WiFi adapters boost the strength and speed of wireless internet to devices anywhere in your home or office. View our rankings of the top 10 WiFi adapters available, including mini and nano designs and adapters with high gain external antennas. Learn what sets the best WiFi adapter apart from similar products.
Best WiFi Adapter of the Year
The WiFi adapters available for sale these days are more affordable, fully-featured, and versatile than ever before. Whether the adapter built into your laptop has stopped working, or you want to boost signal strength, you should consider our line-up of the top 10 WiFi adapters. We make it easy to narrow down your options and choose the best WiFi adapter for your router and networked devices.
Most of the adapters on our list are dual band and capable of supporting routers and devices that operate on the 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequency bands. Older devices manufactured in 2010 or earlier do not support the 5.8GHz band. If you want to connect these devices, you should look for a 2.4GHz WiFi adapter or a model with backward compatibility.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
We rank the top 10 wireless adapters based on the specifications of each product, the reputation of the brand, and customer reviews and testimonials. All of these factors enable us to provide you with an unbiased ranking of wireless adapters based on features, performance, budget, and overall value.
The highest-ranked adapters on this list provide the features that most users want at a competitive budget. We follow up our rankings with a brief buyer’s guide in which we explain the importance of compatibility, frequency bands, and signal strength when selecting a WiFi adapter.
Top 10 Best WiFi Adapters
1. Kootek Dual Band USB adapter
- Dual band technology ( 5GHz 433Mbps / 2.4GHz 150Mbps ) connections for internet calls, lag-free online gaming, HD video...
- Utilizes 802.11ac standard and is backward compatible with 802.11a/n - reliable connection that runs 3x faster than...
- Supports WPA-PSK / WPA2-PSK / WPA 802.1X / WPA2 802.1X / WEP 802.1X Encryption Standards, keeps your network safe
The top WiFi adapter on our list is tiny and packs a powerful punch. The Kootek Dual Band USB adapter features 802.11ac support for fast and reliable network connections and is also backward compatible with IEEE 802.11a/n. This adapter supports encryption standards including WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK, WPA 802.1X, and WPA2 802.1X. The Kootek Dual Band dongle is compatible with both PC and Mac and may be plug-and-play, depending on your operating system. If your computer does not immediately recognize this device, you will need to install driver software.
2. TECHKEY Dual Band Adapter
- No More Network Dead Zones: Thanks to this dual band 2.42 GHz and 5.8 GHz WiFi USB, you won’t have to put up with slow...
- Your Own Secure Wireless Network: AC1200 series is supported by all WLAN routers: WPA / WPA2 / WEP. And it is not...
- To Reach Its Full Potential: You may be fed up with old modems or routers, or your laptop’s network card or antenna is...
The TECHKEY Dual Band Adapter features two external high-gain antennas and allows for speeds up to 867Mbps on the 5.7GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. This adapter is backward compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n as well as 802.11ac. The USB dongle on this adapter connects to two high gain 5dBi antennas, one for each frequency band. This adapter is compatible with WFA, WPA, WPA2, and WPS2.0 security standards and Windows and Mac computers. If you use Linux or another operating system, you should check compatibility with this adapter.
3. MSRMUS WiFi adapter
- Create a wireless network in an area with little to no wireless coverage
The MSRMUS WiFi adapter is larger than mini or nano USB adapters, but it also supports speeds up to 1,200Mbps. This adapter is capable of reaching the highest speeds of any models on this list. If achieving high speed is your primary concern, you may find that this model is the best WiFi adapter for your purpose. This USB 2.0 and 3.0 adapter is 802.11ac capable and backward compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n.
One factor to consider is that this USB adapter is larger than nano or mini adapters. The size of this device is also what enables the increased power of its internal antenna. Some users recommend employing a USB angle adapter to allow this WiFi adapter to extend parallel along the side of a laptop computer rather than sticking straight out. Keep in mind that this arrangement may block other ports.
4. Nuoshawan USB adapter
- Dual-Band (2.4GHz/5GHz) 5dBi Removable Antennas Guarantee Reliable Access Amazing 867Mbps Data Transfer Speed on 5GHz...
- Standards Include WEP 64-Bit, WEP 128-Bit, WPA/ WPA2, WPA2-PSK.High Gain Long-Range 5dBi Antenna can help you connect...
- USB 3.0 PORT WITH Hight QUALITY WORKS MORE STABLE AND 10 TIMES FASTER THAN USB 2.0Wireless Network Adapter 5G compatible...
