Best Wireless Adapter [2019]

Best Overall: Asus AC3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter
If you want the best, you want the Asus AC3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter. While it’s not nearly as portable as some of the other wireless adapters, it will keep you running at peak performance. Not to mention, it looks FREAKIN’ cool!

Sale
Asus AC3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter

  • Super fast (AC3100)
  • Can use different antennas
  • Cable extension for increased range and efficiency

Best Value: Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 A7000 WiFi USB Wireless Adapter
If you want a great wireless adapter, that isn’t a PCI/PCIe option, then the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 A7000 WiFi USB Wireless Adapter is your best bet. The Nighthawk series can’t be beat for price and quality.

Sale
Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 A7000 WiFi USB Wireless Adapter

  • Included cradle for increased range and efficiency
  • Can handle multiple connections
  • 4 internal antennas

Budget Pick: Inamax USB AC1200 USB 3.0 Dual-Band Wireless Adapter
And finally, for both price and budget, you can’t beat the Inamax USB AC1200 USB 3.0 Dual-Band Wireless Adapter. While there is a cheaper option on our list, we think the small price difference is worth paying.

Inamax USB AC1200 USB 3.0 Dual-Band Wireless Adapter

  • External 5dBi antenna
  • AC1200
  • Extremely reliable 5GHz

How we Picked

Ever wanted to take your computer somewhere, but can’t because you’re tied to the modem/router?

After today, that shouldn’t be a problem anymore. When you install a wireless adapter, you really open up your options to move around.

But we also understand that finding the right wireless adapter can be frustrating. There are hundreds of options, and everybody is saying that theirs is the best. In fact, they spend millions to make sure you trust them over everyone else.

But which wireless adapter is truly right for you?

Well, we’ve put together a list of wireless adapters that we trust will meet all of your needs and your budget requirements. And if you need even more information, we’ve included a buyer’s guide and a frequently asked questions section below.

So, are you ready to see the 11 best wireless adapters for 2019? Here they are:

#1 Asus AC3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter

Asus AC3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC3100
  • 5GHz at 2100Mbps + 2.4GHz at 1000Mbps
  • 4 Antennas

For the gamer, this is one of the best wireless adapters you can get. It connects to your computer using an open PCIe slot and has plenty of onboard heatsinks to keep your card from overheating. With an AC3100 rating, you won’t have to worry about lag from your wireless connection (if your router isn’t the problem).

Asus has been around for quite some time. In that time, they’ve gotten pretty good at providing quality components at reasonable prices. And the Asus AC3100 is a shining example of this.

Asus AC3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter Speed

Starting off, this is an AC3100 wireless adapter. The Asus AC3100 achieves this by utilizing both the 2.4GHz (1000Mbps) and the 5.0Ghz (2100Mbps) bands. For gamers, this is an absolute dream. You really shouldn’t have to worry about ping spikes anymore.

Asus AC3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter antennas

The Asus AC3100 comes with FOUR antennas for maximum coverage and reception. Plus, because the antenna adapter uses R-SMA antenna connectors, you can use other antennas if you so choose.

PCIe cards like this often heat up with all the work that they are doing, but Asus absolutely loaded this wireless adapter with heatsinks (it almost looks like a heatsink with a few antennas attached).

Asus AC3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter Close Up

Being that the Asus AC3100 is built for speed, you’ll be glad to know that it can handle up to Gigabit connections like a champ. Most users report that it can cleanly reach 800+ (up/down) consistently. Of course, you’ll need to make sure that your modem/router is capable of providing those speeds as well.

Of the complaints we’ve seen from customers, most were in relation to external circumstances such as inconsistent ISP speeds, lower speed modem/router, and incompatible operating systems (Linux).

Asus AC3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter box

But all in all, the Asus AC3100 is no slouch and should not be regarded as such. It’s loaded with features, power, and range. And Asus made sure to add other features in as well, including MU-MIMO and beamforming. For anyone who needs an ultra-fast wireless connection, you can’t really go wrong with this option.

Sale
Asus AC3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter

  • Super fast (AC3100)
  • Can use different antennas
  • Cable extension for increased range and efficiency

#2 Rosewill RNX AC1900PCE Wireless Adapter

Rosewill RNX AC1900PCE Wireless Adapter

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC1900
  • 5GHz at 1300Mbps + 2.4GHz at 600Mbps
  • 3 Antennas

For the gamer that needs a lot, but wants to spend less, this is a great option. This is another PCIe option with plenty of onboard heatsinks to make sure you don’t get slowed down from an overheated wireless adapter. With an AC1900 rating, you’ll be able to do most everything you want without any lag issues.

