Best USB Wireless Adapters

Last update December 30, 2016
Wired connection to the Internet has been the only reliable network available. But not until recent times with the introduction of wireless options. Use USB Wireless Adapters to connect your gadgets to the web whenever you are and rely on high data speed transfer. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
DATA RATE
STANDARDS
NETWORK SECURITY
BUS INTERFACE
WARRANTY
OS
 
PROS
The adapter supports Beamforming+ technology for improving speed and range of Wi-Fi connection. The Push 'N' Connect feature ensures an easy and secured connection. Plus, developers provided the mobile application for easy configuration.
CONS
The unusual design of the adapter can block up the access to other USB ports.
OUR VERDICT
This Wi-Fi adapter has a high data rate that makes it possible to place it anywhere in the house and let several users watch HD movies online simultaneously. Also, there is a special desktop dock for convenient placement.
detailed parameters
DATA RATE
300 Mbps / 867 Mbps
STANDARDS
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz IEEE 802.11 a/n/ac 5.0GHz
NETWORK SECURITY
WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK (TKIP/AES)
BUS INTERFACE
USB 3.0; compatible with USB 2.0
WARRANTY
1-year limited warranty
OS
Windows® 7, 8, 10, XP, Vista®
PROS
Dual external antennas guarantee better performance. Besides, there is a special QSS (Quick Security Setup) button. Also, you can turn on the SoftAP mode to create a hotspot. In addition, the adapter is equipped with an LED status indicator.
CONS
The adapter has the largest dimensions in comparison with its competitors.
OUR VERDICT
The device is remarkable for its stylish design and is meant for desktop placement, that guarantees a high signal level. 4.9 ft USB extension cable supplied in the package makes placement flexible.
detailed parameters
DATA RATE
300 Mbps
STANDARDS
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz
NETWORK SECURITY
WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK (TKIP/AES)
BUS INTERFACE
USB 2.0
WARRANTY
2-year warranty
OS
Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, Vista; Linux; Mac OS X 10.7-10.11
PROS
You can rotate the antenna for better signal or even replace it with a more powerful one.
CONS
Because of adapter's inability to remember the password, you have to enter it every single time.
OUR VERDICT
Panda Wireless PAU06 is compatible with any operating system and is perfect for those who use several OSs simultaneously. A simple setup facilitates the use of the adapter.
detailed parameters
DATA RATE
300 Mbps
STANDARDS
IEEE 802.11 g/n 2.4GHz
NETWORK SECURITY
WEP, WPA, WPA2 (TKIP+AES)
BUS INTERFACE
USB 2.0
WARRANTY
1-year limited warranty
OS
Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, 2008r2, 2012r2; Mac OS 10.4-10.10; Mint; Ubuntu; Fedora; openSUSE, etc.
PROS
16-language EZmax setup wizard makes installation a breeze. Save up to 50% of power consumption with the Green WLAN technology.
CONS
While working, the adapter may get rather hot.
OUR VERDICT
This compact device doesn’t take much space and shows good performance by increasing wireless coverage up to 3 times and choosing the traffic priority and control.
detailed parameters
DATA RATE
150 Mbps
STANDARDS
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz
NETWORK SECURITY
WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK, WPS compatible
BUS INTERFACE
USB 2.0
WARRANTY
2-year limited warranty
OS
Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, Vista; Linux; Mac OS
PROS
Full antenna array for reliable performance.
CONS
To reconnect the adapter, you have to pull it out then plug again into the USB port.
OUR VERDICT
The optimal device in its price range, provides an easy installation which even an inexperienced user will handle.
detailed parameters
DATA RATE
300 Mbps
STANDARDS
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz
NETWORK SECURITY
WEP, WPA & WPA2 Enterprise/Personal, WPS
BUS INTERFACE
USB 2.0
WARRANTY
1-year limited warranty
OS
Windows 7, XP, Vista

What Is It

Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine our lives without the Internet. We can get internet access through a cable or wirelessly. Of course, the second option is the most convenient. Unlike smartphones, not every desktop and laptop computer can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi directly. For this purpose, USB Wi-Fi adapter was invented. It resembles USB flash drive as it also has a USB connector, but technologies differ. It receives signals from the access point, router, etc. Wi-Fi feature can be built in originally, in this case, there will be a special mark on a PC or a laptop. But if there is no integrated Wi-Fi card, the adapter will come in handy. We consider a Wi-Fi adapter the best way to get wireless connectivity and in this review, we will help you make the right choice.

