Why are MSI Wind netbooks crashing Apple routers?

16 Comments

MsiwindI’ve been following Dave Winer’s new netbook passion with obvious interest. He dipped a toe in the netbook waters back in July with the purchase of an Asus Eee PC 901 and it’s clear to me that Dave "gets it" with this device genre. He needed a low-cost, highly portable device that could still run Microsoft Windows XP. He has other requirements too, but they’re all met by a netbook. While we (and by we I mainly mean me) sometimes try to push the limits of these small companion devices, Dave happily uses a netbook for its intended purpose.

Let’s fast forward in time a little from July. Dave thought about getting another netbook: one that offered a little better experience from a screen and keyboard standpoint. Although my experiences weren’t the sole factor in Dave’s upgrade decision, he read the many positives I’ve shared about my MSI Wind, so he bought one. And that’s when the trouble started….

Long story short: everytime Dave put the MSI Wind on his wireless home network, it took down his Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station (AEBS). I spent a little bit of time working with Dave to try and isolate the issue but we had no luck and back the device went.

Oddly I’ve used my Wind with Windows XP, Vista, 7 and Mac OS X all with my AEBS and never had the problem. Dave’s got a few more odds and ends in his network topology, but testing showed that these had no effect. We also had the same Realtek WiFi hardware and drivers on our Winds, but something is clearly different. We looked at network settings and everything else we could, but in the end, we simply couldn’t figure it out.

Now we could just chalk this up to a one-off case, but here’s the kicker: other folks are reporting the same issue. Here’s the two most recent on Dave’s blog. Here’s two more on the Apple Discussion forums. The common factors? An MSI Wind and an Apple AEBS. My question is: what the heck is going on? Isn’t 802.11g a pretty solid standard at this point? Where’s the issue… on the Wind… on the Apple router… both?

I’d really like to figure out what’s going because using a netbook on a wireless network should just work in this day and age. The MSI Wind is a definite contender in the netbook space, but when folks experience issues like this, the device doesn’t stand a chance for acceptance. It not only hurts MSI, but it hurts the netbook market as a whole. Has anyone else seen this issue or have any thoughts? Dave’s Wind was already returned, but I’d be thrilled if even one person having the issue could have it eliminated.

16 Comments

Jeff Brown

Fix for Win XP SP3 and Ralink 1T2R Mini Wireless card.

This is it, a winner. In WinXP, go to the Device Manager, Network adapters, Wireless adapter, Properties, Advanced tab, scroll down to Power Saving Mode, and change to CAM.

Leigh

Going to the Ralink Wireless Configuration Utility and UNCHECK “Power Saving Mode” and ENABLE “CAM (Constantly Awake Mode)” really does work.

Yup.. I was having the same issues. I followed Dan’s instructions above and now, we are good to go.

Lex

I swapped my Wind’s WiFi Realtek card from the get go. This was done way back in August of 2008, when there weren’t any OSX drivers for the Realtek yet. I bought a used Apple Airport Extreme card for around $28 on eBay, and it’s worked great.

It may not only be cheaper than “returning” your unit, but if you really like the Wind, and want to rid of your router problems, this may be the smartest little upgrade you’ll ever do.

Dan

this is a late post, but there’s a fix for this problem, posted here on the Apple forums:

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=8766006

Here’s the text:

“Going to the Ralink Wireless Configuration Utility and UNCHECK “Power Saving Mode” and ENABLE “CAM (Constantly Awake Mode)” really works. My airport extreme is not crashing anymore. The msi wind work fast and beautiful.I can go to websites without crashing the airport.
The steps are: go to control panel, click on systems. Click on hardware, click on device manager.Click on network adapter.Click on the wireless adapter. click on the advanced tab and under property, scroll down and find for “Power saving mode”, change the value to CAM(constantly Awake Mode). Click ok and That’s it. The msi wind will work now without crashing the airport extreme. Good Luck! ”

I tested it, and it worked. It also works if you are using the Windows configuration. Right click on your network connection in the notification area, choose ‘status’ of your network connection. Click ‘properties’ in your status window, then ‘configure’ in the properties window that opens. Choose the ‘advanced’ tab, then the ‘power saving mode” item, then pick “CAM.”

