Best PCIe WiFi Cards In 2021

Greetings to all the lucky tech hunters who’ve made it to our post. Picking the best PCIe WiFi card for your PC can be a bit of a challenge even today. Internal network cards are the gateway to a steady stream of WiFi signals supplanting the need to connect a LAN cable to your PC. You can enjoy seamless internet free of tiresome cable connections and having things spruced up by having the card neatly reside inside your PC case.

Best PCIe WiFi Cards
A PCIe WiFi Card

There are network cards that have an Ethernet port through which you can connect to other computers, however internal network adapter cards with antennas/wireless connections are all the rage nowadays. Incidentally, you should also learn the differences between WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security. Let us take a quick tour through the contenders for the title of the best PCIe WiFi card, with their respective bells and whistles, that will do you right!

The Best PCIe WiFi Card – Our Picks

#PreviewProduct NameAwardDetail
1TP-Link T6E ArcherBest Overall PCIe WiFi Card
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2GIGABYTE GC-WB867D-IBest Bluetooth PCIe WiFi Card
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3TP-Link T9E Archer
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Rosewill AC 1300Best Mini PCIe WiFi Card
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5Star Tech AC 1200Best Low Profile PCie WiFi Card
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#1
Preview
Product NameTP-Link T6E Archer
AwardBest Overall PCIe WiFi Card
Detail
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#2
Preview
Product NameGIGABYTE GC-WB867D-I
AwardBest Bluetooth PCIe WiFi Card
Detail
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#3
Preview
Product NameTP-Link T9E Archer
Award
Detail
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#
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Product NameRosewill AC 1300
AwardBest Mini PCIe WiFi Card
Detail
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#5
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Product NameStar Tech AC 1200
AwardBest Low Profile PCie WiFi Card
Detail
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Last Update on 2021-09-27 at 20:32 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

WiFi is one of the best and most anticipated technologies for wireless communication. WiFi has kept our home and office environments clutter-free when connected to the internet. Some WiFi cards also have built-in Bluetooth which is a bare requirement for portable devices. The PCIe wifi card market is huge and choosing one is daunting as it can be. Without further delays, let’s surf through our 5 best PCIe WiFi card options you can buy.

1. Best Overall PCIe WiFi Card - TP-Link T6E Archer

Our Rating: 9.8/10

Pros

  • Normal And Low Profile Brackets Available
  • Solid Performance
  • Dual Antennas Result In Strong Signal Strength
  • Expansive Heatsink
  • Good Temperatures

Cons

  • Occassional Driver Issues
  • Lacks Beamforming

6,150 Reviews

Transfer Speeds: 867Mbps for 5GHz and 400Mbps for 2.4GHz | Antennas: 2 | Comes With Heat-sink: Yes

TP-LINK has been ahead of the curve with its consistent hardware products denoting absolute reliability and performance. T6E Archer supports the latest WiFi ac 802.11 standard which boasts 3 times faster speeds than the wireless N speeds. You will enjoy high WiFi speeds of up to 867 Mbps over 5 GHz and 400 Mbps over 2.4GHz, albeit real-world speeds tend to fluctuate, even fall down, depending on your internet. Nevertheless, streaming 4K videos, robust online gaming, and web surfing is a cake-walk for this bruit.

Related Read: Mesh WiFi Router vs Your Traditional Router

It comes equipped with two advanced external antennas neatly aligned to snatch every bit of WiFi signal from the router and believe me they haven’t disappointed us at all. This is what makes this card a contender for the title of the best PCIe WiFi card out there.

Best PCIe WiFi Card
TP-Link T6E Archer

As might be expected from the best network card out there, they made no compromise for their adjunctive features. It is aptly loaded with advanced aluminum heatsinks arranged in a uniform array which effectively dissipates the heat from the adapter and exalts the performance for prolonged time spans consequently stretching its life.

You may also be interested in the Devolo Magic 2 WiFi Next Review.

