USB setup utility (apps folder) that is installed along with the drivers.
Network connections with this adapter seem strong, stable and fast.
The Encore USB Adapter list for $40 but is currently on sale at NewEgg for $30.