Is Intel gatekeeping WiFi 7? A quick look at the BE200 adapter

A few weeks ago the WiFi Alliance has introduced the WiFi Certified 7 and it essentially means that we see the initial stages of what’s going to be a larger-scale adoption of this new standard. I am sure that some of you are already aware that there are manufacturers that have made available a few WiFi 7 routers about more than half a year ago.

The TP-Link BE9300 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 7 Router.

And, to be able to use the 6GHz radio band (which is the highlighted feature of this standard), the user had to get WiFi 7 adapters. And somewhere in September of 2023, Intel has unveiled the BE200 WiFi 7 controller and so did Qualcomm with its QCNCM865.

This is where things get weird because as far as I could find, the Qualcomm adapter was available on the market for a very short period of time, after which it completely vanished. Even today, all of the stores that I check don’t have it in stock.

Aliexpress stock.

But hey, we do have the Intel BE200 available, so what’s the problem? It’s not compatible with AMD systems. Looking at the official webpage, there is no mention that it may be incompatible, but the users soon found out that this is indeed the case. I tested it myself with a Ryzen 5 5600xt and, while there wasn’t any apparent issue, the adapter simply wasn’t detected – I checked it with Linux.

And now come the speculations…

Initially, the users thought that it’s because the Intel BE200 may be a CNVi card which means that it’s locked to a select portion of Intel chipsets. This is a valid assumption considering that the Intel AX211 used the CNVaio2 protocol, blocking older gen Intel CPUs, as well as AMD processors.

Intel AX211 WiFi 6E adapter. From Intel’s official website.

But that’s not the case with the BE200 because it’s an M.2 module, having nothing to do with CNVi. So, this means that it’s a software thing? Most likely yes.
But there is another info that’s perpetuated on the web and it’s that the Intel BE200 can only work with 12th gen Intel CPUs and above. Is that true?

Is the BE200 locked to the 12th generation CPUs and above?

Honestly, I got the Intel BE200 a bit blindly because even though I knew it will not work with my main PC which is built on the AMD platform, I did have a very old PC that still has installed an Intel i5 2500K processor. So I just kept my finger crossed that it may work – new computers are not cheap.

I replaced the TP-Link WiFi 6E adapter with the BE200 WiFi 7 adapter and I started up the Linux Mint.

Why didn’t I use Windows?
It’s because Microsoft thinks that it can herd people towards its Windows 11 OS by blocking support to WiFi 7 for the Windows 10 and below users. I could not find any other reason for it.

Unfortunately, the WiFi 7 adapter did not immediately work, so I could only use a wired connection. But the good news is that the Intel BE200 was detected by the OS, so this means that it could potentially work. I updated the OS to its latest version, as well as the Kernel and after several ‘sudo apt update’ and ‘sudo apt upgrade’, as well as a reboot, I finally saw it, the adapter detected WiFi networks! And it was beautiful.

But did it see the 6GHz network? I did get my hands on the 4×4 Engenius ECW536 WiFi 7 access point very recently (a review is on the way) and, after setting up the SSIDs and the radios, the Intel BE200 saw all three WiFi networks!

Sneak peak to the Engenius ECW536 WiFi 7 AP.

So, the Intel BE200 will work with 2nd gen Sandy Bridge Intel CPUs, which means that they’re not blocked only for the latest processors. But the issue with AMD systems still remains and from what I could gather, it is simply software related.

The bigger problem is that it’s been almost half a year since Intel has not released an update to make the BE200 compatible with AMD.

Will they do it soon? I think they will ride this wave for as long as possible, at least up until the QCNCM865 becomes available once again.

Leave a Comment