Is it possible my desktop's WiFi card has gone kaput?

The past few weeks, I’d noticed that my desktop’s connectivity to my home network has been questionable at best: the Network window would open up, but it wouldn’t see the “Casa de Tripler” home wifi network. I know that CdT was working just fine, because all other devices in the house were constantly connected without issue.

Up front, it’s a 2016 ASUS desktop PC, running Windows 10, for gaming, schoolwork, and yakkin’ with all y’all folks.

I tried a litany of “solutions” (too numerous to link to from my tablet) which included rebooting the computer, updating drivers, uninistalling/reinstalling hardware through Device Manager, making a bear claw-pastry sacrifice to the ASUS gods which went unanswered to my palate’s satisfaction.

Fast forward to this week when things went south. Now, when I click on “Network and Sharing”, the screen pauses, and then doesn’t even open–it just closes. “WiFi” is not even an option next to “Airplane mode” anymore. I pulled a Hail Mary, and reset the computer to factory conditions to no avail. Connetivity is now achieved by stretching a 100’ ethernet cable from an upstairs office, to the router in the kitchen.

I’m kinda convinced the desktop WiFi card has given up the ghost. Unless I’m missing something. . . Would a USB WiFi setup be an appropriate workaround, or would I have to replace a card inside the machine?

I’m not averse to doing the work myself because A) amazingly, there are no computer repair places within 35 miles of town, and B) given my past employment history, I’m confident that “I got this.”

It’s more a diagnostic question though–can desktop WiFi cards go kaput?

A 1977 dinosaur using a 2016 antique.

Yes, a USB WiFi adapter is a cheap fix. The only issue is that it uses up a USB port. If your computer is short of ports, that could be a slight inconvenience.

Any part can go bad. Have you pulled the card out and stuck it back in?

Yes, a USB WiFi dongle is a perfectly cromulent solution. My own desktop MB does not have built-in WiFi so I went the USB dongle route and it works just fine. You can get them with or without Bluetooth built-in.

It does use up a USB port, but now that you can take out the WiFi card, you have a free PCI slot to slide in a USB expansion card!

You might have a look-see in Device Manager. There may be something in there showing something amiss. Maybe drivers or somesuch,

Yeah, I have one that cost under five bucks. Works.

Yes, WiFi cards can go bad. Just like memory, SSDs, and other solid state computer things can go bad.

I have an old laptop here that the WiFi went bad. Not as bad as yours, but it won’t stay connected for long periods of time. It might work an hour or three, but will disconnect and need to be hard reset before working again. The identical problem happens in Windows and Linux, so I’m pretty sure it’s the actual WiFi hardware, not a software problem. Online searching reveals people with similar model computers that report the same problem.

As suggested, you can try re-seating it. Depending on the type of card, that might be easy or a bit more difficult. Also make sure the antenna is securely fastened. Even if you’re not a computer person, opening the computer and re-seating the card is a mechanical task, so it should be a roll against your mechanical skill, not your computer skill.

Some manufacturers even will have hardware maintenance manuals online, so you can see what the official steps are to remove and replace it.

Finally, the computer is out of warranty, right? I just ask, because I’ve had people where I work ask to buy replacement parts for computers that are still under warranty.

A USB replacement is cheap and easy to install. Choosing which USB replacement to get can be daunting.


Device Manager may show the device has failed for one or more reasons, or the device may be completely absent (meaning it has failed so catastrophically that the system can’t find it any more).

Even the limited diagnostic value of Device Manager may help if you’re interested in trying to restore this device to operation.

The Device Manager review, uninstall/reinstall and update of drivers was one of the steps I’d already performed multiple times, both with and without connectivity through a hardwire ethernet line. DM shows the card present with proper drivers installed, but I am assuming functionality of the existing card is dead due to the lack of seeing networks, nor the “Network and Sharing” dialog even remaining open. I’d never seen a window close down so fast, that I kind of took it personally, like a 2-year old’s tantrum with screams of “NO!” (far flung cheerios optional).

