Review: Why the Netgear WG311 v3 Sucks

I’ve had the WG311 wireless PCI card from Netgear since I initially set up my home wireless network a few months ago. In that time it has been no end of f**king trouble!!

The first problem I had was that on installation was that the connection would cut out inexplicably (the router was about 2 feet away through a plasterboard wall), but wouldn’t actually realise that it had been disconnected (either running the Netgear utility or the Windows Wireless Zero configuration, both seemed to think they were still connected despite the lack of traffic.

Fortunately I also had a nearly clean partition with Windows XP Pro installed, so I tried using it with that. Here it seemed ok, for a few hours anyway. It turned out it was suffering from the same problem, but it the connection lasted for 8-12 hours rather than 30-90 minutes.

I tried everything. I used the Netgear utility; upgraded the drivers to the latest version from the Netgear website (1.1 – despite well-known problems with Windows XP SP 2, they’ve only ever produced one revision); I disabled the Netgear utility and just used the Windows Wireless Zero Configuration (uninstalling and reinstalling the card between times to be doubly sure there was nothing left lurking on the system). Nothing seemed to work.

A Solution?

Eventually I downloaded the drivers provided by Marvell, the original manufacturers of the chipset for the v3 version of the WG311 (Netgear seem to bring out different, incompatible versions of the same card with chipsets from different manufacturers to allow them to shop around for parts- and you can’t usually choose which one you get when you buy, not that the previous versions of the WG311 were problem-free). Shock of shock, the Marvell drivers actually worked!! Netgear should just bundle them with the card instead of their own messed up piece of crap they call a ‘utility’.

Now all I had to worry about was the fact that since moving the PC with the WG311 in it to a different room, the signal was extremely weak and intermittent. Having little experience with wireless networks, I just assumed this was because, despite only being about 10 feet away, there were 3 plasterboard walls between the router and the PC. Still blaming the router, I was on the verge of ordering a stronger antenna when my brand spanking new laptop arrived and in the same room, it was getting a “Very Good” signal at 54 Mbps; imagine my pure rage!

So that’s that. After a few months of pain after pain in the ass with Netgear’s WG311 v3, I’ve given up and am planning to replace the card in the near future. What’s the point in a wireless network card that only works when its right beside the router?

If you’re having similar problems, you might find the Marvell drivers (MV-S800374-00.zip) useful. That said I make no warranty as to their usefulness, and Marvell probably won’t either since I can’t find a link to the file from their site. Use at your own risk.

Also, see this follow-up for the next chapter of my battle with the Netgear WG311v3.

Author: nerd.

An experienced IT professional, I used to run a number of small websites and spend a lot of time tinkering with my sites or my PC - back when I had free time.

45 thoughts on “Review: Why the Netgear WG311 v3 Sucks”

  1. Ah Netgear. My Achilles heel.

    Ever since I installed their wireless router I have suffered from random disconnects and huge spikes of ping/lag or whatever you want to call it. Eventually I’ll buy a new one altogether but for now I’ll just wait for Divine Intervention of some from or another.

    Ian

  2. I should have pointed out above that for some reason both the Marvel and the Netgear drivers disable “quick user switching” in Windows XP. This is a complete bitch. There’s a straightforward registry hack to fix it (google it, I’m not responsible if you screw your system up), however I suspect they disabled it for a reason. Now about one in every three times I use the facility on my machine it freezes up – nice!

  3. Nice! I picked up the WG311v3 wireless PCI card used for cheap. It connected with no problem then subsequently lost connection. I had to reboot to get it to work and then the same problem returned. Just like you said the Netgear site only had the one driver & utility that I already had from the install CD. I uninstalled all the Netgear stuff and installed the Marvell driver & utility. Once I located the .inf driver by Marvell my connection has been great. Thanks for the assist.

    Netgear should get on the ball and fix their driver. Most folks don’t want to spend hours trying to fix something that should work out of the box.

  4. Thanks for the Marvell drivers, I had the same lost connection problem as you. I was ready to replace the card (still might) until I saw your solution.

  5. Thanks nerd for this solution. I didn’t have a problem until I decided to turn WPA. I couldn’t not get it to connect to my Linksys Access point no matter what I did with the NetGear utilities. I could see the WAP in the available networks, gave it all the right settings (over and over again) but nothing worked until I uninstalled the NetGear drivers and utils and installed the Marvell drivers and it connected right away. That was 3 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

    Maybe my computer lockup problems will go away now?

