In February this year I changed the WLAN card of my Sony Vaio Pro 13 to improve the wireless signal. Unfortunately, the signal has not really got stronger than before.
After several months of living with the weak signal, I finally found the time to investigate into the topic of changing the built-in wireless antenna too. Differently than expected, finding a fitting antenna was not easy…

The hunt for a fitting antenna

As you may know, most of the notebooks use flat internal antennas which are glued somewhere in the shell against it. In some notebooks, the manufacturers go the extra mile and implement the antenna in the lid.

In the first part of this article ( Improving the wireless signal of my Sony Vaio Pro 13 – Part 1) you can see where the antenna wires are heading and Sony definitively “just” glued the antenna pads to somewhere in the case.

Initially, I wanted to go with a dipole antenna because I thought going with a simple and different antenna design could be a good idea.

Dipole Antenna

Searching on eBay for such an antenna was looking promising and I ordered an antenna which should fit, at least everything was looking OK. What I forgot is to check in detail which type of connector my wireless card requires. Just by looking at the connector type everything looks OK, but Intel wireless cards do use a smaller version of the connector! Intel uses the connector type “MHF4”.

MHF4 vs standard connector

Because of the MHF4 connector, I was not able to use the dipole antenna I got and the only alternative I was able to find on eBay at a seller who ships to Germany was a simple flat antenna for gluing into the case of my laptop.

Wireless antenna with MHF4 connector

Installation

The installation is pretty easy and begins with opening the Sony Vaio Pro 13. How to open the device and a short description about the internals can be found in my previous article “ Improving the wireless signal of my Sony Vaio Pro 13 – Part 1“.

I decided to connect the new black antenna to the port which was used by the old black antenna before. Please be informed that Intel designed the MHF4 port/ connector not the be disconnected/ connected to often. This means that it can happen that the connector is already broken after 3-4 disconnects/ connects.

Connected the new antenna to the port of the old black antenna

After hooking if the antenna cable to the port I glued the antenna to the case below the battery. I decided to do so because this seems to be the easiest solution for me and the antenna position is much different to the installation of the original antennas. The original antennas are installed below/ above the internal speakers of the notebook.

New antenna glued into the case below/above the battery
New antenna behind mounted battery

Improvements of wireless signal // Result

I think there was an improvement in the wireless signal, but the improvement is not huge again. I tried to measure it by simply opening the wireless signal statistics of the KDE Network Manager app, but the signal is still showed as weak. What I recognized is that the connection looked to be more stable than before and improved at least by some small percent. I tested both 2,4 GHz as well as 5GHz wireless connection and also with and without mounted back cover of my Sony Vaio Pro 13 notebook, but the results stay more or less the same.

 

Wireless Signal 2.4 GHz, OLD antenna
Wireless Signal 5 GHz, OLD antenna
Wireless Signal 2.4 GHz, NEW antenna
Wireless Signal 5 GHz, NEW antenna

My current solution to fix the weak signal is some kind of a mixed bag. I usually try to use the internal Intel wireless card first and this works in a lot of situations. In case the issues are too big and the signal not powerful enough I simply plug in a  small USB wireless adapter (54MBit/s) from EDiMax into one of the USB ports. The adapter is, for now, a days wireless not fast, but is is very small and the support of the adapter is very good for Linux.

EDiMax 54MBit/s USB adapter

For me this shall be the solution: I do not think that I will purchase a new notebook soon, because the Sony Vaio Pro 13 is running very well with Linux (10+ hours with the extension battery) and the support of the hardware s good, but in case I do, I will check for a detailed review of the wireless signal before purchase the new device 😉

Improving the wireless signal of my Sony Vaio Pro 13 – Part 2
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