Replacing M.2 Wifi/Bluetooth laptop antenna cables?

zovc

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Jan 5, 2017
852
602
Hey,

The other day I was working on my MSI GS63VR, I bought a 960 Evo to throw in there, and I took out the 2.5" HDD (which gave me like an extra HOUR of battery life...) and as I was reassembling the laptop, the M.2 wifi card's antenna cable's (tiny coax?) connector that seats on the wifi card's connector just broke off. The way the cable was routed was not very friendly to the connector, and I guess it finally gave way.

My friend helped me solder the cable back together and it seemed like it was working, but in the process of trying to repair everything, things have gotten worse.

Originally, Wifi was working, but Bluetooth wasn't. Now, neither work and it seems like even the M.2 card is acting up--maybe it's been flexed too much from us trying to force the connectors back on? I don't really know.

Where I am now, Windows detects that I have a Bluetooth adapter installed, but the Wifi portion of the device doesn't even register in Windows, Device Manager or otherwise.

I don't mind getting a new M.2 card, but it's pretty clear that the cables should be replaced--we can't tell if we got glue inside of the connector of one (which wouldn't make sense, but...) but it will not seat on either terminal. The cable my friend repaired is able to seat on either terminal.

Basically, I'm trying to get this repaired before I leave the country at the end of March and I don't really know who or what to turn to. The laptop was purchased as "refurbished" from Newegg and was in worse condition than I expected. The chassis is dented, seemingly from someone slamming their hand onto it and it makes some of the keys a little uneven too. Having taken the laptop apart a few times, there were random screws missing. (Including one for the display!!!) I'm going to try contacting MSI about it tomorrow (when their centers are open), but I don't have high hopes that they will help me service a unit that I've opened myself several times.

Any ideas?
 

neilhart

Cable-Tie Ninja
Apr 18, 2017
148
269
An option is to pull the internal M.2 out of the system and purchase WiFi and BT USB dongles. Each can be had for around $10 USD each and select units are compatible with Win, Linux and Mac.

Neil
 
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zovc

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Jan 5, 2017
852
602
An option is to pull the internal M.2 out of the system and purchase WiFi and BT USB dongles. Each can be had for around $10 USD each and select units are compatible with Win, Linux and Mac.

Neil

Yeah, I'll go that route if I have to. But I'm trying to avoid doing that just for the sake that those dongles can get lost or damaged. I'm going to be traveling for like a year, so having everything as consolidated as possible is worth the premium/trouble of having this repaired if I can.
 

jtd871

SFF Guru
Jun 22, 2015
1,165
847
Those dongles can be really low-profile, don't know that you'd lose them if you left them in all the time in the rear IO ports. Hell, the connectors on the video ports would be a similar profile.
 

zovc

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Jan 5, 2017
852
602
Those dongles can be really low-profile, don't know that you'd lose them if you left them in all the time in the rear IO ports. Hell, the connectors on the video ports would be a similar profile.

This is a laptop that's going to rest in my bag on one of its sides--where the USB ports are--and it'll likely be in-and-out of the bag a lot.

It's not that I'll be intentionally mistreating the laptop or any accessories, it's just that the laptop will be having a lot of wear and tear and any dongles left in would be much more prone to catching on something or getting lost than an ordinary use case. Using the built-in WiFi would be infinitely less prone to any of those complications.

And--for what it's worth--I've never had a good experience with a Bluetooth dongle, and Bluetooth is a huge convenience I don't want to give up.
 
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zovc

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Jan 5, 2017
852
602
I tried a new card, upgrading from a 8620 to an 8625 while I was at it. The new card properly reports to Windows, which suggests that the first card did get damaged.

However, the card can't pick up signal from anything that isn't right next to it, which suggests that my antennae are busted. Double bummer.

I sent the laptop off to someone who has experience working on things like this, and I'm sure they'll have a better chance of fixing the coax than I will. Fingers crossed.
 

BirdofPrey

Standards Guru
Sep 3, 2015
797
493
You can buy new antenna off amazon or other online retailers.
I purchased these some time back for a similar repair job, but there's TONS more options. Can't quite remember my search, but it was something along the lines of "internal wifi antenna"

The difficult part of the installation is likely to be getting into the tight space to stick the ends on and route the cables.
 
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zovc

King of Cable Management
Original poster
Jan 5, 2017
852
602
Wow, if the person I sent the laptop to isn't able to fix things, I will definitely try my own hand. That makes things look pretty easy.