Laptop doesn't always detect wireless signals, even when close

By Cyrus79
Jul 23, 2007
  1. Hi,

    I wasn't sure if this should go here or in the OS topic, I assume it was more network based.

    I have a Dell Inspiron 9400 laptop with Windows Vista Home Premium. It has a very strange intermittent problem.

    Basically sometimes when Windows starts up it doesn't detect any nearby wireless networks even when I am about 2 feet from the router/access point.

    The other thing it does is loose signal once connected, it'll have a 5 of 5 block rating (excellent), but once connected it drops to 3 blocks and only a good signal. Also it sometimes disconnects and loses the wireless signal.

    When it's working it usually detects anywhere between 4 and 5 different routers in the surrounding area.

    I have tried a friends cheap gateway laptop on my router and it connects perfectly.

    The installed network card is an Intel Pro/Wireless 3945ABG which came as standard with the laptop.

    Is this a known Vista issue or is it likely my wireless card is a faulty? I've checked it for a loose connection, both black and white wires are securely connected, and I also have the latest drivers.

    I have other devices both wired and wireless connected to my router, these being my PS3, Xbox 360, PC (not laptop) and occasionally my PSP, all these function perfectly.

    It can't be a router issue mind you since it does exactly the same thing when connected to the work access point.

    If anyone has seen anything like this before or has any suggestions before I get Dell to send me a new network card please let me know.

    Many thanks.
  2. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,415

    An old 3COM network card that had been my first venture into the world of wireless some 12 months previous was handed down to my daughter when she was given a laptop.

    It was a bit iffy at times and it gradually got worse, to the point where she had to be sat next to the router to get a signal, its now in the spares box just in case its ever needed.

  3. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,026

    Echo the sentiments of Ididmyc600 - best bet is to get a PCMCIA wifi card and use that (unless the system is under warranty!) instead. If you can use a cable connection instead, that always has to be preferable for a whole mess of reasons.
  4. Cyrus79

    Cyrus79 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 28

    Thanks, the laptop is definitely still under warranty since it's only a couple of months old, so I think I'll just give Dell a call.
  5. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,415

    Good luck with that, make sure you stick to your guns with it, they have this nasty way of wriggling out of things and ask you to try all sorts of things like software reloads and driver updates, just answer "done that" to everything they suggest, let em know its been trouble since day one.

    As a buyer you are within your rights to send the unit back and request a new one however you must allow Dell the chance to rectify any faults with the unit before requesting a new one/straight replacement, however I feel that as the unit is just 8 weeks old then I would push for a replacement.

    This is according to Uk trading standards and it may differ dependant on what country you live in. Please seek further advice from a trained person should you need to.

  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    be sure your router is set to G-mode only as any nearby Bmode wifi will
  7. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,383   +105

    Intel Pro/Wireless 3945ABG . There is a problem with these, you have to make sure you got the right driver installed, otherwise you'll have problems. Make sure you have it set to G Performance, otherwise problems. If you tried eveything dell will replace the faulity Mini-PCI card for you. These are easy to replace they look like memory just covered in white wrap. You might a different type though then I did described. Tell will let you know.. Good Luck!
  8. Cyrus79

    Cyrus79 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 28

    Thanks for the suggestions, let's hope the 'g' performance works otherwise I'll be speaking to someone in a Dell call centre halfway round the globe...yay!!
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