802.11ax wifi AP mPCI-E cards


Its almost mid 2020 and as we all deal with this Caronavirus outbreak, does anyone know of any 802.11ax mini PCI-E cards to use in a custom PCI-Engines router ?

I run a apu4b4 board


AP mode capable 802.11ax mini-PCIe (or rather M.2) cards don't exist yet.

Yes, there is the Intel AX200, which is useless for AP mode.

Yes, there are apparently the first samples for QCA QCN9074 available for sale from compex (no pricing yet, draw your own conclusions from that… around 200 USD for the 2.4 GHz model, around 200 USD for the 5 GHz model and around 250 USD for the 6 GHz model), but afaik those don't have driver support in ath11k (so far ath11k only covers QCN5024/ QCN5054 running on an ipq807x SOC) yet - and they wouldn't fit into your apu4b4 anyways (oversized, probably also drawing more power than the apu4b4 can provide; 802.11ax cards are running hot and need power). That said, it's questionable if the apu4b4 is fast enough to keep up with 802.11ax to begin with (at least the ethernet side isn't (and I'd be very sceptical what happens if you demand performance from both ethernet and wlan via PCIe concurrently), yes, 802.11ax can be faster than 1 GBit/s ethernet in practice, not just in theory) - and it only has a single mini-PCIe slot available (the other two are only USB XOR SATA and USB-only, but don't offer any PCIe lanes), while you'd need two (and both allowing oversized cards).

And soon we might see some MediaTek MT7915D/E based cards.

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I think those are exactly the ones I referred to above, QCN9074 based and apparently in the ~200 USD range for the 5 GHz model, ~250 USD for the 6 GHz one (I haven't seen a pricing for the 2.4 GHz one so far).

Wow that thing is huge...


Looks like having a wifi-SOC based board may be the economical option for Wifi6 and beyond, due to the huge bandwidth. Wonder if any companies want to make some which have native OpenWRT built in.


ath11k has just recently(Couple of days ago) started adding multi bus support, so it looks like PCI-E card support will arrive.

But, it looks like whole board SoC integrated radios will actually be cheaper than PCI-E cards

Why would one need two slots available? This refers really closely to the individual usage scenario, doesn't it?
In my case the 4×4 2,4GHz-card from Compex would help me to get perfect coverage in my allotment garden, where I would like to have 4G-access in combination with strong WiFi.
And there's also the opportunity to use a riser card in combination with a mPCIe->m.2-adapter to circumvent the oversize issue, and you can connect the card's heatsink to a metal housing to tackle the overheating...
Indeed there are no perfect board-housing-combinations available, so one would need to build the solutions ourselves, e.g. I would try to use a Turris Omnia (bandwidth capped at 1Gbps for both LTE, WiFi and wired connections is just fine for me, as the 4×4 at 2,4GHz has a theoretical maximum of 1,1Gbps) + stated adapters, as soon as the necessary driver support is in place.

The traditional setup would be to provide one 2.4 signal and one 5 GHz signal (maybe even a third 6 GHz signal in the future, wifi-6e). Sure you can omit the the 5 GHz signal, if you're content with only providing 2.4 GHz coverage, but even if 802.11ax does speed up 2.4 GHz as well, using the 5 GHz is still considerably faster (so for most real-world deployments, you'd want both).

WLAN cards providing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz signals concurrently are effectively non-existent (yes, AsiaRF does manufacture one mt7615 based one, but it's basically unobtainium - and 802.11ax equivalents don't exist at all). Given heat and power requirements of these cards, I don't think multi-slot risers/ expanders would provide you any good, unless you want to see fireworks.

I don't think so. The first reason for deploying 5 (or even 6) GHz was throughput. (But that only works on really low ranges, so for deploying this comprehensively in a bigger house, you need many access points.)
That argument doesn't count anymore for 2,4GHz-bond with 802.11ax - we get beamforming, MU-MIMO and 2,2Gbps with 8×8 cards. And even with 4x4 you can reach 1GBE-wired-speeds - which is the normal highend maximum internet speed (for higher speeds one would really want wired connections so in my eyes there is no realworld-usecase for the advertised 4,9Gbps of 8×8 5Ghz cards).
The second reason is the 2,4GHz bond being really crowded in urban regions.
That one is still true for *ax, so the real benefiting users would be those living in rural areas and house owners. But those now have a reason to omit 5GHz imho.

Yes riser is a not the perfect solution (and I also wouldn't dare to insert such a card into plastic housings like the Turris MOX due to bad heart dissipation), but with a little luck it fits into the right (#1) mPCIe-slot of the Turris Omnia and that way one could use it concurrently with a 4G/5G mobile network card in slot #3.

You read way too much into the link rate and the marketing lingo.

Using the 5 GHz band for 802.11ax still beats the 2.4 GHz band considerably, but hey - you'll have to make your own experiences, mine differ from your expectations.