Home / News / Hardware Review: Xbox 360 Wireless N Adapter

 

x360-wifi-adapter-802.11n-front_1254776292Despite having missed its November 3 launch date in most places, the Wireless N adapter for the Xbox 360 finally made its way to websites and a few brick-and-mortar retailers this week. Possibly the 10th, which was supposed to be its “real” launch date, but reports are iffy.

As a recap, the adapter takes advantage of the 802.11n standard, the newest profile for wireless Internet standards, allowing for greater range and faster transfer rates. For gamers, this means less lag, better accuracy and for some, better Netflix quality.

It’s had a long road, being on Gamestop’s website and being pulled, but it’s here.

We managed to get our hands on one at a local Best Buy and swiftly put it through the hook-up and run-through tests to see if it really was worth the $100 price-tag.

The answer – Kinda sorta.

Set up:

Set up was sort of a pain. The included instructions are vague at best. Considering this is aimed at someone who actually cares about lag and ping, the target demographic doesn’t usually read instructions, still “Insert the disc and follow the on-screen instructions,” is less than informative.

We initially had some major issues. The disc simply didn’t read. It read “Mixed Media Disc” in the dashboard and was simply greyed out in the pop-up dash.

Anyone who’s modded an Xbox can tell you this is very, very bad. We tried booting the 360 with it in already, inserting after it was running, no changes.

The Wireless-N adapter won’t actually work without the drivers installed as it uses different protocols for communication than the usual, white, 802.11G adapter so the 360 didn’t even recognize it had been plugged in.

How did we get it running? Cleared the cache. Go to the memory setting page and press Y on the HD symbol. Then press X, X, Left Bumper, Right Bumper, X, X. Once you do this a messsage will appear saying, Do you want to perform maintenance on your Xbox 360 storage devices? Select yes.

All the saves and profiles remained intact, but we did have to reinstall the most recent software update afterwards (but not the dashboard update!) Restarting it after this got the disc to spin and it installed on its own at that point.

Once the drivers were installed, we plugged it into the USB and away we went with the rest of the setup.

IMG_5874

Set up otherwise remained the same as the old adapter, pick ‘Network’ (make sure it’s your N adapter, ours is called “Magic Castle 5GHz,” as we have a dual-band router) and it takes care of the rest.

Performance:

Once we were FINALLY set up and running, it wasn’t too bad. Trying to check profile setting brought up a connection error screen intermittently, but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

Consistency on games was solid, despite it being hidden deep in a wooden entrainment center.

The software updates the cache-reset deleted were downloaded just as quickly as they were with an ethernet connection (although no, we didn’t have a watch handy the first time so a comparison is largely pointless).

Off the bat, we noticed no loss of speed or performance playing Halo 3: ODST and Grand Theft Auto IV online play was pretty seamless. We noticed no dropped connections and performance on a 6.2 Mbps-down DSL connection was as smooth as could be expected for wireless versus a wired connection.

Watching Netflix was a breeze. HD picture on this week’s episode of ‘Heroes’ was just as good as HD satellite quality. The program quickly ascertained bandwidth and video quality, much faster than the old white G adapter and buffered almost instantly.

IMG_0362

Only once in the entire episode was there a hiccup in the connection. When we connected a MacBook Air to the same network it did briefly give the “Bandwidth has changed” message, but it disappeared as soon as we could read it. It’s unlikely this had anything real to do with the adapter and probably had more to do with our network.

It was, honestly, tough to even see the difference. If we had the two side-by-side we could probably have noticed with the correct tests, but without? No difference.

Conclusion:

So is it worth $100? There are certainly ethernet-to-wireless adapters that will do the same thing for cheaper, though certainly without the same level of synergy and ease-of-use the Microsoft adapter comes with.

The initial set up issues leaves a pretty large question mark on any kind of solid recommendation as someone less well-versed in the technical aspects of it all would have a difficult time setting it up. It’s a little too early to tell if it was console-specific or it might be a more widespread problem, but only time will tell there.

For $100 it’s a hard pill to swallow for admittedly very good network connectivity. A wired connection will always yield more reliable results than a wireless one, but in situations where it’s not practical this is a great substitute.

If you can find it for less, Amazon has it for $88 right now, or have some kind of coupon at a retailer, it’s certainly not difficult to recommend. We’ll certainly have it hooked up for some time to come.

 

About the author: Jonathan Harrop

 

Jonathan graduated in May of 2008 with a degree in Journalism in News/Print from the University of Arkansas. He currently lives in the Dallas, Texas area and has recently learned that 'freelance writer,' like 'starving artist' is not a cliche. Jonathan has played video games since Desert Strike forced him to break his 'B' button on his Sega Genesis controller.

