To do wireless penetration testing with Kali Linux a compatible USB adapter / dongle is needed to be able to go into monitor mode, do packet injections, or be able to do the things necessary while wireless pen testing.
When looking for an adapter that works with Kali it is the chipset of the adapter that enables it to do pen testing.
It is the chipset of the adapter that controls whether it is compatible with Kali or not. Many of these chipsets are installed in different adapters and sold. So if you come across a name brand adapter that has a kali Linux compatible chipset and then see the same chipset in another generic USB adapter most likely it will work. I will list examples of this at the bottom of the page.
It is better to focus more on the chipset rather than the vendor model name.
Whatever you do donâ€™t buy a wireless G only USB adapter. Wireless G is useless unless you are only targeting wireless G routers and devices. Wireless N is backward compatible so it can be used on wireless G or N. Most routers and devices now are setup with wireless N.
Another thing to keep in mind is the range the adapter will have. Small USB adapters are great for staying low profile but their range is limited compared to an adapter with a larger 5 dbi or 9 dbi antenna.
Here are the most common chipsets used with Kali Linux. Any USB adapter that uses these chipsets will most likely work with Kali.
Realtek 8187L (Wireless G adapters)
Alfa adapters continue to dominate Pen Testing in 2015. Here are the top Kali Linux compatible wireless USB adapters with links to Amazon and AliExpress if available.
Adapters that use the Ralink RT3070 Chipset
Alfa AWUS036NH 2.4 GHz…….Amazon
Alfa AWUS036NH 2.4 GHz…….AliExpress.com
Alfa AWUS036NEH 2.4 GHz…….Amazon
Panda PAU05 2.4 GHz…….Amazon
Adapters that use the Atheros AR9271 Chipset
TP-LINK TL-WN722N 2.4 GHz…….Amazon
TP-LINK TL-WN722N 2.4 GHz…….AliExpress.com
Adapter that use the RT3572 chipset
Alfa AWUS051NH Dual Band 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz…….Amazon
Wireless G only USB adapters, Realtek 8187L chipset
The following USB adapters are dongles that were best sellers in the past but since they only support wireless G they have become dated.
Alfa AWUS036H USB adapter 2.4 GHz…….Amazon
Alfa AWUS036H USB adapter 2.4 GHz…….AliExpress.com
Netgear WG111v2 USB adapter 2.4 GHz…….Amazon
Sabrent NT-WGHU USB adapter 2.4 GHz…….Amazon
Cheap long range adapter that works with Kali
Here is an example of a cheap long range adapter (48 dBi) that uses the Ralink 3070 chipset that works well with Kali. It does have problems with any version of Windows that is not Windows 7 and does not work with Macs. For adapters that have good support go with one of the above wireless N name-brand-adapters.