If you need to create a wireless network at home or extend the range of the existing one, then you should pay attention to our Wireless Routers and Wi-Fi Extenders reviews.

What To Look For

Speed and Quality

When buying a USB Wireless Adapters, it is best to give a preference to up-to-date models that support the latest data transmission standards. Today, the recognized wireless standard is 802.11n, which guarantees data transfer at up to 300 Mb/s. Also, there are some newer ones: 802.11ac transmits data at a speed from 3000 Mb/s to 10 Gb/s, that is perfect for a large office or house. But commonly there is no need to pay extra money for the speed, as 300 Mb/s is quite enough for domestic use. You should also pay attention to the TX power of USB adapter. The optimal value is 20 dBm. It is an important parameter that provides a more stable reception of weak signals. If the appearance of the device doesn’t matter to you, it’s worth purchasing an adapter with an external antenna. They receive the signal much better but are often bulkier. Besides, there are devices with removable external antennas.

Security

Another aspect to pay attention to is the protection and security of your Internet connection. Make sure your Wi-Fi adapter supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 protocols to sophisticated standards to safeguard your network. One more important thing is the support of multiple connection modes that can be established both from the access point to a computer and between two computers.

Connection and Control

Just as well, consider the type of device connection and control (or setting). Usually, all devices are connected via USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. If your laptop or PC is old and has only USB 2.0, the theoretical maximum speed is 60 Mb/s, while the USB 3.0 can reach 640 Mb/s upon a condition that your Internet provider or router allows such speed. If you want to turn your PC into a Wi-Fi hotspot, check whether the adapter has SoftAP feature. After installation, the adapter must be configured: install required software to perform wireless data transmission. The driver can be installed from a disc which comes with the device, or you can download it from the official site. After installing the driver, you need to configure the network, select necessary settings and access points; also, don’t forget to look at the compatibility with your OS.

...Read more ...Read less
Review of Netgear AC1200 Wi-Fi USB Adapter

Netgear AC1200 Wi-Fi USB Adapter

Netgear AC1200 Wi-Fi USB Adapter

Super Speed

When using the Internet, we always want to have a fast and stable speed, and Netgear AC1200 can provide you such. This USB adapter has some features that distinguish it from its competitors. While most of the adapters support 300 Mb/s speed with a frequency of 2.4 GHz, the Netgear claims that its speed can reach 867 Mb/s at 5 GHz. Also, it uses Beamforming+ technology that boosts speed, range and reliability of the Internet connection, making surfing the Internet enjoyable to anyone. The 802.11n beamforming technology was created to enhance the range and data transfer rate between compatible devices that support this standard. However, Netgear states that they made some improvements in software to enhance speed and productivity. That’s how "Beamforming+" appeared. To get really good results, router and wireless adapter must be from Netgear company and support this technology. However, if purchasing the Netgear router isn’t in your plans, don’t write this adapter off. The research has shown that it also works pretty good with devices from other manufacturers.

Review of Netgear AC1200 Wi-Fi USB Adapter

Design Move

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that besides the excellent productivity, this device has an unusual design and a number of interesting features. An uncommon antenna shape is the first thing you notice. It easily opens to increase adapter’s productivity. The Wi-Fi adapter itself looks pretty big, so it could fall out of USB port. But manufacturer took care of it: you can use the desktop dock with the attached cable that is supplied in the package. In this way, the productivity will be even higher as the adapter will be a little farther from a metal case, so no interferences will occur.

Undoubtedly, Netgear AC1200 can be considered one of the best wi-fi adapters in its class: with its high performance and versatile capabilities, it is perfect for large houses or offices.

Netgear AC1200 Wi-Fi USB Adapter in the use

Helpful Information

For easy configuration of the USB Wi-Fi adapter, there is a mobile application for iOS and Android that allows you to adjust settings without turning on your PC.

More Products to Consider

If you need to extend your Wi-Fi adapter, pay attention to this super speed USB cable.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Netgear A6210 AC1200 Wifi USB3 Adapter Unboxing
Netgear AC1200 Wi-Fi USB Adapter
Netgear AC1200 Wi-Fi USB Adapter
 
Review of TP-LINK Wireless N300 High Gain USB Adapter

TP-LINK Wireless N300 High Gain USB Adapter

TP-LINK Wireless N300 High Gain USB Adapter

Steady Operation

Due to their high-quality products, the TP-Link company occupies a special place on the wireless devices market. It’s obvious that TL-WN822N is not as small and compact as USB flash drive, but the main advantage of the device is its better and more stable data transmission. Two external antennas with 3 dBi gain provide greater performance than internal antennas of other devices, including laptops, that don’t always do well with the search for the weak Wi-Fi signal. The given adapter can also run applications that require broadband to view your favorite high-quality videos; traffic priority is up to you to set. We recommend the TL-WN822N adapter from TP-LINK company as an interesting and affordable solution for access to Wi-Fi network via a USB 2.0 connector and using an IEEE 802.11n protocol. All the above-mentioned features lead us to the conclusion that this Wi-Fi adapter is the most reliable in terms of steady operation for a long time.

