Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective and does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.
Wireless communication has become so densely embedded in our lives that even washing machines download software updates via Wi-Fi. Accordingly, the electronics market is literally flooded with a variety of network equipment for working over Wi-Fi. Sometimes it is not easy to figure it out, and the editors decided to help you with this. We bring you a ranking of the best Wi-Fi adapters available on the market today, highly rated by our industry experts. But first, just in case, we will remind you which main points you need to pay attention to when choosing a device.
- How to choose a wifi adapter
- USB adapters
- Internal adapters
- Support for communication standards
- Operating system compatibility
- Manufacturer, price, model
- Rating of the best WiFi adapters
- The best WiFi adapters in terms of price-quality ratio
- ASUS USB-AC68
- TP-LINK TL-WPA7510 KIT
- ASUS PCE-AC56
- Alfa Network AWUS036ACH
- Best inexpensive WiFi adapters
- TP-LINK Archer T6E
- ZYXEL NWD6605
- Xiaomi Mi Wi-Fi Powerline
- ASUS USB-N14
- D-link DWA-137
- TP-LINK TL-WN822N
How to choose a wifi adapter
First of all, it is worth deciding on the connection interface, and accordingly, whether it will be an internal adapter or an external one. If you intend to connect only to a laptop or other portable device, then there is no choice – only an external adapter. If you plan to connect a desktop PC, then both options are possible. Here you need to decide on your own, and we will describe the features of one and another type of device.
This is the most popular and demanded type of adapters due to their versatility and portability. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and capabilities – they can look like a regular flash drive and have a minimum of functions, or they can be quite weighty desktop devices with a lot of additional functions.
If you need a WiFi adapter for a laptop, it doesn't automatically mean that the device should be small and as portable as possible. You need to focus on the nature of the laptop. If you often carry it with you and do not always provide it with proper transportation conditions, then indeed, the smaller the adapter, the better. But also within reason – maybe the model is a little larger, but with a more powerful antenna, which leans right out of the case, and such models will be presented in our rating.
When choosing a WiFi adapter for a home desktop PC, look at the signal level and antenna gain capabilities – the higher these parameters, the better. At least the signal strength should be at least 20 dBi. In order for the wi-fi to 'break through' the walls normally, it is desirable that the antennas are powerful enough. Well, if you have taken into account all the most important parameters, and you still have a choice, you can look at the design. The variety of visual solutions for Wi-Fi adapters is so great that it will not be difficult to choose an ideal model for any interior or workplace.
Everything is more or less clear here – I mean adapters that connect directly to the PCI Express slot. The antennas are then exposed to the outside. In internal adapters, antennas are almost exclusively removable.
It makes sense to buy an internal adapter if you are 100% sure that this is not a temporary option, and you need to connect the WiFi adapter to your computer on an ongoing basis. Otherwise, there is no fundamental difference between internal and external.
The only point – if you are using big data transfer at high speeds, at the limit of the adapter's bandwidth, take care in advance that it is a model with a large, good radiator for effective cooling. Otherwise, if the device overheats, the speed will inevitably drop, freezes and other troubles will occur.
Having decided on the form factor and type of connection, you can already select models according to their capabilities, which describe the technical characteristics. First of all, you will probably be interested in the maximum speed. This parameter is directly related to the next item – the supported Wi-Fi communication standards, but you can first navigate by the bandwidth specified by the manufacturer or distributor. It is important that it is not lower than your current Internet connection. At what speed the adapter can distribute the received Internet – this is the second question.
What is also very important is the device's capabilities in terms of the access zone. If you need the signal to travel well through brick and concrete walls, you should choose an adapter with external antennas. The most common devices are with two external antennas. Most of the models also have an additional socket for connecting an additional antenna. The antennas themselves are also 'not simple', but are characterized by a gain. The larger it is, the better, of course. The most widely available are adapters with external antennas with a 5 dBi coefficient.
Support for communication standards
Wireless communication is far from unified, and over time has undergone changes and improvements that have been introduced as part of new standards. Currently, the newest is the fifth generation – 802.11ac. The vast majority of WiFi adapters are fully backward compatible with the standards of previous generations.