Rosewill has started becoming quite the household name. In the past few years, they’ve gotten really good at making high-quality components just like the RNX AC1900.

The RNX AC1900 is built for speed by utilizing the 2.4GHz (600Mbps) and the 5.0GHz (1300Mbps) bands. While it doesn’t reach the same speeds as the Asus 3100 PCIe Wireless Adapter above, it is still a formidable foe. Again, this is easily enough for gaming if your router can hold up.

Rosewill RNX AC1900PCE Wireless Adapter packaging

The RNX AC1900 comes with three antennas for long range and reliable connectivity. And, you can connect other antennas if you need to increase your range and/or power requirements.

As we stated earlier, PCI/PCIe cards tend to get hotter from heavier use and being installed inside of an enclosure (i.e. your computer). But Rosewill made sure that the RNX AC1900 has plenty of heatsink surface area to keep your card cool.

Users of the RNX AC1900 have reported that this is one of the most reliable cards they’ve used. The signal strength and quality are exceptional, with 99.99%+ connection stability. In most cases, the speed doesn’t appear to drop until is has to pass through multiple barriers (i.e. three or more walls). And if you’ve got a Gigabit service provider, you should easily see 800Mbps+ connections consistently (if your ISP and router/modem support those speeds).

Rosewill RNX AC1900PCE Wireless Adapter back

There have been a few complaints from Linux users primarily and it being incompatible with most of the OS’es. It also appears that the Windows Founders Edition 1709 update can cause a few problems (which can be rectified) with connection stability.

While the RNX AC1900 is not an ASUS AC3100, it is a great budget option that will handle most of your wireless needs without any issues. And Rosewill did manage to slip in some other nice features including beamforming and MU-MIMO to make sure that the decision between our number 1 and this one was a little harder than it should be.

Rosewill RNX AC1900PCE Wireless Adapter

  • Stays cool in heavy use situations.
  • Can use different antennas.
  • Great range.

#3 TP-Link Archer T6E AC1300 And TxE Series Wireless Adapter

TP-Link Archer T6E AC1300 And TxE Series Wireless Adapter back

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC1300
  • 5GHz at 867Mbps + 2.4GHz at 400Mbps
  • 2 Antennas

For someone on a budget, who wants a little more speed and reliability than a USB wireless adapter can offer, the T6E AC1300 will fit the bill perfectly. It’s not as fast as the first two options, but it’s not a snail either. And it has a small footprint which will work great in Micro-ATX builds.

TP-Link Archer T6E AC1300 Heat sink

TP-Link is another company that is making a good name for themselves in the component industry. They find a way to squeeze high-quality parts into the most budget-conscious components.

The T6E AC1300 is a dual-band wireless adapter with speeds of 867Mbps on the 5GHz band and 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. While it will work for most applications, gamers might not get the same stable experience that they would from one of the two previously mentioned options above, but on shorter distances it should still be fine.

TP-Link Archer T6E AC1300 And TxE Series Wireless Adapter heatsink

The T6E AC1300 uses two antennas, both externally attached to help communicate with your wireless router/modem. If you need to connect a different antenna, you can by simply swapping out to the desired antenna(s) you want.

TP-Link Archer T6E AC1300 And TxE Series Wireless Adapter installation

One thing we would like to point out is the heatsink. For such a small wireless adapter, TP-Link found a way to include a large, efficient heat sink to keep heat from becoming an issue. This is good as this will likely be installed in a lot of Micro-ATX type installations.

Most users have reported that the 2.4GHz band absolutely rocks over long distances and through walls. Users who are capable of 100Mbps+ report still being able to achieve speeds of 85Mbps+ (when using a 100Mbps+ connection) even when stretched all across their home or across different floors. But the 5GHz band is a little spottier (which is to be expected – faster, not built for distance or obstructions) providing about 50% of the data speeds provided at the modem/router.

TP-Link Archer T6E AC1300 main board close up

Some users have experienced issues when attempting to install this card. It seems that TP-Link does not include the drivers with the card (odd). Most users don’t have any issues, but some do as the drivers might need to be downloaded first (you can download them here). To be sure, go to the TP-Link website and make sure you’ve downloaded the drivers before attempting to install the new card.