Review of TP-LINK Wireless N300 High Gain USB Adapter

About the TP-Link Сompany

This Chinese manufacturer of all kinds of telecommunications equipment is related to the SOHO market segment (stands for Small office/home office). The company was founded in 1996 in Shenzhen City in Guangdong Province, China, where its head office remains today. For a long time, it worked on the domestic market, and only in 2005 it began its international expansion. First, it entered Asian market, and by 2008 it spread to Europe and the USA. Today, TP-Link is among the top 100 electronics manufacturers in China. The "TP" in the company's name stands for «Twisted Pair» (a type of wiring). TP-LINK products include routers, range extenders, switches, IP cameras, powerline adapters, print servers, media converters, power banks and more. These products offer good quality at a very affordable price; this is what makes the company so popular. Today, the company supplies products to more than 120 countries. Also, it can boast all the prestigious awards it keeps receiving.

More Products to Consider

Here is TP-Link TL-WN722N in case you are interested in a more compact USB Wi-Fi adapter.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
TP-LINK N300 High Gain - Unboxing & Review
TP-LINK Wireless N300 High Gain USB Adapter
TP-LINK Wireless N300 High Gain USB Adapter
 
Review of Panda Wireless PAU06 300Mbps N USB Adapter

Panda Wireless PAU06 300Mbps N USB Adapter

Panda Wireless PAU06 300Mbps N USB Adapter

No Obstacles

Today, there is a variety of OSs for you to choose from, but before you purchase a USB Wi-Fi adapter, make sure it’s compatible with the operating system running on your computer. This is necessary in order to install all the required drivers for stable work of your device. We found that besides the excellent data transfer rate of 300 Mb/s which is enough for home use, Panda adapter also supports all types and versions of operating systems (Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, Mac OS 10.4-10.10, Linux Mint/Ubuntu/Fedora/openSUSE). Plus, energy consumption of this Wi-Fi adapter is very low, and that extends the battery life of your laptop. We can definitely say that if you buy Panda Wireless PAU06, OS compatibility and charging will be no problem.

Review of Panda Wireless PAU06 300Mbps N USB Adapter

How to Choose a Place for a Wi-Fi Router

Did you ever think about where to place a router for the highest level of emitted signal all over the building? Jason Cole, a Ph.D. physics student at the Imperial College of London did. He decided to experiment: he didn’t just walk around the apartment with the router and measure the signal strength, he used his scientific knowledge. To do the calculations, he used the Helmholtz equation which can resolve physical problems in space and time, and simulated his flat in a program. He also took into account the reflection coefficient of walls, closed doors, and corners. If you’re interested in details about how the experiment was done, take a deeper look at Jason Cole’s blog post. Cole concluded that putting a router near the center of your home was likely the best solution to get the highest Wi-Fi signal. Now you also have a possibility to map your own signal thanks to Cole’s Android app: just take a floorplan of your house, set the location of a Wi-Fi router, and finally get the answer where your router should go.

More Products to Consider

Sabrent 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub - This convenient hub with 4 USB connectors will expand the capabilities of your PC.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
REVIEW Panda 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter - Speed and Signal Test
Panda Wireless PAU06 300Mbps N USB Adapter
Panda Wireless PAU06 300Mbps N USB Adapter
 
Review of Edimax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter

Edimax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter

Edimax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter

Small but Efficient

This is the smallest wireless adapter in the world. Compactness of EW-7711UMn makes it very convenient to carry around - you won’t even need to pull it out of the computer. Despite the fact it’s tiny, this adapter supports high data rate at up to 150 Mb/s via 802.11n protocol, which is 3 times faster compared to an old 11g one. Just plug the adapter into a USB port and enjoy incredible high-speed internet connection. Be sure, the EW-7811Un adapter is a cutting-edge device for your wireless network. Edimax company is trying to make their devices less energy-consuming, that’s why EW-7811Un supports the Green WLAN technology - a clever power control protocol. The adapter adjusts the output power depending on the distance of connection and doesn’t load the CPU at a standstill. This way, the power consumption can be reduced up to 20%-50%. The obvious conclusion springs to mind: this USB Wi-Fi adapter is perfect for those who need an advanced wireless connection and care about power consumption of their laptops.

