USB WiFi adapters work very well at connecting a desktop, laptop, or other electronics wirelessly to a router.
This makes it easy to set up a wireless signal and get online.
There are many USB WiFi dongles available with our favorite 2020 options below, along with full reviews on compatibility and speed.
As always be sure to read the reviews on Amazon, forums, here, or elsewhere to be sure an adapter is a good fit for you.
*This post contains affiliate links.
Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2020
- BrosTrend AC3
- Panda PAU09
- EDUP AC600
- USBNOVEL 1200
- Inamax 1200
- BrosTrend AC1
- NET-DYN 300M
- Alfa AWUS036ACH
- Ourlink 1200
- TP-LINK Archer T1U
- TP-Link Archer T2UH
- Panda PAU06
- Edimax EW-7811Un
- USB Novel 600CU
- ASUS USB-AC68
BrosTrend 1200Mbps Long Range USB WiFi Adapter; Dual Band 5GHz Wireless Network Speed 867Mbps, 2.4GHz 300Mbps; 2 X 5dBi Wi-Fi Antennas; USB 3.0; For Desktop, Laptop PC of Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP
The BrosTrend AC3 is a USB WiFi adapter that has two 5dBi antennas to help get a better wireless signal.
The adapter uses the new 802.11AC protocols and is dual band 2.4Ghz/5Ghz adapter.
It will work with most any device old or new and has a good range.
The unit is bigger compared to many other adapters and would be best plugged into a desktop computer.
During testing in the 5Ghz band, it gave some very good speed results of 225Mbps Download, and 20Mbps Upload.
Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 Dual Band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wireless N USB Adapter W/Dual 5dBi Antennas – Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, Mint, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora, Centos, Kali Linux and Raspbian
The Panda PAU09 is a good USB adapter that is compatible with most any operating system from Windows to Linux.
It has two large 5 dBi antennas for better range and comes with a USB extender to move it around for a better signal if necessary.
It is also a dual-band USB adapter and works in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
The one downside is it has no support for the new 802.11ac protocol since it is an 802.11n dongle.
Its low cost, very good range and wide compatibility make it worth a look.
USB WiFi Adapter 600Mbps EDUP 802.11ac Dual Band 2.4G/5G Wireless Network Adapter USB Wi-Fi Dongle with 2dBi Antenna Support Windows XP,Win Vista,Win 7,Win 8.1, Win 10,Mac OS X 10.7-10.14
The EDUP AC600 is a Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi adapter that works in both the 2.4Ghz and 5GHz frequencies.
This makes it a wireless adapter that will work in most any WiFi network.
The 2.4GHz frequency while slower compared to 5Ghz can travel farther and is still widely used when distance is a problem.
While testing the 2.4GHz frequency using wireless-N 57Mbps Download, and 21Mbps Upload.
The 5GHz using the 802.11ac protocol gave some good results of 213Mbps Download, and 21Mbps Upload.
New USB WiFi Adapter-1200Mbps USB 3.0 Wireless Network WiFi Dongle with Dual Antenna for PC/Desktop/Laptop/Mac,Dual Band 2.4G/5G 802.11 ac,Support Windows 10/8/8.1/7/Vista/XP/2000, Mac OS 10.6-10.14
The USBNOVEL 1200 is an 802.11AC dual-band USB WiFi Adapter built for fast transfer speeds and distance.
While testing the 5GHz band gave some very good results of 216Mbps Download, and 21Mbps Upload.
The USBNOVEL 1200Mbps would be a good fit for a desktop or laptop that needs to pick up a signal from farther away.
Inamax USB WiFi Adapter 1200Mbps, USB 3.0 Wireless Network WiFi Dongle with 5dBi Antenna for PC/Desktop/Laptop/Mac, Dual Band 2.4G/5G 802.11ac,Support Windows 10/8/8.1/7/Vista/XP, Mac10.5-10.14
Inamax makes this low-cost WiFi adapter that has the new 802.11AC WiFi protocols.
During testing, the 5GHz band gave the results of 230Mbps Download, and 21Mbps Upload. This was some very good results and one of the faster units available.
It is a dual-band unit so will also work in older 2.4GHz networks.
It also has a 5dBi antenna to get a better signal making it a very good unit for the money.
BrosTrend 1200Mbps USB WiFi Network Adapter; Dual Band AC 5GHz WiFi Speed 867Mbps, 2.4GHz 300Mbps; for Desktop, Laptop, PC of Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7/XP; USB 3.0; AC 1200 (AC1 Model)
The BrosTrend AC1 is a good all-around USB WiFi adapter with good compatibility and speed.
It is dual-band unit and uses the new 802.11ac protocol. This makes it able to fit into most any WiFi network new or old.
During testing, the speed result were good along with an easy setup. Windows 10 automatically found the drivers by simply plugging it in.
NET-DYN 300M USB WiFi Adapter Internal Antenna-300Mbps-Wireless Internet Dongle for PC Plus Mac
The NET-DYN 300M is a small low-cost unit that is good for those on a budget.
It is a Wireless-N 2.4GHhz 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 solution.
