Our Picks for Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2017

By | February 12, 2017

best-usb-wireless-network-adapters-2016

When buying a USB network adapter / dongle knowing a few things will go a long way to fit your setup.
 
Finding a USB network adapter that works best for the desktop, laptop, tablet, and router you use is the main objective.
 
So let’s look at the things that are important to know with WiFi today.
 
Distance
2.4 GHz was the frequency used for WiFi until 2013 when the 5 GHz band was opened up for wireless devices.
 
The thing is the higher the frequency the less distance it can reliably travel.
 
So a dongle using the old 2.4 GHz will transmit farther than the new 5 GHz dongles.
 
So why use the new 5 GHz band?
Simply put there are too many devices talking in the 2.4 GHz frequency.
 
It has become overcrowded which slows everyone down trying to get a signal through.
 
The new 5 GHz while not able to send a signal as far, is not crowded and relatively unused.
 
If you live in a crowded city than using a 5 GHz dongle is likely your best option.
 
If you live outside a city with few if any neighbors a 2.4 GHz dongle is likely your best option.

 
802.11 protocols
802.11 is what sets the standards for manufactures and device makers to create their products that all talk together.
 
Here are the main ones to know.
Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2015
 
Most devices today are 802.11n also called Wireless-N. Wireless-N can work in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency ranges.
 
Dongles that work in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz ranges are called Dual Band.
 
The new 802.11ac is a new protocol introduced in 2013 and it can transfer data much faster than wireless N.
 
So why not simply buy a wireless 802.11ac adapter?
 
802.11ac only works in the 5 GHz range which doesn’t travel as far as 2.4 GHz.
 
If distance is not an issue a 802.11ac dongle is the best option.
 
If distance is an issue stay with a dual band 2.4 GHz Wireless-N dongle.
 
Antennas
Internal antennas are good at staying low profile but will not transmit as far as a external antennas.
 
Dongles that come with a external antenna often use a SMA connector that will allow for easy-screw-on attachments of different sized antennas. This allows for very cheap solutions to connectivity and distances issues.
 
A antennas size is valued by its dBi number value, for example a 9 dBi antenna is bigger than a 5 dBi antenna.
 

Our Picks for Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2017

 
ASUS USB-AC68 Dual-Band AC1900 USB 3.0 Wi-Fi Adapter with Included Cradle

If you are looking for the fastest wireless dongle than the ASUS USB-AC68 is worth a look.
 
While It is possibly the fastest it unfortunately also cost the most. Many will not have a need for such a high cost USB adapter and can use a low cost alternative below. Another downside is no Linux support.
 
For a Full Review Read Here
 
 
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Mini USB Wireless WiFi Adapter, Top Internal Antenna Model, 300Mbps, Twice the Strength of the Standard Mini Wireless Internet Dongle, by NET-DYN

The NET-DYN 300M is a small low cost unit that is a good for those on a budget.
 
It is a Wireless-N 2.4 GHz USB 2.0 dongle so its not going to break any speed records, but is a good unit for those looking for a good low cost wireless adapter.
 
During testing it had a 101 Mbps Download speed which is very good for such a small wireless adapter.
 
Read Full Review Here
 
 
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dodocool Wireless USB Adapter Wi-Fi Dongle AC 600 Dual Band 2.4GHz 150Mbps, Support Windows XP/7/8/8.1/Max OS X 10.7-10.10

The dodocool is a very small low cost 802.11ac dual band dongle.
 
Since it is dual band it will fit into most any network. Its small size makes it ideal to replace a laptop with a bad WiFi card.
 
While it is 802.11ac compatible, its small size makes the range limited compared to other units.
 
Read Here for a Full Review
 
 
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Glam Hobby 1200Mbps USB 3.0 mini 802.11ac Dual Band 2.4G/5G Wireless Network Adapter USB Wi-Fi Dongle Adapter

This new unit from Glam Hobby called Ourlink is a small low cost 802.11ac dual band dongle
 
In our test is worked well with Windows 10 and ran at a solid 100Mbps download speed.
 
Even though it did well for a low cost dongle we could not get it to show up as a Wireless-AC unit and only Wireless-N.
 
Read Here for a Full Review
 
 
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TP-LINK Wireless AC450 Nano USB Adapter, 5Ghz Only, (Archer T1U)

The TP-LINK Archer T1U is another entry level 802.11ac USB adapter.
 
It is a USB 2.0 dongle which will bottleneck if your computer has 3.0 built-in.
 
There is no support for older routers and only works in the new 5 GHz band.
 
Read Full Review Here
 
Since it only works in the 5 GHz frequency unless you know you have a Dual Band router it may be best to go with a Dual Band adapter which will work with any wireless setup.
 
 
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TP-LINK AC600 High Gain Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter (Archer T2UH)

The TP-Link Archer T2UH USB Adapter is a entry 802.11ac adapter.
 
In our test is worked well enough although not as good as we expected from TP-Link, and is compatible with Macs and Window machines.
 