  6. Thanks for posting the Marvell drivers and utility! I couldn’t find them anywhere on the w3b3rnets, namely on the Marvell web site (kind of weird, but what does that tell you about the Netgear adapter…maybe it’s crap and they realize that fact?) Anyways, I’m experiencing the same problem as SuperStuff, so I started looking into using another driver than what Netgear provides. I installed the driver and utility you provided from Marvell and the utility itself is leaps and bounds better than the Netgear utility, so that’s definitely an improvement. I was mainly hoping it would help increase my signal quality and connection to my AP, but from what I can tell so far, it hasn’t. I’m definitely in the same boat as you on this subject, stay away from the Netgear WG311 adapter if at all possible because it’s a pretty well-rounded bust of a wireless adapter!

  7. Have to agree that this is the worst piece of hardware I’ve ever bought. Oh, if only I had come across a review before I bought – but I think I was thinking, what can go wrong with a n/w card? I have a laptop which gets a perfect signal everywhere in the house but this card:
    1) drops connections
    2) gets a sh!te signal
    3) disables “quick user switching”
    4) disables remote desktop to the machine.

  8. About the WG311v3 wireless adapter card.
    It’s probably because of this card that I inherited a Dell computer with an AMD Duran[tm]
    1.80GHz, 224 MB of RAM from my neice and her husband.
    They put a new 80 GB drive in and updated to XP.
    I got the computer because it “didn’t do what they wanted it to do” (like work reliably)
    I got AT@T DSL service and bought a Belkin Wireless G Router and plugged in the ethernet
    ports and got everything going just fine. Now it was just a matter of getting the wireless card
    to work and I didn’t have an installation disk. So I Googled and found you guys.
    Thanks to you guys, I saved myself tons of grief. In spite of the red flags thrown up in front of me,
    I thought I was emotionally prepared. I too had exasperating moments.
    Here’s how it went down:
    Read your reviews and went,”I’m going to get the Marvell driver immediately! I’ll save myself some grief.”
    When I ran the Marvell software it couldn’t find the card.(kept saying it was unplugged)
    I read your suggestion about going to the device manager and the device manager
    didn’t see any wireless card at all.
    I thought maybe a PCI slot was bad so I swapped my sound card with the wireles card.
    Sound card worked fine in the other slot and still the same result with the wireless.
    So what the heck, downloaded the Netgear driver and holy moley, the driver loads and the
    device manager now sees the card and a light on the card lights up!
    I’m ‘on the air’! I’m flying for about two minutes until the computer starts gasping for air.
    The video gets very jumpy although the audio seems to do OK.
    So I update the driver with the Marvell driver and I’m pleased with the graphical
    interface. (love those animated graphs) Now I can fly for about 3 minutes before the
    computer chokes.
    It seems that the card can only handle so much data before it gets constipated.
    For instance: I can do E-Mail for hours and pictures for maybe an hour and videos just burns
    it out. And ,by the way, given enough time the computer will freeze solid.

    andypetty@aol.com

  9. Well gang, it’s adios to the NETGEAR WG311v.3 PCI wireless adapter card!
    Even when I knew it was going to cause me grief I had to take the dare. It devastated me.
    So I went to Best Buy and bought a Dynex for $35.00 and what a difference! I’m using it now and I’m not kidding when I say it was up and running in what seemed like 5 minutes!
    Any suggestions as to what to do with————–never mind.

  10. Thanks for your solution and it is working perfectly now. I was thinking of replace the card before i found your posting. Thanks

  11. I’m soooo happy I found your site!!
    Can’t seem to find any different issues than you guys!
    Random disconnects after 3 hours or so, and it never realizes that the connection is broken up!
    Lovely thing if you’re not at home and your downloads and/or IM programs can’t resume because there won’t be any connection without my intervention!!

    Good God, this is a piece of bollocks! Thanks a ton for the tip with the original drivers.

  12. Good review, i got this piece of shit card aswell, couldn’t even get the dam thing to run without those marvel drivers (netgear drivers just give a device will not start error, while marvel ones work perfectly).

    was getting pretty poor signal just 1 room away so i got one of those $20 5db antennas from jaycar and now im getting a decent signal, but still gets pretty laggy in games, im going to replace it with a decent card.

  13. thank you so much for this page. i had other problems with this card: namely it cause my audio and video to stutter. i am going to try the marvell drivers and see if that fixes anything.

    also PLEASE leave this page up. these crooks need a permanent testament to their bad business practices. bugs are understandable (though i tend to agree with the poster above who said it should really work out of the box) but not fixing things once they are obviously broken? no updates or patches? netgear deserves this page. i hope all potential customers see it.

    anybody else have the sound problem?

