Pardon - I had a hard time with the subject line of this and likewise couldn't think of proper search terms. Not giving particulars here because it is not about a piece of hardware, it about interface if that makes sense.
I just got an old laptop. This if my first install of any linux on a laptop since this is my first OWN laptop. This also happens to be my first foray into wireless in linux.
Was very happy PCLOS recognized the laptop's onboard wireless and it had an OK strength of 3-4 bars in the TRAY ("link level"). I felt it could have been better since the laptop is sitting next to the wireless router - hmm, eighteen inches. But OK. Then I double clicked on the tray icon and the dialog that appears (Network Center) shows only 2-3 bars. Figured I had a crummy wireless chip in this and picked up a highly regarded USB one. Sure enough, boot up with that baby and PCLOS recognized it and there are all five bars in the tray.
However, click on the icon, get the dialog box with all the network things and it shows 3 bars. Why the difference? I have come to the conclusion the tray is right and that dialog box must be wrong. Same laptop in windows always gives five bars anywhere in the apt and I can't believe linux would find it so different. For grins and chuckles I dug up an old usb adapter from a junk box. Same problem, tray icon shows two more bars than network center.
If you want particulars let me know. But I don't think I have a hardware problem -maybe I am not reading these things right - how difficult can it be 1-5 bars, right? 5 about 100%?