If you want to keep the ports on a laptop clear and use a WiFi adapter with external antennas, you should consider the Nuoshawan USB adapter. This model features USB 3.0 connectivity with a cord that runs from a computer to a free-standing base. Two 5dBi antennas plug into this base. This adapter supports speeds up to 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on 5.8GHz. This adapter is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux systems and all WLAN routers. The design features a WPS button for easy wireless security encryption and supports a full range of standards.
5. Glam Hobby’s OURLINK Adapter
- Upgrades PCs to 802.11ac, this powerful Wi-Fi technology - 3 times faster than wireless N speeds. Ideal for gaming...
- Up to 600Mbps Wi-Fi speeds on 5GHz (433Mbps) and 2.4GHz (150Mbps) bands. Dual band reduces interference for better...
- External Powerful Antenna: 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology and detachable 5dBi omni-directional dual band antenna for...
If you are looking for a USB dongle with a single high gain 5dBi external antenna, you should consider Glam Hobby’s OURLINK Adapter. This adapter supports speeds up to 600Mbps on 5.8GHz and also operates on the 2.4GHz band. A SoftAP feature allows users to create a WiFi hotspot for mobile devices from a computer with a wired connection. All of these features are packed into a small adapter.
Even though the Glam Hobby OURLINK adapter plugs directly into a USB port and features an external antenna, the mini design prevents this adapter from taking up too much space around the ports on a laptop or desktop computer. This adapter is compatible with Windows and Mac computers and all routers. This is the best WiFi adapter on our list with a single external high gain antenna.
6. YOUYOUTE Dual Band Adapter
- High Speed Dual Band Wifi Adapter: Up to 600Mbps wifi speeds on 5GHz (433Mbps) or 2.4GHz (150Mbps) bands, reduces...
- Works with Any Wifi Routers: By using the wireless network adapter, you can upgrade your Desktop, Laptop, PC to work...
- Easy to Use Adapter: Plug in and wait for a couple of minutes. Check network connections available and choose yours....
Another affordable adapter with a single antenna is the YOUYOUTE Dual Band Adapter. This USB adapter can also achieve 600Mbps speed, but the external 2dBi antenna provides less gain than the Glam Hobby OURLINK. This model works with any WiFi router and wireless technology due to its dual band connectivity and backward compatibility. The YOUYOUTE adapter is compatible with Windows and Mac and provides plug-and-play support unless updated drivers are necessary. This adapter also features a one year warranty.
7. Blueshadow Dual Band USB dongle
- 【High Speed Dual Band WiFi】 This usb wifi adapter's maximum speed up to 5GHz 433Mbps or 2.4GHz 150Mbps. Ideal for...
- 【Mini Size】Blueshadow AC600 USB WiFi adapter can help you connect even when signals are weak. Easy to carry and no...
- 【Wide Compatibility】Compatible with Windows XP/7/8/10 MAC OS 10.5-10.15, Linux(Kernel 2.168~4.8). Each system should...
If you are not interested in an external antenna but still want high signal strength and speeds, you should consider the Blueshadow Dual Band USB dongle. The Blueshadow adapter is a small dongle that features an internal 2dBi omni-directional antenna and speeds on the 5.8GHz band can reach 433Mbps or 150Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. This low-profile adapter works with most WiFi routers and wireless devices as it is compatible with 802.11ac/n/g/b. This model also supports major security encryption standards.
The Blueshadow adapter ships with drivers on a CD and updated versions of this software are also available online. A few users describe device failure within the lengthy 18-month warranty period, but remark on positive experiences with the customer service department of this manufacturer.
8. Edimax EW-7811 AC600
- HIGH PERFORMANCE AC600 USB adapter supports Wi-Fi 5 802.11ac standard with speedy throughput of up to 433Mbps (5Ghz) or...
- MINI-SIZED USB adapter design is extremely compact and easy to carry, complete with a cap and lanyard hole. Download...
- HIGHLY SECURE Wi-Fi protocols supported, featuring 64/128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2 and 802.1x encryption methods
The Edimax EW-7811 AC600 is slightly larger than mini or nano USB adapters but smaller than the powerful MSRMUS WA912. This affordable and moderately-sized adapter can be an excellent choice for users looking for a dual band adapter that provides WiFi speeds up to 433 Mbps on the 5GHz band and 150Mbps on 2.4GHz band. Edimax also makes a nano adapter (EW-7811Un), but it only supports speeds up to 150 Mbps with 802.11n.
