Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wi-Fi for the Wimp

In the last post, I wrote about a Hackintosh running on an upper end motherboard (Gigabyte Z77N-WiFi) with a lower end CPU (Intel Celeron G1610). To my surprise, despite a relatively long boot-time, the system is really usable.

However, the intention to set this computer up in a place rather remote from my ethernet, some option for wireless-LAN needed to be considered.

Of course, the Z77N-WiFi offers a MiniPCI Express slot, in which, conveniently enough, a WiFi/Bluetooth card is placed, hence the name of the board. Interestingly, only half the WiFi-card is natively supported by OS-X, namely the Bluetooth part.
There are a some MiniPCI-E modules available, which enjoy full native support, however, those don't offer BT!

In my i5-3570k box, I actually replaced the MiniPCI-E card, in order to arrive at native support. For Bluetooth on the other hand, I had to resort to a USB-device, which I had laying around anyway.

Now it fell all down to the question if I would order another MiniPCI-E WiFi card and a BT device, or, if I should hang on to the module supplied with the mobo and find a USB-solution for WiFi.

You feel it coming, I guess, yes, I had a USB-WiFi device in one of my drawers. The device is somewhat older, a Sweex LW303. And of course, there is not OS-X support for this adapter.
Or is there?

The LW303 employs a Ralink RT2870 chipset, which is good news! Some quick searching reveals that there is a OS-X 10.9 driver available for this particular chipset.
Have a look:
And yes, the Beartender looks very promising itself!

The driver worked OOB with the LW303. Not sure if the numbers match up in terms of bandwidth, but this is what Mavericks believes to see:

802.11 n WLAN:

  Product ID:    0x0302
  Vendor ID:    0x177f
  Version:     1.01
  Serial Number:    1.0
  Speed:    Up to 480 Mb/sec
  Manufacturer:    Ralink
  Location ID:    0x14400000 / 1
  Current Available (mA):    500
  Current Required (mA):    450
  BSD Name:    en3

480 Mb/sec seems a bit fast for a device of which the manufacturer thinks it able to operate at 300 Mb/sec.

A minor detail to note: I put the adapter in a USB3 port, the one just below the PS2-port.

Independently of that mismatch, the USB WiFi-adapter works fine in this ultra low power PC!

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