Vista Update

Following my earlier rant about the trial that is installing Vista with a Netgear wireless card, I thought I’d offer an update on that story.

Firstly, my new Linksys (WMP54G v4.1) wireless card is working fine.

Thanks Amazon.

Secondly, I updated the Windows Experience Index score just now. Still the same graphics card in the machine, so I don’t know how but suddenly my desktop graphics rating jumped from showing 2.1 to 4.1, pretty sweet! On viewing the details I also noticed that the graphics card apparently has 334MB of system memory available on top of the 256MB of dedicated RAM. I don’t know if this was the case before or not so can’t say if that influenced the change in score.

Anyway, this brings my overall Windows Experience Index up from 2.1 to 3.0, now based on the Gaming Graphics score (WEI bases your overall experience rating on the lowest score it finds). My system now looks like:

Processor (AMD Athlon 2800+): 3.4
RAM (1.5GB @ 266MHz): 3.7
Graphics (256MB eForce 6200): 4.1
Gaming Graphics: 3.0
Primary Hard Disk (Seagate 120GB 7200rpm): 4.4

Now if anyone can tell me of a Protowall/PeerGuardian substitute that works with Vista I’ll be sorted.

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.