Best USB Wi-Fi Adapters: Stay Connected Anywhere
These days, most people aren’t really going to need one of the best USB Wi-Fi adapters, as the best laptops and even gaming PCs almost universally come with on-device Wi-Fi. But if your laptop’s Wi-Fi card dies or you buy an affordable motherboard that doesn’t feature on-board Wi-Fi, you’re still going to need a great Wi-Fi adapter. For most people, the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900, our number one pick, is going to be perfect. But there are so many different options out there.
TL;DR – These are the Best USB Wi-Fi Adapters:
- Netgear Nighthawk AC1900
- TP-Link Archer T3U Plus
- TP-Link N150 USB WiFi Adapter (TL-WN725N)
- Asus USB-AX56
- Netgear Nighthawk AXE3000
- TP-Link Archer T4U Plus
- Linksys AC1200 Dual-Band USB Adapter
- Netgear A6150 AC1200 WiFi USB Adapter
- D-Link DWA-X1850
- Alfa AC1900 WiFi Adapter
1. Netgear Nighthawk AC1900
The Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 is the complete solution. With a dual-band Wi-Fi 5 connection, which enables both 2.4GHz (up to 600Mbps) and 5GHz (up to 1,300Mbps), you’ll have plenty of speed, particularly if you use it in a USB 3.0 port. Additionally, it has an optional dock, beamforming, and an adjustable antenna array with four antennae inside, to make sure your signal stays strong.
2. TP-Link Archer T3U Plus
If base Wi-Fi functionality is all you need, and you want to save cash, this TP-Link Archer T3U Plus adapter is for you. As small as a thumb drive (with an adjustable antenna), this is an extremely portable, inexpensive option. As far as reception and speed go, it supports dual-band AC wireless, and you’ll have up to 400Mbps with 2.4GHz connections, and up to 867Mbps with 5GHz connections.
3. TP-Link N150 USB WiFi Adapter (TL-WN725N)
If you must get the absolute cheapest, tiniest option, this one is for you. While it only supports 2.4GHz 802.11n connections up to 150Mbps, this tiny USB nub will get you going, and since it doesn’t protrude far, you can leave it in your USB port all the time. While this speed might seem slight, compared to some of the other adapters on this list, it is still plenty for general use. Whether streaming HD or 4K HDR video (or Netflix’s small 25Mbps requirement), this one will get you where you need to go.
4. Asus USB-AX56
When gaming using Wi-Fi, whether you’re actually playing online or just downloading games, it’s essential to have a solid, speedy connection. The Asus USB-AX56 is a simple plug-and-play solution ready to deliver WiFi 6 support if your device is lacking in that area. The adapter uses a USB 3.2 Gen1 interface and two stylish built-in antennae for a better connection, or use the extension cable and cradle to place the adapter in an ideal position for the strongest signal. Once you’ve got the Asus USB-AX56 setup, you’ll enjoy dual-band Wi-Fi with a 2.4GHz band offering 574 Mbps, while you hit the fastest speeds of 1201 Mbps on the reliable, ideal-for-gaming 5GHz band. Beamforming and MU-MIMO technology are also included for a more efficient connection. And all of this is packed into a compact, easy-to-use device.
5. Netgear Nighthawk AXE3000
Just because your PC lacks a built-in Wi-Fi card doesn’t mean you need to lose access to high-bandwidth networking. The Netgear Nighthawk AXE3000 provides stunning speeds whether you opt to connect over its 2.4GHz band or jump to the 5GHz or 6GHz band. That’s right: this is a tri-band Wi-Fi adapter. However, you’ll only be able to make use of that 6GHz band if you’ve got a Wi-Fi 6E router. It doesn’t stop there, as this adapter also uses MU-MIMO, OFDMA, beamforming, and WPA3 security for a great online experience. The Netgear Nighthawk AXE3000 is a compact little number that slots directly into your computer’s USB port and has a flip-up antenna for a better signal. If you want to position the adapter to receive the best signal reception, it also comes with a small cradle and a longer USB cable. Once connected, the 2.4GHz network can reach a speed of 600Mbps, which is plenty for what most of us do on our computers. The 5GHz and 6GHz networks go even faster at up to 1,200Mbps, and that’s great for gaming and 4K or even 8K streaming, should your ISP and router be able to hit those speeds.
