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How to Boost Wireless Performance on a Laptop

A quick and easy method to increase the strength of your laptop's wireless card to avoid weak wireless signals.

Published Feb 9, 2007 by lobo235
Last updated on Jul 3, 2007

You may not even know it but your laptop may not be getting the strongest wireless signal that it can. If your laptop struggles to get a strong wireless signal, keep reading and we will show you a little trick to make sure you're getting the most from your laptop's internal wireless card. Specifically, newer Dell laptops and laptops that use the Centrino chipset or Intel brand wireless cards should benefit from this little trick.

The Centrino chipset has a number of power-saving features which will extend the battery life of your laptop in most cases. One of the things that the Centrino chipset will do to extend your battery life is limit the wireless card's transmission power. This can be a very nice feature if you need the extra battery juice between charges but it can also cause you to have a weak wireless signal if the wireless access point you want to connect to is too far away or there is a weak wireless signal for any other reason. Luckily there is a way to tell the wireless card and the Centrino chipset to use more power in order to get the best signal possible. Let's find out how to do it:

  1. Right-click on the 'My Computer' icon on your computer and choose 'Properties'.
  2. Click on the 'Hardware' tab and then click on the 'Device Manager'.
  3. Now, find the 'Network Adapters' section and click on the little plus-sign to the left.
  4. Find your wireless network adapter and right-click on it and choose 'Properties'.
  5. This is where things will get different depending on the brand of your laptop and wireless card and which drivers you have installed. Browse through the different tabs and look for settings such as 'Power Management' or 'Transmit Power'. Adjust the settings to either disable the power management or increase the amount of power used by the network card.
  6. Now, test your wireless signal strength to see if you still have the same weak wireless signal you had before. The chances are that you will notice an increased wireless signal strength.

If for some reason you cannot find the above settings, you may not have a wireless card that supports power management features or you may not have the latest drivers for your wireless device. Look for updated drivers from your laptop manufacturer or the wireless card manufacturer and, after installing the newest drivers, repeat the above steps to see if anything changed.

These steps are known to work with most newer Dell laptops with Intel wireless cards but many other manufacturers implement the same power-saving features so you should be able to find a way to boost your wireless signal. This tip has helped the staff numerous times so give it a try.

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