For those looking for a smaller footprint and a lower price point, the T6E AC1300 is perfect. While it doesn’t have certain features such as MU-MIMO and/or beamforming, it has enough speed to work for most gamers and for everyone else.

TP-Link Archer T6E AC1300 And TxE Series Wireless Adapter

  • Big heatsink
  • Small footprint
  • 2-year warranty

#4 TRENDnet AC1900 TEW-809UB Wireless Adapter

TRENDnet AC1900 TEW-809UB Wireless Adapter front

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC1900
  • 5GHz at 1300Mbps + 2.4GHz at 600Mbps
  • 1 to 4 Antennas

Looking for something that doesn’t go inside of your computer? Then you’ll love the AC1900 TEW-809UB. It connects using a USB cable and works with FOUR antennas to give you great range and reliability, all without having to open up your case.

TRENDnet has been building quality wireless components for years now and the AC1900 TEW-809UB is no exception.

The AC1900 TEW-809UB is one of the biggest USB wireless adapters we’ve seen, but for good reason. It is built to be bigger, better, and faster than other wireless options, even holding its own against PCI/PCIe options. It is a dual-band wireless adapter kicking out 1300Mbps at 5GHz and 600Mbps at 2.4GHz. For gaming, this could be a fairly reliable option – especially for a USB connection.

The AC1900 TEW-809UB has the ability to use up to four antennas, depending on your needs. Of course, we’re going to recommend you use all of them (because why not?) as it’s already built for it and it just makes connections more reliable. If you do need to remove the antennas, you can be simply unscrewing them and setting them aside (you will lose range and reliability with each antenna you remove).

TRENDnet AC1900 TEW-809UB Wireless Adapter

Users have reported that the AC1900 TEW-809UB is able to provide reliable connections at 150ft+ through walls (concrete and/or metal) and floors. Speed wise, it can easily make those long, high-def video downloads (2k and 4k) seem short.

It seems that TRENDnet also doesn’t include the drivers with the wireless adapter (is this a new trend?). Because of this, users were forced to download drivers from the manufacturers website if it wasn’t automatically detected. There doesn’t seem to be any compatibility issues with either Windows or Linux, but the OSX operating system seems problematic.

For a USB wireless adapter, the AC1900 TEW-809UB is a BEAST! It’s crazy that TRENDnet was able to pack so much into the TEW-809UB. It’s fast, it’s reliable, it does not have to be installed in your computer. People report that it’s not OSX compatible, though we didn’t test this out ourselves.

Sale
TRENDnet AC1900 TEW-809UB Wireless Adapter

  • USB Connection with good speed and range
  • Can handle heavy video streaming
  • 3-year warranty

#5 Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 A7000 WiFi USB Wireless Adapter

Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 A7000 WiFi USB Wireless Adapter

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC1900
  • 5GHz at 1300Mbps + 2.4GHz at 600Mbps
  • 4 Antennas

Here’s another USB option that you’ll love, the AC1900 A7000 is another beast in the USB wireless adapter market. Somehow, they managed to sneak four internal antennas into the A7000 and you’ll appreciate the range and reliability it offers.

The Nighthawk series by Netgear is one of the most sought after because of its consistency in performance and reliability. And the AC1900 A7000 stays true to form as you’ll see below.

Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 A7000 WiFi USB Wireless Adapter on Laptop

The AC1900 A7000 is built for speed, pumping out 1300Mbps at 5GHz and 600Mbps at 2.4GHz, making it a dual-band wireless adapter. It can easily handle gaming needs while making sure that 4k videos won’t buffer (probably not at the same time tho).

Netgear builds four antennas into the AC1900 A7000. Since they are internal, they cannot be removed (why you would want to is beyond us) and are harder to replace. Additionally Netgear didn’t stop there, but they managed to shove Beamforming and MU-MIMO into the AC1900 A7000 as well.

Netgear does include a CD with their drivers and some extra software meant to help improve the experience. But most users state that it would be better to leave the extra software out as it caused more problems. It seems that the software installs a service that actually stops the wireless adapter from working at the USB 3.0 standard and instead forces it to work at the USB 2.0 standard (this is not good). If you truly want the speeds promised by this wireless adapter, skip the additional software and install it using just the supplied driver.

Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 A7000 WiFi USB Wireless Adapter stand and laptop

For speed, the AC1900 A7000 consistently manages to achieve 600Mbps+ speeds inside of a range of 150ft. After that, the drop off is considerable (think 250-350Mbps). If you are working with a 100Mbps connection, expect a 75Mbps+ connection most of the time.

