802.11ac can work at speeds 3x as fast as wireless-N. This makes it ideal for a number of reasons whether it be a upgrade or fixing a broken built-in WiFi card.
Keep in mind that the speed will also depend on your router and if your computer is USB 3.0 compatible.
USB 2.0 can transfer data up-to 480 megabits per second, while USB 3.0 has a maximum rate of 5 gigabits per second. Of course the computer being used must be USB 3.0 compatible or it will default to USB 2.0.
The Router being used must be also 802.11ac compatible. A WiFi network can only go as fast as its weakest link.
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Our Picks for Wireless 802.11 AC USB Adapter
TP-Link Archer T1U Wireless Nano USB Adapter (AC450)
The TP-LINK Archer T1U is a small and cheap 5 GHz 802.11ac WiFi USB adapter.
Since it is so small the range is not the best and about that of a laptop built-in WiFi card. It is compatible with most any version of Windows or MAC OSX.
It is a 5 GHz only USB adapter so it will not work with older 2.4 GHz routers.
While not the biggest USB dongle it will have your computer up and running 802.11ac WiFi quick and cheap.
NETGEAR AC1200 Wi-Fi USB Adapter High Gain Dual Band USB 3.0 (A6210-100PAS)
The Netgear AC1200 is a USB 3.0 dual band adapter with 802.11ac support and is one of the more nicely designed USB adapters.
It comes with a cradle which is basically a USB extender to give the antenna better positioning if needed.
The antenna flips out when required and is designed nicely.
This is a good route to go if you are looking to upgrade to 802.11ac or replace a broken WiFi card.
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 AWUS036AC is meant for getting better range with two 5 dBi external antennas.
Like the Netgear AC1200 it also comes with a cradle that is basically a USB extender.
The larger antennas make it less portable but can be moved around to get the best angle.
If you need better range the Alfa AWUS036AC is a good 802.11ac adapter . It is not the not the most portable and may be best in a desktop environment.