 

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36 Comments

  1. I would love this, especially with the black to go with my elite, but I can’t justify another £60 when I have the original adapter.

  2. i jus got a wireles n addapter an when i got home to install the disc with the drivers on it the same thing happend as it says up top…the xbox says “mixed media disc” and wont play…so i went and returned it got another…same thing…so i called x-box and the only thing they said i could do was send it to them and they would send me another…n i tried that b,b,rb,lb b,b and nuthing happend…i cleared my cache, still nothing..i dunno bout this! specially when ure spending 100$ on a maximum 60$ product..any one have any ideas? or answers?

  3. Sorry mike, looks like I’m fresh out of ideas! You might try starting the console with the disc IN the tray after clearing the cache (and it doesn’t matter how fast you enter the button combo, make sure you do it right!) Our successful start had the adapter NOT plugged into the 360 when it finally recognized, but you might try doing it with it plugged in.

    Good luck!

  4. yeah it sux…i did tried em both with out the adapter plugged in…because the manual tells u in bold letters INSTALL DISC FIRST…but ne ways im gonna exchange it again today see if 3rd times a charm…if not then xbox said i could send it back and theyd send me a new one…even tho the same thin will prolly happend due to the fact its not faulyt hardware..its the software u know…but ill keep u posted…

  5. srry forgot to ask..i wonder if this is happening to alot of ppl..if its a str8 defect…because i got 2 from 2 diff stores…if u find any other info lemme know..im goin to check the xbox site/forums a lil later..gatt go pick up Left 4 Dead 2 :]

    —-happy hunting

  6. I just had the same thing happen..mixed media disc. I plugged the adapter in anyway and it works without the drivers….i wonder if the new update included the drivers.

  7. The same thing with the disc is happening to me. :/

  8. I got my wireless to work, the xbox site said there had been an update from live post October 09. So if you were on between then and now, you already have the drivers and the disk doesn’t play because of that. I just put in my new adapter, configured the network and it worked fine.

    However, all the cd did was give my screen the stupid tint that won’t go away. Any idea on how to get the colors back to normal?

    Stupid Cd.

  9. I conected the adapter without running the installation CD and it worked fine, however, it listed the connect as 802.11g instead of n. Any ideas?

  10. How did you fix the grey-out you mentioned above? I got it too as soon as the disk was in so I don’t think it is cable-related.

  11. The most recent update probably does include the drivers, though when we installed it, the update wasn’t available at the time. (For whatever reason?) Our drivers were definitely installed via the disc.

  12. I switched the wireless security to WPA2 on my wireless router and the xbox registered that it was connecting as 802.11n now.

  13. i just hooked my new adapter up but it still shows its connected to a G network??

  14. Just been messing about with our n adapter for a while when i realised we didn’t even need the disk for it to work. Like some guy said, the divers are in the update. Our connection was at 4 bars out of 5. We downloaded the HD clip of Avatar (which we couldn’t play on the old adapter) and it works perfectly.

  15. Are you sure your router is broadcasting an N network? Some older N models would not broadcast N if any G devices were present. Dual-band is the way to go.

  16. i put my disk in and had the same proplem but then i plugged the wirless reciever in and it just came up with the set up

  17. Yes, As of the last xbox live update, microsoft included the driver software in the update. So my advice do not put in the disc or your picture on your screen will be noticeably different, and thats not in a good way. I hope this information works

  18. I got this same thing, cleared my cache and it still wouldn’t work. I stuck in the Modern Warfare 2 disc and let it begin to play, then ejected the disc in the middle of loading and loaded the wireless install disc. Somehow that worked for me. Good luck guys, I know how frustrating this can be.

  19. The only thing that worked for me was this tip found on another site

    1. set console to boot from disc at startup (system settings > console settings > startup and shutdown > startup > disc) and reboot

  20. I got 1 for Christmas
    Same problem with the setup disk, but just plugged it in anyway.
    The xbox recognized the adapter but it would only connect to my network if i moved the xbox significantly closer to my router.
    The range seems to be less than my old white adapter.

    Planning on trying to return it tomorrow.

  21. Ok, I really need your help. I just got my Wireless N Adapter for Christmas yesterday. I had the same problem with the whole disk thing! I tried clearing the cache with the whole X,X,LB,RB,X,X and it told me that it would preform maintenence and stuff but when I went back it still didn’t work! Do I have to restart my Xbox 360? Is something supposed to pop up on the screen like a regular game does? Also, you said to get it to work you had to reinstall the most recent update or whatever. What update is that and HOW do you reinstall it?? Please HELP ME! I neeeeed to play Xbox LiVE!