What does all this mean. The standards supported by the adapter automatically illustrate at what speeds it can operate. So, for example, the most common 802.11n implies a device throughput of up to 300 Mbps. If you need to save a lot or the speed of the Internet connection is not high and an increase is not expected, you can find a model with a speed of up to 150 Mbps, but this is not entirely advisable, since the price difference may be negligible.
Adapters supporting the latest 802.11ac standard provide the fastest speed and widest compatibility. Such WiFi adapters can work in any of the two wireless bands – 2.4 or 5 GHz, some models even work in two bands simultaneously, providing maximum speeds of more than 1 Gbps.
Operating system compatibility
If you are running an OS Windows of at least version 7, the adapter will most likely install itself, and you will only need to agree to install the service software, if available. It is different if you work in a MAC environment OS X or Linux. Then be sure to ask at the point of sale or on the manufacturer's website for the availability of official drivers specifically for your operating system.
Manufacturer, price, model
Network equipment is produced by many companies in the world – brands such as TP-Link, Linksys, D-Link and many others are known to almost everyone. More widely specialized corporations – ASUS, HP, Xiaomi and others are not lagging behind. Even Intel has several of its own lines of network devices. And all these companies do not make frankly bad products, so choosing something from the range of any of them, you are unlikely to go wrong.
As for the cost, everything here can depend either on the class of the device and its functionality – then the high cost is justified, or on the promoted brand and the presence of incomprehensible 'goodies' – then the overpayment will be a personal matter for everyone. In the rating presented below, we have divided the models recommended by our experts into two groups according to price, functionality and quality.
Rating of the best WiFi adapters
|Nomination||a place||Name of product||price|
|The best WiFi adapters in terms of price-quality ratio||1||ASUS USB-AC68||RUB 4,710|
|2||TP-LINK TL-WPA7510 KIT||RUB 4 800|
|3||ASUS PCE-AC56||RUB 3,200|
|4||Alfa Network AWUS036ACH||RUB 3,750|
|Best inexpensive WiFi adapters||1||TP-LINK Archer T6E||RUB 1,795|
|2||ZYXEL NWD6605||RUB 1,700|
|3||Xiaomi Mi Wi-Fi Powerline||RUB 1,999|
|4||ASUS USB-N14||RUB 1,690|
|5||D-link DWA-137||800 RUB|
|6||TP-LINK TL-WN822N||720 RUB|
The best WiFi adapters in terms of price-quality ratio
First of all, we will consider a group of models that belong to a higher price category, but have a number of those qualities that may be either completely inaccessible to budget models, or are not fully implemented. Our experts have selected four models that fundamentally differ in form factor for the most complete and informative presentation. All of the listed devices are capable of operating in two bands (2.4 / 5 GHz), support all generations of the IEEE 802.11a / b / g / n / ac wireless standard and protect information using three standard protocols – WEP, WPA, WPA2.
First of all, we will consider the most striking adapter in every sense in the first selection of the rating. In addition to impressive technical characteristics and capabilities, the developers also endowed it with such an expressive design that it will serve as a decoration of the workplace in itself. But first about the possibilities.
This model is a dual-band USB adapter capable of transferring data at speeds up to 1900 Mbps (1300 plus 600 Mbps in the 5 and 2.4 GHz bands, respectively). Antenna configuration – 3×4 MIMO, that is, simultaneous reception and output. In addition to the basic configuration comes the proprietary ASUS AiRadar technology – beamforming.
The adapter is made in the form factor of a 'big stick' and has a modular design – two non-detachable antennas support almost omnidirectional position adjustment until completely folded into the body. The design features two colors – anthracite black and bright red. The antennas have the shape of blades across the width of the body and their inner surfaces are painted red. Dimensions of adapter with folded antennas – 115x18x30 mm, net weight – 44 g.
The device connects to a USB 3.0 port. You can connect directly, or you can use a special adapter stand on the wire for more convenient installation.
The WiFi adapter is compatible with operating systems of the family Windows versions 7 to 10 and Mac OS X from 10.7 to 10.11.
- unusually expressive design;
- easily gives out the maximum speed;
- connection via high-speed USB 3.0;
- stand for flexible placement.
- there are complaints about strong heating.