This is another USB wireless adapter that absolutely rocks! With an AC1900 rating, you’ll definitely be able to get everything done, without any speed bumps along the way. If you don’t want to dig into your computer, this is a great option for a wireless adapter.

Sale
Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 A7000 WiFi USB Wireless Adapter

  • Included cradle for increased range and efficiency
  • Can handle multiple connections
  • 4 internal antennas

#6 Asus USB-AC68 Dual-Band AC1900 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter

Asus USB-AC68 Dual-Band AC1900 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC1900
  • 5GHz at 1300Mbps + 2.4GHz at 600Mbps
  • 3 Antennas (2 Internal + 1 External)

Are you ready for takeoff? The USB-AC68 looks like it’s ready to fly off the desk. Instead, it will give you insane speeds for a USB wireless adapter and comes with three antennas to give you plenty of range. The USB-AC68 is the more portable option of the AC3100 mentioned earlier.

Asus USB-AC68 Dual-Band AC1900 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter outdoors

It is rated to provide 1300Mbps at 5GHz and 600Mbps at 2.4GHz, keeping in line with all the other USB wireless adapters we’ve already looked at. It will easily handle gaming and video streaming needs without any major hiccups.

And Asus managed to build three antennas in the USB-AC68. One is external (the wings you see) and two are internal (what you won’t see). None of the antennas are detachable, but the wings can be closed to help save on space if necessary. Asus also managed to pack MU-MIMO and Beamforming into the USB-AC68 to help with multiple users/multiple streams.

Asus USB-AC68 Dual-Band AC1900 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter cap

Asus did a bang up job of making sure their devices are automatically detected in Windows. In fact, most users reported that they didn’t need to use the install disk at all, instead letting windows do the work for them. If they did use the disk, they noted that the drivers were old and needed to be updated from the manufacturers website.

Asus USB-AC68 Dual-Band AC1900 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter on Laptop

The USB-AC68 performs well, even through walls and floors. Under 100ft, most users noted about a 30% drop off from their maximum achievable speeds from the modem/router (which is about average). After that, there is a significant drop off. Most of the speed/distance issues really seem to occur more on the 5GHz channel than the 2.4GHz channel (2.4GHz is the more reliable channel). If you have a LOT of barriers over a LONG distance, you might not be too pleased. But if your sending signal from the main room to one of your bedrooms at the end of the house, the USB-AC68 should be enough.

Asus USB-AC68 Dual-Band AC1900 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter antennas

Asus has maintained their ability to produce some of the best wireless adapters on the market. If you don’t want a PCI/PCIe wireless adapter, maybe this is another great option for you.

Sale
Asus USB-AC68 Dual-Band AC1900 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter

  • Included cradle for increased range and efficiency
  • MU-MIMO and Beamforming

#7 Asus USB-AC56 Dual-Band AC1300 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter

Asus USB-AC56 Dual-Band AC1300 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC1300
  • 5GHz at 867Mbps + 2.4GHz at 400Mbps
  • 2 Antennas (1 Internal + 1 External)

Don’t need something quite as powerful as the USB-AC68 above? No problem. Just get the USB-AC56 instead. It uses one optional external antenna and one internal antenna, but it looks chic and will fit in almost any decor.

While this one doesn’t look like it’s about to lift off, it sure looks good. The USB-AC56 is a slightly less powerful version of the USB-AC68, but just as easy to use.

Asus USB-AC56 Dual-Band AC1300 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter packaging

The USB-AC56 is built to provide up to 867Mbps at 5GHz and 400Mbps of reliable internet and streaming at 2.4GHz. For most gaming needs, this will be sufficient. For the casual user, this is more than sufficient.

The USB-AC56 uses two antennas (one internal + one external). The external antenna is detachable and can be replaced with another antenna if desired. The USB-AC56 does not have to use the external antenna at all if you want to maintain the chic look. And again Asus did manage to build beamforming into the USB-AC56 to help optimize your wireless connections.

Asus USB-AC56 Dual-Band AC1300 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter antenna

Just like the USB-AC68 above, this is another wireless adapter that Windows detects without any major issues. If you do need drivers for some reason, you can simply visit the Asus website and download the wireless drivers – no more problems.

