Cheap Wireless USB Adapter: RTL8188EU, RTL8821AU or something else?

MasterOne

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As the Intel AX200 in my new laptop isn't supported yet, I have to grab a cheap wireless USB adapter to bridge the gap.

The following two came to mind, because they are supported by the rtwn_usb driver and are of the "nano" type (so that it doesn't have to be removed whenever the laptop is handled):

- TP-Link TL-WN725N 150Mbps Wireless N Nano USB Adapter (RTL8188EU) for 4,94 € ~ US$ 6.01
- TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 Nano Wireless USB Adapter (RTL8821AU) for 11,76 € ~ US$ 14.32

Since the rtwn_usb driver does not support any of the 802.11ac capabilities offered by the adapters, the latter at more than twice the price likely doesn't make much sense over the cheaper one. Or is there any progress on 802.11ac support or any other benefit?

Of course it would have been great to not only have access to 2.4 GHz WiFi networks, but 5 GHz ones as well, to have it all covered, but in a pinch and for a cheap interim solution 2.4 GHz only will do as well.

Anyone here with experience with any of the two adapters or a recommendation for something else in the same price range?
 
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MasterOne

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Since the rtwn_usb driver does not support any of the 802.11ac capabilities offered by the adapters, the latter at more than twice the price likely doesn't make much sense over the cheaper one.
I may have misunderstood that info from the man page. Does it mean that the higher transfer speeds are not supported or that the use of 5 GHz is not supported?

Because if the use of 5 GHz should indeed be supported, but only with speeds of up to 150 Mbps, that would be a clear advantage over the cheaper adapter.
 
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MasterOne

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Well, I have just ordered two pieces of the cheaper TP-Link TL-WN725N, which should arrive in a few days.

Luckily I have also found an old AboCom WU5202 (RT2770/RT2720, Device ID: 07b8:2770) that should work well with the run driver, so I don't have to wait for the TP-Link units to give it a try with a fresh FreeBSD 12.2-RELEASE installation on that new laptop. :)
 

aponomarenko

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The second device supports 5Ghz, so it's a bit faster. It will work in the 'n' mode under FreeBSD 12.2 instead of 'ac'.
 
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MasterOne

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The second device supports 5Ghz, so it's a bit faster. It will work in the 'n' mode under FreeBSD 12.2 instead of 'ac'.
I know that 802.11n can use 2.4 and 5GHz, but the question is how well such a RTL8821AU device actually works with the rtwn_usb driver in either or both bands. Some reports mentioned slow and/or unstable connections, which is why I was hesitant to go for the second device.

I have currently disabled the 5GHz option in my WiFi mesh network, but I'm still thinking of getting the RTL8821AU device as well to be able to compare. A lot of "if"s considering that neither the RTL8188EU device has arrived yet, nor has the new laptop been unpacked, gone through final assembly (barebone without RAM and NVMe) and FreeBSD been installed yet... I wish I had more time for all of that...
 

pebkac

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Well, I have just ordered two pieces of the cheaper TP-Link TL-WN725N, which should arrive in a few days.

Luckily I have also found an old AboCom WU5202 (RT2770/RT2720, Device ID: 07b8:2770) that should work well with the run driver, so I don't have to wait for the TP-Link units to give it a try with a fresh FreeBSD 12.2-RELEASE installation on that new laptop. :)
MasterOne do you have any experience with the TL-WN725N meanwhile? I am also using it since a few months (since my new Dell notebook also only has an AX200) but the connectivity is quite unstable, with FreeBSD 12.2 and now 13.0.

Especially if I transfer a lot of data or interestingly enough if I connect it to an USB hub and there also is a harddisk connected which is busy (then it is really bad), it frequently loses connectivity and I have to do an "ifconfig down up" to restart it (which works in 90% of the cases). I have even written a small monitoring shell script that does this for me so I can live with it.

Logs don't say anything and I googled quite a bit but I did not really found anything.

Am I really the only one with this problem?

It is connected to USB-C via an adapter which shouldn't make any difference (harddisks or printers work flawlessly).
 
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MasterOne

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pebkac, sorry, no experience so far, because other things kept me too busy to finally start with FreeBSD.

But from what you described more likely an USB issue, since you are using it on a hub?

I'd give it its own port, as my usage case would be on the go only, using wired network whenever in use on my desk.
 

pebkac

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MasterOne thanks for your reply. The hub makes it worse, I am also using it without a hub but then with a USB-C adapter. Nonetheless you are probably right and it has something to do with USB 3/2...

Will continue to live with it for now and simply try out net/wifibox once it is in quarterly and hopefully I can use the built-in AX200 that way until it is supported by FreeBSD itself. :)
 

scottro

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So far, on FreeBSD, I've never gotten more than 7MBs on wireless, and that's unusual. Usually it's around 2MB. This is with Intel 7260 cards, and a 9260ac, also Intel. I vaguely remember a thread on these forums where someone was getting really good speed with an Atheros card, but don't remember the details.
In contrast, with Linux, I get around 30-50MBs with these cards on a lan.

HOWEVER. This slower speed is still fast enough to watch, say, youtube videos. And, using one of the tutorials on this forum, showing how to use the brave browser and linux compatibility, I've found it fast enough to watch Netflix as well. So, I don't think you are going to get great speeds with anything, but I do think it will be fast enough. Back when I had to use an adapter, I think I was using Edimax 7811un without problem. I believe it uses Realtek, but it's been awhile, and I don't remember which one. I should try wifibox as well, but I'm basically lazy, and don't have much need for it.
 

aht0

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I used to use various Atheros cards and getting good speeds especially with AR9380 ('an' band included) but they wouldn't fit your use case (laptop and minimalistic size requirement).

Maybe that WiFi card in your laptop is easily replaceable (hidden under separate small cover) and you could swap it out against supported WiFi module compatible with your laptop?
Without voiding warranty that is.

eBay/Amazon are normally good places for picking up such modules (people are often trying to recoup some money off their broken-down laptop by selling component parts online)
 

Alexander88207

Aspiring Daemon

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Hello,

In my opinion, the best method for looking a working wifi device is to read the man pages of the individual drivers such as rtwn(), ral() or iwm() and then look for a stick or pci card with the supported chipset that fits for you.

For example i have bought a Hommie Dual-Band WiFi Card AC PCIE Card that is using the iwm() driver. (No intentional advertising at this point.)
iwm0: <Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless AC 7265> mem 0xa0100000-0xa0101fff at device 0.0 on pci2
 
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