  14. LMAO! Whilst typing up a post about my misery with the 311v3, I hit “Submit” – and nothing happened – because the *$%)@#@ POS disconnected on me!!

    Long story short: I have spontaneous disconnect probs too. Sometimes it will happen every 10 or 15 minutes, sometimes it happens every couple of hours. My Linksys W54G router sets on top of the desk that my computer sets under – a mere 18″ between the two including a 1″ thick particle board desktop. I run WEP, not that it makes a hill of shit difference. Just so happens I have a few neighbors with wireless routers. I hopped on my neighbor’s Linksys W54GS with anywhere from a 30% to 50% signal (no encryption on his router) and the disconnects still happen.

    I may try the Marvel drivers.

    When this POS disconnects, I’ve had luck just disabling it then immediately enabling it as opposed to rebooting each time. On rare occasion, that doesn’t work though. Even after enabling, sometimes it won’t browse to anywhere on the net. In those cases, I HAVE to reboot.

    I came across this POS NIC for free (don’t ask). I must say its a flying worthless POS to the nth degree. Worth noting is Netgear’s USB “B” adapters. They too are POS’s! Somebody should get a class action suit going against Netgear….

  15. thanks for this site! i too have the same problems. it just started happening a few weeks ago. when i browse a page it would just load and disconnet me and pisses me off. i was ready to replace this card, but i installed marvell drivers and everything seems to be fine for now.

  16. the marvell drivers didnt help me. also, right after i posted this, the card started to freeze my system. finally, i threw the card away and now have NETGEAR on my list of companies NEVER TO BUY FROM AGAIN. no matter what- i see that brand name and i run. thank you for this site

  17. Oh my god, I´m so glad I´m not alone with this shit card… I thought I was going crazy, and I´m really not bad at computers… Netgear should really be sued!

    Am going to try those Marvel drivers, last action… if that doesn´t work I´m taking that card back to the idiot at the shop that recommended it to me!

  18. This card has been a pain for me in both Linux and Windows. The Marvell drivers work well in Lunux – random disconnects are gone. My connection in Windows is stable, but the Netgear utility won’t boot up about half the time.

    there’s a link to the windows drivers them on a Ubuntu page – google wg311v3 how to or something like that.

    If I could be arsed, I would get a different card for sure but mine works tolerably well now.

  19. Sh1t !
    Ive just bought one of these! Ive got netgear router and wireless access point and never had a problem with them. I figured go with netgear again. Not received the card yet. Maybe I’ll be lucky.

    Anyone else had problems when used with other netgear hardware?

  20. I can’t find the Marvell drivers as the link that points to it is broken. Anybody know where I can download the drivers?

  21. Same problem here. Very low signal from 5 metres away, dropping out all the time, not loading properly. I replaced with a USB adapter and now get excellent signal. I cant believe netgear would sell this piece of crud.

  22. WG311v3 PCI **faulty batches in circulation** READ READ

    ——————————————————————————–

    We have found the issue to code 10 error after installing the WG311v3 PCI Adapter.

    Tech support in Australia has informed me that there are faulty batches in circulation.

    You find these by looking for the S/N (Serial Number) on a white (in my case) sticker on the back of the PCI Card.

    If it starts with any of the following numbers take it back to your retailer and inform them Netgear knows of this problem.

    1CX1763
    1CX1773
    1CX1783
    1CX1793

    Now why this was not posted on the website or sooner in the forums I have no idea and in defense of Netgear I should have called their tech support line first as unlike many other companies the first person I talked to resolved the issue.

    I returned my card which was replaced in about 3-4 weeks. Installed it just like I did with the faulty card and hey presto. All works well.

    You can type your serial number into this checker to see if you are applicable for a replacement card: https://my.netgear.com/myNETGEAR/checkWG311v3.asp

  23. If you have a Netgear adapter and a XP computer and are experiencing dropped wireless connections, make sure that you disable WZC in Services. When both the Netgear utility and WZC are running they may conflict with each other. To disable WZC go to control panel/admin tools/services/scroll down to WZC and disable at startup.

  24. Does anyone who got the WG311v3 to operate with Vista (can’t call what I have as working) used it in an environment with multiple WAPs in the same SSID? I have a bunchload of the Netgear cards that lock onto the WAP with the lowest channel in the SSID, even if the signal strength is extremely low and the signal strength of the higher channel is great. The card also does not do multicast with the Netgear drivers.

