DISCLAIMER:I do not work for Alfa. I am just your average do-it-yourselfer who loves working with Backtrack and Wi-Fi tech/gizmos.
I've been looking for a good strong wireless card for awhile now to use with backtrack. I saw a lot of buzz on the internet about these Alfa USB wireless cards and finally got the spare cash to buy one. It took me a while to decide whether I wanted to get the "confirmed awesome" "B/G" only (AWUS036H) card, locking myself into the soon to be obsolete "G" technology, or if I wanted to try my luck on the newcomer which supports "B/G/N" technology. I finally decided to take the chance and get this B/G/N version.
This card is phenomenal.
Now, for those of you, like me, who are Atheros chipset buffs, fear not. While this device DOES NOT have an Atheros chipset, it is still a great card. I think it is either Ralink or Realtek. I can't remember now, but anyway, I took it out of the box and attempted to install the driver found on the enclosed CD, and like other reviewers here have stated, it was a no-go. The driver installed without error on my PC, but the device will not use it (wrong driver). I am guessing that the issue must be that the enclosed CD doesn't contain a 64-bit driver. So, as I am running Win 7 x64, I went and got the correct driver from Alfa's website, which is the Windows 7 driver package (I guess it contains 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the Windows 7 driver). Got that installed, screwed on the stock 5 dBi antenna first, plugged it in and held the unit in the window next to my computer desk.
The performance at this point is pretty good, as far as just doing a site survey. The card picked up all of the Wifi networks that I can already see with my DD-WRT flashed WRT-54G V8 router + connected Super Cantenna (pointed out the same window), plus a few new ones. This tells me that the Alfa card performs slightly better than my current setup, using just the stock 5 dBi whip, which says alot, but now here comes the fun part.
I then unplugged the unit, unscrewed the stock 5 dBi antenna, and screwed on this 9 dBi antenna that came in the bundle that I ordered. I plugged this thing into the computer and did another site survey, holding the unit in the same window as before. The number of networks it found has doubled. In fact, it was actually picking up the WiFi network from an elementary school 7 (city) blocks away from my house with 2 out of 5 bars! I kid you not, and I live in a city type neighborhood with brick buildings/houses. I DO NOT have line of site to this school by any means.
So if you are still on the fence about buying one of these things, get one, however I would definitely suggest picking up the bundle that I got that comes with the laptop lid clamp (attaches to the black case where its suction cup would go) and the 9 dBi antenna. You can't go wrong.
CAUTION: The 9 dBi antenna is BIG and has some weight to it. When I screwed it onto the Alfa card, I noticed that with very little pressure on this massive antenna, the RP-SMA connector soldered to the board inside the Alfa card appears to slightly flex, so keep this in mind. If you plan on using this Alfa card in conjunction with the 9 dBi antenna, it would be best to either attach the unit someplace where it won't be touched/bumped/whatever, OR, use a short pigtail between the antenna and the card so that the card connector doesn't have to bear the weight of this antenna, as I have a feeling that if this thing were to fall on the floor with this antenna attached, the RP=SMA connector may break off the unit, and that would be very bad. OVERALL, I would (and have already) recommend this card to a friend. If you are careful with it while using this big antenna, it should be fine.
BACKTRACK USERS: I have not plugged this thing into my laptop running Backtrack 4 R2, so I cannot attest to it's functionality there, but from what I have read using Google, it should be just plug and go (monitor mode, injection, etc.). I'm am still using 4 rather than 5 because my laptop is too old to run Backtrack 5, in case anyone is wondering. Backtrack 4 R2 is just BT4 with a kernel update that allows the required driver for this card to work. From what I have read, the driver for this thing is included in BT4 R2 but IS NOT included in BT4 Final. You will need to upgrade your OS from BT4 to BT4 R2.
QUALITY ASSURANCE: The box to this card has a small sticker in the front that seals the box closed. Look for, and make sure it is intact once you've opened the shipping container, otherwise you could be receiving a unit that has previously been returned (possible defective unit). ALSO, on the back of unit itself, there is a holographic authenticity sticker that reads "Alfa, Taiwan" on genuine units. Look for this as well or you may be receiving a cheap clone.
Thank you for reading.