MSI Herald BE NCM865 Review scaled

Wi-Fi 7, the latest generation of wireless networking, is gaining traction with a growing number of compatible routers, mesh systems, access points, smartphones, motherboards and laptops now available. However, the rollout has faced some challenges, particularly with the Intel BE200 module only working with Intel chipsets, leaving AMD users in limbo.

The MSI Herald-BE NCM865 Wi-Fi 7 PCIe adaptor aims to address this compatibility issue. Priced at just $50 and currently exclusive to Amazon.com, this adaptor uses the Quectel NCM865 module based on the Qualcomm WCN7851/FastConnect 7800 chipset, making it compatible with both Intel and AMD systems. I tested it with several Wi-Fi 7 devices, including the Ubiquiti U7 Pro, Zyxel NWA130BE and Netgear Orbi 970 series mesh system.

MSI Herald BE NCM865 Review 2

In terms of specifications, the MSI Herald-BE NCM865 requires Windows 11 for Wi-Fi 7 support and includes accessories like an antenna, installation guide and USB cable. It operates on the 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz bands with up to 320MHz bandwidth. The adaptor supports Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) while maintaining backwards compatibility with older standards. It also features Bluetooth 5.4 connectivity. Theoretical maximum speeds are 5800Mbps on 6GHz, 2402Mbps on 5GHz and 573.5Mbps on 2.4GHz.

One of the headline features of Wi-Fi 7 is Multi-Link Operation (MLO), which allows devices to connect to two bands simultaneously for increased throughput, reliability, and range. However, MLO requires OS-level support, which won’t arrive in Windows until version 1124 H2, which is expected in late 2024. This substantial update, codenamed Germanium, will also introduce many AI-focused features. As a result, I was unable to test MLO performance with this adaptor or the Wi-Fi 7 access points used.

Installation

Installation of the MSI Herald-BE NCM865 is straightforward, slotting into a PCIe x1 slot and connecting the external antenna. Drivers are available from MSI’s website or the included CD. Interestingly, the Qualcomm NCM865 module can be easily removed from the adaptor and installed in a laptop’s M.2 E-Key slot, making this a cost-effective way to upgrade a laptop to Wi-Fi 7.

Testing / Performance

MSI Herald BE NCM865 WiFi 7 6GHz Performace

During testing, I encountered some limitations and peculiarities. The 2.5GbE connection of the Zyxel NWA130BE and Ubiquiti U7 Pro access points acted as a bottleneck, preventing full utilisation of their 320MHz 6GHz and 240/160MHz 5GHz capabilities. The Netgear Orbi 970 offered no control over channel width. I also observed discrepancies between the link speeds reported by Windows and the actual throughput achieved, with the adaptor able to saturate the 2.5GbE connection despite Windows showing lower link rates.

In terms of performance, the MSI Herald-BE NCM865 impressed on both the 6GHz and 5GHz bands. Using 320MHz channels on 6GHz, it achieved 2460Mbps with the Ubiquiti U7 Pro and 2376Mbps with the Zyxel NWA130BE. At 160MHz, speeds were still excellent at 1950Mbps and 1860Mbps respectively. The Netgear Orbi 970, presumably limited to 160MHz, managed 1868Mbps. On the 5GHz band, the adaptor hit 2198Mbps, with the U7 Pro at 240MHz and 1771Mbps at 160MHz. The NWA130BE reached 1439Mbps at its maximum 160MHz channel width on 5GHz. Basic 2.4GHz testing yielded 342Mbps for both access points using 40MHz channels.

Price / Availability

In terms of pricing and alternatives, the MSI Herald-BE NCM865’s $50 price tag is very reasonable considering the lack of competition, especially for AMD users. Importing to the UK adds around £17 in fees and taxes. The Intel BE200 module is slightly cheaper at $40 but lacks AMD compatibility. PCIe adaptors using the BE200 are priced similarly to MSI’s offering.

Overall

Overall, the MSI Herald-BE NCM865 Wi-Fi 7 PCIe adaptor is a fantastic product and is currently the only viable choice for adding Wi-Fi 7 to an AMD system. Its attractive pricing, solid performance and compatibility with the latest Wi-Fi 7 routers and mesh systems make it easy to recommend. The few quirks encountered seem more related to immature Windows support for Wi-Fi 7 rather than flaws with the adaptor itself. As the Wi-Fi 7 ecosystem matures, the MSI Herald-BE NCM865 provides an excellent way to futureproof a PC and benefit from the increased speeds and lower latency the new standard offers.

MSI Herald-BE NCM865 Review - Qualcomm Based WI-FI 7 PCIE Adaptor
  • Overall - 95%
    95%
95%

Summary

The MSI Herald-BE NCM865 Wi-Fi 7 PCIe adaptor is a fantastic product and is currently the only viable choice for adding Wi-Fi 7 to an AMD system. Its attractive pricing, solid performance and compatibility with the latest Wi-Fi 7 routers and mesh systems make it easy to recommend.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *