2011-01-16

Fixing Wifi Problems: MacBook wireless card replacement

For years my cousin was suffering with the WIFI of his MacBook. His MacBook would drop its WIFI connection every few hours (or minutes), and he'd have to manually stop and start the WIFI on his MacBook to fix it. The bad behavior made web surfing, Netflix, and anything else on-line quite unpleasant.

The Bad WIFI card, as pulled from my cousin's MacBook.

I tried everything to try to fix the problem. I replaced his router, tweaked OS settings, and even re-installed the OS. The on-line forums weren't particularly helpful - a lot of people had a lot of ideas how to fix it with software, but ultimately none of their suggestions worked.

So I concluded that the problem was with the MacBook's WIFI card.

Some of you might think that the MacBook has its WIFI chip soldered onto the MacBook's main board, but that's not the case - the classic MacBook uses a fairly common WIFI card. Getting access to that card isn't trivial, but if you're able to drive a dozen or so screws with care, it can be done.

I bought the replacement WIFI card on eBay. It was a standard Broadcom Mini PCI express 802.11a/b/g/n card with two antenna connections ... (a lot like this one at Amazon) and it was under $30.

I took the MacBook apart, based on the an on-line guide, removed the old WIFI card and put in the new one. I reassembled the MacBook.

We booted the MacBook, and everything came up fine. The new WIFI operates perfectly, and there were zero software changes that had to take place. No special drivers required, and performance and reliability has been better than ever. Interestingly, going into "About This Mac" feature of the Finder now shows that the WIFI card type is a "Third Party" card instead of an "Airport Extreme".

If your MacBook's WIFI is persistently problematic, I suggest you think about having your WIFI card replaced.

2 comments:

goober11 said...

Great site just found it today Lance...

I have fios triple play whatever 6 set-top boxes and another one for the dvr recorder. Just sick of the 29.94 per month and 19.99 for dvr a month plus all the darn utility costs holy crap. using info from another post from you.. I'm paying 128.05 or so in utility cost per year just for boxes???? and then the darn rental fee is 599.16 a year... now Frontier has purchased fios TV from verizon and the idiots want to raise my normal TV bill another 30.00 bucks a month.. so if I'm right " I know I'm close" if I stay with verizon for internet and land line and frontier for the tv MY ACTUAL cost per month with the cost of the electricity is 292.6 a month!!!


I have Xfinity/comcast coming on thursday.... bye bye fios bring on comcast and their bad customer service ect. I'll be less then 150.00 a month with utilities and a dvr recorder and very similar tv options

Wish me luck

Andy Linton said...

I had this problem with an early 2008 Macbook which my wife uses (my old cast off).

I thought about replacing the internal card and went for a different solution instead.

I installed an Edimax EW-7811UN 150Mbps Wireless Nano USB Adapter - cost me around USD10 and was a lot easier than taking the machine apart.


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