Best USB Wi-Fi Adapters to Buy in 2020

If you are reading this guide, then you obviously have an internet connection. So I assume I don’t need to tell you the importance of being connected most of the time these days. Especially in 2020, a day without the internet can be frustrating, and even more so if you want to get some work done.

Most newer laptops and PC motherboards have built-in Wi-Fi these days, although some still rely on an Ethernet connection. Sure LAN is great for high-speed internet, but for a portable laptop, a wireless connection is always convenient. Another scenario could be that the built-in Wi-Fi is too slow for your liking or you have an older device that doesn’t have any sort of wireless connection built-in.

Whatever your situation might be, having a strong wireless connection will save you from a lot of headaches. So if you’re looking for a convenient USB Wi-Fi adapter, we have got you covered. We have rounded up five of the best USB Wi-Fi adapters to help you make the right decision.

1. Edimax EW-7811Un

Connect And Forget

  • Compact and non-intrusive
  • Great Wi-Fi coverage
  • Supports multiple operating systems
  • Might require manual driver download (Windows 10)

9,149 Reviews

Antennae: Internal | Speed: 150Mbps | Frequency: 2.4GHz

We love this Nano size adapter from Edimax due to its ability to offer premium features at a very friendly price. The small size is ideal as it does not obscure other ports, and you can actually leave it on the port, and it will remain unnoticeable. This adapter is compatible with the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard which is about 6x faster than the 802.11b protocol and also affords you more Wi-Fi coverage. It is also backward compatible with b/g protocols in case you are using an older router model.

Another interesting feature is the use of Wi-Fi Multimedia that allows you to prioritize certain activities like streaming of real-time data such as video, Skype and music. The Edimax EW-7811un comes with a USB 2.0 standard connector and produces speeds of up to 150 Mbps. Data is transmitted through the 2.4GHz frequency.

Regarding internet protection, the adapter uses 64/128 bit WEP encryption to secure your connection. You can also opt for WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK protection protocols. The adapter will work great with all versions of Windows, Mac and Linux Operating Systems.

Another feature I should mention is the adapter’s power-saving ability using Smart power and Auto idle technology. The amount of power being drawn reduces as the distance between connection decreases, and no power is drawn when the internet is being unused. This results in energy saving by 20-25%.

The Edimax EW-7811un is a great choice for basic domestic use. Its small size makes it convenient for placement anywhere without having to worry about the usability of other ports. And what’s better is that you still get great speeds and coverage area.

2. Netgear Nighthawk AC1900

For The Gamers

  • Dual Band Connectivity
  • Supports up to 1300Mbps
  • A bit bulkier than others
  • Expensive

2,393 Reviews

Antennae: External | Speed: 150Mbps | Frequency: 2.4GHz + 5GHz

Netgear is almost a household name in the United States. They’re like the US version of the globally popular TP-Link. The Nighthawk AC1900 is an excellent performer. If range and speed are your concern, the Nighthawk is the way to go. This particular adapter is also near perfect for our gamer folks out there. With Dual-Band Wi-Fi support, supported speeds of up to 1300Mbps, and excellent coverage, this definitely deserves a spot on this list.

It also supports dual-band coverage, which means it supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. In case you didn’t know, 2.4GHz provides a better range while 5GHz has a shorter range yet is usually much faster. To sum it up, the Nighthawk ensures that you are always getting a strong and stable connection. Which is important if you are playing online games

Although the Nighthawk is a better performer than our top pick, it’s considerably much bulkier. You’ll definitely notice it when it’s plugged in, and the amount of clearance it requires means that you might be sacrificing another USB port beside the one it’s plugged into. It’s also relatively expensive compared to others on this list.