    I used the Marvell driver and got multicast to work, but the selection of which WAP to connect to is still lowest channel rather than strongest signal.

    Using Optiplex 745 with 2GB RAM, Vista Business and either the Netgear or Marvell drivers I never got the error 10, but the cards are in the range reported by Netgear as “applicable for replacement”. Netgear, however admit to no problem with the card despite its behaviour.

    Agreed – never netgear again!

  25. If I had found this page before buying the WG311, I would have thought twice about it. I installed it in my Girlfriend’s PC (AMD64, WinXP+SP2) and it blue-screened at least twice a day. I then tried it in my own system (AMD64-X2, WinXP+SP2) and it would lock up just as frequently. I’ve now installed the Marvell drivers (many thanks for the tip) and it *appears* to be behaving itself.
    What really pisses me off about this kind of thing is that PC peripherals/cards require two components – the hardware and the software (drivers). The companies that make these devices wouldn’t dare sell sub-standard hardware… so why do they think it’s acceptable to supply shitty, malfunctioning drivers? Grrrr

  26. Well, I did what you’ve said and it’s only half working. I uninstalled the Netgear crap and installed the Marvell drivers. Your link is broken, but I was able to get the drivers from driverguide.com. I used CCleaner to get rid of anything in the registry that has to do with Netgear. The reason I say half working is because the connection is intermittent. What I have to do, using the Marvell utility and turn off the wireless radio than turn back on for the card to connect to my router. But, if I choose default, it will connect to the neighbor’s router with no problems. In Netgear’s forum, someone posted an issue with certain cards (http://forum1.netgear.com/showthread.php?t=25157). I called and will be receiving a replacement. Hopefully, the new wireless card will work better. What I find interesting is the connection will fluctuate between Low, Very Low and No Signal but will have up to 45% signal. All I can say is many of ya are correct, Netgear went down the crapper.

  27. | “What’s the point in a wireless network card that only works when its right beside the router?”

    Wise words…..
    i can’t connect with only a big pice of paper between the router and the card!!!!!!!
    going to build some wtf-wlan-antenna hopefully it will increase the range x)

  28. connection gets lost if pc stands next to router and a person is walking threw…
    bought a wlan stick which has 100 times better connection oO

  29. Thanks thanks thanks.. i lost 2 months of my life wih this damned card. .

    however
    the link you provided is no longer available on marvell’s website.

    you can find it @ softpedia (winall version) :
    http://drivers.softpedia.com/get/NETWORK-CARD/OTHER-NETWORK-CARDS/Marvell-Libertas-MRV-8335-802-11b-g-Wireless-Driver-3213.shtml
    the real name of this driver is Marvell Libertas MRV-8335 802.11b/g Wireless Driver 3.2.1.3

    to install it, you can easily update the driver of the card, selecting the inf folder you find in the packaging ; then you must keep windows to manage the wifi (forgetting the netgear wireless configurator) .. that’s all .. infact someone reccomends to avoid the automatic setup for this driver.

    and thanks again !

  30. ????? ?????? ???????? ?? ????????? ?? ???? ????? ?. ?????

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    ? ??? ??? ? ?? ?????, ????? ????????? ??? ?????? ???????? ?????????????????? ??????? ? ??????????? ???? ?????????? ???????? ?????? ? ???????? ???????. ? ??? ????? ??????? ????????? ? ??????????? ????? “? ???????” – ?? ?????? 11 ????? ?????? ????????? ?????? 25 ? 35, ?? ????????? ??????? ????? ?????????????????? ?????? ????? ????? ????????? ?????????-????????????? ???????????? ???????????.
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  31. D4RK_G4ND4LF says:
    bought a wlan stick which has 100 times better connection oO

    Can you tell me what wlan stick you used, please? I was going to do a WDS but I’m not sure if it’ll work with U-Verse (the RG is a 2Wire).

  32. ??? ???????? ?????????? ????? ??????? ? ?????? ????????? ? ???????
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    ??? ?????????? ???????? ? ??? ????????? ??????? ??.
    jasminflower.ru

  33. This fucking card wg311v3 is a absolute fucking piece of shit. fuck you netgear and get your fucking acts together. i don’t know why they’re still selling this shit even in 2011. what a fucking joke. Have Windows 7 64bit or even 32bit? look elsewhere! I’ve spent so much time trying to get this piece of junk to work and trust me I’ve tried everything and I ain’t no amateur either.

    FUCK NETGEAR!!!!!!! BASTARDS!!!!!

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