It is compatible with Windows 10/ 8.1/ 8/ 7/ XP, and Linux as well. Moreover, it has solid wireless security by the courtesy of 64/128-bit WEP, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK, 802.1x. By default, it comes with both the full height and the short bracket with the box for you to adjust to either height level per your need. Lastly, for the concerns amassing from the balky drivers for this card, you are advised to use the driver called “Qualcomm Atheros AR938X” and boom, your device will hit it right off with this driver.

2. Best Bluetooth PCIe WiFi Card - GIGABYTE GC-WB867D-I

Our Rating: 9.6/10

Pros

  • Bluetooth 4.2 Included
  • Easy To Install
  • Good Performance
  • Affordable
  • Magnetic Antenna Base

Cons

  • No Heatsink
  • No Low Profile Bracket

2,684 Reviews

Transfer Speeds: 867Mbps for 5GHz and 400Mbps for 2.4GHz | Antennas: 1 | Comes With Heat-sink: No

Next up on our list is the stunning combo of WiFi and Bluetooth alloyed in one card by GIGABYTE. The 802.11 ac standards exhibit high speeds of 867Mbps on the 5GHz band with extended channel bonding of up to 80MHz. After speed testing, we observed consistent 105-109Mbps download speeds and 112-118 upload speeds on it.

Moving onto its stand-out feature, it is qualified for the latest Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity which outshines its predecessors with 2.5 times faster speed and an increase in capacity by 10 times. For the Bluetooth to work, you have to plug the black header from the card onto the motherboard.

Best PCIe WiFi Card
GIGABYTE GC-WB867D-I

In case you don’t have a vacant header on your motherboard, there is a female USB 2.0 port on the card. It allows you to use a male-to-male USB cable to run outside of the case to get connected to an external USB header. The magnet antenna is shared by Bluetooth and WiFi radio and it is free of any interference between them and gives ample coverage running all Bluetooth devices concomitantly (headphones, keyboard, etc). Subsequently, you will get 40 feet of signal range.

Related Guide: How To Set Up Your Mesh WiFi Network

Insofar as the system compatibility is concerned, it works with all Linux versions, Windows 10/ 8/ 7. You can download all the drivers from GIGABYTE’s website for the WiFi connection to work. However, it might pose some problems while you are audio streaming from Android phones via Bluetooth. To fix it, you have to download the Qualcomm Atheros Bluetooth driver, version V8.0.1.326, and it will hopefully uproot the audio streaming problem. Your network will be tightly secured by the WPA, WPA2, 64-bit, and 128-bit WEP, AES-CCMP, TKIP, 802.11w (WFA-Protected Management Frames), etc. All in all, it is a great deal from a utilitarian standpoint with its all-inclusive features.

3. Best PCIe WiFi Card For Gaming - TP-Link T9E Archer

Our Rating: 9.5/10

Pros

  • Beamforming Antenna Technology
  • 3x Antennas For Strong Signal Performance
  • Heatsink For Temperature Control
  • 2-year Warranty And 24/7 Technical Support

Cons

  • No Satisfactory Linux Driver
  • Relatively Expensive
  • Large Form Factor

1,413 Reviews

Transfer Speeds: Up to 1900Mbps on 5GHz and 600Mbps on 2.4GHz | Antennas: 3 | Comes With Heat-sink: Yes

TP-Link’s grip on the network card market is a tight one. It is apparent from the inclusion of more than one TP-Link card in our list. Similar to other cards from the list, it supports the 802.11 ac standard along with the backward compatibility for previous standards.

Helpful Guide: Mesh WiFi Routers Buying Guide

Archer T9E exhibits yet another splendid spectrum of speeds; up to 1900Mbps on 5GHz and 600Mbps on 2.4GHz frequency. This is all you need for HD videos streaming and lag-free online gaming. We observed download speeds of 150-170 Mbps and upload speeds of 125Mbps.

TP-Link T9E Archer
TP-Link T9E Archer

It employs a peculiar technology for the three antennas called “Beamforming technology”, which is capable of receiving more directional input of WiFi signals to confer more stability and coverage.

It is backboned by a series of heatsinks which will distribute the heat uniformly over the card. Moreover, it is compatible with Windows 8/7/XP (32/64bits). Unfortunately, there are no satisfactory Linux drivers for this card due to its AR9485 chipset which has a paucity of Linux drivers. Our guide on how to troubleshoot WiFi drivers on Linux might be of some help here.

