While most usually go the wireless route with a wireless USB dongle, a USB-to-Ethernet adapter has its place in many scenarios.
Many times Ethernet is run when wireless won’t reach, and a simple setup is needed.
Other times an Ethernet card has gone bad on a laptop or desktop, and using a converter is much more straightforward than doing a repair.
What is a USB to Ethernet Adapter?
A USB to Ethernet Adapter can extend a USB cable or connect to a router for an internet connection.
For example, if the Ethernet port on a PC is no longer working a USB to Ethernet Adapter can be used to replace it.
This makes for an easy fix, especially on a laptop that may be impossible to repair the Ethernet port.
USB Version Data Transfer Speeds
- USB 1.0 – 1.5 Mbps
- USB 1.1 – 12 Mbps
- USB 2.0 – 480 Mbps
- USB 3.0 – 5 Gbps
- USB 3.1 -10Gbps
The USB version varies in how fast they can transfer data Mbps (Megabits per second), with some versions very fast and some slow.
USB 3.0 was released in 2008, and most computers will have USB 3.0 or higher built-in, but be sure to check.
Fast Ethernet: speeds are rated for 100Mbps, and Gigabit Ethernet is rated for 1Gbps (1,000 Mbps).
A computer with at least USB 3.0 should be able to match Ethernet speeds, but anything lower will slow down data transfers.
Be sure to check the USB version on your PC to see what the speed results will be.
An adapter using USB 2.0 and lower will still work, but the speed will be slower.
Many good units are available, with some of our favorite picks below.
As always, be sure to read the reviews on Amazon, forums, here, or elsewhere to be sure a unit is a good fit for you.
*This post contains affiliate links.
Our Picks for Best USB to Ethernet Adapter
- UGREEN Ethernet Adapter
- Cable Matters
- Anker 3-Port
- SIIG USB 3.0 to RJ45
UGREEN Ethernet Adapter USB 2.0 to 10 100 Network RJ45 LAN Wired Adapter Compatible with Nintendo Switch Wii Wii U MacBook Chromebook Windows Mac OS Surface Linux ASIX AX88772A Chipset Black
UGREEN makes many products, including a USB Ethernet Adapter.
It is a USB 2.0 unit and has wide compatibility, including PCs, Macs, and gaming boxes.
USB 2.0 has a transfer speed of 480 Mbps which is much higher than most standard ISP speeds.
While USB 3.0 is faster, USB 2.0 has much wider compatibility with almost all devices.
Cable Matters USB to Ethernet Adapter (USB 3.0 to Ethernet) Supporting 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet Network in Black
This small unit is a USB 3.0 to 0/100/1000 GB Ethernet adapter.
USB 3.0 has a max speed of 5Gbps, so it is a fast unit that would be almost impossible to max out.
USB 3.0 is also backward compatible, so it would also work in a new or old machine. It is also Mac or Windows-compatible.
Anker 3-Port USB 3.0 HUB with 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Converter (3 USB 3.0 Ports, A RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet Port, Support Windows XP, Vista, Win7/8 (32/64 bit), Mac OS 10.6 and Above, Linux) Black
The Anker is a good option for those who have limited USB ports.
It adds 3 USB ports as well as an Ethernet port.
The Ethernet converter itself runs Gigabit speeds with USB 3.0, which will max out most any home network.
Since USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet are backward compatible, it will also fit into a slower USB 2.0 10/100 network.
SIIG USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ45 LAN adapter for Windows and Mac systems – Black Gen 2 (JU-NE0611-S2)
For those looking for a fast USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet adapter, this unit from SIIG gives a nice streamlined unit.
It is a low-cost replacement for an Apple USB Ethernet adapter and is also Windows compatible.
It is also designed to fit into almost any setup, from a MacBook to a Surface.
Using a USB-to-Ethernet adapter is a good way to get fast, reliable speeds on the cheap.
Most often, they are used to replace a bad internal Ethernet card but can also be used to upgrade an existing system.
Before buying a unit, be sure which USB speeds your computer uses; if in doubt, go with USB 3.0 as it is backward compatible.
Be sure the unit also matches your operating system.
The setup for USB-to-Ethernet is usually plug-and-play by connecting the unit up and ready to go. Sometimes drivers will need to be loaded depending on the operating system being used.