3. TP-Link AC600

Best Value

  • Dual-band frequency
  • Great speed and coverage
  • Included extension cable
  • External antennae takes extra space on laptops

767 Reviews

Antennae: 1 External | Speed: 600Mbps | Frequency: 2.4GHz + 5GHz

 

TP-Link is no new name in the Networking niche. Their routers are phenomenal and it, therefore, follows that their Wi-Fi adapters will also be exceptional. The Archer T2UH will be a great upgrade for your computer’s adapters as it is compatible with the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol.

With 3x more speed than the 802.11n protocol, this Wi-Fi adapter is best used for bandwidth-intensive activities like HD streaming and online gaming. It is dual-band and offers a combined speed of up to 600 MBPS. That is 433 on the 5GHz and 150Mbps on 2.4GHz.

The T2UH is equipped with a 2 dBi external antenna that helps to get great signal strength over a wide Wi-Fi range. The manufacturers understand that the antennae may be a hindrance when connected directly on the USB ports, so they have included an extension cable that helps to place the adapter at the most convenient place.

This wireless adapter is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS. And as a bonus, you get to benefit from their generous 2-year warranty. Their customer service is also available 24/7 and is always ready to help.

If your internal Wi-Fi adapter is using the older wireless standards then I recommend this USB adapter as a replacement. It has all the features to facilitate efficient connection and what’s more, is that it’s from an established brand with a proven record to produce quality products.

4. Linksys AE1200 Wireless-N USB Adapter

Budget Option

  • Compact size
  • Easy Setup
  • MIMO antennas for boosted coverage
  • Slower 2.4GHz speeds

1,266 Reviews

Antennae: Internal | Speed: 300Mbps | Frequency: 2.4GHz + 5GHz

Linksys is another largely known name in the wireless industry due to their great products. And this modem-like wireless adapter does not disappoint. It does not work with macOS, but it is compatible with all versions of Windows. It comes equipped with wireless N technology that offers transfer speeds of up to 300mbps.

The AE1200 adapter is also equipped with MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) antennas for increased coverage and network stability. The installation process is straightforward and will only take a few minutes to complete. No need for an installation disc. You simply plug the adapter and follow the installation wizard.

Although the 5GHz speed is up to par, it slows down considerably when using a 2.4GHz connection. So we wouldn’t recommend for competitive gaming, but it’s nearly perfect for a casual/light user. The 5GHz connection, however, is extremely solid and even edges out the competition in some scenarios.

The Linksys AE1200 is a simple adapter but does not lack in terms of great features, The speed and range on the 5GHz frequency are impressive even without the inclusion of external antennas. In essence, you will be getting the same range as the larger adapters but in a compact size.

5. BossTrend 1200Mbps USB Wi-Fi Adapter

Best For Productivity

  • Excellent speed
  • Dual-band frequency
  • Two strong antennas for the best range
  • Compatible with various encryption standards
  • Not the most portable

1,692 Reviews

Antennae: 2 External | Speed: 1200Mbps | Frequency: 2.4GHz + 5GHz

Are you looking for the ultimate Wi-Fi speed? Then it does not get better than this adapter by BrosTrend. The 5GHz band gives you a maximum speed of 867mbps which is more than the combined speed of any of the other adapters in our list. The 2.4GHz band gives you speeds of up to 300 Mbps. The adapter also features not one but two 5 dBi antennas that ensure you get a stable network over the longest range.

Additionally, the adapter comes with a USB 3.0 cradle and a 5 feet extension cable to allow you more space on your USB ports. But you can still connect it directly to the USB port. USB 3.0 is a relatively new technology that many of the older computers may not support. Thus, for good measure, the BrosTrend adapter has been made backward compatible with USB 2.0.

For secure surfing, the adapter encrypts your connection using WPA2/WPA/WEP, TKIP/AES wireless encryptions. This adapter is compatible with all versions of Windows and Mac OS, and you will find the latest drivers here.

BrosTrend has great customer support that will help you in case of an issue. And to top it off you get a 2-year warranty. I recommend the BrosTrend wireless adapter for corporate use. It will still be great for home use but it will be overly underutilized.

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