Asus USB-AC56 Dual-Band AC1300 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter in stand

As the USB-AC56 is not as powerful as the USB-AC68, it does not transmit as far before signal dropout occurs. Users have reported that they see about 50% of the maximum speed available to them once they hit around 100ft from the wireless router through walls and/or floors. This is not a problem for most users as they are generally working with 10Mbps+ from the router/modem.

Asus USB-AC56 Dual-Band AC1300 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter box

Ultimately, this is a great option for someone not looking to spend too much. If you don’t need all the power of the USB-AC68, this is your next best bet.

Asus USB-AC56 Dual-Band AC1300 USB 3.0 WiFi Wireless Adapter

  • Has an included cradle for increased range and efficiency
  • Beamforming technology
  • Detachable external antenna

#8 NET-DYN AC1200 Dual-Band USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter

NET-DYN AC1200 Dual-Band USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC1200
  • 5GHz at 867Mbps + 2.4GHz at 300Mbps
  • 1 Antenna

NET-DYN is not a household name yet, but it will be. Especially if they keep making products like their AC1200. For an AC1200, this is one of the most impressive units that we’ve seen.

Need to go outside, but can’t because you’re stuck using a short-range wireless adapter? Well, you need the NET-DYN AC1200. It has an amazing range of 300ft in the right conditions.

The AC1200 is able to reach speeds of 867Mbps on the 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. For anyone looking to stream high-quality videos, this is a great option. For gaming, you might hit a snag every once in a while on max range (short range should be no problem at all).

And while the AC1200 only uses one internally mounted antenna, it can REACH. It has a documented reach of up to 300 feet from a wireless modem/router! If you need to get up and stretch your legs, this is probably the best option at this price point. And while it doesn’t include MU-MIMO technology, it should definitely keep you connected.

Users have reported that this is one of the easiest wireless adapters for installation. Almost all the users who’ve used this state that it just works right out of the box. And the AC1200 is very fast! Most of the users report that it can easily handle 100ft wireless connections without much drop – under 25% utilization drop.

One of the major reported issues that seems to be consistent is the fact that it is slow on USB 2.0 connections. Unless you have an open USB 3.0 connection (pretty much all new devices come with USB 3.0), you’ll definitely see performance issues. The other issue that we’ve seen complaints about is that it doesn’t work well with Sierra OS from Apple.

This is a great wireless adapter that works well, especially under 100ft away from the router/modem. If you have an open USB 3.0 port, you’ll love the performance of this wireless adapter from NET-DYN.

Sale
NET-DYN AC1200 Dual-Band USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter

  • Lightweight and small
  • Beamforming technology
  • Can handle 4K/Ultra-HD Streaming

#9 Linksys Dual-Band AC1200 USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter

Linksys Dual-Band AC1200 USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC1200
  • 5GHz at 867Mbps + 2.4GHz at 400Mbps
  • 1 Antenna

Linksys has been in the wireless game since the beginning of time it seems. And, they’ve always managed to create high-quality components to keep you connected. And they’ve done it again with the Linksys Dual-Band AC1200 USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter. This is a great option for those who love streaming, but not gaming.

Linksys Dual-Band AC1200 USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter and box

Who’s ready for some Netflix? Well, if you are having trouble staying connected, the Linksys AC1200 could be your savior.

Linksys Dual-Band AC1200 USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter side

The Linksys AC1200 is able to reach max speeds of 867Mbps of 4K-streaming videos at 5GHz and 300Mbps at 2.4Ghz (that’s nothing to sneeze at). If your router actually support those speeds gaming shouldn’t be an issue.

Linksys Dual-Band AC1200 USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter back

The Linksys AC1200 used one internally mounted antenna but has a pretty solid range for such a small adapter. There are no externally attached antennas so you won’t be able to add and/or change out to a different antenna. Even so, you won’t find it hard to connect to your wireless network.

Linksys Dual-Band AC1200 USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter packaging

Other features that Linksys was able to pack in include MU-MIMO technology and packaged software to help control your WiFi connection remotely. The Linksys AC1200 is a great, minimalized, portable option with enough speed for most applications. If you are mainly watching Netflix/Youtube you’ll love the Linksys AC1200.

