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[PRO TIP] Get better WiFi/BT Signal when using PCIe BT/WiFi Card in a Tower Case

jaymonkey

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A few months back I added a PCIe WiFi & BT card to my desktop Hackintosh system. The card I bought was based on the BCM943602CS chipset which is a 3x3 MIMO device and is natively supported by MacOS, these cards can be found cheap on eBay for around £30.00 (approx $37):

s-l1600 (1).jpg

The card included three antennas which connected directly to the PCIe cards back plate, hardware installation was straight forward as I had two unused PCIe x1 slots spare.

After installation of the hardware and a few software tweaks everything seemed fine the Wifi and BT.

However after a few days I started to notice that my BT devices where quite glitchy, My Apple Magic Mouse would stutter and the tracking was not as precise as it should be. Connecting BT wireless Headphones would result in poor audio that would drop out after moving just a few meters away from the PC.

I have a large Corsair tower system that sits under my desk, after thinking about the location of the three antenna's (directly connected to the rear I/O of the PC) I realised that this is actually a very poor location for the antennas as the signal would have to pass through the metal case and electronics of the PC, additionally the antennas would be very susceptible to electro-magnetic-interference (EMI) from the PC's electronics.

The design of these add in PCIe WiFi/BT cards and also PC motherboards that have the antenna's directly connected to the rear I/O is extremely poor and can only lead to poor signal performance in my opinion.

So I decided to try repositioning the antennas, although introducing additional connectors and cable would drop the over dB of the signal I figured that having a clear line of sight and repositioning them away from the metal of the case and the EMI of the PC's electronics would outweigh the slight drop in dB.

So I ordered three 2 meter Male to Female RG174 RP-SMA extension cables from ebay, these are very cheap and it cost less than £10 ($12.5) for thee cables delivered.

s-l1600.jpg
I found a piece of plastic angle in my workshop and drilled three 6.4mm holes in it, I tie-wrapped the three SMA extension cables together and attached them to the three SMA connectors on the PCIe card, then routed the cables up to my desk and attached the threaded female SMA connectors to the plastic angle using the lock nuts that came with the cables and then re-attached the antennas.

Antenna-mod-1.jpg

I then positioned the now remote antennas towards the back of my desk using double sided tape.

Antenna-mod-2.jpg

The difference to the quality of the BT and WiFi signal is outstanding, my magic mouse is now buttery smooth and i can use my Bluetooth Wireless headphones in the next room with perfect Audio. I would think that this antenna mod would improve the BT and WiFi signal on any tower system that is situated under a desk and using a PCIe WiFT + BT card.

Just thought i'd share this little tip to you all.

Cheers
Jay
 
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+1 from me, thank you @jaymonkey !

My WiFi was just about OK, but would sometimes not connect to router. Bluetooth, I had similar issues to yourself with headphones. Another issue was hand-off which worked sometimes, other times not.

I took your advice and made according to your guide.

IMG_0012.jpg

What a difference, WiFi connects instantly first time every time, bluetooth performance hugely improved and hand-off works every time from/to iPad, iPhone XR and Apple Watch.

Thanks for sharing.
 
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You don't need any 3rd party kexts with this card. Its supported out of the box and uses signed Apple kexts for both Wifi and bluetooth functionality.I'm running it inside of my ThinkPad with Mojave and its worked since the first boot following the installation. It's even detected and functioning in macOS installer. Just a heads up.


Yes, U R right, you and me both have the same no kexts I have the stutter issue ones in a while but I will definitely will try the mod. thanks for the sharing JayMonkey good access to this community himself.
 
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I have a similar card with a native Broadcom BCM94360CS2 card installed in it. I just purchased this Antenna on Amazon to see if it will achieve the same results as what you guys have done here. For only $15, it's worth a shot. I'll report back with results on Wednesday! Thanks for the tip. My Magic Mouse 2 has a mind of it's own right now.

416548
 
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UPDATE: The above adapter that I purchased off of Amazon works PERFECTLY. My Magic Mouse is now performing as if it were running on a retail mac. REJOICE!!!

Thanks for the inspiration!
 
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I wrote that tip many years ago. Just changing the Bluetooth antenna fixing all BT problems. I am using this cheap antenna ($2) for 5 years and don't have any problem so far.

Screen Shot 2019-11-16 at 21.27.14.png
 
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There is another solution for the classic failure of the PC case design.

1573930207695.png



I keep my tower on the floor, like most people I think, and so this works exceedingly well for wifi and bluetooth, and convenient for plugging things in. You don't have to worry about breaking anything off on the back because the case gets pushed back against the wall either. This particular model is no longer made but they offer the same idea in other cases on Amazon.

I ended up switching to shorter antennas because then they could be more vertical and still have the cover fit and this actually improved things. I put the long antenna on another machine and one fo them was munched and it turned out the metal part is a fraction of the length. At least some of those long antennas on the market are not functionally longer.

Ideally, computer cases should be coming with integrated antennas considering how many motherboards come with wifi and bluetooth. But then would they put the work in to make it function well? Gotta love the PC industry.
 

trs96

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