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397
3.7 out of 5 stars
NETGEAR RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Adapter WNDA3100 v3
Price:$33.97 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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102 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2010
having been in the computer business professionally for nearly a decade, and a hobbyist for twice that long, I've become very jaded about product performance claims. My rule of thumb is to take whatever is claimed on the box, and divide by two. But once in a while, even I am pleasantly surprised when a product does exactly what is promised. This dual band wireless N wifi adapter is one such product. I made this purchase so that I could stream 1080p movies, with DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 audio from a NAS 12ft away from my WDTV Live, which is directly wired into my Netgear WNDR3700. What this means is that I needed a card capable of ~25Mbps sustained throughput, with burst throughput of somewhere around 60Mbps to eliminate stutter

I started this endeavor with the purchase of the D-Link DWA556, thinking mistakenly that it was a dual band card capable of 5Ghz. It was not. Nevertheless, I gave it a chance, as it's theoretically possible to reach ~60Mbps with wireless N, even on the 2.4Ghz. But alas, no matter how I tweaked my channels, I couldn't get anything more then 30Mbps, max out of that card and my router. Then I gave up on the DLink, and instead bought this card. If I could've gotten anything close to 60Mbps out of this thing, I would've been very happy. Man was I surprised. I have gotten a sustained throughput of about 112Mbps, with a max of 150Mbps, and a minimum never dropping below 90Mbps. I tested by copying a 16GB file from my NAS to a laptop hooked directly into the router via gigabit ethernet. The entire copy took 17 minutes and 14 seconds, for an average of 126Mbps. The second test was to copy the same file from the NAS to my Macbook pro, which is also on the 5Ghz network. That process averaged about 48Mbps. Not great, but not bad at all.

Needless to say, all my streaming problems disappeared. No more stuttering on the busy action sequences in Avatar. No more stuttering on the initial car chase sequence in Quantum of Solace either. All in all, I am very satisfied with this purchase. The installation was completely painless. Plugged the stick into my NAS, running windows 7, and the the system found drivers for it online, and installed everything without any intervention. You do not need the software CD or drivers from Netgear's website at all, if you have a modern OS like Windows 7. However be warned that Windows 7, out of the box, does not come with drivers for this card. In other words, you cannot rely on Windows 7 to recognize this wireles card during it's initial install on a clean system. For that, you will need the CD. But after the card is functional, you can simply grab the latest drivers from windows update.

My only complaint, if there is to be one, is that the range for the 5Ghz radio is not that great. As I mentioned earlier, my NAS is 12 ft away, and without direct line of sight of the router. And yet, the signal on the 5Hz radio, according to the Netgear software was already at 84%. The negotiated link speed was consistently around 270 to 300 Mbps. So performance wasn't a problem. But, when I moved the card to another machine in the master bedroom, which is about 100ft away, separated by 3 walls, the signal strength on the 5Ghz network has dropped to 23%. I didn't bother to test the throughput in this case. Most likely, streaming HD is out of the question, though general web browsing is most likely unaffected.

To be fair though, this could just be the inherent limitation of the 5Ghz network, as higher frequency transmissions do not refract well, and the signal strength is known to drop off rather dramatically as distance increases, particularly when obstacles are present (like walls). This card may in fact perform on par with the rest of the dual band wireless cards out there, or maybe does even a little better then average. I can't say, as I haven't tried any other cards. But from a practical stand point, if you want to stream HD content with this card, then keep it close to your router. To be fair, reception for the 2.4Ghz network from the master bedroom was no problem at all. Windows 7 shows full signal strength.

All in all, I have been very happy with this purchase, and would recommend this card to anyone without reservation.

UPDATE:

There are actually two versions of this card: The WNDA3100v1, and WNDA3100v2. If you found this page, then you are looking at the v2, which is a great card. The V1, however, is complete crap, and should be avoided at all costs. Lost of dropped connections, and instability with certain routers.
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126 of 137 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2009
The WNDA3100 would timeout for 4 seconds approximately every 25 seconds plus other random 5-6 second timeouts. Was using latest drivers. Tried with 2 WNDR3700s in two different locations (one location had no other 2.4ghz channels in use.) Worked with Netgear on issue.

The problem was instantly fixed when I obtained and installed a WNDA3100v2, which has the same model number, although it uses a different chipset and has a light and button which are shown on the packaging. Because it has the same model number, you will need to buy it locally so you can tell the difference.

Returned the WNDA3100 (version1, 1 star) and kept the WNDA3100v2 (works, much better range, 5 stars)
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2010
I just bought this with the WNDR 3700 router from Netgear and it is as though they are made for each other. No dropped connections, exceptional speed. I sit on the 2nd floor and my router is on the first floor about 100 ft away in a straight line and I can still use the full N speeds. Again this is the new adapter - the one with the light on the top. Make sure you are buying this one, the earlier one has a lot of negative reviews.