Sale
Linksys Dual-Band AC1200 USB 3.0 Wireless Adapter

  • Lightweight and small
  • Beamforming technology
  • Can handle 4K/Ultra-HD Streaming

#10 Inamax USB AC1200 USB 3.0 Dual-Band Wireless Adapter

Inamax USB AC1200 USB 3.0 Dual-Band Wireless Adapter

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC1200
  • 5GHz at 867Mbps + 2.4GHz at 300Mbps
  • 1 Antenna

Here’s another budget option that will give you a decent amount of range. The Inamax USB AC1200 USB 3.0 Dual-Band Wireless Adapter uses a powerful 5dBi external antenna to keep you connected without any problems. It’s not the most stylish, or the most powerful, but it’s a great budget option to keep in mind.

The Inamax AC1200 is not built for bragging rights, but rather consistency. You’ll get good, reliable speeds without the costs associated with the bigger, more expensive brands.

Inamax USB AC1200 USB 3.0 Dual-Band Wireless Adapter packaging

The Inamax AC1200 is capable of reaching speeds of 867Mbps on the 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. For gaming, this is probably not the best option. But for the casual user, this is a great option that doesn’t cost too much.

This wireless adapter only uses one externally attached 5dBi antenna which is pretty strong. But if you need more power, you can detach the antenna and switch over to a different antenna without any issues.

Speed wise, the 5GHz channel seems to be a beast for the Inamax AC1200. Users have reported 75%+ speed utilization even when over 100ft away from a wireless modem/router. The 2.4GHz band isn’t bad, but the speeds on the 5GHz are hard to match from other brands. Installing the Inamax is easy as it is built using the Realtek chipset (which Windows seems to love).

While Inamax is not a household name, they’ve built a fairly reliable wireless adapter which should handle most of your needs without any problems. If you need more power, just look up and you’ll see plenty of options.

Inamax USB AC1200 USB 3.0 Dual-Band Wireless Adapter

  • External 5dBi antenna
  • AC1200
  • Extremely reliable 5GHz

#11 LYWON AC600 Dual-Band USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter

LYWON AC600 Dual-Band USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter

Specs:

  • 802.11ac AC600
  • 5GHz at 433Mbps + 2.4GHz at 150Mbps
  • 1 Antenna

For someone looking at a budget only wireless adapter option, the LYWON AC600 is perfect. It’s not feature packed, and it provides a decent speed rating across both bands. It is current with the AC standard and is backwards compatible.

If you just want a basic wireless adapter, without all the frills, then the LYWON AC600 is the perfect option for you.

It is a dual-band wireless adapter that can reach speeds of 433Mbps on the 5GHz band and 150Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. This is in no way “fast”, but it can keep you connected so you can browse the internet and send off your emails.

The LYWON AC600 uses one internal antenna to connect with your wireless router/modem. The antenna is not detachable and no other antenna can be used with the LYWON AC600 Wireless Adapter.

This is truly an option for the budget conscious. If you just need a reliable, small, wireless adapter, then you need the LYWON AC600.

LYWON AC600 Dual-Band USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter

  • Super-small footprint
  • Decent speed for size
  • Budget friendly

Buyer’s Guide To Find The Best Wireless Adapter

With the changes in wireless adapters, knowing which adapter is the best for you can be difficult. Which is why we’ve put together this buyer’s guide for wireless adapters. We’ll go over the most important aspects of a wireless adapter while explaining why each aspect matters. When you finish the guide, you’ll be well on your way to being an “expert”, but more importantly, you’ll know exactly what you need to get the best bang for your buck.

Connection Method

Wireless adapters connect to your computer and/or laptop through two different types of connections. The most common connection method is through a USB port located on the outside of your computer and/or laptop. The other less common connection method is through a PCI/PCIe slot located on the motherboard of your computer and/or laptop.

USB connections are easier to use because they do not require you to open up your computer and/or laptop to work. PCI/PCIe connections are not as easy to use because they do require you to open up your computer and/or laptop to work. Depending on your skill level in working with computers, you may not want to open up your computer and work with the internal components.

In most cases, a USB connection will be sufficient for your internet needs. For those who need more connection speed and stability, a PCI/PCIe connection will most likely be required.

Size

Depending on your space constraints, you may want to opt for a smaller wireless adapter. The smallest wireless adapters tend to be USB connections, some literally smaller than a nickel. But most are about the size of two stamps laid flat side-by-side.

PCI/PCIe wireless adapters do tend to be a little larger but mostly hide inside of your computer and/or laptop. The only portion you tend to see is the antennas located on the outside of the computer. In most cases, a PCI/PCIe has one antenna but can have as many as four antennas with extension cables to increase efficiency.