  22. I have been trying to get the n adapter to work for two days. I have spent countless HOURS on the phone with Belkin, Centurylink and Xbox to resolve the DNS server error. After all this, I borrowed an old white g adapter and it worked the first time…What is up with this? Is the new n adapter defective? I hardwired the console with an ethernet cable earlier today and got updates and I’m pretty sure the disc loaded yesterday when I restarted the console while the disc was still in there. This has turned out to be a disappointing Christmas gift for my son. Any suggestions?

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  24. I Found If you set the xbox to run disk on start up and have the wirless plugged in when you reset it runs the update program and all is good!!!

  25. The same thing is happening to me I tried everything and nothing works for me this is pissing me off so much

  26. The xbox adaptor was recognised on the network but I couldn’t get it connected to the internet as the router wouldn’t automatically assign an ip address although all the router settings were correct. I tried to do this manually, again without success. I had the same problem when I tried a wired connection!
    More through luck and as a last resort I reset the settings back to the factory settings and it picked up the connection right away and I got connected to XBox Live. Talk about frustration!!!!!

  27. Well i just got a new elite for christmas and i’ve tride everything but it still says ixed disc!! what should i do?…’,=(

  28. Quick question guys… First off i think everyone has an issue with this new adaptor/disc.

    I recieved an elite for xmas… but just today went down and bought the new n adaptor, and a new n router.

    Still can’t seem to get disc to load.

    Was gonna ask… if I just use a cable and connect my xbox to it… can I then run the updates to get the adaptor to work via just internet update.

    I mean is that update still even available? This xbox has never been hooked up to internet… so in theory can’t i just get the most recent drver update just by using an ethernet cable connection?

    Or am I just stuck with this hassle until i figure out how to load the disc.

    Please reply

  29. if the installation disc doesn’t run and if u read the instructions on the front of the CD case and read #5 its says if no instructions are displayed ( the cd doesnt load to give instructions) that means ur system is up to date. i called them today and found that out cuz i had confusion on it. but if the installion cd doesnt load just says mixed media disc u dont need to install the cd. just set up the wireless adapter and ur good to go. hope this helps

  30. Forget the disk i just spent hours dealing with this crap…. If you had the original adapter and have updated LIVE this FALL then you have what you need. My problem was that the N Adapter would only connect at G speed and say G in the Network configuration slide on XBOX … restore the network settings to Deafault…. Then all I had to do was ensure that my router was using WPA2 for security and make sure the FIRMWARE was up to date…… and even with my router broadcasting a mixed signal B/G/N the XBOX chose the N and now says connected 802.11n!! Also there are specific fixes for certain routers that wont recognize the XBOX wirelessly..I suggest going to their Brand websites and getting the details there…. hope this helps somebody

  31. HERE IS HOW YOU GET THE CD TO READ:

    1. Turn on the xbox and insert the cd
    2. Go to the System Settings > Console Settings > Startup and Shutdown > Startup [Then Select: DISC]
    3. Turn off the xbox
    4. Turn on the xbox
    4. It will do some updates then plug in the Network Adapter

    The instructions are terrible. But this worked for me after cursing microsoft for 8 min and then figuring it out. No secret code entry necessary.

  32. i dont have the disc is there any other way to get it so i can update and use the adapter?

  33. will the black adapter work an a 360 pro console

  34. OK Guys
    I Had the Same Problem with the Xbox Wireless adapter Setup Disc not reading it.

    I tried the suggestions above and did not work.
    I then tried one this.

    I set Xbox to start at the Cd and and not at the bashboard.
    to do this I did the followings:

    Do not Connect Wireless adapter to Xbox

    1. Go to Settings
    2. Go to Console Settings
    3. Go to Startup and Shutdown
    4. Select Statup
    5. Select Disc
    6. Insert Wireless adapter Disc
    7. Then power off console

    a message will popup asking you if you want to perform an update.

    select yes.

    the console will restart one or more times until you see the gamedashbord again.

    8. Remove disc from xbox
    9. turn off console
    10. Connect wireless adpapter to console
    11. Turn On Xbox
    12. Xbox you tell you that a wireless aparter was found and if you want to configure..
    13. if it does not ask you. go to settings, Network Settings, Configure Network.

    I hope this work for all of you.

    GOD BLESS YOU ALL

    Hector

  35. Concerning the install disc “mixed media disc” error. Make sure the console settings has startup-> disc and not startup->dash board.

    Hope it helps.

  36. I tried installing the disc first, nada. Found this thread during a google search but didn’t really want to do a cache clear.

    I plugged the adapter straight in and boom, it recognized the adapter without installing the disc at all.

    I think the drivers have been installed on the 360 console as part of their last update.

    ta da I guess.

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