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Apple BCM94360CS2 in Hackintosh laptops: a great possible alternative but...


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Much has been written for years and is known about Apple wireless cards based on the Broadcom BCM4360 chipset. Having been using BCM94360CD cards for years with mini-PCIe adapters in my old Latitude E6220 and E6230 laptops, I looked at the best possible Apple alternative for my Latitude E7270 fitted with 1 x Key A/E M.2 WLAN slot.

 

Until now, I had been using 1st a BCM4350-based Dell DW1820A, then a Fenvi BCM94360NG card in this Skylake laptop. But I recently had the opportunity to buy an Apple BCM94360CS2 card for a handful of € and M.2 adapters for Apple BCM94360xxx cards cost pennies so I went ahead with it. Having received my Key A/E M.2-to-Apple adapter from China after a very very long wait, I proceeded to install the Apple Card in my E7270. It's easily achieved at the cost of a couple of minor and less minor limitations.

 

 

 

BCM94360CS2_and_M.2_adapter.jpg     BCM94360CS2_on_adapter.jpg

 

1) WLAN slot size and card size:

  • the E7270 offers a classic M.2 WLAN slot that supports a Key A/E 2230 card (22x30mm).
  • the BCM94360CS2 card is a little narrower than 22mm (about 17/18mm) but longer than 30mm (about 37/38mm).
  • the M.2 adapter is 22mm wide but much longer than 30mm (about 46mm).
  • as such, the adapter+BCM94360CS2 card package's length extends beyond the 30mm limit of the E7270 WLAN slot.

 

2) rubber piece:

  • there is a piece of rubber lightly glued to the motherboard between the WLAN slot and its neighbouring WWAN slot.
  • this rubber piece supports the top end of any M.2 2230 WLAN card, right under the securing metal bracket.
  • this rubber piece gets in the way of the M.2 adapter and BMC94360CS2 card and needs to be removed; thankfully, it can simply be easily unglued and moved aside rather than cut out.

 

3) WWAN slot:

  • the length of the M.2 adapter and BCM94360CS2 card mean that, once fitted in, they end up occupying part of the WWAN slot.
  • impact is that no WWAN card or other M.2 card (eg: 2240 NVME SSD) can be fitted into the slot.

 

01.jpg 

 

02.jpg

 

Benefits

  • with the recent and sustained price increase of M.2 DW1820A, Fenvi BCM94360NG or DW1560 cards, Apple BCM94360CS2 has become quite attractive because, at the time of writing, it can be obtained 2 to 3 times cheaper on the 2nd hand market (15 to 20 $/€).
  • being dual-antenna, BCM94360CS2 makes a perfect alternative to the aforementioned M.2 cards and Apple's own BCM94360CS/BCM943602CS cards which are 3 x antennas and therefore often unsuitable in laptops.
  • the card is fitted with same MHF4 antenna connectors as most M.2 wireless cards.
  • it's an Apple card so 802.11ac wireless + bluetooth 4.0 work OOB and perfectly.

 

Drawbacks

  • the card's length: whilst using an M.2 adapter is not usually an issue (most offer a removable section), the length of the card may not allow to fit it into all laptops.
  • There are of course M.2 extenders with ribbon cables + antenna extenders but these still require to find free space within the laptop. This has the merit to exist but will not be suitable in many if not most cases.
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