802.11ac and BT 4.2 are here for unibody MBPs!

troop231

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
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I am pleased to announce that 5 years after my post found here (where I threw in the towel early): https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/macbook-pro-802-11ac-upgrade.1521466/page-4#post-18438927 , native 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 are working on classic unibody MBPs! :cool::D

Edit: I'm now selling the upgrade cards here: https://subtle.design/products/80211ac

All of this was performed on a Mid-2012 A1278 13" MBP with Mojave 10.14.3.

This upgrade will work on the following models:

13" - Early 2011 through Mid 2012 - Model A1278
15" - Mid 2010 through Mid 2012 - Model A1286
17" - Mid 2010 through Late 2011 - Model A1297

I was encouraged by several members, most prominently, @highvoltage12v , who said the iMac cards from 2015 have the proper IPX antenna jack sizes on the card for the classic MBPs.

I reused my original adapter board I luckily kept from 2013, and lo and behold, it all works!! :eek::)

Now that the prototype works, the current plan is to make the adapter more compact and robust without using Apple's proprietary Airport connector.

Photos and screenshots:






 
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highvoltage12v

macrumors 6502a
Mar 27, 2014
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Yes, this project has been resurrected. Me and @troop231 have been working on ways to make a 2015 iMac wifi card fit into an a1278/a1286 chassis. Currently we are trying to find a source for Apple's proprietary Airport connector (2013+) which many Macbooks/iMacs use. If anyone here on Macrumors knows the specific connector name or type please let us know. I also have been toying with the idea of adding this to a 2011-2012 Mac mini by moving the primary dirve to the upper drive bay and having this card hang over where the original card sat. If anyone here has interest in modifying a 2010-2012 Mac mini for Wireless AC please also let us know. Further interest in this project depends on interaction on this thread. Our current target is the a1278/a1286 2011/2012 MBP, but the older Airport connector was used on many Macs from 2009 up untill 2012.
 
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majer

macrumors newbie
Feb 21, 2019
6
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You are the real MVPs :)

Name of connector
SSD-K99
F-RT-SM1
514S0335


But no luck with finding one
 
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troop231

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
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How much? Significantly or slightly?
At least three times faster, depending on your router. I'm using a Google WiFi router, so the link speed shown below is only 867 Mbps. If I remember correctly, the max speed is 1300 Mbps on more advanced routers.

802.11ac card:

802.11n card:

Speedtest internet results. New 802.11ac card is the bottom three entries in the screenshot. The top two entries are where I reconnected the old 802.11n card that came with the MBP.

 
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highvoltage12v

macrumors 6502a
Mar 27, 2014
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Excuse me for my ignorance, what is the benefit of this?
My fear is Apple removing the kext for the BCM943224 chipset in the next version of Mac OS. Which will remove a lot of 2012 Macs from the support list. If the kext cannot be added back to 10.15 like we are doing with the 10.13 Atheros kext for the 2011 iMac in 10.14, we may be SOL.

The 2015 iMac Airport card utilizes the bcm94360cd which is also the same card in the 2017 iMac. We gain things such as handoff and continuity etc. Most importantly to me we will have Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.2
 
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ls1dreams

macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2009
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As someone using an ancient 2011 macbook, it'll be great to get newer bluetooth for airdrop/continuity and 802.11ac/ax speeds if they come in time :)

With that said even 450Mbps 802.11n is perfectly fine for most uses.
 

troop231

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
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Update: Wake on wifi is confirmed to work as well as rebooting the machine using Screen Sharing, it connected right away.
[doublepost=1551067152][/doublepost]
As someone using an ancient 2011 macbook, it'll be great to get newer bluetooth for airdrop/continuity and 802.11ac/ax speeds if they come in time :)

With that said even 450Mbps 802.11n is perfectly fine for most uses.
Glad to have you aboard! That makes two people so far, maybe three.
 
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StellarVixen

macrumors 68020
Mar 1, 2018
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Earth
OK.


Since I cannot use such high speeds anyway (my home network is 100 Mbps), is it possible to upgrade the Bluetooth the same way? I need it for audio.

Thanks in advance.
 

StellarVixen

macrumors 68020
Mar 1, 2018
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Yes, as the wireless card that is used for this upgrade comes from an iMac. Bluetooth and 802.11ac are on the same card.
OK, thank you.

I was convinced that 2012 MBP has 3.0, but it actually has BlueTooth 4.0. That is good enough for me.


Thank you, anyway.
 

troop231

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
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I have tested the 2015 iMac Airport card in my A1278 MBP and have confirmed that it works all the way back to macOS Yosemite.

The Airport extreme router should arrive in a few days so I can verify that 1300 Mbps link speeds work correctly.
 
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troop231

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jan 20, 2010
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Excellent - what do you assume the final piece will cost?
I think the final cost, since it includes the wireless card, is yet to be determined. The best thing to lower cost is to get a group buy so I can buy all the components in bulk. I don't think a Kickstarter is necessary, but maybe if I add a poll that would help determine the interest?

I'm designing it to work in the A1286 and also definitely want to do the 2011-2012 Mac mini. It technically should work on the white MacBooks as well, but I'm not sure if people would want to invest money into those machines?
 
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