TP-LINK TL-WPA7510 KIT
The second number in our rating is an original, slightly unusual (because few people know that such a solution is possible at all), but an extremely interesting solution, which under certain conditions can turn out to be, if not salutary, then certainly extremely convenient and effective for a large space.
In this case, we are talking about the use of Powerline technology, the basis of which is a method of transmitting a useful signal carrying information through an ordinary household electrical network – literally from outlet to outlet. To be precise, such a transfer requires special devices that are paired. One of them receives the Internet and transmits it over the electrical network, the other receives a useful signal directly from the socket and distributes it over a wired or wireless network. This pair of devices is included in the TP-LINK TL-WPA7510 KIT.
This model operates in two bands – 2.4 / 5 GHz and supports all IEEE standards – 802.11a / b / g / n / ac. Moreover, it is important that the transmission can go in two bands simultaneously. Peak speed of data exchange Powerline – 1 Gbps, wireless connection – 733 Mbps. Indoors, the possible range of the system reaches 300 meters.
The kit can work in bridge mode, perform the functions of a repeater. Wired ports are gigabit. There is MIMO support. Supports dynamic routing IGMP v1, v2. The system has its own built-in web interface.
Functional blocks have different sizes: receiving – TL-WPA7510 – 136x71x49 mm, distributing – TL-PA7010 – 98x60x36 mm.
- long-distance transmission of the Internet over the electrical network;
- the ability to cover large areas with wireless Internet;
- simultaneous work in two ranges;
- simple connection of modules;
- convenient web interface for configuration and management.
- there are complaints about the complexity of the setup.
The third number in the rating of the best Wi-Fi adapters according to experts, we will consider an option that is suitable only for owners of stationary PCs. Namely, this adapter is internal and connects to the PCI-Eexpress interface.
The device is made in a standard form factor for internal devices – a printed circuit board with a steel bar for fastening to the case. Dimensions – 121x22x99 mm, weight is quite significant – 105 g. This weight is due to the 'huge' heatsink over the entire area of the PCB. Moreover, the radiator is not even devoid of attractiveness – a special design and bright red color with the ASUS logo printed in the upper part. So in an open or transparent case, the device will look very impressive. Broadcast and reception are provided via two detachable antennas.
The device is built on a new generation chipset, which gives it a number of advantages at once. The card's throughput at its peak in the 5 GHz band reaches 867 Mbps. The device passes another 400 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band when working with compatible equipment using the 802.11n standard – Broadcom TurboQAM technology works here. Broadcom chips effectively support 802.11ac, the fifth generation of wireless communications.
Separately, it is worth mentioning the proprietary ASUS AiRadar technology, the essence of which is a fine intelligent distribution of the signal depending on the location of the detected connected devices – a weak omnidirectional signal is concentrated into a strong unidirectional 'beam', thus providing a significant increase in the data transfer rate and at the same time expanding the coverage area.
- new generation chipset;
- increased coverage area;
- intelligent directional transmission;
- spectacular design;
- high-quality cooling.
- complaints about the inconvenience and non-obviousness of the 'native' software.
Alfa Network AWUS036ACH
The first selection of the rating is completed by an interesting and effective solution manufactured by the Taiwanese company Alfa Network. This is an external device, inexpensive, powerful enough and good-looking.
This model, like all the previous ones, supports the latest Wi-Fi wireless communication standard – 802.11ac and can operate in two bands – 2.4 and 5 GHz. The peak aggregate throughput of the adapter is 867 Mbps. The interface for connecting to a PC is a standard high-speed USB 3.0. As in all modern similar devices, full backward compatibility with previous IEEE standards is implemented here.
The device is powered by the high-performance Realtek RTL8812AU chipset. Transmission and reception are carried out via two detachable antennas. It is also possible to connect an external antenna.
The WiFi adapter is characterized by a transmission signal of increased power, as well as increased sensitivity, and this is its main advantage. Also, the adapter is easy to use due to the ability to connect via an external docking station. The device has an attractive appearance – it is made in a high-quality deep black plastic with a glossy shiny surface.
The package includes an adapter, two circular 5dbi antennas, a CD with drivers and software, a USB cable, and an external docking station. Branded drivers are available for operating systems Windows versions from XP to 10, Linux and Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite.
- increased power and sensitivity;
- supports packet injection;
- there is a portable docking station;
- attractive design.
