Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2020 with Reviews and Speed Test

By | April 20, 2020


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, compatibility, and speed.
Review BrosTrend AC3 AC1200 Wireless USB Adapter Dual Band Laptop
There have been some changes to WiFi in 2020 with a new naming scheme and new protocol released.

What makes for a Good Wireless USB Adapter in 2020?
Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2020
WiFi has been upgraded with new protocols and naming schemes in 2020.

WiFi Protocols New Naming Scheme and Speeds 2020

Protocol Old NameNew NameYear IntroducedTheoretical Speeds
802.11nWireless-NWiFi 42007300 Mbps
802.11acWireless-AC WiFi 52013866Mbps
802.11axWireless-AXWiFi 620203.5Gbps

There is also a new protocol called Wireless-AX WiFi 6 (802.11ax) that has the fastest wireless speeds.

Currently, there is no Wireless-AX WiFi 6 USB adapter as it is still new and not widely used yet.

We are on the lookout for a Wireless-AX wireless USB adapter and will update this post when one is released.

Having the newest wireless protocols doesn’t automatically make an adapter the best.

Build quality, speed, range, antenna size, backward compatibility, and more all need to be considered.

Below we list the best WiFi USB adapters currently available along with reviews to see if one is a good pick for you.

As always be sure to read the reviews on Amazon, here, elsewhere to be sure a unit is a good fit for your set up.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2020

  1. BrosTrend AC3
  2. BrosTrend 1200Mbps Long Range USB WiFi Adapter for PC, Desktop, Laptop of Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP, MAC, 2.4G/ 5GHz, w/ 2 X 5dBi Antennas, USB 3.0 Cradle

    The BrosTrend AC3 is a USB WiFi adapter that has two 5dBi antennas to help get a better wireless signal.
    Review BrosTrend AC3 AC1200 Wireless USB Adapter Dual Band Laptop
    The adapter uses the 802.11AC (WiFi 5) 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.

    Read Full Review Here
     

  3. Panda PAU09
  4. 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.
    Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2020 Panda PAU09
    It is also a dual-band USB adapter and works in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

    The one downside it is a Wireless-N dongle with none of the new protocols.

    Even though it is only a Wireless-N adapter its low-cost, very good range, and wide compatibility make it worth a look.

    Read Full Review Here
     

  5. EDUP AC600
  6. 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.

    It also comes with a screw-on 2dBi antenna to improve range.
    Review EDUP 802.11AC Dual Band AC600 WiFi USB Adapter
    802.11AC is a fast WiFi protocol and works in the 5GHz band.

    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 very good results of 213Mbps Download, and 21Mbps Upload.

    Read Full Review Here
     

  7. USBNOVEL 1200
  8. 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.

    802.11AC is a newer wireless protocol working in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
    Review USBNOVEL 1200Mbps USB WiFi Adapter USB 3.0 with Dual Antenna
    It is backward compatible so it will also work with older devices.

    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.

    Read Full Review Here
     

  9. Inamax 1200
  10. 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, Mac10.5-10.15

    Inamax makes this low-cost WiFi adapter that uses the 802.11AC WiFi-5 protocol.

    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.

    Read Full Review Here
     

  11. Alfa AWUS036ACH
  12. 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.

    It comes with two 5dBi antennas that greatly improves a WiFi signal.
    Review Alfa AWUS036ACH AC 1200 Wireless USB Adapter Laptop
    It is also compatible with most any Operating System from Windows 10 to Kali Linux.

    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.

    Read Full Review Here
     

  13. Ourlink 1200
  14. OURLINK USB 3.0 Wifi Adapter for desktop laptop AC 1200M Dual Band 2.4/5 Ghz high gain 5dbi Antenna Wireless Network Dongle Adapter for Windows Mac OSX

    This 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
     

  15. TP-LINK Archer T1U
  16. 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.

    Read Full Review Here
     

  17. TP-Link Archer T2UH
  18. 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.

    Read Full Review Here
     

  19. Panda PAU06
  20. 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 2.4GHz 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.
     

  21. Edimax EW-7811Un
  22. 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.
     

  23. ANEWKODI
  24. 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.

    Read Here for Full Review
     

  25. USB Novel 600CU
  26. 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.
     

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

    If you are looking for a fast 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.

    For a Full Review Read Here

Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2020 Comparison Chart

Adapter NameProtocolSizeDownload Speed Test Frequency
BrosTrend AC3802.11AC Large225Mbps5GHz/2.4GHz
Panda PAU09802.11AC Large55Mbps5GHz/2.4GHz
EDUP AC600802.11AC Medium 213Mbps5GHz/2.4GHz
USB NOVEL 1200802.11AC Large216Mbps 5GHz/2.4GHz
Inamax802.11AC Medium 230Mbps5GHz/2.4GHz
Alfa AWUS036ACH802.11AC Large213Mbps5GHz/2.4GHz
Ourlink 802.11AC Small48Mbps5GHz/2.4GHz
TP-LINK Archer T1U802.11AC Small48Mbps5GHz
Archer T2UH802.11AC Medium 92Mbps5GHz/2.4GHz
Panda PAU06Wireless-N Medium 47Mbps2.4GHz
Edimax EW-7811UnWireless-N Small45Mbps2.4GHz
ANEWKODIWireless-N Medium 73Mbps5GHz/2.4GHz
USB NOVEL 600CU802.11AC Small 216Mbps 5GHz/2.4GHz
ASUS USB-AC68802.11AC Medium 219 Mbps 5GHz/2.4GHz

 
Wireless USB Adapter Buyers Guide
When buying a USB network adapter 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.