(In fact, you can make the change using the Windows method even if you are running the RALINK config utility as your primary connection method – since it seems some versions of the RALINK utility don’t offer the power saving CAM option.)

In any case, it has been working for me!

– Dan

Sascha

Hi i have the same problem with a new out of the box WIND U100 with the “n”-card (Ralink Chipset).
When the box is booted, wireless LAN with the current AEBS with “n”-Support dies out. If i look at the wireless indicator of my iPhone i can see it disapearing once the U100 wireless is swiched on. It acts just like an wireless LAN jammer. I too have WPA2 personal swiched on.

carmen

it would be newsworthy if dlink/linksys/netgear routers didnt crap out on a regular basis due to connection-overload, overheating, RFI

get used to it!

johnx

This is by definition a problem with the Apple router. The netbook might be triggering this problem, but the router should not be crashing under any circumstances. Keep in mind the 2.4GHz band is fair game for *anything.* Routers have to deal with analog phones, running microwaves, and other wireless networks. You could even think about this as a potential vulnerability to a DDoS attack.

Michael Horowitz

Kevin,
Did you check that your Apple router and Dave’s were at the same firmware release level?
Some other things to try for people having a problem:
-Try no encryption, WPA and WPA2.
-Chances are that WPA can be used with either TKIP or AES, so try them both.
-WPA passwords can be up to 63 characters or so, but maybe there’s a bug, so try a short password as a test. Short passwords, in general, are bad things, I’m only suggesting it as a test in case there is a bug somewhere with very long passwords.
-Finally, there are some oddball parameters for a Wi-Fi network connection that I don’t understand. Things like the length of the header. All I can suggest, if nothing else works, is to experiment with these too.
-When testing things, its probably best to reboot the router between each test.

Tim Ednie

I honestly believe this is a Airport extreme problem. I have a Time Capsule and recently got a Aspire One netbook. Despite driver changes etc, my AAO will not maintain a constant connection to the apple router. It continually just stops working, yet shows everything is okay. My 2 other notebooks connect and maintain connections fine.
Thinking it was an AAO problem, I decided after multiple updates of drivers to try one last thing. I enabled the wireless on my DSL modem which has a built in wireless router that I had previously disabled, and voila, problem solved. No more disconnects. Reconnect to the Apple router, trouble again.
Even though not exactly the same as the Wind, very similar in that wireless problems are creeping up with netbooks. (The AAO uses Atheros drivers.) I think we need a firmware update soon to resolve these problems.

Dave Zatz

One more point of reference… I too run WPA2 and had no problems. The Wind I had was the b/g WiFi card, not the b/g/n. Not sure if it makes a difference.

knayr

How odd, I’ve been having an odd issue with my AEBS and it all started when my new Wind arrived a last week, so it seems this is not uncommon. The wifi connection basically melted down when the wind connected and its been wonky since.

Bhaveshp

I posted my woes on Dave’s blog with my fresh out of box Wind crashing my Airport Extreme. Definitely not due to any malware. I believe it was related to the WPA2 personal encryption as removing all WiFi security allowed the combo to work well.

Agree, this points to a bug in the AEBS, but I prefer having a protected network. As I use the AEBS for printer sharing & time machine backups, I didn’t want to swap the router.

I ended up voiding my Wind’s warranty and swapped the Wind’s Realtek mini-pci wifi with a Dell Trumobile 1500 card. Using this Broadcom based wifi card, the Wind works great both in XP and OS X 10.5.5.

ignar

Isn’t actually a problem of Apple rather than MSI? Winds have worked with other routers without such issues and Apple laptops have been working with non-Apple routers fine, so the problem must lie in Apple router, I guess.

Dave Zatz

I don’t know… My (former) MSI Wind and my AEBS worked fine together. Maybe he downloaded some malware onto XP or something.

Les Moss

Its an AirPort problem by definition. It should not be possible to crash a router no matter what junk is thrown at it.

Gabe Little

I’ve had the same issues but in the opposite direction. My MacBook & MacBook Pro kept crashing my D-Link & Linksys router – especially when uploading.

I also had a P.O.S. PackardBell desktop that I bought when in South Africa and it always crashed my Airport Extreme.

Sorry, but I never figured out the problem in either case.

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