- there are problems with drivers for Linux.
Best inexpensive WiFi adapters
The second selection of models in our rating is the adapters that are of interest to the most mass consumer – inexpensive, but solid and reliable. Experts have identified six worthy solutions in a modern wide market range.
TP-LINK Archer T6E
First of all, consider the inexpensive and popular TP-LINK desktop model. The device is made in a standard form for this format – a printed circuit board with a metal mounting plate.
The bandwidth of the device allows to exchange data at the peak at speeds up to 867 Mbps in the 5 GHz range and up to 400 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz range. The first with a large margin is enough for online gaming in modern games in good quality and for watching videos in HD quality. The second option provides comfortable web surfing, as well as online video watching and gaming with minimal restrictions.
The adapter is equipped with a large heatsink over the entire area of the PCB, but without such an expressive design as the more expensive ASUS PCE-AC56 model described above. Here the radiator is made of a special aluminum alloy and painted austere black.
High-quality reception and transmission, as well as an increased stable coverage area, are provided by two dual-band omnidirectional antennas (removable).
A WiFi adapter is connected to the PCI-Express slot, all the necessary drivers for OS family Windows versions from XP to 10 are located on the optical disc that is included in the package. Updated versions of the operating system allow you to install the device 'in years', but without useful additional software.
Adapter dimensions – 120.8×115.2×21.5 mm. The permissible operating temperature is from 0 to 40 degrees. Permissible ambient humidity during operation is from 10 to 90%, non-condensing.
- no problems with maximum speeds;
- reliability and continuity;
- high-quality cooling.
- the original software 'does not see' the 5 GHz point, a third-party is needed.
The second model in our rating is fundamentally different from the previous form factor and connection interface. The minimum size makes it portable and convenient for use in any temporary location of the workstation.
This external device is made in a 'big flash drive' case with dimensions of 95x29x13 mm, net weight – only 20 g. It has a folding design – an external antenna opens directly from the case. Supplied in a package with dimensions 159x49x138 mm and weighing 108 g. Consumes 1.6 W, powered by the connection device. The output power does not exceed 100 mW (20 dBm).
In the 2.4 GHz band, the adapter provides a peak speed of up to 300 Mbps, in the 5 GHz range – up to 867 Mbps. Despite the visible presence of one antenna when unfolded, in fact, the adapter has one more – it is hidden inside the case. Thanks to the presence of two antennas, even such a miniature device is able to provide a decent coverage area and a stable high-quality signal. With a stable high-speed connection, the adapter handles HD video streaming, heavy online games, and the simultaneous exchange of large files without any problems.
The WiFi adapter is connected directly to the standard USB 3.0 interface, which has a bandwidth of up to 5 Gbps. For ease of use, this model is equipped with an additional USB cable, which may be necessary in some cases or desirable to prevent physical damage to the port or the device itself.
A useful feature of this model is the presence of a hardware Wi-Fi Protected Setup button on the case, by clicking on which, you can connect to a secure network without unnecessary software manipulations. The WiFi adapter can also work in WMM (Wi-Fi Multimedia) mode.
Official drivers released for Windows – systems and Mac OS X.
- stable, high-quality signal;
- minimum dimensions;
- mini extension cord included;
- nice design.
- old official drivers.
Xiaomi Mi Wi-Fi Powerline
Another device in our rating, which, like the above-described TP-LINK TL-WPA7510 KIT, uses Powerline technology when an electrical network is used to transfer network data.
The device is a pair of components – a converter and a repeater. The first accepts the Internet via an Ethernet cable and plugs into a regular electrical outlet. The second one also connects to an outlet (within the same network) and via Wi-Fi or the same Ethernet distributes the Internet to local devices.
Power line communication (PLC) technology is used to amplify the signal. The principle is to transmit the useful signal 'over' the 50-60 Hz standard alternating current. Thus, any common outlet in your home or office can become a connection point to the Internet. The technology allows for a peak bandwidth of 300 Mbps.
The repeater is equipped with two antennas operating at 2.4 GHz and has the same peak data rate of 300 Mbps. The approximate coverage area of one repeater is 30-40 meters.