I’ve got a +9 on my mechanical skill. Software’s like a -2, and programming anything outside of BASIC or Turbo PASCAL is a -12. I’m confident I can do a card swap. :hammer_and_wrench:

I’m 99.8756% certain it is. I bought the machine in 2016, and have moved since then, explaining the lack of warranty paperwork. The machine runs great–albeit a little slow! Does what I want it to do, and then some. I’m not one of those FPS gamers, so I am not in the mentality of buying a new machine every 6 months. “Old Ironsides” is a perfectly useable machine, just out of warranty.

I am intrigued by your idea, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. DM can “see” the card and it’s drivers, it’s just that the card outside of DM is not working. None of the “solutions” recommended by my searches indicdated DM could be used to detect failures, though. The Troubleshooter feature in Win 10 didn’t detect any card errors, just a lack of connectivity. Please, tell me more. . . :face_with_monocle:

This has been helpful–thank y’all!

I can crack open any case.

FWIW, I have an ASUS laptop that’s about a year old and has had the same problem as you’re having since new.

I couldn’t be arsed to send it back. I did everything I could before eventually buying an ASUS AC1200 USB Wi-Fi adapter.

It took my 500MB+ download speeds to maybe just under 200MB, but that hasn’t bothered me for my computer use(s).

I hate myself a little for letting ASUS off the hook and sacrificing internet speed, but … there you go.

Googling reminded me of another possibility.

From this web page:

That page is largely about laptop WiFi issues, but I have had network adapters spontaneously disable themselves on desktop systems, so it’s worth mentioning.

Thank you! I re-tried those steps as a “I-don’t-trust-myself-(having-made-mistakes-in-the-past)-and-having-slept-on-it-a-few-days” policy, I went ahead and even downloaded Driver Easy. Still, I’m coming up snake-eyes on every reboot, so I’m headed to Amazon for the interim step of a dongle.

Lots of dashes means lots of contemplation.

UPDATE: I bought a dongle, downloaded drivers (via an Ethernet connection), plugged in the stick. . . and waited.

Device manager can see the dongle, but the “Network” page under “Settings” crashes.

::sigh:: Back to square one.

Have you uninstalled the (presumably broken) WiFi card out of your machine? They could be interfering with each other.

Yup. Tried disabling and uninstalling original WiFi card, and then tried the dongle. Network page still crashed like a Sopwith Camel in a gale. I’m convinced this is some sort of Windows 10 update issue–I have no basis in data for this conviction, just anecdotal responses from the aforementioned litany of ‘solution’ sites.

I am two steps away from the ‘nuclear option’: completely wipe the machine and take it to a pro.

It’s a 2016 machine–I will spend no more than $200 on keeping it alive.

My sense as well, since different WiFi network devices all fail at the Windows network stack level. Update would be a logical vector for that. You may have to do something like a repair boot from the appropriate install media.

This process is time-consuming and may be onerous and tedious, so it may be into the realm of “let someone else do it.”

UPDATE: @gnoitall hit the nail on the head. It needed a daggum Windows update.

I had been busy at work, and prepping for travel, but had a few hours this past weekend, so I ran my 100’ ethernet cable through the house like a Family Circus comic strip. I found a couple of “Support pages” from MicroSoft, but then remembered this thread. I tried @gnoitall’s link, bringing me to a downloadable MS’ Update Assistant.

Two hours and several automatic reboots later, I had working WiFi again. Thank you, @gnoitall!!

I wish I knew what craptastic update caused this to happen. The upshot? Resetting & restoring my machine, and cleaning out so many layers of registry keys, 6 years of bloatware, etc. has this machine booting up way faster. I can get another 5 years out of it.

Thank you–I owe you at least a six-pack of any cold/carbonated beverage of your choice.

I love this.