Gigabyte GN-WMAG 802.11g PCMCIA WiFi Adaptor
networking products are without a doubt the new wireless standard. Though 802.11b has dominated
the market for the last couple of years, it will soon
be rendered obsolete as the price of the 'g' gear drops. The reason for this usurpation
is that unlike the previous alternatives to 802.11b, (like 802.11a) 'g' has
no disadvantages to offset its considerable benefits. It's faster than 802.11b, with
data transfer rates of up to 54 megabits per second
peak compared to 11mbps for 'b', can support higher levels of WEP encryption
(152-bit) and is completely backwards compatible with the older 802.11b
Since the 802.11g standard's official adoption,
many companies have been racing to get their products to market. Today we
look at Gigabyte's PCMCIA wireless network adaptor, the GN-WMAG. Gigabyte,
a Taiwanese technology company best known for its motherboards, has released
several 802.11g compatible products over the last few months and the company is
looking to make a name for itself on the networking front.
The Gigabyte GN-WMAG is a
type-II PC card wireless network adaptor supporting both the 802.11b and 802.11g
wireless standards. It is capable of WEP encryption up to 152-bit, and supports
other wireless security schemes such as WPA
(Wireless Protected Access) and 802.1x security.
The GN-WMAG supports 'turbo-g,' a proprietary wireless
transfer mode which is in theory capable of transmitting data at 108mbps. we
tested the Gigabyte GN-WMAG with a brand new Gigabyte 802.11g compatible access
point (which does support 802.11g 'turbo-g' mode), and found some performance
improvements came from using 'turbo-g,' though nothing overwhelming.
comes in a typical small shiny cardboard box with an odd flappy sort of
arrangement at one end which only manages to confuse,,, apparently it confused
the box makers too, because it is only at one end of the box, the other side
opens normally. Very strange. Inside are the card
itself, the drivers, and an actual printed manual which is quite concise and
useful (though the one available online seems to be slightly updated).
The card itself is typical PCMCIA appearance, with
the exception of the six LEDs arranged on the top surface of
the device. These lights, arranged in two groups of four and two respectively, indicate the
GN-WMAG's current status at a glance, which is extremely useful.
The group of four lights mounted in a
row indicates the strength of the current signal, which is handy for
finding the best reception. The other two lights indicate when the card is searching for
a network and when it is transmitting or receiving data.
A page from
the card's manual illustrates this:
Install of the GN-WMAG is painless. Simply
insert the CD and follow the prompts to install the drivers, then pop in the
card and click 'ok' a few times to complete. In our test with Windows 2000
and XP, we were up and running in under five minutes.