Macbook Pro wireless drivers (Windows XP)

Discussion in 'Apple and Mac OS X' started by hex2bit, Mar 4, 2008.

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  1. hex2bit

    hex2bit Notebook Enthusiast

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    I just got myself a shiny new Macbook Pro. I'm a first time Mac user but I've been around computers for a long, long time. I'm working on getting Windows XP setup under bootcamp. My main problem is the wireless 99% doesn't work. It connects to my router, but seems to have communication problems, with a lot of connection timeouts. If I ping my router, some pings work, then it will begin timing out for no apparent reason. If I let it sit a moment, then ping again, it will work for a very sort time and start timing out again. After it starts timing out, I have to stop communication (pinging) before it will start working again. It never loses the connection to the router though. Very odd behavior that I can only suggest is a driver issue. Also, I'm right by the router, so it's not a range issue. Plus I have my old laptop right here as well (which I'm typing on), which works perfect with the router. I would also like to note that it works perfectly under OS X, so it's not a hardware issue.

    So I would like to grab some drivers from the manufacture rather than relying on the drivers from the OS X CD. In Windows, it's just listed as a Broadcom 802.11n Network Adapter. Does anyone know the model used in the current Macbook Pros? Broadcom's and Apple's sites aren't very helpful either.
     
  2. hex2bit

    hex2bit Notebook Enthusiast

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    I figured out the model (thanks Linux...). It's the BCM4328, revision 5. I was able to find drivers from Dell for a Mini-PCI card they sell with the same chipset, found on their XPS laptops and such. I uninstalled Apple's drivers and tried those, but they have the same behavior. It works for about a second and begins timing out. They both seem to use the same Broadcom driver from Sept 2007. I haven't been able to find any newer drivers yet. Microsoft doesn't have any through Windows Update either. I've also played around with the various driver settings, but nothing seems to make it work any better.

    Does anyone else with the new macbook pros have any issues with wireless under Windows... or is it just me :)??

    When I get my Linux share setup, I will try those Dell drivers under the NDI wrapper and see if they work well there.
     
  3. tianh

    tianh Notebook Consultant

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    if they are the same driver.. why not use the one form the apple cd? I use xp and my wireless is extremely good. I dont understand why you would use the SAME driver, one made for apple laptops the other made for DELL. Makes no sense
     
  4. hex2bit

    hex2bit Notebook Enthusiast

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    I did use the one off the CD, but as I had mentioned in the first post, it wasn't working well. So I tried a different driver, just to see if there would be a difference. Drivers from OEMs, like Apple or Dell, are typically not the newest driver out there. Some OEMs carry newer drivers, and often you can find better drivers from the chipset makers. In this case, Broadcom doesn't list any on their site and Dell's seem to be the same version, so I'm kind of out of luck finding something newer that might resolve this issue.

    I know the issue is a driver issue since everything works perfectly under OS X. I just don't know what the Windows driver is doing differently from the Mac driver. I have played around with the various driver setting available, and they don't seem to have any affect.
     
  5. Magimagus

    Magimagus Notebook Consultant

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    Might be something to do with the router, I use a Linksys and haven't had an issue yet on my MBP w/ XP Pro.
     
  6. hex2bit

    hex2bit Notebook Enthusiast

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    Well, I've dug into this some more. This seems to be an issue with the Broadcom chips under Windows. Other people have reported similar behavior on other brands of laptops that use similar Broadcom chips (43xx), including Dell and HP users. However, the cause is unknown, and seems to only exist between specific routers as the problem isn't widespread. Mine is a Draytek small office router. I updated the firmware as well, just to see if that would help, but it didn't. The company is regarded highly and they do very good testing of their firmware updates, so I doubt it's a problem on their end.

    I've tried 4 different drivers so far, including ones for a slightly different chipset (4321), and they all have the same behavior. I even tried forcing the connection to 802.11b and different encryption (WEP vs. WPA). They connect to the router, work for a very short period of time, then transmissions begin timing out. When this starts happening, the latency climbs (seen through ping rates against the router) and the rate will drop down towards 1.0 Mbps (the lowest). I'm right by the router, with "Excellent" signal strength, so there is no reason for this behavior. Wireless cards will drop rates when the signal quality isn't great enough to support a higher rate, which should only happen when the signal strength degrades due to range.

    Also, for those saying "mine works just fine", be aware that Apple switched from the Atheros wireless chipset to the Broadcom chipset in their Macbook Pros. If you have an older version of the Macbook Pro, it's using a completely different wireless card and drivers. You can confirm the card you have under windows by looking at the adapter name. People are also complaining about the update because Linux doesn't yet support the Broadcom chip, forcing users to use the Windows driver wrapper available for Linux. The older Macbook Pros have Linux driver support for the wireless cards.

    I'm going to try against some of my friends routers to see if it's just my router.
     
  7. hex2bit

    hex2bit Notebook Enthusiast

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    I wanted to give a final update on this.

    After some testing, my issue appears to be an incompatibility between my router and the broadcom chipset. If my router is in the area, my laptop will have problems with ANY router I connect to (I tried several). If I turn my router off, other routers work fine. So it's not really an issue with the connection to a specific router, but rather some protocol handling issue outside normal data transfer. Since the Broadcom chipset is the only one that seems to have a problem, out of over half a dozen wireless devices I've used, I'm going to blame Broadcom for this one :) LOL.

    Also, I found out the router uses the Atheros chipset for the wireless. Perhaps that chipset doesn't get along well with Broadcom... they are competitors after all :)

    So FYI to those getting a new Macbook Pro, if your router uses the Atheros chipset, you might have problems.
     
  8. SsuRReaLL

    SsuRReaLL Notebook Consultant

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    I'm having he same problems with XP as well as OSX on two linksys routers wrt54g and wrt150n all other wireless nodes have no problems just my MBP.
    I also checked forums and more people have this problem. I will contact apple tomorrow but I fear they will deny the problem like they did with others so I guess I will have to buy a Intel or Atheros replacement. I will keep interested people posted on any progress in this thread.
     
  9. Fant

    Fant Notebook Evangelist

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    I've used my new peryn MBP with a Linksys WRT54G and a Dlink 655 both with 128bit WPA activated and havent had any problems under OSX. It seems odd that if it were an incompability between chipsets that it would still work ok under OSX. It seems to point to a Broadcom xp driver issue talking to aetheros chipset routers? I would think this would affect lots of users considering the amount of laptops dell sells.
     
  10. SsuRReaLL

    SsuRReaLL Notebook Consultant

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    Logical, but like I said I have the same problem with both OS's.
     
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