6. TP-Link Archer T4U Plus
While this adapter may not reach the dizzying heights of speed that some of the others on this list can, it’s a fantastic middle-ground for those who want to strike a good balance between performance and price. Plug the 3 ft. long cable from the base station into your USB 3.0 port and place it where you’ll get the best reception. With a 400Mbps 2.4GHz connection and an 867Mbps 5GHz connection available in this dual-band adapter, you’ll have all the speed you need for most activities, whether streaming, gaming, or whatever else you like.
7. Linksys AC1200 Dual-Band USB Adapter
The Linksys AC1200 is a dual-band adapter with the perfect balance of size and speed. You get a 2.4GHz band that hits up to 300Mbps and a 5GHz band capable of 867Mbps speeds, giving you flexibility and less interference when you connect. There’s even beamforming technology built in, helping improve speed, range, and reliability. The tiny form factor of the Linksys AC1200 makes it easy to take along with you. It’s only slightly larger than the size of a traditional USB drive. Using the adapter is also simple, as you just plug it into your computer’s USB 3.0 port, and it’ll download. Soon after, you should have a powerful Wi-Fi signal. And the device works great with the majority of routers, making it easy to get connected on computers without Wi-Fi cards.
8. Netgear A6150 AC1200 WiFi USB Adapter
Just because an adapter is small, doesn’t mean it’s weak. Netgear’s A6150 AC1200 Wi-Fi USB adapter is about as small as they come, at just 5 grams. It supports dual-band connectivity, letting you hop onto either 2.4GHz (300Mbps) or 5GHz (867Mbps) Wi-Fi networks, and it even supports beamforming and MU-MIMO connections. While the tiny size of this adapter means you can leave it in your USB port all the time, and it is incredibly portable, not having an antenna means it suffers when you are very far from your router, so keep that in mind when thinking about buying.
9. D-Link DWA-X1850
If you’re looking to get Wi-Fi 6 support from a USB adapter, look no further than the D-Link DWA-X1850. This compact device offers up all the benefits of the latest generation of Wi-Fi including OFDMA, MU-MIMO, and 1024-QAM. These technologies ensure you’re getting fast and consistent speeds even when multiple devices are connected to the same network. Just be sure you’ve got a router that supports Wi-Fi 6, so you can take full advantage of the better bandwidth distribution and efficient data transfer rates. This USB adapter is also backward compatible and will work fine with your older routers too. The D-Link DWA-X1850 uses a USB 3.0 connection for a quick plug-and-play solution to get your computer Wi-Fi enabled. And, you can connect over 2.4GHz or 5GHz, which tote some solid speeds of 574Mbps and 1,200Mbps. These selectable dual bands offer up beamforming to prevent bottlenecking and ensure a stable connection. Data-heavy tasks like large file downloading, 4K streaming, and gaming will be a breeze for this USB Wi-Fi adapter to take on.
10. Alfa AC1900 WiFi Adapter
Maybe your device lacks Wi-Fi, or it’s just struggling to connect to your network that’s slightly out of reach. Either situation can be remedied with the Alfa AC1900 WiFi Adapter. It not only brings Wi-Fi functionality but also reaches a longer range than many Wi-Fi cards thanks to the four 5dBi external antennas. You’ll experience fewer dead zones and better speeds, acting like a reverse Wi-Fi extender. The Alfa AC1900 WiFi Adapter offers dual bands and a USB 3.0 connection, with the 2.4GHz band hitting speeds up to 600Mbps and the 5GHz band managing up to 1,300Mbps. That means you can download, stream, and game to your heart’s desire without the worry of bad connectivity slowing you down—as long as your wireless router and ISP can keep up.
Where to Get the Best USB Wi-Fi Adapters in the UK
If you’re in the UK and looking for the best USB Wi-Fi adapters, you can find them at various retailers. Check out the following options:
|Amazon UK||Click here|
|Currys PC World||Visit website|
What to Look for in a USB Wi-Fi Adapter?
When choosing a USB Wi-Fi adapter, there are a few key factors to consider:
- 2.4GHz vs 5GHz: The choice between these two frequencies depends on your specific needs. While 2.4GHz offers longer range, 5GHz provides faster speeds.
- USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0: USB 3.0 is faster and more efficient than USB 2.0, so if your device supports it, opt for a USB 3.0 adapter.
- 802.11: Ensure that your Wi-Fi adapter is compatible with your router’s 802.11 standard for optimal performance.
By considering these factors, you can find the USB Wi-Fi adapter that best suits your needs.