Installation for this card will need a brief elaboration here. First, install the card. Thence, download Windows 10 driver from TP-Link’s website which will give you a zipped file that unpacks into a “set up application”. In order for it to work, you have to disable the existing network interface device first. Once you’re done with this, voila, it is ready to go full throttle.

Helpful Guide: How To Connect To 5GHz WiFi

Its security interface supports 64/128 bit WEP, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK, and 802.1x. TP-Link’s customer care is amazing, so contact the manufacturers if any trouble arises. This fastest card on the list is everything a demanding internet user needs, and certainly a contender for the title of the best PCIe WiFi card.

4. Best Mini PCIe WiFi Card - Rosewill AC 1300

Our Rating: 9.2/10

Pros

  • Supports Advanced Security
  • Omni-directional antennas
  • 3x3 Dual Band Modulation
  • Easy Setup

Cons

  • Ensuing Problems After Windows Update
  • Red Accents
  • Moderate Performance

1,424 Reviews

Transfer Speeds: 867Mbps on 5GHz and up to 400mbps on 2,4GHz | Antennas: 2 | Comes With Heat-sink: Yes

Rosewill network cards are accentuated by their red heatsinks and two detachable wide-range antennas supporting the AC 802.11 standard with available backward compatibility. These dual-band cards run at 867Mbps on 5GHz and up to 400mbps on 2,4GHz. We obtained stable download speeds of 290Mbps and upload speeds of 186Mbps. Lag-free online gaming, 4k Ultra HD video streaming, and web surfing are a walk in the park for this beaut.

Its speeds are further emboldened by the two omnidirectional stout antennas which benefit from the Beamforming technology and the 3×3 dual-band modulation to secure a signal range of 30 feet. These antennas cleverly identify the locations of wireless routers in the vicinity and directly connect to them utilizing the Beamforming technology.

Best PCIe WiFi Cards
Rosewill AC 1300

Its elegant aluminum heatsinks constitute a high-density alloy that effectively dissipates the heat to ensure the card’s durability and stable performance under all conditions. It supports advanced security of 64/128 WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK(TKIP/AES).

Helpful Read: Difference Between Router And Modem

Installation is simple and easy, all you have to do is insert it into the empty PCIe x1 slot and Windows will recognize it automatically. In terms of system compatibility, it supports Windows 10/8.1/ 8/ 7/XP. This should work with Linux, the “ath9k” driver is included in the latest Ubuntu LTS kernel 16.04. However the chances are still tentative, so you are better off steering clear from Linux on this card. Windows users are at home with this beautiful card coming to a more digestible price tag. 

5. Best Low Profile PCie WiFi Card - Star Tech AC 1200

Our Rating: 9/10

Pros

  • Small Form Factor
  • PCI Express AC1200 Dual Band
  • Two Bracket Profiles

Cons

  • Out-dated Linux Drivers
  • Moderate Performance
  • Small Heatsink
  • Relatively Pricy

30 Reviews

Transfer Speeds: 867Mbps on the 5GHz and up to 300Mbps on 2.4GHz | Antennas: 2 | Comes With Heat-sink: Yes

This is the smallest and most compact AC standard card out of the list but all roads lead to Rome, it has everything packed in it to serve you vehemently. It is equipped with versatile WLAN channels, 802.11a standard, and backward compatible with b/g/n standards. This dual-band WiFi showcases transfer speeds of 867Mbps on the 5GHz and up to 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. Therefore, it can effortlessly run HD videos, online games, and transfer files. We obtained stable download and upload speeds well up to the advertised figures.

Related Roundup: The Best WiFi Extenders

One of the highlighting features of this device is its versatile antennas. They feature a “2 transmitter, 2 receivers” detachable antenna design with an included magnetic antenna stand which can be mounted on top or side of your case. Moreover, the controlled card is armed with a standard profile bracket as well as a low profile bracket to fit in small form factor computers.

