Success! Upgraded early MacBook to Wireless-N

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by winterlocked, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. winterlocked, Sep 18, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011

    winterlocked macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2010
    I just upgraded the wireless card in my first generation MacBook from wireless-G to the speedy wireless-N format.

    I wanted to share the experience with anyone else with a first generation, core-duo based MacBook or MacBook pro who was considering doing this, or who wasn't aware that it was even possible.

    There's a great deal of misinformation out there, even on these forums, that the cards on these machines are not upgradeable, but they most definitely are.

    My main reason for doing this was to allow me to stream video to an apple tv from the MacBook, which is nearly impossible on wireless-g. Side bonuses include speeding up wireless syncing, which will be more important once iOS 5 is released.

    The model you want is a broadcom bcm94321mc card. Ifixit sells these for about 90 bucks, but i found one on ebay for 25 shipped. These are from the early Mac pro and the apple tv1, which are pin compatible with the existing card in the MacBook and share the 2 antenna design.

    I followed this exceptional guide on ifixit:

    It was actually dead simple and took me about 30 minutes. Aside from keeping track of the screws as you ago, the process is basically plug and play.

    If you have leopard or higher installed, then the card will be instantly recognized and work perfectly without any further steps. If you're still on tiger, you'll need to spend 2 bucks on the airport enabler software.

    I'm now connected to my 5ghz wireless-n network with perfect reception and no issues. Streaming video to my 1st and 2nd generation apple tvs is a joy, as is wireless syncing of new content.

    At 25 bucks, this was the most cost effective upgrade I've done to any of my computers. I would recommend it to anyone who has one of these excellent machines, has access to a tiny Phillips screwdriver and a penny, and wants to rescue an older machine from the jaws of obsolescence.

    Hope this is helpful.
  2. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000


    Jan 8, 2008
    Tampa, Florida
    Nice tip! I just ganked the airport card from my AppleTV and popped in my MacBook1,1 and it worked perfectly! This'll be a nice little upgrade for the old fella :)

    Now I just need to get the old G card working in the AppleTV... It's already hacked and such, I'd imagine that it's just a matter of installing the proper driver from the MacBook. Even if I can't ever get it to work in there, I only use the network connection for syncing anyway. Not a huge deal to run an ethernet cable once in a while. And I use the old MacBook all the time, so it'll be way more noticeable there :D
  3. winterlocked thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2010
    Glad it worked out for you. There's something really satisfying about enabling an unofficial feature like this. I felt like a secret agent when it worked.
  4. nicklad macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    You don't want a BCM94321MC if you can help it, look for a BCM94322MC.
    It's easy to rebrand a generic card to be an AirPort Extreme card.

    With the BCM94322MC, you'll also get AirDrop if the machine is capable of running Lion.
  5. rubirock macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2009
    Little Beirut

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