Wi-Fi (Wireless) Card Recommendations
When buying your laptop, confirm that the manufacturer explicitly states the Wi-Fi radio has dual-band support in both 2.4 and 5 GHz radio frequencies or the specifications specifically include Wi-Fi ac/a/n or 802.11 ac/a/n. The presence of the letter "a" indicates the radio operates in the 5 GHz frequency; this is the performance differentiator. Anything else will not be able to take full advantage of Drexel’s network speed.
If you are not sure if the Windows laptop you are considering is single-band or dual-band, look under the laptop's wireless device/Wi-Fi card specifications on the box, label, or product webpage.
Look for the product details of a laptop you are interested in. Usually, the wifi card information will be listed under the "Communications" section and the WLAN category.
Unlike wired networks, which allow your computer to transmit and receive on a dedicated private copper cable, your Wi-Fi radio must transmit over-the-air using a shared radio frequency. In plain terms, your wireless transmissions share the same radio frequency with other wireless devices trying to transmit data at the same time. Effectively, only one transmission can take place at a time in a given radio channel. Wi-Fi radios limited to working in the 2.4 GHz frequency support only three non-overlapping radio channels. In comparison, radios operating in the 5 GHz radio frequency support over 22 non-overlapping radio channels.
On Drexel's urban campus, the Wi-Fi air space is littered with foreign networks operating in the 2.4 GHz frequency. If your laptop only supports this single frequency, it must compete among the three available radio channels with hundreds of Apple iPhones, Comcast Xfinity Wireless, Wireless Philadelphia, and many other foreign networks that operate exclusively in the 2.4 GHz frequency. If you want to avoid this radio frequency competition, you need a dual-frequency Wi-Fi card.
With a dual-band card, when connected to Drexel's DragonFly3 network, you take advantage of DragonFly's centralized controllers with the intelligence to balance the Wi-Fi air-space ensuring that the maximum number of radio channels are made available to your wireless device. This optimization greatly helps combat interference from foreign networks to improve your wireless performance.
NOTE: Apple laptops are sold exclusively with dual-band Wi-Fi radios, so there are no Wi-Fi configurations to check at purchase time. Regardless of what model laptop you select, once on campus, remember to run the DragonFly3 Installation Wizard to ensure you achieve the best Wi-Fi performance on campus.
If you are having trouble finding this information, contact the laptop manufacturer (Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc.) or contact the IT Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-895-2020.