Star Tech AC 1200
Star Tech AC 1200

Its beautifully designed heatsinks resonate well with the compact form factor of the PCB and confer a flawless heat dissipation to the card. It works right out of the box in Windows 10/8/7 from the available driver in the attached mini-CD. However, the drivers for Linux are outdated on the Startech website, you will have to visit other sources for the driver.

To conclude, it is compact, fast, and has a decent share of coverage, you will not regret forking out your cash for this card. Surely, it is among the best PCIe WiFi card options currently available on the market.

Factors To Consider While Buying

The WiFi card market is huge and so we have many products to choose from between different competitors. WiFi is a wireless communication technology used for exchanging data that helps us connect with wireless routers and the internet without involving cables. Nearly all devices such as computers, phones, and smart appliances are enabled with WiFi. Like any other technology, WiFi has its fair share of downsides. Despite being the same tech, not all WiFi cards are built the same. Every WiFi card will perform differently in regards to transmission speeds, range, and connection reliability. With the conclusion of this list, hopefully, you are buying the best products. But it is still essential to get a know-how of how WiFi cards work and their flaws before closing in on your purchase. This way you will be able to buy the best PCIe wifi card without overspending or underspending according to your needs.

Bandwidth

Companies love to boast their data transmission speeds whether it is on its website, spec sheet, or box. PCIe WiFi cards have a wide variety of transfer speeds ranging from 200 Mbps to nearly 1 Gbps. The majority of PCIe wifi cards will also be equipped with Bluetooth as a convenience, a trend that started in the mobile market.
Many newbies buy WiFi cards with the highest bandwidth believing in reaching those speeds without taking the maximum speed into account allowed by your ISP. Choose a WiFi card that can match the speeds of your wireless router or internet plan to avoid any overspending on useless jargon.

Thermal Performance

Heat is the main culprit of unreliability and the reduced lifespan of electronic devices. Hence it is necessary to keep your PCIe wifi card cool enough so that it provides you its maximum speeds with reliable connectivity. Some WiFi cards due to their nature of high performance may face this issue which is why manufacturers use heatsinks and even fans with high-end ones. Heatsinks help to dissipate heat from the system which is then exhausted via your PC’s airflow system. We have experienced some notorious PCIe WiFi cards that have crazy high bandwidth only to be bottlenecked by their inefficient thermal design. It is also recommended to ensure proper air ventilation in your computer and keep it in a dust-free environment so that the heat generated by the card doesn’t affect the performance of other components. The best PCIe WiFi card for your build will definitely be the one that keeps its temperatures in check.

FAQs

Do I need a WiFi card for my PC?

This is completely subjective. If you can’t help in making your setup look clutterless, you may use a WiFi card instead of a traditional Ethernet cable. Some WiFi cards are also equipped with Bluetooth and with the advantage of direct connection your computer can be favorable over USB dongles.

How to add Wifi to a desktop?

It is very easy to install wifi cards on your desktop. Open the side panel of your PC and look for a PCIe x 1 slot beneath PCIe x 16 where graphics cards are commonly connected. You can easily tell by its small length. Carefully align the pins of the card and insert them into the PCIe slot. Make sure that the notches of both card and slot are perfectly aligned as well. Lastly, install the included antennas and necessary drivers to start WiFi functionality.

How much does a laptop WiFi card cost?

Laptop WiFi cards are relatively cheap. This is due to their compact sizes and the exclusion of antennas that are already tucked around its display by manufacturers. Most Laptop WiFi cards perform the same if not better than desktop counterparts. Laptop WiFi cards are installed in mini PCIe slots which is similar to m.2 interfaces.

Does a WiFi card give you Bluetooth?

Although not necessary, most modern WiFi cards come with Bluetooth functionality. Bluetooth is a must-have feature and the cost of adding Bluetooth is negligible. It is a far better alternative to using Bluetooth dongles that often lack reliable connection and input lag. If you are a gamer and use Bluetooth peripherals, you may want to consider this before buying any WiFi card for your PC builds.

Bill Wilson
Bill is a certified Microsoft Professional providing assistance to over 500 remotely connected employees and managing Windows 2008 to 2016 servers.