Our Picks for Best USB Wireless Network Adapters

By | October 18, 2018

Top Best USB Wireless WiFi Network Adapters 2017
USB WiFi adapters work very well at connecting a desktop, laptop, or other electronics quickly to a router.
This makes it easy to setup a wireless signal and get online.
There are many USB WiFi dongles available with our favorite 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 which at no cost to you allows us earn a commission on product purchases.
Our Picks for Best USB Wireless Network Adapters
Be sure to read below for a summary of all the WiFi adapters along with links to detailed reviews.
Top 5 Wireless USB Network Adapters
1…Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 Dual Band
2…Inamax USB Wifi Adapter 1200Mbps USB 3.0
3…Alfa Long-Range Dual-Band AC1200 Wireless USB 3.0
4…NET-DYN 300M USB WiFi Adapter
5… Edimax EW-7811Un 150Mbps 11n
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 a 802.11n dongle.
Its low cost, very good range, and wide compatibility make it worth a look.
Read Full Review Here
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/2000, Mac10.5-10.13

Inamax makes this low-cost WiFi adapter that has the new 802.11AC WiFi protocols.
During test 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 works 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
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 /Vista/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 a easy setup. Windows 10 automatically found the drivers by simply plugging it in.
Read Full Review Here
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 a 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.
Read Full Review Here
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 a 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
[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 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. (Update: New Drivers have solved this problem)
Read Here for a Full Review
TP-Link Archer T1U AC450 Nano USB Wireless WiFi Network Adapter

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.
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
TP-Link Archer T2UH 600Mbps USB Wireless WiFi Network Adapter for pc with High Gain Dual-Band Antenna, Compatible with Windows XP/7/8/8.1/10 – MAC OS 10.7~10.13

The TP-Link Archer T2UH USB Adapter is also an entry level 802.11ac adapter.
In our test is 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 manufacture of wireless products. For those looking for a Name Brand WiFi dongle it is a good one to go with.
Read Full Review Here
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.
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 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.
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
MSRM WA912/WA916/WA926 1200Mbps/600Mbps WiFi Adapter, 802.11AC Dual Band 2.4G And 5G USB3.0 Wireless Adapter for Windows 7/8/10/XP, Vista/OS (AC912)

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 the MSRM 912AC Dual Band USB dongle worked with Windows 10 out of the box Plug-and-Play.
It also supports Windows Vista, 7,8, 8.1, 10, 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.
While it doesn’t have the best range it will have most any Windows computer up and running WiFi quick and easy.
For a Full Review Read Here
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
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 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.
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.
An antennas size is valued by its dBi number value, for example a 9 dBi antenna is bigger than a 5 dBi antenna.
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.

11 thoughts on “Our Picks for Best USB Wireless Network Adapters

  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


  2. 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 +/-

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. gychang

    what is the fastest ac adapter that support linux/ubuntu?

  6. Lesley Collette


    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

  7. 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!


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