During testing, it had a 101 Mbps download speed which is very good for such a small wireless dongle.
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 AWUS036ACH is an 802.11AC dongle built for fast WiFi speeds and distance.
During our test, it worked with Windows 10 basically plug-and-play with some impressive wireless speeds, 213Mbps Download, and 21Mbps Upload.
Alfa USB adapters are widely used in the Pen Testing community for their strong Chipsets and screw on antennas that can be easily changed out for larger ones.
If you need better WiFi coverage along with fast speeds this is a good adapter to get.
[UPGRADED VERSION] OURLiNK 1200Mbps USB 3.0 mini 802.11ac with 5dBi Antenna Dual Band 2.4G/5G Wireless Network Adapter USB Wi-Fi Dongle Adapter Support Win XP, 7,Win 8.1, Win 10,Mac OS X 10.6-10.12
This new unit from Glam Hobby called Ourlink is a small low-cost 802.11ac dual-band dongle
In our test it 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. (Update: New Drivers have solved this problem)
Read Here for a Full Review
TP-Link Archer T1U AC450 Nano USB Wireless WiFi Network Adapter, Works with Windows and Mac OS, 5GHz Only.
The TP-LINK Archer T1U is another entry-level 802.11ac USB adapter.
It is a USB 2.0 dongle that 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.
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.
TP-Link AC600 High Gain Dual Band USB Wireless WiFi network Adapter for PC and Laptops (Archer T2UH)
The TP-Link Archer T2UH USB Adapter is also an entry-level 802.11ac adapter.
In our test it worked well enough although not as good as we expected from TP-Link, but is compatible with Macs and Window machines.
The downside was it is only a USB 2.0 dongle which will bottleneck at 480Mbps.
TP-Link is a known manufacturer of wireless products. For those looking for a Name Brand WiFi dongle, it is a good one to go with.
Panda Wireless PAU06 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter – w/High Gain Antenna – Win XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, CentOS, Kali Linux and Raspbian
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.
Edimax EW-7811Un 150Mbps 11n Wi-Fi USB Adapter, Nano Size Lets You Plug it and Forget it, Ideal for Raspberry Pi / Pi2, Supports Windows, Mac OS, Linux (Black/Gold)
The Edimax EW-7811Un is a small and convenient wireless dongle. It is an 802.11n 2.4 GHz adapter.
This is not a dongle built for speed or distance since there 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.
ANEWKODI 600Mbps Dual Band (2.4G/150Mbps+5G/433Mbps) Wireless USB WiFi Adapter,802.11N/G/B Antenna Network LAN Card for Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10 (32/64bits) MAC OS
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 easy.
USB WiFi Adapter- 600Mbps USB Wireless Network WiFi Dongle Adapter for PC/Desktop/Laptop/Mac(Updated Version), Dual Band 2.4G/5G 802.11 ac,Support Windows 10/8/8.1/7/Vista/XP/2000, Mac OS 10.6-10.14
The USB Novel 600CU is a small nano-sized wireless USB adapter that runs the 802.11ac WiFi protocol.
Its small size would make a good fit to upgrade a laptop or add wireless to a desktop.
While testing the unit gave some good results on the 5GHz frequency of 218Mbps Download, and 21Mbps Upload.
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 require such a high cost USB adapter and can use a low-cost alternative. Another downside is no Linux support.
Our Picks for Best USB Wireless Network Adapters with Reviews 2019 Comparison Chart
|Adapter and Review Link||Protocol||Size||Download Speed Test||Frequency|
|USB NOVEL 1200||802.11AC||Large||216Mbps||5GHz/2.4GHz
|TP-LINK Archer T1U||802.11AC||Small||48Mbps||5GHz|
|USB NOVEL 600CU||802.11AC||Small||216Mbps||5GHz/2.4GHz
|ASUS USB-AC68||802.11AC||Medium||219 Mbps||5GHz/2.4GHz
Wireless USB Adapter Buyers Guide Basics
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.
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 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.
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 the newest protocol and it can transfer data much faster than the older 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 the distance is not an issue an 802.11ac dongle is the best option.
If the distance is an issue stay with a dual-band 2.4 GHz Wireless-N dongle.
Internal antennas are good at staying low profile but will not transmit as far as an external antenna.
Dongles that come with an external antenna often use an SMA connector that will allow for easy-screw-on attachments of different sized antennas. This allows for very cheap solutions to connectivity and distance issues.
An antennas size is valued by its dBi number value, for example a 9 dBi antenna is bigger than a 5 dBi antenna.
How To Install and Setup USB Wireless Adapter
- Insert the USB adapter into a USB port.
- A PC will usually install the Drivers automatically.
- If the Drivers do not install a CD with the Drivers is usually included.
- If there is no Driver CD, search online for the manufacture website to download and install them.
- Once the Drivers are installed you should be able to connect to a WiFi signal
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 almost 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.
For example, a Windows 10 PC will need Win 10 Drivers.
The WiFi protocols will also matter since new protocols have more security and speed compared to older ones.