The larger the wireless adapter, the more powerful it tends to be. Not to mention, it will have more antennas for increased wireless range and stability.

Unfortunately, size does matter.

Speed

Most of the wireless adapters out right now are identified using the ACxxxx naming convention where the “xxxx” represents the speed of the wireless adapter. For instance, an AC1200 will not be as fast as an AC1900 or an AC3200.

The speed is a representation of how fast the wireless adapter can theoretically max out on using all channels in a perfect situation. In your home, this will never happen, but the faster it theoretically can go, the faster it will generally be for you (think Dodge Charger vs Lamborghini Aventador – one can go a lot faster when needed).

If you are worried about speed, then you need to focus on the higher AC values such as an AC1900 or an AC3200.

Range

The range of a wireless adapter depends on many variables such as power, number of antennas, networking communication protocol, obstructions, and so on. But most wireless adapters offer a decent range of 150 feet (most work best at 50 feet or less).

Larger wireless adapters tend to have more power and more antennas and are able to communicate more effectively over greater distances. If you have barriers such as walls, you’ll notice a depreciate of signal quality as you move further and further away.

Some wireless adapters allow you to turn up their transmitting power to increase distance and connection stability. This will generally be offered in their own software package as they’ll know how far they can safely push their equipment before overheating will occur and/or failure.

Age

The wireless adapters on our list are newer, using the latest technology standards. But there are options available from other sources that are much older, using slower, less efficient wireless standards. The older a wireless adapter is, the slower it will be – and the less compatible it will be with newer wireless modems and/or routers.

Some of the older wireless adapters were maxed out at a theoretical speed of 150Mbps. Considering that most are now operating at 1200Mbps+ (AC1200), this is unacceptable for most connections. If you are using an older wireless adapter, you could be experiencing bottlenecking issues (see F.A.Q.).

MU-MIMO

As we’ve become more connected than ever before, the strain we place on our wireless adapters is huge. Which is where MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multi-Input Multi-Output) comes in. Older adapters had to switch between connections to transfer data between devices. Now, MU-MIMO works using independent channels to increase connection efficiency and data transfer rates.

With the number of IoT devices such as cell phones, tablets, home hubs, ring doorbells, and more, having the ability to connect multiple devices is an absolute must.

Networking Standards

The current networking standard is 802.11ac, but there are other networking standards as well such as 802.11a, 802.11g, and 802.11n.

802.11a is the oldest of the wireless networking standards and was tremendously slower than the current 802.11ac wireless networking standard. But older wireless standard devices can work with newer equipment as the networking standard is backwards compatible (it will cause bottlenecking issues, see F.A.Q.).

# Of Antennas

The more antennas you have, the stronger the signal and connection quality should be. There are cases where this isn’t true, but for the most part, this will hold true.

If you need to send your wireless connection over large distances or through large obstructions such as a wall (or three), then the number of antennas will help. Most wireless adapters use more power whenever they have more antennas, plus more antennas allow you to connect using more than one input/output “connection”.

Cooling Power

The larger a wireless adapter, the more efficient it will be when dealing with heat. Simply put, more area equals more cooling efficiency. USB wireless adapters do not tend to get too hot as they are small, without any major components, but PCI/PCIe wireless adapters have a lot more power and are stored internally.

PCI/PCIe adapters tend to have built-in heat sinks to spread out the heat. In most cases, this is overkill, but having the ability to keep everything cool is not a bad idea.

Compatibility With System

And finally, you need to find a wireless adapter that will work with the computer and/or laptop that you want to use.

If your computer and/or laptop does not have an open USB port or an open PCI/PCIe slot, there’s not much you can do. But, most computers and/or laptops have open USB ports or PCI/PCIe slots so you shouldn’t be worried too much (unless you have an OLD system). Double check if the adapter you are going for works with your OS (Windows/Linux/Mac).

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a wireless adapter?
A: A wireless adapter is a device that makes it possible to connect a desktop and/or laptop to your local area network (LAN), and in some cases cellular networks too (3G, 4G). Instead of connecting a CAT5/CAT6 networking cable from your wireless router and/or modem, you can connect wirelessly using a wireless adapter.

Q: Wouldn’t a wired network adapter work better?
A: While it is true that a wired network adapter will work better as it can support faster speeds and heavier data loads, a wired network option isn’t always available due to distance and/or aesthetics. Plus, most of today’s wireless adapters are capable of providing more than enough throughput to handle most data needs without any issues.

