Best USB Wireless Adapters

Review & Comparison, Last Update March 5, 2019
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 2019
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
DATA RATE
STANDARDS
NETWORK SECURITY
BUS INTERFACE
OS
WARRANTY
 
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 and connecting multiple devices simultaneously.

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

OS
Windows® 7, 8, 10, XP, Vista®
WARRANTY

1 year (limited)

PROS

Two antennas that have an amplification rate of 5dBi will increase the effective range of the wireless network and ensure a stable connection. What is more, you can always upgrade the antennas for more powerful ones if there is such need.

CONS

The instructions in the user manual are not the most informative out there.

OUR VERDICT

The BrosTrend AC1200 is a dedicated adapter that is able to provide a wireless network for your computer as good and reliable as that of a cable connection. It will boost your home wireless network range and allow you to watch movies in 4K, play resource-intensive games online, and do many other things that you couldn't do due to the lack of speed or poor Internet signal.

detailed parameters
DATA RATE

300 Mbps / 867 Mbps

STANDARDS

IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 GHz

IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 5.0 GHz

NETWORK SECURITY

WPA2, WPA, WEP, AES, TKIP

BUS INTERFACE

USB 3.0, Compatible with USB 2.0

OS

Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP; MAC OS X (10.6~10.12)

WARRANTY

2 years

PROS

Full antenna array for reliable performance throughout the wireless network area. A built-in emitter ensures a constant, stable signal regardless of how many devices are connected.

CONS

To reconnect the adapter, it needs to be unplugged and then plugged into the USB port again.

OUR VERDICT

In its price range, this USB Adapter is one of the most optimal choices. It provides an easy installation that even an inexperienced user can handle and it delivers amazingly fast transfer speeds (up to 300 Mbps) without breaking a sweat.

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
OS
Windows 7, XP, Vista
WARRANTY

1 year (limited)

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. Alternatively, the USB stick can be used as a portable solution for laptops that don't have a built-in Wi-Fi receiver.

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
OS
Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, Vista; Linux; Mac OS X 10.7-10.11
WARRANTY

2 years

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. Definitely a must-have in case you need to connect your system to a wireless network and drilling a wall is not an option.

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
OS
Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, Vista; Linux; Mac OS
WARRANTY

2 years (limited)

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.

Detailed review of NETGEAR AC1200 Wi-Fi USB Adapter

More Products to Consider

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

NETGEAR AC1200 Wi-Fi USB Adapter application

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

BrosTrend AC1200 (FBA_AC3)

Not So Simple

One of the first things that catches the eye when looking at the AC1200 from BrosTrend is its quite unusual design that features two antennas. Thanks to this, you can get a much stronger connection within a wider range than you'd normally get with an adapter featuring only one external antenna. What this practically means is that even if you place your wireless router somewhere in the basement or a different floor from where the adapter is, the connection will still be very strong. This is a great advantage over rivals.

Connecting the BrosTrend AC3 adapter is easy and despite its seemingly bulky design, it looks rather neat on the desk. Again, given that it brings several times stronger signal than any of the adapters with internal antennas, that's something we consider not big of a deal. The BrosTrend AC3 adapter is compatible with any USB port, but, if possible, connect it to USB 3.0: it will make it work 10 times faster than usual.

We've mentioned the compatibility aspect already, now let's talk about its speed. According to the specs, the adapter has a data transfer rate of 300 Mbps if used in a wireless mode and 867 Mbps when connected directly to your desktop. However, you should remember that those are only numbers and they can be not precise. For one, the transfer speed heavily depends on the bandwidth of your internet service provider, and for two, it will change when two or more devices are being connected to the same network.

Still, these rates are very good and for most modern systems will be enough to handle even high-bitrate video streaming as well as gaming and movie watching via online streaming services such Netflix, Hulu, etc.

Review of BrosTrend AC1200 (FBA_AC3) Long Range USB WiFi Adapter

Security for All Connected Devices

Turning to the safety aspect, the adapter supports the WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption protocols as well as AES and TKIP to protect your home network from the potential intruders and to provide it with privacy.