On ease of installation (Windows XP), I just plugged in the CD, followed the steps and it worked on the first try. IMPORTANT - The product ships with a male-female USB cable. If you dont want to connect the adapter to your laptop directly and move around a lot, i.e. if you are worried about bumping the adapter and breaking something, use the cable. I started using it and find it invaluable.

Buy this adapter only if you are purchasing the WNDR3700 or equivalent / better from Netgear or others. If you are not getting a dual band router, you can spend less by purchasing a single band adapter.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2009
I used this adapter for about 6 months with Vista 32 bit OS and it worked flawlessly giving me 300 Mbps speed. When I decided to upgrade to Windows 7, it did not work out so well. The netgear drivers do not support windows 7 (even now when its released), which sucks. I was able to find drivers for it but they kept dropping the connection every few days. So, if you are not on Windows 7, this thing works fine.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2010
I purchased this adapter based on tracing out reviews for the recommended Panasonic adapter for my new Panasonic G series 50" plasma. It was more than $20 less than the "P" version plus smaller. It was a good buy. I just plugged it in & it worked great.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2008
I returned this after one day of use. Even when paired with the RangeMax WNDR3300 Dual Band Wireless-N Router, connections consistently dropped. Wireless N performance was terrible--no speed increase was to be found when it actually connected. As others have mentioned, range is also quite terrible (lost 40% of signal through two wood doors, 20 feet away on the same level as the router).

Netgear again has produced a piece of junk with this one.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2011
The adapter (the latest WNDA3100v2 model) works very well if you don't use the Netgear Wireless Wizard software that comes with it.

I have installed two of these in the last two days, one in a Dell XPS 410 desktop running XP SP3 and one in an ASUS 1000H with Win7 Home Premium. I had problems in the past with connectivity issues with an older Netgear USB wireless G-only adapter in a Dell Optiplex with XP SP3 that went away when I removed the Netgear Wireless Wizard.

You don't need the Netgear Wizard, just use the native XP or Win7 wireless setup. Connect the computer to an active wired LAN internet connection, plug in the adapter, let the computer search the internet or use Windows Update for the driver (don't use the CD), allow it to do the setup, disconnect the LAN connection, and then use the XP or Win7 wireless setup to connect to your network. Takes 5 minutes at the most.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2008
I got this for a Windows XP laptop connecting to an Apple Time Capsule base station and returned it the next day. It sounds great on paper, but it just doesn't work very well. Bottom line: You'll be disappointed if you buy it for better range or faster connection speeds.

1) The adapter has lousy range. Wireless-N (802.11n) networks have way better range and signal strength than 802.11g networks. But you'd never know it with this Netgear adapter. Using the RangeMax WNDA3100 adapter on an 802.11n Time Capsule network (with no G or B clients allowed to slow it down) resulted in slower speeds and weaker signals than when I was using the laptop's old internal 802.11a/b/g wireless adapter with a crappy 802.11g wireless router. This was true whether I set the wireless network to 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz.

2) Even when the signal is excellent, this adapter is slow. I did speed test comparisons between my Mac laptop (with built in 802.11n support) and the Windows laptop with the Netgear RangeMax. I placed the laptops right by the wireless basestation so signal strength was as high as it could get. The Mac got speeds that were 1/3 faster than the Windows machine. This speed difference disappeared when I disabled the Netgear adapter and tested using the laptop's old G adapter.

3) The software is slow and difficult to use. Despite saving my wireless network's settings, the adapter failed to connect to it automatically. Plus, it would take forever to connect manually, and would often fail. Finally, I disabled the Netgear software and enabled automatic configuration through Windows. This solved the problem. My advice is to avoid this product. But if you get it, use the Automatic Wireless Network Connections in Windows, not the Netgear software.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2010
Be sure you get v2.0. It has a small button. It does not show on the Amazon photo. If you get the correct adapter with current software, it works perfectly, especially with a newer Netgear router.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2012
I could not get this device to work. So ensued a truly amazing journey. After registering the product I called the help line. The person in whatever foreign land I spoke to first start out by asking me several time for my serial number. Then he asks me to hold. While on "hold" I hear him shouting for several minutes in a foreign language to someone else. Then he starts to sing!!! Finally he comes back on and asks for my serial number again. Then he turns on the radio and begins playing music in my ear! Before I can object he disconnects me!
I call back attempting to get a supervisor, only to be placed on hold multiple times by other people,and sent back to the main menu again. Finally reaching a supervisor who apologizes without a shred of sincerity I am ,after a long wait, transferred to yet another "engineer." Then I am told I must buy a "service contract" because I bought the device over 90 days ago (I did not need it until now). The wonderful service contract is only $70 for 6 months of their worthless telephone support. $70 for a device that cost $40.
I will never buy another piece of their junk. (I had another one of a different type which was just as useless.)
Buyer beware: Do NOT buy this. Unless you want to torture yourself!
As you can imagine there is no way to contact "Customer Service" to lodge a complaint.
If I could give -5 stars I would.
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