Greetings to all the lucky tech hunters who’ve made it to our post. Internal network cards are the gateway to a steady stream of WiFi signal 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. 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 connection are all the rage nowadays. Let us take a quick tour through the noteworthy network cards, with their respective bells and whistles, that will do you right!
1. TP-Link T6E Archer
Our Rating: 9.8/10
- High-profile and low profile brackets available
- Dual Antennas Result In Strong Signal Strength
- Comes with built-in Heatsink to control thermal throttle
- Occasional issues with Windows updates crashing the drivers
- Lacks Beamforming
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 their 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.
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.
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.
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 it 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.
Next up in 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 on to the motherboard.
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 an ample coverage running all Bluetooth devices concomitantly (headphones, keyboard, etc). Subsequently, you will get 40 feet of signal range.
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 V188.8.131.526, 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 utilitarian stand-point with its all-inclusive features.
3. TP-Link T9E Archer
Our Rating: 9.5/10
- Beamforming antenna technology
- Comes with 3x Antennas for strong signal performance
- Heatsinks for temperature control
- 2-year warranty and 24/7 technical support
- No satisfactory Linux driver for it
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 cards 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.
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.
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. 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.
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 from the list is everything a demanding internet user needs.
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 is 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 connects to them utilizing the Beamforming technology.
Its elegant aluminum heatsinks constitute a high-density alloy which effectively dissipates the heat to ensure 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).
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 out-dated on the Startech website, you will have to visit other sources for the driver. To conclude, it is compact, fast, and have a decent share of coverage, you will not regret forking out your cash for this card.
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Prices taken/valid at the time of review.