The EW 7811 AC600 provides backward compatibility for 802.11a/b/g/n. This adapter also supports 64- and 128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, and 802.1X encryption and features a convenient WPS button. Some users remark that the reception of this adapter is better on the 5.8GHz band.
9. NET-DYN Dual Band Adapter
- A New Level Of Performance Technology - Dual Band Usb Wifi Adapter: The all new Dual Band NET-DYN Mini AC1300 delivers...
- Precisely Compatible - IEEE802.11a/B/AC: The Mini AC1300 USB wireless network stick is supported by all WLAN routers:...
- Blazing Fast! Say Goodbye To Spotty Wifi & Dead Zones: You shouldn't have to put up with slow internet speeds at home,...
The NET-DYN Dual Band Adapter is another full-size USB WiFi adapter comparable to a USB key. This adapter reaches speeds of up to 450Mbps on the 5.8GHz band and 150Mbps on 2.4GHz. This adapter performs best with 802.11n devices but also supports 802.11b/g. Even though this model is about the same size as the MSRMUS WA912, it achieves much slower speeds and is more expensive. The manufacturer does provide a lifetime warranty, which can justify this additional expense.
This NET-DYN WiFi adapter is compatible with Windows and Mac computers and is supported by all WLAN routers. Security standards for this device include WPA, WPA2, and WEP. If you experience spotty or unstable connections, try downloading the current drivers. The size of this dongle also justifies an angled USB adapter plug if you intend to use this WiFi adapter with a laptop. This may still limit your access to other ports on your computer.
10. Alfa High Gain Wireless USB Adapter
- Guarantee the quality of products
- Delivery Time 20-30 Days
- If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us
If you are primarily concerned with achieving high gains, you might want to consider the Alfa High Gain Wireless USB Adapter. Even though this device only connects in the 2.4GHz band, it features two external antennas including a four-inch long 5dBi rubber screw-on antenna and a 14 inch 9dBi antenna. High transmitter power of 28 dBm supports high gain, long range wireless connections. This adapter does not plug directly into your computer but comes with a USB 2.0 cord.
If you want high output power, this model may be the best WiFi adapter for your purposes. The Alfa High Gain adapter provides up to 2000mw output power. The Alfa High Gain adapter is not compatible with routers that only broadcast “n” speeds on the 5.8GHz band or gaming systems. This adapter supports a wide range of security standards including WPA, WPA2, WPA-PSK, WPA II-PSK, IEEE802.1X, 64- and 128-bit WEP, Cisco CCX support, WAPI-PSK, and WAPI-CERT.
Some WiFi adapters are only compatible with Windows PCs, while other adapters include drivers that allow these devices to be used with Mac OS, Linux, and other operating systems. Make sure that the WiFi adapter you purchase works with your current setup, including your router, computer, and mobile devices. The bands of all of these devices must be compatible for an adapter to function as intended.
You may notice that some adapters are designated to function on certain bands. Some of these devices may only be functional on a 2.4GHz band or a 5.8GHz band, while others may be capable of receiving and transmitting on both bands. In addition to these increasingly common descriptions, you may also see these speeds described as 802.11 followed by a variety of letters.
802.11g only supports 2.4GHz and allows speeds up to 54 Mbps. 802.11n is a common dual band technology that supports speeds up to 600 Mbps. 802.11ac is exclusively in the 5.4GHz frequency band and allows for speeds of over 500Mbps up to gigabyte speeds. In general, the speeds possible on the 5.8GHz band can be up to three times faster than 2.4GHz technology.
Signal transmission is considered in both directions, from the adapter to the router and vice versa. The transmission signal from the adapter to the router is referred to as the Tx level, the power in decibels per milliwatt or dBm. The signal from the router to the adapter is called the Rx level or received signal.
Mini or nano adapters will have considerably shorter internal antennas and are likely to lack the gain possible with a lengthy external antenna. Even if a smaller dongle boasts signal boosting technology or other features, the gain will probably not be as great as with an external adapter. Some WiFi adapters feature 5dBi antennas, though you may also be able to find 7dBi, 9dBi, or antennas that provide even greater gain.
The signal strength of an adapter tends to go up with the dBi rating of the antenna. If you are interested in boosting a wireless signal and allowing for faster speeds and more stable connections further away from your router, you should consider an adapter that has an external antenna with a high dBi rating.
The best WiFi adapter for your needs will enable you to achieve the speeds you desire in the best bandwidth for your router and devices. Whether you want a USB adapter with a small profile or a model with high gain antennas, our ranking of the top 10 adapters can direct you toward the right connector for your home or office.
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Last update on 2021-07-26 at 09:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API