Which computer WiFi adapter to buy – the best options

What kind of WiFi adapter for your computer is worth buying

Wireless technology has made access to the Internet more comfortable. You can freely move around the house with your laptop and browse websites, or you can watch videos on your smartphone by connecting to access points in parks, cafes, and train stations. But there are some limitations for desktop PCs in this regard. I suggest you consider what kind of WiFi adapter for the computer to buy, which will allow you to connect your computer to the network without wires.

What kind of device is this?

A modern Wi-Fi adapter allows not only to receive the signal, but also to transmit it. That is, the system unit can be turned into a hotspot, to distribute the Internet from it to other devices, to realize the network.

Varieties of

  1. USB-adapters. The most common variant. Externally, it resembles a flash drive, which is inserted into the corresponding port of the computer. Can be easily disconnected, carried and connected on other PCs.
  2. PCI-E devices. Have the look of a board that integrates into the chipset. This stationary solution is not as versatile, but provides better performance. To install it, you will have to disassemble the system unit (remove the side cover). The whole process will take no more than five minutes.
  3. With the PCMCIA interface. This kind of “iron” looks like a card that is inserted into the slot with the same name. At the moment they are rarely used. Many manufacturers no longer produce such models, but they are still on sale.

The first and third options are also suitable for a laptop that either has no Wi-Fi module (in the oldest laptops), or this module does not work due to a malfunction.


Selection criteria

The vast majority of modern adapters support the 802.11n data transfer standard, which provides a maximum throughput of no more than 300 Mbit per second. So far, this is enough for home use or building a network in a small office.

The 802.11ac standard 802.11acwhich has an incredible data transfer rate: from 3 to 10 Gbit per second. The cost of such equipment is quite high, and it only makes sense to use it in large enterprises, universities, research centers and other “serious” institutions.

You should also pay attention to the quality of the transmitting device (its power), which is measured in dBM. A transmitter with 20 dBM or more provides good signal propagation.

A few words about frequency. Despite the fact that in other countries the equipment operates at 5 GHz, we still use 2.4 GHz. When buying an adapter you should keep this in mind and not overpay for the new standard.

Some devices may come with external antennawhich increases the radius of coverage and signal quality. If the size and appearance of such models do not embarrass you, it is worth buying such an adapter.

Many Chinese sellers on AliExpress offer to buy models with an antenna for pennies. Everything looks nice on the picture, but after receiving the goods you will find out that the signal level even through one wall in the apartment is very weak. Practice shows that in such cases there is no external amplifier and the antenna is just a piece of plastic for beauty!

You can safely buy adapters with internal antenna. They are more compact and do an excellent job of transmitting the signal over long distances (provided that there are not too many obstacles).

In one of my articles I told you about problems with WiFi adapters after updating to Windows 10, check it out may be of interest to you.


Best Models

This list is current as of July 2016, but the article will be constantly updated as new information becomes available.

All modern adapter models use Atheros or Broadcom wireless modules. The same devices are installed on laptops. You may have noticed these names in Device Manager (Network Hardware tab) when you were updating drivers.

And now let’s move on to the interesting options that combine the best price and quality.


ASUS PCE-N10

A device with a PCI-E interface that works for both receiving and transmitting. A special software, which comes with the adapter, allows you to configure the access point to connect other gadgets (smartphones, laptops, tablets) to the Internet.

You can set up a secure connection using a password (WPA, WPA2 and WEP encryption methods). Equipped with one external antenna. If the room is too big or has many walls, it is better to choose the version with two antennas – N15. For your computer this is the best solution – inexpensive and efficient.

ASUS PCE-N10 Wifi adapter

Proprietary software allows quick connection setup, setting of a password and storing of several user profiles (at home it may not be relevant, but in the office it is necessary).

  • It has one 2 dBi antenna;
  • It operates in two frequency modes: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz;
  • Universal. Can be integrated into any standard slots: from x1 to x16;
  • The bandwidth is 300 Mbit per second.
D-Link DWA-525 Wifi

Thanks to the double range, allow you to avoid interference that comes from household appliances (for example, microwave ovens). The connection speed of 300 Mbit allows you to play modern online games and watch high quality video without any problems. The simple interface of the setup program will allow a quick startup even for inexperienced users.

TL-WDN3200 WIFI Adapter

Tenda W311M.

One of the most compact adapters. But despite its tiny size, the device is equipped with a powerful internal antenna of dBi and a transmitter of 18 dBm. Quite an acceptable solution for a small apartment. Quality and compact external wifi adapter for your laptop.

Tenda W311M WIFI Adapter

Not the newest, but very popular model of USB wifi adapter for the computer with an external antenna. The bandwidth of 150 Mbit per second is not the lowest, which will provide all the needs of Internet users today.

I am sure that you will surely like at least one model from my list. If you already have experience with the above devices, I would like to know your opinion on the quality of operation. Looking forward to hearing your comments.

TP-Link TL-WN722N WIFI Adapter

WIFI USB Alfa AWUS036H 54Mbps

I personally use this particular adapter on my laptop or on the road. It is so powerful that it can catch your neighbor’s Wifi, even across the street. It is compatible with both Windows and Linux operating systems. I have been using it for a few years now and I am very satisfied with it. So, I highly recommend it.

Adaptador WIFI USB Alfa AWUS036H

Finally I want to give you a piece of advice. As an option, you can connect the router to your computer via a wired Ethernet connection. This ensures a stable, lossless signal. But it will only work if the wireless router is close to the PC.

We have considered what kind of WiFi adapter for computer to buy. I hope this material will help you decide on the choice. See you again.

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