Testing Alfa AWUS036AXML - Part 1
2 min read
Let's discover this 2x2 WiFi 6E USB adapter with Kali 2023.1, and perform some quick testing.
While WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E adapters have been available for a while, USB adapters only started becoming available a bit less than a year ago.
Let's get started.
The Alfa has two detachable antennas, and comes with a USB-C cable with an adapter from USB-C to USB-A. Additionally, it comes with suction cup and a clip for laptop monitors. The adapter's size is the same as the popular AWUS036ACH.
The antennas look similar to the ones found with other Alfa 5GHz adapters. However, dissecting them shows they are different, as they must also support 6GHz.
We'll use the recently released Kali 2023.1 Live, that comes with kernel 6.1.12. While the adapter has Bluetooth 5.2, we won't be testing it at this time. Kali will be virtualized using KVM/QEMU on an Intel system (amd64) and a USB PCIe controller (ASMedia Technology Inc. ASM2142/ASM3142 USB 3.1 Host Controller) will be passed through, so the adapter doesn't have to be passed through, making it fairly similar to a non-virtualized system.
The adapter doesn't require any additional firmware, driver, or packages, and is detected out of the box. As expected, it goes in monitor mode without any issue. The driver is stable, and brief testing shows we can use Kismet and Aircrack-ng suite tools without any issue.
The driver is
mt7921u which is a kernel driver (Chipset: Mediatek 7921). Loaded firmware is
HW/SW Version: 0x8a108a10, Build Time: 20230117170855a). It seems to be a USB 3.0 device according to
lsusb output as the negotiated speed is
The adapter supports the following modes at this time:
- managed (up to 4 virtual interfaces) and is capable of WPA3
- Access Point (single)
- 802.11n ad-hoc
In both managed and AP mode, in all three bands (2.4/5/6GHz), it supports:
- 20/40/80MHz channels (except on 2.4GHz, where only 20MHz and 40MHz are supported)
- 2 spatial streams (Tx and Rx)
- MCS 0-9 in 802.11ac and 0-11 in 802.11ax
- Uplink MU-MIMO
Additionally, in managed mode, it also supports OFDMA with up to 242-tone RU.
The raw outputs can be found in our GitHub repository:
One last thing
The following two adapters also use the same chipset:
- Comfast CF951-AX, with built-in antennas
- Comfast CF953-AX, with non-detachable antennas
Stay tuned for Part 2 where we run more tests and try it with VMware Workstation.