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802.11n adapter upgrade for Lenovo S10

January 6, 2009

I bought a relatively cheap 802.11n miniPCI adapter off eBay and just received it in the mail today.  I installed it about an hour ago and, as you can tell from this post, it’s obviously working!  The previous 802.11g adapter was very good, but now I’m rockin’ draft n speeds! 

The installation was very easy.  Removing the 4 screws from the bottom of the laptop allowed me to pop off the palm rest, which is where the adapter sits.  I removed the two screws holding the adapter in place and popped off the two antenna connectors.  After that, the adapter just came out.  Popped in the new adapter, connected the antennas and screwed the new adapter in place, replaced the palm rest and put the case screws back in.  I booted up Windows 7 and the new adapter was immediately recognized as a Broadcom 802.11n adapter.  After reconnecting to my wireless network, I’m connected at speeds over 100 Mbps, whereas the previous adapter topped out at 54Mbps. 

The only problem so far, and I’ll need to keep an eye on this, is the additional heat.  The adapter sits right under the palm rest so the additional heat from this new adapter is readily apparent.  I’ll need to make sure that I don’t rest my hand there too long!  I also want to make sure the plastic case of the laptop doesn’t melt!  So far so good though.  Maybe I’ll stream some NetFlix or do some bittorrent downloads to see how hot this thing gets.

All in all, I’d say this was a good upgrade.  If you want to do it yourself, it’s really simple to do.  You can find cheap adapters on eBay all over the place.  The S10 only has two antennas though, and some 802.11n draft cards come with 3 connectors.  Obviously, you’d only be able to connect 2 of those, unless you got really ambitious with your hardware mod and installed a full third antenna!  Just something to keep in mind.  The card I used was an actual Apple Macbook miniPCIe card using a Broadcom chipset, BCM94321MC.  Works like a charm.

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11 comments

  1. Sweeeet! I just picked up my S10 last week and the BT module arrived yesterday. 802.11N is my next upgrade, so this post helps…thx! 😉


    • It’s a great upgrade, but like I said in the post, the thing gets pretty hot. I’m keeping my 802.11g card around just in case the 11n card fries itself. Good luck on your upgrade! Let me know how it turns out.


  2. Just installed MacBook BCM94321MC card today on my S10 also, work as expected using BCM-Vista driver from Lenovo, burning hot like others told. But strange thing that when boot into OS X, the card is not that hot…apple driver works better for apple stuff?


    • @matt –

      That’s interesting. I’d love to see an actual thermographic comparison between the two operating systems. I know that Vista and Windows 7 allow you to set the power of the wifi card, so I wonder if that has anything to do with it. Maybe the default in Windows is to transmit at full power all the time while OS X drops the card into lower power modes when it’s not being used heavily. That could account for the temp difference. You should try to change the transmit power in vista to see if it has an effect on the temp. Are you using the MSI Wind ISO for OS X? How does it work on the S10? Does all the hardware work? Did you have to do anything special to get it on there? I’ve been thinking about doing this myself, but haven’t taken the time. Is it sluggish at all? What about the system fan? Is it loud?


  3. Me think so, possibly driver for apply handle transmission power better to avoid overheat issue.
    Yes, I’m using the MSI Wind ISO for OS X (10.5.6), Ethernet NIC not working (no driver so far for BCM59xx), others ok. Rembmer to ready an external USB KB+Mouse for the installation and switch the Alt & Windows Key for Opt & Comm Key afterward.


  4. Follow this guide will work…

    http://www.netbooktech.com/2008/10/13/guide-to-installing-os-x-on-lenovo-ideapad-s10/


    • I just installed OS X on the S10 last night. Everything works pretty well. I didn’t use the MSI Wind iso. Instead, I used the boot-132 method and a full retail DVD install. After loading a few kexts, the display looks good at the correct resolution, the touchpad works (although it’s REALLY touchy…I still need to get the preference pane working for the Synaptics touchpad), the keyboard works, the camera works, and wi-fi works. Sound doesn’t work. Any ideas on getting it to work? I found Audieee, but I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. I would prefer just a simple kext for audio as opposed to using scripts that have to run every time I reboot…

      So, audio and the touchpad preference pane are the two biggest things I need right now. Everything else seems to be square. I haven’t tried the ethernet port, VGA, ExpressCard slot, or audio jacks. Since I never used any of those under Windows, either, I don’t really care if they work under OS X or not. I also haven’t run any kind of battery tests to see how long the S10 lasts with OS X running a vanilla kernel.


  5. Welcome to S10 OSX world! Can’t avoid Audieee, I put it as startup item when login so no need to care it everytime when I start the OS X session.


    • Yeah, Audieee works. I put it as a login item as well. I also got the trackpad preferences by deleting the vendor check in the plist. Now I can tap-click instead of using the trackpad buttons. Makes it much smoother. Now, I guess my only real problem is the fans. For some reason, it’s hit or miss with the fans. I’ll boot it up and the fans won’t kick on AT ALL and the thing gets really really hot to the touch. If I then restart it, the fans kick on full blast because of the heat and they don’t turn off at all. Then if I reboot again, the fans stay off again until another reboot. I don’t want to fry my laptop just to run OS X! Any ideas on the fans? I thought the fans were controlled by the bios and not through the OS so it shouldn’t matter what OS I’m running. The BIOS should kick the fans on no matter what, right? Maybe it’s something screwy with the EFI emulation…


  6. So what’s the update on this mod? Heat still a big issue in Windows and not in OS X? Also, it looks like this card will work with 802.11a/b/g too?

    I am planning on adding this card, bluetooth, OS X / Ubuntu, and 500gb HD to my Lenovo S10 soon. Thanks for the post and the informative comments.


    • @ Will –

      I haven’t had much time to play around with it in OS X, so I couldn’t give a definitive answer as to whether or not it gives off the same amount of heat as it does in Windows 7. I’m in the process of installing Bluetooth, GPS (if it’ll fit), and a touch screen, so the laptop is sitting in pieces on my desk right now. From the few hours I did spend with the laptop with OS X, I didn’t notice a huge decrease in heat from the wi-fi adapter. It did seem slightly cooler, but the difference wasn’t enough to say definitively that the operating system had any effect.

      As far as working with 802.11a/b/g/n, I haven’t tried it exclusively on each of those. My house is pretty much 11n for everything. I know the Broadcom chipset that is used on this card fully supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz and the spec sheet says that is supports a/b/g/n, but, because this is an Apple card, I have no idea what Apple may have done to it’s capabilities.

      Let me know how your upgrades go. I was thinking of putting a bigger hard drive in as well, but it just didn’t make much sense for what I want to use it for. The 80GB is plenty big enough for me right now. Luckily, if I ever change my mind, the hard drive is about the easiest thing to change out. I was thinking of waiting for SSD prices to drop a bit more and pick up a 128GB. It would be great if I could get a small SSD that wouldn’t take up the full hard drive bay, because then I’d have some room to put the GPS in…of course, then the GPS module would be on the bottom of the machine and I would probably need to wire an antenna to it for it to get any signal.

      By the way, if anyone is interested in adding touch screen capabilities, there is a solderless kit specifically for the S10 put out by a company called fidohub. The S10 kit is NOT available on their web site, for some odd reason, but they DO sell it through their eBay store. So if you search around for S10 touch screen or if you search for the seller fidohub, you should find the kit. It does involve pretty much ripping the whole machine apart in order to route the wires correctly, but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it.



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