2.4GHz vs 5GHz Frequencies and Distance
2.4GHz was the frequency used for WiFi until 2013 when the 5GHz band was opened up for wireless devices.

The thing is the higher the frequency the less distance wireless signals can reliably travel.

So a dongle using the old 2.4GHz will transmit and receive farther than the newer 5GHz dongles.

So why use the 5GHz band?
Simply put there are too many devices talking in the 2.4GHz frequency.

It has become overcrowded which slows everyone down trying to get a signal through.

When a WiFi signal packet collides with another packet it must be resent which slows the network down.

While the 5GHz band is not able to send a signal as far as 2.4GHz it is not crowded and relatively unused.

If you live in a crowded city using a 5GHz WiFi adapter is likely your best option.

If you need a signal from a distance and live outside a city with few if any neighbors a 2.4GHz dongle is likely your best option.
 
802.11 WiFi Protocols
802.11 is what sets the standards for manufactures and device manufaturers to create their products that all talk together.

Here are the main ones to know.

  • Wireless-N WiFi 4
  • Wireless-AC WiFi 5
  • Wireless-AX WiFi 6

The WiFi Alliance now has a new naming system for wireless protocols.

This includes Wireless-N now called WiFi 4, Wireless-AC is now called WiFi 5, and Wireless-AX is now called WiFi 6.

The new naming scheme is simply a way for users to understand wireless protocols better.

Most WiFi USB adapters are 802.11n also called Wireless-N. Wireless-N can work in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency ranges.

Dongles that work in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz ranges are called Dual Band.

Dual Band is ideal for backward compatibility with older devices.

Wireless-AC WiFi 5 (802.11ac) was introduce in 2013 and is much faster than Wireless-N.

Wireless-AC WiFi 5 only works in the 5GHz range which doesn’t travel as far as 2.4GHz but has much higher speeds.

The new Wireless-AX WiFi 6 is the newest WiFi protocol with the fastest wireless speeds yet.

Like Wireless-AC WiFi 5 only works in the 5GHz range.

Currently, there are no Wireless-AX WiFi 5 (802.11ax) WiFi adapter being sold.
 
Wireless USB Apdater and Antennas
Internal antennas are good at staying low profile but will not transmit as far as an external antenna.

Adpaters 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

  1. Insert the USB adapter into a USB port.
  2. A PC will usually install the Drivers automatically.
  3. If the Drivers do not install a CD with the Drivers is usually included.
  4. If there is no Driver CD, search online for the manufacture website to download and install them.
  5. Once the Drivers are installed you should be able to connect to a WiFi signal

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 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.




 




 

20 thoughts on “Best USB Wireless Network Adapters 2020 with Reviews and Speed Test

  1. Heremes

    I have a custom built desktop and it doesn’t have builtin WiFi or a CD player, can I still install the drivers automatically like you did in the video? I am usually wired but I’m going to be away from home and I need a wifi adapter.

    Reply
    1. Xia

      Generally there is no need to install the driver for Win 10, just plug WiFi adapter into your computer, then you can get WiFi signal at the right bottom of your desktop. Then click one WiFi signal that you want, and input the password, you will be connected with your WiFi adapter.

      However, if your computer’s operation is not Win 10, then you need to install the driver, but as you said, you do not have WiFi or CD player, then you need to download the driver from the website through wired internet, then installed the driver.

      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. gychang

    What is the fastest AC adapter that support Linux/Ubuntu?

    Reply
    1. John

      I think you can try the BrosTrend AC3L or Panda PAU09, these two models are compatible with Linux Ubuntu I could found on Amazon.
      BrosTrend AC3L, AC1200 dual band long range.
      Panda PAU09, AC600, dual band long range.

      Reply
  4. walldoo99

    I have the Alfa and the paddle antennas. I was able to hit the hotel router about a mile away, but needed a guest password. LOL Still, I was connected to the router.
    I was using the Netgear dual band and after we got fiber optics I was getting 60Mbps upstairs in the front of the house. With the stick antennas on the Alfa I was getting 80-120 DL speeds and with the paddles I am getting in the 200Mbps range +/-

    Reply
  5. Taieb lotfi

    Do these adapters support monitor mode , and packet injection for the alpha I am pretty sure it does the rest i don’t know.

    Reply
  6. 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
  7. larry silverstein

    need help install wifi drivers … parrot os … Panda PAU09

    Reply
  8. 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
  9. Chung

    Can anyone recommend me the best WiFi adapter for PC gaming with consistent ping and compatible with Window 10?

    Reply
  10. John S

    I bought a TP Link T2U USB duel band mostly to get 5 Ghz access because my HP notebook has a dreadfully poor single band Realtek card. One of the worst cards ever, in my opinion. One thing a notebook should never cheap out on is a wireless card. So anyway bought the T2U and it does well but not great. 5Ghz is basically great for short distances but beyond 15 ft or start adding walls or floors and forget it. The 2 .4 Ghz side out performs the internal card but not by much. Clearly these devices have their limits without external antenna. Mainly because their size does not permit a decent internal antenna.

    Reply
  11. Peter

    Very nice with a lot of tests of wifi adapters on this site – only problem is that many of them are useless, as your internet connection is not that fast in some of the tests (50Mbit/s), but even worse though – you are using a 100Mbit/s port along the way when doing iPerf tests on your internal network – so we can never see how fast the adapters actually are..

    You should buy a 1 Gbit/s switch and test all adapters again 😀 Please :D:D

    Reply

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