While the wireless adapters of laptops have gotten better over the last few years, they aren’t always as good as they should be. That’s why many people go and buy a USB WiFi adapter for their computers. Because let’s be honest, few internal wireless cards are as good as USB models which are now built with high-gain antennas. That makes these little devices almost a necessity for anyone looking to stream their favorite movies without buffering or for playing online games.
Consumers who want to get the most out of their Internet connections using one of these devices, however, need to do their research. While most of these devices look very similar to each other, they aren’t all equal, and some don’t work as well as they should. That’s why we’ve decided to do some research and find the absolutely best USB adapters available.
Best USB WiFi Adapters – Reviews
10Autley AC600 Mbps Dual Band 2.4G/5G
With speeds of 150 Mbps at 2.4GHz bands or 433 Mbps at 5GHz bands, this adapter is capable of improving online gameplay and achieving higher download speeds. It’s compatible with all Windows personal computers from Windows XP through Windows 10 and is compatible with Macs up to Mac OSx 10.11.
It’s easy-to-use and all the user has to do is simply install the drivers for it, plug it into a USB drive and then set up to connect with an existing access point or wireless network. This high-quality adapter works with just about any wireless adapter and can be used in AP mode to create a wireless hot-spot.
9Net-Dyn Dual Band 2.4 GHz & 5GHz Adapter
Designed to be used with the IEEE 802.11n standard, but is capable of being used with 802.11b and 802.11g networks, this adapter is as versatile as it is easy to use. All the consumer has to do to use this adapter is to plug it into a compatible USB port, install the device’s drives, and then enjoy their Internet connection.
This adapter can be used on PC laptops including Windows XP and Windows 10 and is also able to be used on MAC 10.7 and 10.8 machines. This device is so easy to setup and use, most people can set it up in 3-minutes or less. And since it’s dual-band, it will support both 2.4 GHz and 5.0GHz connections.
8Wise Tiger Wireless N 300 Mbps Adapter
Tech enthusiasts who are looking for a quick and easy solution to improving access to their Internet connection will appreciate how quickly this product can be set up and how easy it is to use. All that has to be done is for the user to install the associated software and then plug it into a USB port.
This adapter can pick up WiFi signals up to 100-meters away and works with any 2.4Ghz wireless routers which use the b/g/n standards. And best of all, this device can be used with both PC and MAC machines, including Windows XP, Vista and 10 and Mac 10.4 and 10.12.
7Kootek 600 Mbps Dual Band WiFi Adapter
This dual-band WiFi dongle is only a little bit of an inch long and has a width of less than an inch, yet it’s capable of providing a strong connection to any compatible 2.4 GHz or 5GHz 802.11a/n or 802.11ac Internet connections.
This device supports a number of encryption standards including WPA-PSK, WEP 802.1X, WPA2-PSK, WPA2 802.1X and WPA 802.1X. This device is compatible with both Windows and Mac machines and is simple to install. Once installed it will provide up to 150 Mbps or 433 Mbps transmission rates, depending on the standards of the connection.
6Alfa AWUSO36NH High-Gain Adapter
Designed to extend Internet connection distances greatly, this wireless adapter can pick up even weak connections and covers a wide range. It has a removable 5dBi four-inch long antenna with an RP-SMA connector and is compatible with 802.11b/g/n wireless standards.
Plugged into a USB port, this adapter can support transfer rates up to 150 Mbps and supports both 64-bit and 128-bit data encryption. This device is compatible with Linux machines, Windows, and Macs. Easy to install and easy-to-use, this adapter will increase the useful range of just about everyone’s Internet connection.
5Inamax Wireless Dongle
Capable of supporting the higher transfer rates of USB 3.0 ports and designed to deliver up to 1200 Mbps transfer speeds under the right conditions, this WiFi dongle is sure to prove itself useful to a whole lot of different people.
It functions with plug-and-play capability when used on Windows 10 machines, but with the installation of drivers can also be used with Windows systems from XP through Windows 8. It also works with compatible Mac machines as well. This dongle works with any WiFi router and since it uses the latest wireless standards provides a stable and secure Internet connection.
4Seojack Dual-Band Wireless Adapter
Requiring only a simple installation process, this WiFi device is easy-to-use but is capable of delivering excellent performance. It’s compatible with most Window and Mac machines and has dual-band capabilities that allow it to reach speeds up to 433 Mbps.
It’s equipped with a 2-dBi antenna and the RTL8812BU chipset, so it’s capable of achieving extremely secure and stable Internet connections. It can also support soft AP mode, so users can set up a mobile hot-spot for their phones or tablets. And all of these features are in a device that’s fairly small. This device is useful to anyone looking for security, stability and enhanced performance.
3Net-Dyn USB Wireless Adapter
Supported by most WLAN routers using WPA, WPA2 or WEP security protocols, this USB wireless dongle is designed to greatly reduce the incidence of dead zones and not-so-great wireless Internet connections. Although it has a small size, it does have a decent size antenna that can extend the user’s useful Internet range.
This product can deliver up to 300 Mbps using 802.11n, which makes it a good choice for improving the quality of HD movies being streamed or for playing online games. All things considered, this device will improve wireless reception and improve connection stability.
