Using a wired connection is the best in terms of latency and stability. But, it’s definitely not the most convenient choice. Thankfully, we always have the option of choosing the best WiFi adapter for our computer.
However, the best choice differs from person to person. Some of us need portability while others need raw power – even if that means getting something that’s a bit bulkier.
That’s why we decided to list a variety of different options for everyone! Without any further ado, let’s get right into it!
1: Best WiFi Adapter for Portability: TP-Link N150
If you’re not a very demanding user and you feel like you can benefit from something like a nano adapter such as the TP-Link N150!
It’s so small that you can just plug it in on your laptop or desktop and forget that it’s even there. You can use it for Windows, Mac, or even Linux computers (Depending on your distro – we couldn’t get it to work on some versions of Ubuntu).
With an average price of about 10 bucks, this is one of the cheapest adapters that you can get as well. But, that’s not to say that cheap equals bad. The TP-Link N150 can actually reach up to 150 Mbps! And while this is not a crazy-high speed, it’s definitely more than your average person is going to need.
Now, of course, since you’re getting something so small, there are some sacrifices that need to be made. One thing that we personally noticed is that the ping is way too high for gaming. So, if you’re a gamer, you probably want to invest in something that’s just a tiny bit more premium.
Other than that, as we mentioned above, the download speeds are limited to 150 Mbps which means that you can forget about using it on a very good internet connection. Range is also not the best – but it should be plenty for the average person who connects to his house.
- Very small
- Limited speed and range
- Not suitable for gaming
2: Portability and Performance: Wsky WiFi adapter
Wsky may not be amongst the most popular brands. But, that’s not to say that their products aren’t worth checking out. This WiFi adapter, in particular, is a great option for those who want a middle ground between portability and performance.
As you can see in the image above, it’s available for all of the popular versions of Windows from Windows 10 all the way back to Windows XP! Other than that, you can also use it on Mac and Linux as well.
In terms of portability, it’s definitely not on the same level as TP-Link’s offering. You can’t just plug it in and forget about it. But, we can still put it on our Laptop’s carrying bag, carry on, and then plug it in after arriving.
In exchange for the slightly bigger size, you get 10 times higher transfer speeds and much more range as well. To be more specific, Wsky promises that their adapter can reach up to 1200 Mbps!
That’s frankly so much more than most of us can ever hope to achieve. So, we’d say that the specific adapter is a great choice for desktops as well. At about 20 bucks, it’s hard to go wrong with it!
Oh, and it goes without saying that you shouldn’t have any ping issues while gaming!
- All around a great option for both portability and performance (Unless you need something extreme)
- Price is just about right
- Decent range
- Dealing with a non-reputable brand always comes with a few risks (Warranty, after-sales support, etc) – regardless of the pricing
3: Best WiFi Adapter for Performance: Techkey 1750
If you need very high speeds and great range, then look no further. The Techkey 1750 is most likely all you need! Anything more than that and you’re better off looking at routers and repeaters instead.
Its range is simply insane. And as for speeds, you’re looking at 1300 Mbps on the 5GHz band and 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. The adapter itself mentions that it can go up to 1750 but that’s only the total bandwidth.
Generally speaking, you’re limited to 1300. Although, let’s be honest. Only a very small percentage of us can actually reach the 1000 Mbps mark. So, that limit isn’t exactly a limit in the first place.
Now, with all of that being said, great power comes with great wattage demands. Techkey recommends that we should only use the motherboard’s USB ports to connect this adapter.
We suppose that even though USB is a universal standard, there are many USB ports that don’t provide enough power for certain devices. So, this is probably why we are not supposed to connect a high-gain WiFi adapter to a Laptop or the USB ports that our case offers.
But even if you could connect it to a Laptop, that probably wouldn’t be the best idea. After all, this is not exactly a portable adapter.
- Great range
- Supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz channels with speeds of up to 1300 Mbps
- Not suitable for Laptops (Zero portability along with high power demands)
- Relatively expensive
4: Best Built-In Option for Desktops: TP-Link AC 1300
USB adapters are cheap and easy to install – but the truth is that some of us just don’t want to deal with external devices. Sometimes it’s better to have everything neat and tidy on the inside.
If that’s what you’re after as well, then consider buying the TP-Link AC 1300.
As you can see, this needs a spare PCI-E X1 slot in order to be used. If you don’t have any, then go back and look for a USB adapter instead.
In terms of performance, it shouldn’t be all that better compared to the external variants. Those of you who are operating on the 5GHz band should be able to reach 1300 Mbps (Only if your internet connection reaches that number, of course).
This card can’t be used on Laptops nor Macs or Linux machines. Only for Windows 10 computers. TP-Link has mentioned that it should work with other versions of Windows as well. But, while visiting their official website, you’ll notice that the only available drivers are for Windows 10 anyway.
- An internal card means that you just plug it in and then you can forget about it
- Great performance
- Only available for Windows machines
- Zero portability
- Can’t be used on Laptops, Macs, and Linux computers
Why Use a WiFi Adapter on a Laptop?
As far as desktops are concerned, the answer is fairly simple. Most of them don’t come with built-in Wi-Fi. So, getting an inexpensive adapter is an easy fix, right?
But, what about Laptops? Every single one of them comes with WiFi and Bluetooth pre-installed. What’s the point in using an adapter then? Well, there are mainly a couple of reasons for doing so:
- Fixing a broken WiFi card on the cheap
- Getting better speeds and range
The first reason is pretty obvious. If your built-in WiFi card decides to stop working, then you’ll need to look for a replacement. And finding the exact one that’s needed can be a bit of a pain – not to mention installing it or getting a professional to do it. So, instead, you get a USB adapter – and life is good again.
Other than that, a WiFi adapter can also be used for achieving higher speeds than what our Laptop can achieve on its own. The average Laptop nowadays seems to be capped at 100 Mbps. Though, do keep in mind that your internet connection also needs to be fast enough in order for the adapter to reach those speeds.
That’s all we’ve got for now. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to let us know about them in the comments section down below. Still not sure which adapter to choose? Here is the TL: DR!
- TP-Link N150: Very portable and cheap – but it’s not ideal for power users and/or gamers
- Wsky WiFi Adapter: Average price, performance, and portability. All around a good option for your average person
- Techkey 1750: Great choice for the most demanding users – but not suitable for Laptops
- TP-Link AC 1300: Great performance and range but it’s only suitable for desktops while also requiring a free PCI-E X1 slot. It doesn’t work with Laptops or Macs of any kind, though