Like we mentioned before, the signal this adapter provides is quite strong and good. However, some users note that the stick happens to lose connection occasionally, resulting in the failure of all connected devices. If this happens often, there's a way to prevent it. You can try setting your PC or laptop to a Maximum Performance mode, in which the computer won't turn the power off and the unit will maintain a stable connection without any interruptions.

BrosTrend AC1200 (FBA_AC3) Long Range USB WiFi Adapter in the use

Widely Compatible

If you have more network stability issues, we'd also recommend you to perform the selective suspension of USB drives in the power options. This will help you prevent your system from putting the adapter to a sleep mode when not intended. Other than this odd software loop, the adapter has no major flaws and, once the installation process is complete, will work well without network failures.

What we like about this adapter is its wide compatibility. It works not only with Windows but also with Mac aOS. All you need to do is run the BrosTrend desktop application and install a couple drivers following easy step-by-step instructions. Once you're done and the drivers are installed, your wireless network will be ready to use.

Summing up, the BrosTrend AC1200 is a USB Wi-Fi adapter model that pleasantly surprised us. Despite its quite modest price, its deftly combines simplicity, power, and amazing performance, delivering a strong wireless signal to all devices connected within the range, no matter what system they run. A versatile choice for families that use gadgets running different OSes.

Detailed review of BrosTrend AC1200 (FBA_AC3) Long Range USB WiFi Adapter

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter

Simplicity and Convenience

The first thing we'd like to cover about the Linksys AE1200 USB Wi-Fi adapter is its compatibility. This adapter is quite versatile and will work fine with most gadgets running on Windows OS including Vista and XP. It doesn't support only Mac. Installing the adapter is quite easy: once you connect it to your computer (or any other device) the installation wizard will pop up to guide you through the whole process. Installation is quick and will take only a few minutes.

Speaking of performance, the Linksys AE1200 USB Wi-Fi adapter will allow you to get a wireless connection at a speed of up to 300 Mb/s, which is optimal for domestic use. The 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.

Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter in the use

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Detailed review of Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


VIDEO
Linksys USB Adapter AE1200 N300
 

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.

TP-LINK Wireless N300 High Gain USB Adapter in the use

More Products to Consider

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

Detailed review of TP-LINK Wireless N300 High Gain USB Adapter

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
TP-LINK N300 High Gain - Unboxing & Review
 

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.

Edimax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter in the use

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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.

Detailed review of Edimax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Edimax EW-7811UN WiFi adapter Review
 

What Is a USB Wi-Fi Adapter?

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, a 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 are looking for creating your own, wireless system for your home or apartment we recommend choosing one of the best wireless routers out there. Additionally, if you are eager to extend an existing network so more devices could be connected, don’t hesitate and pick a Wi-Fi extender stick or even a dedicated wireless booster.

What Features to Compare

With a big number of different adapter models available on the market today, one might find it hard to wrap their head around all the options. Which one will be better for your PC? And which one will fit into the bag together with a laptop? In order to answer these and other possible questions let’s take a quick look at core features that make each wireless USB adapter unique in their own sense.

Speed and Quality

When opting for the 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: 802.11 AC models are capable of transmitting data at speeds that vary from 3000 Mb/s to 10 Gb/s. These models will be perfect for a large office or an area that requires a lot of wireless devices to be connected simultaneously. But commonly there is no need to pay extra money for the speed nor the maximum number of devices that can be connected to a single adapter, as 300 Mb/s is more than 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 detachable external antennas that can improve the maximum operating range of your wireless network.

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 the 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 alternatively, it is usually available for download on the manufacturers’ website.

After installing the driver and the desktop application, you need to configure the network, select necessary settings and access points; also, don’t forget to look at the compatibility with your OS. The latter is important since most of the wireless USB adapters simply won’t work with TVs, gaming consoles or TV boxes.

Sources:

1. Beginners Guide to going Wireless: Wireless Adaptors, Home and Learn.

2. Jonatrod 10 Tips to Help Improve Your Wireless Network, Cisco Support Community. February 7, 2013.

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

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