2Blueshadow Wireless Network Adapter
Equipped with a high-gain antenna and with near universal router compatibility, this USB wireless adapter is designed to improve signal strength for just about anyone who cares to set it up and use it. It has a maximum transfer rate of 433 Mbps at 5GHz or 150 Mbps at 2.4GHz, so it’s capable of keeping a secure connection for gaming or for streaming HD movies and television shows.
This device can be used with just about any Windows personal computer or laptop and increases WiFi coverage without taking up a whole lot of space. And for most users, it works the first time it’s plugged in without a whole lot of configuration.
1SUNTRSI USB WiFi Adapter
Compatible with just about all Windows and Mac OS machines, this USB WiFi adapter is designed for universal compatibility and to deliver a secure connection to the Internet. When used on a Windows 10 PC, it has plug-and-play compatibility. It has speeds of up to 433 Mbps on 5GHz or 150 Mbps on 2.4 GHz, which makes it ideal for high-definition video streaming or online game place.
This device is equipped with a powerful antenna that helps to provide the stable Internet connection this unit achieves. And since this device can be used with a variety of security protocols, it’s not only fast and safe but also secure as well.
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Buying A USB Wi-Fi Adaptor
Although many of the laptops sold nowadays have a decent Wi-Fi card in them, that’s not the case for all of them and sometimes the consumer has to purchase the best USB Wi-Fi adapter. That’s because most internal Wi-Fi cards can’t compete with an external adapter—if the consumer did their homework and bought a decent model. To help our readers find a model that will improve their wireless reception, we went ahead and wrote a guide on how to purchase a USB Wi-Fi card that will help the consumer get the reception they deserve.
Consider Wireless Protocols
The first thing that the consumer is going to want to consider is the wireless protocols of the adapter. For best results, the consumer should purchase an adapter that’s compatible with the router that they’re using. The slowest transmission protocols are 802.11b routers, and the fastest ones are 802.11ac routers. Generally speaking, it’s usually best for the consumer to purchase an 802.11ac or an 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter because they will offer the fastest speeds. Most modern USB adapters are also backward compatible with slower protocols, so most people aren’t going to have to worry about compatibility issues.
Consider The USB Ports
It’s also worth considering the USB ports that are equipped on your laptop so you can choose an adapter that works the best for you. Some laptops only have USB 2.0 ports, which will only get them a maximum speed of 60 megabytes a second. USB 3.0 adapters have a theoretical speed of 640 megabytes a second—if the laptop has USB 3.0 ports. If not, then most adapters will revert to using the slower port speed. The best speeds will come from using a USB 3.0 Wi-Fi adapter with a USB 3.0 port and an 802.11ac wireless protocol.
Consider Wireless Frequencies
It’s also important for the consumer to think about the frequency of the adapter. Wi-Fi frequencies come in the 2.4 GHz and 5.0GHz range. And each of these frequencies has its pros and cons. Although many people consider 5.0GHz to be superior to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, it has its drawbacks as well. Below are some of the pros and cons of 5.0GHz Wi-Fi.
Pros For 5.0GHz Wi-Fi
- They don’t travel far, so they won’t interfere with neighbor’s Wi-Fi
- They allow for dynamic management.
- They offer more channels.
- They are faster than 2.4 GHz frequencies.
Cons For 5.0GHz Wi-Fi
- The signal may have trouble passing through walls and floors.
- The signal doesn’t travel as far.
- Many older devices are only capable of using 2.4GHz Wi-Fi.
Having a USB Wi-Fi Adapter that’s capable of handling both 2.4 and 5.0 GHz signals is usually the best option for most people. That way, the consumer can take advantage of the faster 5.0 GHz signal when they’re in range but can default to the slower 2.4 GHz if necessary. These adapters are known as dual-band adapters and are the ones that we recommend.
Consider The Size Of The Adapter
Something that’s often overlooked by people shopping for one of these adapters is the size of the adapter. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a model that offers the speeds and options that you need it to offer, but do it without being so bulky that it blocks an adjacent USB port on your laptop.
Consider Antennas For Desktop Computers
We understand that not everyone is purchasing a USB Wi-Fi adapter for their laptop, but may instead be buying one for their desktop instead. If that’s the case, then the consumer might want to consider getting a model with an antenna. Although using an antenna with a laptop computer isn’t always very feasible, it can usually be used on desktop computers quite easily. Having an adapter with an antenna can help to improve Wi-Fi reception and increase transfer speeds.
The Advantages Of USB Wi-Fi Adapters
Before we come to the conclusion of our little guide, we would like to cover the pros and cons of purchasing one of these adapters—just in case some of our readers aren’t convinced that one of these devices is right for them. Below are some of the reasons why many people are going to want to have one of these devices for their laptop or desktop computer.
They’re Easier To Install Than A PCI Card
Sure, a person could spend the time to crack open their computer and place a PCI Wi-Fi card in, but that’s usually more work than some people are going to want to put in. Besides, not everyone will have a spare PCI slot, so sometimes a USB adapter is the only choice available.
They Can Be Used For Multiple Computers
Why purchase a wireless PCI card in every computer that you own when you can simply move the USB adapter from one computer to the next. A person can have one of these adapters for their desktop and then when they need to give Wi-Fi to their laptop on the go, they simply have to move it. It’s very easy.