CSL Wlan Nano USB Wifi – Review

After my laptop’s built-in wireless card started to act…erratically, I decided to buy a USB-based replacement. After some trawling through Amazon pages, I found the CSL Nano – a “nano” sized USB wifi chip with speeds of up to 150Mbps.  Another plus was advertised Linux support and
The above feature list, combined with the price of a mere £5.99 made for an instant buy, and it arrived roughly a week later.
Let’s see how it fares.

Packaging

Packaging for CSL Nano

The CSL Nano is packaged in a shiny, blue-tinted plastic bag.  It appears to have enough structure to withstand any mishaps during shipping, but is obviously designed to be flat-packed in an envelope, and favors form over function.

Inside we find the Nano, in all it’s…nano glory, a feedback leaflet, and a driver disc, which as I use Linux was promptly thrown in a bin.

The Nano

Space between USB and computer

The Nano itself is remarkably small – as you would expect from the name.  It features a gold colored USB with the CSL logo and a black, featureless design.  My only critique of the design would be that the Nano does not fit flush with a USB port, sticking out a few millimetres beyond what would be standard for USB devices, which really detracts from the overall look, but I also understand that the extra space is needed to pack in the wifi goodness.  Overall, I would say that the aesthetic goes quite well with any of the myriad of black colored laptops and PC cases, and while it is simple, it is also very clean.  Well done on the design front!

USB Wifi Chip Setup & Performance

Setup was non-existent, simply requiring me to plug it into my Antergos laptop.  There was no need for extra drivers, which is great, but on Ubuntu things were different.  I was forced to disable the built-in chip in 14.04 just to be able to download the drivers, and even then it worked erratically at best.  On 16.04 things where a bit better, but still not as good as could be hoped.  I had to reboot multiple times before the “USB wifi” showed up in GNOME and in Network Manager.

Performance

The Nano performed roughly the same as my built-in chip for my general speedtest (margin of error difference), but was much better in terms of ping.

I was getting around 1.5-3ms average ping with the built-in card, with occasional spikes of up to 200, but with the Nano I got a solid 1-2ms, without any spikes.

Conclusion

The Nano is a great value wireless USB Wifi card that works great as a replacement for broken laptop chips, or an alternative to a PCI based one, but there are some payoffs for the low price, and if you can spare a few extra bucks, you’re better off buying a better one.

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