A small but phenomenal USB adapterwith which to wirelessly connect any computer to a local network managed by a Wi-Fi 6 router: et voilà l’MSI AX1800.
A few weeks ago we published the review of MSI RadiX AX6600 router, praising its qualities and also mentioning a second receiving device proposed by the same company, the AX1800, which we would have liked to talk about in an ad hoc paragraph. Then, as sometimes happens, in the rush to close the article and send it online, this part skipped over. Never mind, we’re talking about it here today because it’s definitely worth it.
WE HAVE WI-FI, WHAT NOW?
Having a Wi-Fi 6 or higher router in your local network is an essential requirement to allow the latest generation of wireless PCs and devices to take advantage of the latest and fastest data transmission methods, but it is certainly not the only one because all the computers in the house can take advantage of it. This is because, of course, if there is a high-speed transmitter somewhere on the local network, the computers that need to connect must also be able to support data communication. In other words, must have a Wi-Fi receiver compatible with protocol version 6.
MSI helps us with the AX1800, a very easy receiver to install because it only needs a USB port and versions 10 or 11 of Windows. This adapter is compatible with all port versions, but clearly performs best when plugged into a USB 3.2 Gen 1 (or 3.0 if you prefer) or higher port, as older versions (2.0 and 1.1) work but they would constitute a bottleneck, not to say an insurmountable limit, to the flowing flow of data. But we’ll talk about it later.
DIRECT OR WITH DOCKING STATION
The AX1800 can be connected to the computer in two ways: directly or via a supplied extension cable. It doesn’t make any difference from a performance standpoint, it’s more a matter of convenience: those who prefer to connect the device directly to a USB port of their computer will see a new rather showy “antenna” sprout from it, which could constitute an obstacle to their freedom of maneuver (sometimes laptop manufacturers place USB ports in really evil). In this case, you can use the extension: a USB cable that ends in a docking station to which, in turn, you can connect the AX1800 and open it up to its maximum extension.
This solution will certainly be appreciated by those who, instead of a laptop, have to connect a desktop computer to the network: place the AX1800 behind the rear panel of the case, with all the metal that may be there in the circumstances and the prospect of a wall behind it, actually, it’s not the best of ideas. Thanks to the cable we can bring the adapter up to desk level and place it in a more advantageous position to receive and transmit data. Who does not have a motherboard equipped with a Wi-Fi 6 receiver and its antenna, in short, will find in the AX1800 and its docking station a formidable replacement.
THE PERFORMANCE OF THE MSI AX1800
By itself, the AX1800 is a dual band adapter that can operate on the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies. In the first case, traveling up to a theoretical speed of 574 Mbps, in the second up to 1,200 Mbps: adding these two values you get the famous “1800” Mbps advertised right from the name of the device. These are values that we can only expect in the best of cases, i.e. when router and receiver are positioned at a short distance in the same room; when meters, walls and slabs begin to come between the two the speed is bound to drop. Once I placed the router and computer one floor and a couple of walls apart, the AX1800’s speed hovered above 500 Mbps, which I think is pretty good (at the same distance, with an old network from 2.4 GHz it would have traveled at just over a tenth).
The situation clearly it is bound to change on the basis of the USB port used, and this is where the question can get rather thorny, especially if we intend to improve the network performance of a portable PC. While there is always a way to adapt a desktop – bad luck, if the computer doesn’t have a USB 3.0 port, just buy a special PCI Express expansion card – with laptops you have to be satisfied with what you have. The first notebooks with wi-fi 5 came out in 2014 and their connections generally do not need to be increased.
with USB ports, badly there is always a way to adapt a desktop, instead with laptops you have to be satisfied with what you have
However, everything that came before may lack the USB 3.0 ports necessary for this adapter to perform at its best: we tried connecting to a wi-fi 6 network with a USB 2.0 port and the maximum we could get from the test was a measly 52.3 megabytes per second, equivalent to about 420 Mbps with router and computer in the same room. Moving away, we’ve plummeted to a quarter of this figure. In other words: it’s not always the case to replace the built-in adapter with a USB one, especially on very old PCs.
Although the “real” data transfer speed is different from that written on the package and physiologically destined to decrease as we move away from the router, this adapter has proved solidity and reliability, offering the best possible performance and remarkable network stability, without inconvenient, sudden and unexplained disconnections. If you have the necessary hardware and the specific need to connect a PC using at least version 6 of the protocol, the AX1800 is certainly one of the alternatives to be taken into due consideration.