Review of Edimax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter

Some Facts

Wi-Fi is a technology that allows computers to connect to a wireless network using radio bands. The technology was created in 1991 in the Netherlands. A Wi-Fi logo in public places indicates to the citizens that a location is within the range of a Wi-Fi. Initially, it was created for cashier systems, but after a while, the creators realized all the benefits of their invention, and Wi-Fi was delivered to the masses. Don’t rack your brain trying to figure out what "Wi-Fi" stands for; it isn’t an acronym, it’s just a pun upon the word Hi-Fi. Today, Wi-Fi is one of the most widely used internet connections. It is recommended to be installed where running cables is impossible or unprofitable. Nowadays, a lot of organizations use Wi-Fi, as under certain conditions the network speed exceeds 100 Mb/s. Also, users can move between access points in Wi-Fi coverage area.

More Products to Consider

With CY 5pcs Ultra Mini DM Micro USB 5pin OTG Adapter you will have the ability to plug any USB devices into your smartphone or tablet.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Edimax EW-7811UN WiFi adapter Review
Edimax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter
Edimax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter
 
Review of Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter

Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter

Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter

Simplicity and Convenience

The Linksys AE1200 USB Wi-Fi adapter is compatible with Windows 7, Vista, XP, but doesn’t support Mac so far. It’s easy to set the configuration of the device: just connect the adapter to your computer and follow the installation wizard. It takes only a couple of minutes and then you will be able to browse the Internet anywhere in your home. This high-performance adapter allows you to get a wireless connection at a speed of up to 300 Mb/s, which is optimal for domestic use. Linksys AE1200 has two 2.4 GHz single-band antennas. The frequency range can be selected automatically or manually, which makes it possible to avoid interferences from other devices, such as remote control toys, radio nannies, microwaves, or your neighbors’ router, for instance. We think you’d agree that all the above-mentioned facts make this USB Wi-Fi adapter an optimal solution, which doesn’t yield to its competitors.

Review of Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter

Helpful Information

As we know, any computer can get infected with a virus through the Internet or file exchange via removable media. However, researchers from the University of Liverpool developed a virus that travels over Wi-Fi networks via access points! They simulated an attack of the virus, which they called "Chameleon", and found out that it didn’t affect the work of access point, but collected and reported all the information about users who connected to it. If the virus hits the networks protected by passwords, it automatically searches for open access points and moves to them. Simulations took place in Belfast and London; they showed that just like a human cold spreads faster in a crowd, the virus spreads faster downtown, where a large number of public places are located. Unfortunately, there is no good protection from this type of virus that makes Wi-Fi networks an easy target for hackers. To reduce the risk of getting infected, we strongly recommend you to avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots. As for home routers, give the preference to the one which supports WPA/WPA2 security protocols and be sure to change the default username and password on your home network.

More Products to Consider

Turn your socket into a USB charging outlet with this RCA WP2UWR USB Wall Plate.

Detailed review of Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Linksys AE1200 Wireless N USB Adapter Unboxing & Review
Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter
Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter
 
Sources:

1. How to Choose a USB Wi-Fi Adapter for Your Laptop, How-To Geek.

2. How to Choose a USB Wi-Fi Adapter for Your Computer, eBay. March 3, 2016.

3. David Murphy, BrandPost The Desktop Wireless Adapter Difference, PCWord. November 7, 2011.

4. Jonas DeMuro, USB Wi-Fi Adapter 101, tom's HARDWARE. June 6, 2015.

5. Our Pick for Best USB Wireless Adapter, WirelessHack. October 1, 2015.

6. The Complete Guide to Buying USB Wi-Fi Adapters/Dongles, eBay. March 1, 2016.

7. Jeff Grundy, How To Choose Wireless AdaptersTech in our everyday life.

8. Beginners Guide to going Wireless: Wireless AdaptorsHome and Learn.

9. Jonatrod10 Tips to Help Improve Your Wireless NetworkCisco Support Community. February 7, 2013.

10. Leo Notenboom, How Do I Connect My Desktop to the Nearby Wireless Internet WiFi Hotspot?Ask Leo! June 15, 2006.