The downside was it is only a USB 2.0 dongle which will bottleneck at 480Mbps.
 
Read Full Review Here
 
TP-Link is a known manufacture of wireless products. For those looking for a Name Brand WiFi dongle it is a good one to go with.
 
 
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Alfa Long-Range Dual-Band AC1200 Wireless USB 3.0 Wi-Fi Adapter w/2x 5dBi External Antennas – 2.4GHz 300Mbps / 5Ghz 867Mbps – 802.11ac & A, B, G, N

The Alfa AC1200 is not very portable but has good antennas for distance.
 
It also support 5 GHz and 802.11ac. It is also a USB 3.0 dongle so it wont bottleneck at USB 2.0 speeds as long as the computer has a USB 3.0 port.
 
If you need a USB adapter that gets WiFi from a distance and supports the newest protocols this is a good one to get.
 
 
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Panda 300Mbps Wireless-N USB Adapter w/ WPS button – 802.11 n, 2.4GHz – w/ High Gain Antenna -Compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10/2008r2/2012r2, Mint 14/15/16/17/17.1,

This adapter from Panda is a Wireless-N 2.4 GHz network adapter with a screw on/off antenna that gives it good range.
 
It is only a 2.4 GHz Wireless-N dongle so the speeds are not the best but it works well for those who need more distance from their WiFi.
 
 
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Edimax EW-7811Un 150Mbps 11n Wi-Fi USB Adapter, Nano Size Lets You Plug it and Forget it, Ideal for Raspberry Pi, Supports Windows, Mac OS, Linux

The Edimax EW-7811Un is a small and convenient wireless dongle. It is a 802.11n 2.4 GHz adapter.
 
This is not a dongle built for speed or distance since their is no large antenna. If you are looking for a quick reliable cheap WiFi adapter this one will get you online. Just don’t expect it to do wonders.
 
 
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ANEWKODI 600Mbps Dual Band (2.4G/150Mbps+5G/433Mbps) Wireless USB Wifi Adapter

The ANEWKODI is a low cost but reliable dual band dongle.
 
It uses the new 802.11ac protocol and has a small antenna to give it a boost in coverage.
 
It is a good low cost unit that will give coverage a small boost and get you online quick and and easy.
 
Read Here for Full Review
…….
Etekcity Dual Band 802.11AC 1200Mbps USB 3.0 WiFi Dongle / Wireless Network Adapter Support Windows 10
When Windows 10 was released wireless cards both internal and external began to have problems.
 
For awhile there was a shortage of WiFi adapters that would work with Win 10.
 
In our test this Etekcity Dual Band USB dongle worked with Windows 10 out of the box Plug-and-Play.
 
It also supports Windows XP, Vista, 7,8, 8.1, 10, (32-bit / 64-bit) and is a 802.11ac dongle that can move data up-to 1200Mbps.
 
The combination of low price and compatibility make it one of our top picks.
 
Read Full Review Here
 
While it doesn’t have the best range it will have most any Windows computer up and running WiFi quick and easy.
 
 
Summary
If you are unsure which USB network adapter will work in your wireless network be sure to get a dual band dongle as they will work in most any network.
 
Dual band will work with both the older 2.4 GHz and new 5 GHz frequencies.
 
Also be sure your operating system is supported by the dongle and the drivers available.
 
As always be sure to read the reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to be sure a adapter is a good fit for you.


 
 

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5 thoughts on “Our Picks for Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2017

  1. Rich

    My building recently installed free wi-fi. I bought an AC600 dual band USB that came with an instalation disc. It worked fine at first but now it is sporadic.
    I am wondering if an adapter with an attached antenna will pick up better. Also wonder if the issue is with the recently installed system.
    Any thoughts are appreciated.
    Obviously now it is working, but it is driving me nuts

    Thanks
    Rich

    Reply
  2. Fred

    We purchased new four years ago a HP Pavilion HOE series desktop computer Midel No. h7-1160t whose operating system is now Windows 10 Professional. At the time of purchase there were not dual band wireless LAN cards available. The computer came with a single band 2.4GHZ wireless LAN card. Our Internet service provider, Comcast, has installed a Cisco Model No. 3939 dual band gateway in our home. What do you suggest as an upgrade solution to our desktop computer so it can access the 5.0GHZ band and have plug and play compatibility with Windows 10 Professional? We thank you in advance for your much appreciated response!

    Reply
  3. Lesley Collette

    Hi

    I hope you don’t mind me contacting, but I need some advice about what to buy.

    My TV is connected to my Sky box that has a Freeview card in it. Tv is also Freeview.

    I want to use the Fire TV stick but don’t have an internet connection to the TV.

    I bought a wireless dongle to put into the TV in the hope that it would pick up the wireless broadband. (I have Sky downstairs and our phones, laptops and tablets are connected to it wirelessly)

    Is there dongle I can buy that I can put into either USB or HDMi port that will connect my TV to the broadband. I suspect I might need a dongle with an Aerial.

    Would be very grateful for your help

    Many thanks
    Lesley

    Reply

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