If your PC is experiencing poor wifi signal strength, there are some simple things you can check.
First of all, please check you have attached the antennas to your computers wifi card. The antennas are long black plastic parts about the size of a pencil with a screw thread at the base. They are usually packed in the accessory kit supplied with your PC. You can see the antennas in the photo below. Depending on your wifi card model, you may have 1, 2 or 3 antennas with your computer.
This sample model has two antennas. They need to be attached to the wifi card antenna outlets on the rear of the PC. Attach the antennas by screwing them on until finger tight.
Once attached, the antennas can be angled or rotated to any position. Experiment with the angle of the antenna until you find the best reception. Usually, the best reception will be when the antennas are aligned with the antennas on your wifi router or when the antenna is perpendicular to the router, but some experimentation will be required.
If your signal is still weak, check if there are any solid objects which may block the signal from the router. Ideally, you would have a clear straight line between your router and PC antenna. Wifi signals can travel through solid objects with varying degrees of ease. A plaster and timber stud wall will allow wifi signals to travel through with ease. A solid brick wall is less easy to go through. The most challenging material for wifi signals to travel through is metal so try to avoid this wherever possible. Solid metal casings for kitchen appliances, fireplaces, radiators etc. can prove to create a total wifi blackout area behind them. Also, consider that the PC’s metal casing could become a barrier so orienting the PC in a different direction can make a huge difference. Modern solid insulation boards are an often overlooked wifi barrier as they are usually coated on both sides by an aluminium foil. The foil will degrade the signal but also cause reflections and interference, so signal quality is reduced in properties featuring this type of insulation.
Should I choose 2.4GHz or 5GHz connections?
Most modern Wifi routers will allow connections via two frequency bands, 2.4GHz and 5GHz. There has been much marketing hype around 5GHz connections as they can offer faster speeds than the 2.4GHz bands and there is less chance of interference from other radio devices such as baby monitors or DECT phone systems.
The reality of the 5GHz system is that it can only offer faster speeds when your router is relatively close to your PC. The signal doesn’t penetrate as far as 2.4GHz signals, but the manner in which it travels through walls and other objects will also be different. There is also much less chance of interference from other devices. If your router and Wifi card are both 802.11ac compatible, you will only get the benefits of the faster AC speeds when connected to the 5GHz band.
It’s difficult to give a one size fits all answer as to which frequency band you should choose. I would recommend you try the 5GHz band and see how strong your signal is. A good signal at 5GHz will always be better than a similar signal at 2.4GHz, but you may find the signal isn’t as good. If the signal isn’t as good, you are probably better off using the 2.4GHz band.
When configuring your router, ensure the 2.4GHz SSID and the 5.0GHz SSID are different. This is particularly important for wifi adapters using the Realtek chipset as these seem to have random dropouts and disconnections if both the SSID are set to be the same. Intel chipset wifi adapters seem much more tolerant of this which is often why you may see some devices remain connected in your home while others drop out.
If you are connecting using 802.11ac, then try to favour the 5GHz band as performance will be better unless the signal is very much weaker than the 2.4GHz band (it shouldn’t be as wireless AC 5GHz travels further than Wireless N 5GHz).