Not sure if anyone will ever actually find this article useful, as we’re dealing with ancient technology here, but I figured I’ll write it out just in case. I found an old Dell Precision Workstation Laptop M4400 and decided to wipe it out and prep it to donate to a local charity. I figured it’s not a bad device even though it’s 8+ years old; 2.4 GHz dual core CPU, 8 GB of memory, a 300 GB SSD that I had put in it at some point, 1920×1200 WUXGA screen, nearly every port you can imagine minus HDMI, and a DVD burner. I bought a copy of Windows 10 Pro (since Home stupidly doesn’t come with BitLocker) to replace the Win7 that was installed, and did the install.
After install, Windows Update had been running for 12 hours and still hadn’t finished installation. I know Windows updates are ridiculous, but 12 hours?! I discovered it appeared to be a networking issue. Pinging even the default gateway was showing about 80% packet loss, and responses I did get were seeing anywhere from 1 to 5 seconds latency. This was connected to a Cisco AP with most flavors of wireless enabled minus the legacy 802.11b speeds. Oddly, if I enabled hot spot on my iPhone, the issue went away. No idea if that’s a result of the iPhone not supporting something the laptop was trying on the Cisco network, or supporting something in a different manner that disagreed with the drivers.
In any case, I began digging into the WLAN NIC settings. This laptop has a Dell 1510 Wireless card, which is based on the Broadcom 4322 chipset. It’s one of the first 802.11n adapters, so it, in theory, supports a/b/g MIMO at varying speeds. I cycled through a massive number of settings, and not a single one affected things in a positive manner. The settings I tried altering were:
- 20/40 Coexistence
- 40MHz Intolerant
- 802.11n Preamble (This should be left on Green Field Mode unless you really are connecting to ancient networks)
- Bandwidth Capability (Choices of 11a/b/g:20/40MHz, 11a/b/g 20MHz, 11a:20/40:11bg:20MHz) – I ended up finding 11a:20/40:11bg:20 worked most reliably, after solving the overall problem, as the Cisco gear I have it connected to is set to support 40MHz width on the ‘a’ radios.
- IBSS Mode – 802.11a/b/g/n Auto is the preferred setting here
- Rate (802.11a) – this one I tried setting all the way down to 24 Mbps, which is the lowest my network supports, but none affected anything, so I left it at Best Rate.
- Rate (802.11b/g) – same as above for this one
- Wake-Up Mode
So I start digging around online. I stumble across this post:
Similar symptoms; someone upgraded to Windows 10 and their 1510 WLAN card went from a supposed 10 Mbit to 1/2 Mbit. One suggestion was to use device manager and choose between multiple drivers for this card; a 2009 version, 2012 version, and Broadcom-branded version. They say to use the 2009 version. Unfortunately my new install of Windows 2010 doesn’t offer more than one Dell-branded option. I did flip between that and the Broadcom-branded driver, no change in performance or visible options.
However, one other post in that thread suggested you should try the Dell R260737 driver package for this card; it’s a Windows Vista driver, but apparently as of 2016 you could install it in Windows 10. The location of the driver is:
Unfortunately it would not install on my current Windows 10 install. I keep searching for solutions and end up on a different support thread related to a Dell 1505 WLAN card, with similar suggestions about using older drivers, and similar issues with compatibility checks not permitting the install. However, in this case, someone from Microsoft replied and suggested installing the driver using a compatibility mode. Those steps are as follow:
Follow the steps to install in Compatibility mode:
- Download the updated driver from the manufacturer’s website.
- Right click the driver installation file and select Properties then tap or click the Compatibility tab.
- Place a check in the Run this program in compatibility mode.
- Tap or click the drop down box and select a previous operating system, then tap or click OK.
- Try installing the driver and check.
I performed those same steps with the R260737 package as shown below:
Well guess what, it worked!! After a reboot, my wireless performance went back to normal and it locked in at a 300/144 Mbps data rate, normal latency, no packet loss:
I also noticed that I now have a bunch of new settings available in the adapter properties area; no idea what most of them mean, things like “Afterburner”, etc. Only remaining issues now are trying to get bluetooth and the fingerprint reader working; not sure how much luck I’ll have with those.