Adding PCMCIA (PC Cardbus) to your Laptop or Desktop

What is PCMCIA?:

There are many useful functions that a PCMCIA Card can add to your computer. One of the most popular functions these days is mobile internet access via your cell phone company's “air card” or “data card” which you can get when you subscribe to their data plan. Various versions of this card (which is roughly the size of a credit card) also include USB, FireWire, Parallel, Serial, DVI, VGA, and Wi-Fi 802.11g to name a few. These cards offer an easy way to inexpensively add these functions to their computer.

What if I don't have a PCMCIA slot?

If you are left without a PC Cardbus slot, there are several options that are much cheaper and easier than buying a new laptop or desktop computer.

Probably the best option for adding a PCMCIA slot to your laptop is with an ExpressCard to PCMCIA adapter if you have ExpressCard slots. Since ExpressCard and PCMCIA are designed on the same architecture, this adapter will allow your ExpressCard slot to accurately mimic a PCMCIA slot, allowing you to use virtually any PCMCIA card successfully. These cards include (but not exclusively):

  • 32-Bit CardBus PC Cards
  • 16-Bit PCMCIA cards
  • Wide Area Network cellular cards
  • Memory cards
  • 802.11a/b/g wireless LAN cards
  • Ethernet LAN cards
  • ATA cards
  • Port expansion cards
  • Modem cards NOT COMPATIBLE WHEN USING: Pantech PX-500 with Windows Vista)

USB to PCMCIA Cardbus Adapter

Designed solely for cellular data cards, this is a great way to add a PCMCIA slot to your laptop using a USB port. Here is a list of card brands and types that are compatible with the USB to Cardbus adapter.

  • Huawei E600
  • Huawei E612
  • Huawei E618
  • Huawei E620
  • Kyocera PC5220
  • Kyocera PC5740
  • Kyocera KPC650
  • MaXcard+
  • Novatel 620 (S620, V620)
  • Novatel M720
  • Novatel U730
  • Novatel U740
  • Novatel U870
  • Onda N501HS
  • Onda H600
  • Option cards Serial numbers starting with R, Q, C, G, or N
  • Option Globetrotter GT Max
  • Option Globetrotter GT Max 7.2 Ready
  • Option Globetrotter HSDPA
  • Option Globetrotter 3G EDGE (HSDPA-Ready)
  • Option Globetrotter FUSION+ (HSDPA-Ready)
  • Option Globetrotter FUSION+ HSDPA
  • Sierra Wireless 595
  • ZTE MY39
  • ZTE MF332
  • iBurst cards are NOT supported
  • Novatel Wireless Merlin C201 Cards are NOT supported
  • Sony Ericsson Cards are NOT supported
  • Other PCMCIA Cards, including WLAN and memory cards, are NOT supported

Adding a PCMCIA slot to a Desktop PC

The equivalent to PCMCIA on a desktop computer is of course PCI. So it makes sense that you can get an adapter to convert a PCI slot to a PCMCIA slot. The PCI PCMCIA Cardbus Controller Card installs in your computer's PCI slot and provides a place for your PCMCIA card. Again, since the architecture is so similar, virtually any PCMCIA card will work with this PCI to PCMCIA adapter.