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Which USB wireless adaptor has Mac OS X support? - POSSIBLY OUTDATED

Posted On: Wed, 03/08/2005 - 20:25 by Alex

In the second piece of Apple news today, I shall be sharing with you the list of ways you can procure wireless 802.11g access for your Apple computer, apart from fitting an AirPort Extreme (or Airport).

To be frank, the AirPort Extreme is the way to go; if you foresee yourself using wireless at all, you should probably just get it, because it has almost guaranteed compatibility with current and future releases of OS X, and is utterly unobtrusive. You have to pay the price, of course.

Update 13/12/2005: The Belkin 802.11g Wireless USB 2.0 Network Adapter supports OS X Tiger; provided that it is version 2000, 2001, 3000, or 3000uk, according to feedback to this story.

For version 2000 and 2001 use the Macintosh 11g-RT2500 driver; for version 3000 and 3000uk use the Macintosh RT71W driver. Drivers are available here.

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Update 08/12/2005: It might still be possible to buy a Belkin 802.11g Wireless USB 2.0 Network Adapter which supports Tiger, but I'm not sure. (Please note that the original post is now more than 4 months old - I haven't tried to get an adaptor working with Tiger since then.)

The Belkin 802.11g Wireless USB 2.0 Network Adapter (model number f5d7050) I bought at that time proved itself to be version 2000, using an RT2500 series chipset, and drivers for that are available here.

The current Belkin 802.11g Wireless USB 2.0 Network Adapter (model number f5d7050) appears to be using a RT73 chipset, which Bradley says is supported in OS X Tiger by the RT71W chipset drivers, also available from ralink. (It's the last driver listed under "Macintosh")

Ignore the rest of this post.

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Update 6/12/2005: Take Dave's comment into account. Given that there is a new version of the Belkin, perhaps the best bet is to look for something else with the Ralink RT2500 chipset...

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In the second piece of Apple news today, I shall be sharing with you the list of ways you can procure wireless 802.11g access for your Apple computer, apart from fitting an AirPort Extreme (or Airport).

To be frank, the AirPort Extreme is the way to go; if you foresee yourself using wireless at all, you should probably just get it, because it has almost guaranteed compatibility with current and future releases of OS X, and is utterly unobtrusive. You have to pay the price, of course.

Unfortunately, sometimes this just isn't possible; if your Mac only supports the non-Extreme Airport, you're in trouble. This is also true if you didn't buy the AirPort Extreme initially - while installation is quite simple on iBooks and powerbooks, installing the AirPort in a Mac Mini requires you to pry open the casing. This can be difficult, painful, or impossible; depending upon your character and personality. Anyhow, this is the age of USB - finding a supported USB wireless network adaptor shouldn't be too hard, right?

It is very hard if you're using a Mac.

However, help is at hand. What you should buy really depends upon the version of OS X you're using now. If you're using panther (i.e. 10.3.x), your obvious choice is the Belkin 802.11g Wireless USB 2.0 Network Adapter. Belkin provides a driver here. Ignore the fact that the model number listed is f5d7050_v2, it will work on products with model number f5d7050, and will probably work with f5d7050uk. Note that you need to download the driver from that link - it is not yet included on the CD, nor does the box advertise Mac compatibility.

Strangely, the Belkin is also the right choice for Tiger (i.e. 10.4.x). While the driver listed above will not work, the Belkin uses a chipset by ralink, and drivers for it are available here.

I'm using this personally, and it does work hence the recommendation. Note that for the ralink driver, there have been reports of instability. While I haven't encountered this myself, your mileage may vary. In any case, the key seems to be purchasing a product which uses ralink RT2500 series chipset, and rapla.net has a page which lists all such products.

Where to buy the Belkin? Apple stores worldwide list it, but Amazon also sells it, at a discounted rate. Links - Amazon UK | Amazon US. You can also apparently buy it in Best Buy or similar stores for something like USD 10 after rebates; if you're in the US.

[Note: ilja Cigna reports that F5D7050 (rev 1000 AU) does not work.]

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