Q: What is the range of a wireless adapter?
A: Most wireless adapters have a maximum reach of 300 ft or less (unobstructed). However, there are some wireless modems/routers/access points that have long-range antennas which can work at a much greater distance. Ultimately, the max range of your wireless adapter will depend on a number of factors including the strength of signal from modem/router/access point, number of obstructions, and built-in radio antenna(s).

Q: How can I connect a wireless adapter to my computer and/or laptop?
A: Most wireless adapters connect to your computer using a USB connection (most common) or a PCI/PCIe slot located on the motherboard (not as common).

USB connections are the easiest as they don’t require you to open up your computer and/or laptop. But USB connections aren’t nearly as fast as internal options such as PCI/PCIe.

PCI/PCIe connections are more difficult to use as they do require you to open up your computer and/or laptop before they can be used. But they are much faster than USB wireless adapters.

Q: Can I use a wireless adapter away from my home?
A: Absolutely! Wireless adapters aren’t married to one device. They can be used on your computer, your laptop, someone else’s computer and they can be used to access any network as long as you can match their security requirements.

Q: Are wireless adapters secure?
A: Information that is transmitted over-the-air is never fully secured, but there are options that you can use to keep your information protected a little (from hacking). You can change the password requirement to WEP/WPA/WPA2 to make cracking your password a little more difficult. This is more of a connection setting rather than an information protection feature. If you need to protect your information from prying eyes, you should look into using a VPN whenever using a wireless adapter.

Q: Can I use multiple wireless adapters in my home?
A: Absolutely! Just like you can have multiple computers plugged into your modem/router, you can have several wireless adapters connected to it as well. However, if you have too many wireless connections, you could start dealing with bottleneck issues.

Q: What are bottleneck issues?
A: Bottleneck issues occur whenever a part in the wireless network cannot handle your request and the system slows down. This could be the wireless adapter not being compatible with your modem/router or a modem/router that has too many active connections and has to sort everything out. A stronger modem/router paired with a fully compatible wireless adapter will normally not experience too many bottlenecks.

Q: I bought a wireless adapter, but everything is still slow … what’s wrong?
A: As we said above, you are probably dealing with a bottleneck. Make sure that your wireless adapter is not the issue, then go back to the wireless router/modem and check your speeds, then move back to the LAN, then to your ISP. Eventually, you’ll find out where the bottleneck is occurring. Most of the time, the wireless adapter is not fully compatible with the wireless router/modem and it slows everything down.

Q: How hard it is it to set up a wireless adapter?
A: In most cases, all you have to do is install the hardware via USB and/or PCI/PCIe and allow Windows to pick up the device. However, if the computer/laptop does not detect the wireless adapter, you’ll need to use the included drivers and/or software to set everything up properly. Most wireless adapters can be installed in under five minutes.

Q: Do I need a wireless adapter if my motherboard already has built-in WiFi?
A: While you do not have to use another wireless adapter, you may find that the built-in wireless adapter is not as strong/fast as some of the newer wireless adapter options.

Q: Is an internal wireless adapter better than an external and/or portable adapter?
A: Internal wireless adapters (PCI/PCIe) are almost always faster than external wireless adapters (USB). But external wireless adapters are more portable and don’t require any special knowledge and/or skills such as opening your computer and identifying PCI/PCIe ports.

Q: Will a wireless adapter slow down my gaming?
A: Most wireless adapters aren’t able to support the heavy requirements of online gaming as good as a wired connection would. So, in essence, a wireless adapter can affect your gaming. If you need a gaming wireless adapter, you may want to look at a PCI/PCIe option and/or a newer wireless adapter using the newest wireless standards (802.11ac at the moment).

Conclusion

The right wireless adapter can free you from a world of wires!

Of course, finding the right wireless adapter just got a whole lot easier. With the list we’ve provided, along with the buying guide, and the answers to the most common questions regarding wireless adapters, you should be ready to “cut the cords” and enjoy freedom!

While we believe this list is the best wireless adapters you can find, you might disagree – and that’s okay! Hopefully, we’ve helped you narrow down your options so you don’t have to wait too much longer to experience freedom. Using the buyer’s guide, you should be able to figure out what you like and don’t like and what you need and don’t need.

So, did you find a wireless adapter that’s perfect for you? If so, what are you waiting for – freedom is just a click away!

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2019-07-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API