5 Best mini PCIe Linux compatible wifi cards – 2012

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Couple months back I wrote a post on how to fix wireless problems in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS release. As a follow up, I reviewed a few good Linux compatible Wifi cards (USB). Some readers said, it was helpful to find all Linux compatible Wifi cards in one place. So, continuing along the same lines, I am going do a basic review and compatibility check of best Linux compatible Mini PCIe wireless adapters. While there are numerous cards that may work in Linux, covering all of them is beyond the scope of this review. I am going to concentrate on just 5 Mini PCIe wireless adapters that I think are among the best of the currently available models. All five cards happen to be from Intel, which have been known to be very compatible with Linux. Listed below are 5 Linux compatible Wifi cards (Mini PCIe) that work on Linux (Ubuntu and Fedora) without the need for any configuration, compilation, driver-installation, etc. (plug-and-play).

Linux Compatible Wifi Cards (Mini PCIe)

Intel 6300 Ultimate N 633ANHMW – 450Mbps

Linux Compatible Wireless Cards Mini PCIeThe Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 is an IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless network adapter that operates in both the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz spectra. This Linux compatible wireless adapter is available in a PCIe Half Mini Card form factor and deliver up to 450 Mbps of Bandwidth, in additional to providing a host of features that enhance today’s mobile lifestyle.

  • Dual band
  • Wireless Data Rates: Up to 450Mbps
  • Security: 64/128-Bit WEP, WPA, WPA2
  • 3 Antennas
  • VPro Enabled
  • Linux Compatibility: Works out of the box in Linux using the native iwlagn module.

This card is one of the best and most recent Linux compatible wifi cards.

Intel 6230 Dual Band Wifi 300 Mbps and Bluetooth 3.0 Combo Card

Linux Compatible Wifi Cards
If you are looking for both Wireless N and Bluetooth and can accommodate only one Mini PCIe card then go for this card which offer both Wireless N and Bluetooth 3.0. This Linux compatible Wifi card works in both 2.4 and 5.0 GHz range.

    Dual Band – 2.4GHz/5GHz

  • Up to 300 Mbps and 2X greater range
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Intel Wireless Display and Intel My WiFi
  • Security: 64/128-Bit WEP, WPA, WPA2
  • Linux Compatibility: Works out of the box in Linux.

Relatively inexpensive and newer combo card that works well in Linux.

Intel 6200 Dual Band 300 Mbps Wifi Card

Linux Compatible Wireless Cards Mini PCIeThe new Puma Peak-based controller, Intel’s 6200 Advanced N, employs a 2×2 antenna configuration, a dual-band 2.4/5 GHz radio and AMT 6.0. The card supports what Intel calls its My WiFi feature for Windows Vista and Windows 7, facilitating a connection from the notebook to nearby WiFi devices. My WiFi lets you establish a Personal Area Network (to borrow a term commonly associated with Bluetooth) without breaking an existing local area network connection.

  • 2.4 and 5 GHz Dual-Band Radio and AMT 6.0
  • Up to 300 Mbps
  • Intel My WiFi
  • Security: 64/128-Bit WEP, WPA, WPA2
  • Linux Compatibility: Works out of the box in Linux.

This inexpensive card is also one of the good Linux compatible Wifi cards.

Intel 5300 Ultimate N 450 Mbps Dual Band Wifi Card

Linux Compatible Wireless Cards Mini PCIeThe Intel 5300 Ultimate N Wi-Fi Link Wireless Network Adapter is family of IEEE 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N1 wireless network adapter that operate in both the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz spectra. This adapter, available in both PCIe Mini Card and Half Mini Card form factor deliver up to 450 Mbps of bandwidth, in addition to providing a host of features that enhance today’s mobile lifestyle.

Slightly older than the Intel 6XXX cards but great compatibility and performance in Linux.

Intel 4965AGN Next-Gen Wireless-N 300 Mbps

Linux Compatible Wireless Cards Mini PCIeThe 4965AGN Next-Gen Wireless-N PCIe Mini Card Network Adapter delivers high throughput and a host of features that enhance today”s mobile lifestyle. It increased simultaneous network activity for large file transfers, streaming HD video, multi-player gaming, VoIP and more. The MIMO, diversity, and three-antennae support enables better wireless reception for greater bandwidth at farther distances.

  • High-speed Wireless-N (draft 802.11n) networking for your Notebook computer
  • MIMO technology uses multiple radios to create a robust signal that travel far and reduces dead spots
  • Compatible with 802.11B/b/g/n.
  • Enhanced wireless security with Wi-Fi Protected Access?(WPA2) with up to 256-bit encryption
  • Will Not Work with IBM Laptops They Require a Card With a FRU Part Number. Also, Not for HP and Compaq Laptops – There is a workaround (read below).
  • Linux Compatibility: Works out of the box in Linux.

This card is a bit old but is the cheapest and works well on Linux.

IBM, HP, or Lenovo Laptop Owners

If you have an IBM, HP or Lenovo, your laptop’s BIOS may have a whitelist that will reject any card that is not approved by the laptop manufacturer. Google for modded BIOSes that remove the whitelist feature.

There you have it. According to me and my research, these are the 5 best Linux compatible Wifi cards with Mini PCIe interface. The card you choose will depend on your need and the amount of money you are willing to spend. If you want the latest and the greatest, go with the 6XXX cards. If want something that has been available for quite sometime and offer the greatest compatibility go with the 5XXX or 4XXX cards. Also, note that some of the advanced features such as Intel My Wifi will only work on Windows. Make sure you get the card with correct dimensions (full height or half height) for your laptop. If you have other Mini PCIe Linux compatible Wifi cards that worked for you, please share it with us in the comments section.

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  1. Alexander says

    This article is great! It’s shockingly-close to the question which brought me here.
    I’ve got an Intel 5100 AGN card. In Windows, everything worked “perfectly”. I wasn’t getting maximum throughput but I had no complaints. I now exclusively use Linux on my laptop. Unfortunately, the 5100’s….unwillingness….to accept an N connection is holding back my entire infrastructure. I’m looking at getting the 5300 to help squelch my home’s G signals for good.
    My one question is: will I need to buy a third antenna or will it function with the two I already have in my laptop?

  2. Josep says

    …only Intel? What about Atheros?

    I have an Intel 7260AC (802.11ac + bluetooth 4.0 combo HMC PCI-E small, two antennae) now just arrived but I am going to replace it by another one.

    Very disappointed because drivers do not work to connect to a 802.11n network 20/40 MHz (it does not even discover the ESSID) . Either drivers are on development, either this card cannot connect to all 802.11n networks…

  3. Alex Schmidt says

    I have Lenovo x230 with Intel 6300. I will say – terrible perfomance under Ubuntu 12.04, 14.04. Connection drops many times and there isnt any solution to fix this problem now.


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