Here’s a picture of an Intel AX210 card:

A picture of an Intel AX210 M.2 card.

And here’s a picture of an Intel BE200 card:

A picture of an Intel BE200 M.2 card.

If you’re observant, you may have noticed that the connector is slightly different. The AX210 is both A and E keyed, while the BE200 is only E keyed (like the AX211).

That means the BE200 won’t physically fit in all sockets that an AX210 card did. I imagine this is not much of an issue on Intel systems. However, the BE200 doesn’t fit in my AMD-based ThinkPad, as it has a key A M.2 socket for the Wi-Fi card. And even if you do manage to install a BE200 in an AMD system, some have reported that the card doesn’t work.

A notable difference between key A and key E M.2 sockets is that key E sockets support Intel’s proprietary CNVi interface. There’s nothing to suggest the BE200 is using CNVi, but it if were using it in some way it would explain incompatibilities with AMD systems. (An analysis of the PIN layouts of the cards may provide some further clues. Photos of the bottom side of the BE200 shows some PINs where the key A notch would be, while at the same time the AX211 has PINs connected that the BE200 doesn’t.)

There’s nothing on the production specifications page for the BE200 to indicate any difference in connection or compatibility compared to the AX210. Intel also, for some reason, has restricted access to the product brief page for the BE200 (while still linking to it from the specifications page). That is unfortunate, as the product brief page probably sheds some light on the matter.

I very nearly ordered a BE200 when they became available recently, assuming it would be a straightforward upgrade for the AX210 I previously installed in my AMD-based ThinkPad. Luckily I held off, due to £14.40 delivery fee Mouser charge to the UK for small orders. (And now, I know not to bother buying one...)