Mini-review: Intel 7260HMW (Updated 2014-11-18)

I bought this to replace a Wi-fi card in my laptop (Thinkpad X300) since the standard card had flaky Linux support. The 7260HMW is a half-length miniPCIe card with 2xU.FL connectors.

Good:

  • 802.11ac support
  • Good Linux drivers, works out of the box on Debian testing
  • Built-in Bluetooth 4.0
  • Supports AP Mode
  • Low power usage

Bad:

  • General signal strength is slightly on the poor side (happens on both Linux and Win7 so it’s not a driver issue)
  • Only 2 spatial streams supported, only 2 antennae. If you currently have 3/4 spatial stream 802.11n APs, this card could possibly see worse performance than a 3/4 stream client.
  • AP Mode is completely half-assed, only supports 2.4GHz band which means no 802.11ac Also it only supports 1 AP or STA at a time. See the dump below, section “valid interface combinations”.

Other:

  • If your laptop has a Bluetooth LED in addition to Wi-fi like on many Thinkpads, this card won’t interact with it. In fact, having multiple BT cards (this card+builtin BT) can even cause the LED to not even work with the builtin BT if you choose to leave it installed (Easy enough to remove on my X300 but difficult on my W510).
  • The Wi-fi LED will just be on solid, rather than on+blink on activity. Does this on Win7 and Linux, and none of the settings in /sys/class/leds/phy0-led/trigger seem to get the desired behavior. If you want this functionality, you’ll have to write a script to manually toggle the LED (There’s a netdev LED trigger out there, but it was very unstable for me).

Stuff:

Dump of phy info. Note the no-IR flags on the 5GHz frequencies, meaning 5GHz AP mode is not supported.

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