The advantage of this model and technology as a whole is that not one, but as many as three repeaters can be connected to one amplifier. Thus, the Wi-Fi coverage area can be extended to a large house.
A special Mi Wi-Fi application is used to control devices. It helps to integrate any router into the network and adapt it to the PowerLine operating modes. It also includes user and password management to protect your network from unauthorized access.
In addition to all the above qualities, this device, or rather both devices from the standard pair, have an exquisite design 'under Apple' and will easily complement any interior. The dimensions of any of the functional blocks are 70x80x54 mm. The height of the repeater with antennas is 80 mm. The power consumption of the converter is 1.8 W, that of the repeater is 4.2 W.
Additional information: used processors – QCA6410 / QCA9533; RAM – 64 MB; Supported wireless standards – 802.11b / g / n /, 802.3, 802.3u.
- the ability to expand the Internet coverage area over significant areas / distances;
- confident signal transmission over the 220 V power grid;
- uninterrupted and high-quality work with proper configuration;
- elegant design.
- there are difficulties with setting.
Now, as part of the rating of the best Wi-Fi adapters in our opinion, we will consider an effective and elegant solution, but suitable only for those users who do not have the fastest incoming Internet connection, and a significant increase in speed is not expected.
This limitation is dictated, firstly, by the fact that this model works only in one range – 2.4 GHz, and secondly, by the type of connection – here it is USB 2.0. And the coverage of IEEE wireless standards for this model is corresponding – 802.11 b / g / n.
Nevertheless, the adapter fulfills its maximum for the specified parameters by 100%, providing 'honest' 300Mbps of incoming and outgoing connections. In addition, the device is equipped with two antennas with a gain of 5 dBi, which can expand the network coverage up to 10 times when compared to devices supporting the 802.11g standard. The antennas are removable, so if you wish, you can disconnect and connect even more powerful ones.
WiF iadapter supports a number of data encryption protocols: 64-bit WEP, 128-bit WEP, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPS. For WPS, a hardware button is placed on the case, when you press it, you can easily connect to a secure network.
Externally, the WiFi adapter is a small block with dimensions 55x90x11 mm in black with a glossy surface and a laconic pleasant design. An active connection is signaled by a blue LED.
- powerful and sensitive;
- easily 'breaks through' brick and concrete walls;
- hardware WPS button;
- elegant design.
- speed limit (one range).
Another super-miniature adapter in our rating, made in almost the same form factor as the ZYXEL NWD6605. The fundamental difference between them lies in the same limitations that are present in the neighboring ASUS USB-N14 model. Physical dimensions of the adapter with antenna – 251x11x23 mm, net weight – 25 g.
The WiFi adapter provides a high-quality and stable connection in the 2.4 GHz band within the 802.11n wireless standard. Peak transmission and reception throughput is 300 Mbps. Connection – to the standard USB 2.0 interface.
The transmitter power of 18 dBM in combination with the antennas provides a fairly wide range. The large external antenna is not the only one in this adapter. In addition to it, there is one more built-in one inside the case. The external antenna has a gain of 5 dBi, which allows the connection to 'walk' through walls and other obstacles, so that the connection is not interrupted even in hard-to-reach places and at considerable distances. With simple manipulation and rotation of the antenna, you can establish an optimal signal in places with poor reception.
Like previous models of a similar form factor, this model is equipped with a dedicated hardware button on the case for easy connection to a secure network using Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) technology.
The device is backward compatible with the IEEE 802.11g standard, which allows it to be used in networks with legacy equipment.
- high-performance Ralink 3070 chip;
- ease of installation;
- stable connection.
- does not always 'pull' the declared 300 Mbps.
Our rating is completed by the most budgetary, but quite decent model from TP-LINK. The adapter is distinguished by a special form factor – it is intended for desktop placement, but it can be placed at a relatively considerable distance from the PC thanks to the 1.5-meter connection cable included in the package.
The WiFi adapter operates in the 2.4 GHz band according to IEEE 802.11n / b / g standards with a peak bandwidth of 300 Mbps. Transmitter power – 20 dBM. The signal is amplified by a double non-detachable omnidirectional antenna with a gain of 3 dBi. It is also possible to connect a higher power external antenna.
The device is connected to a PC via the USB 2.0 interface. In this case, the outgoing port on the adapter itself is mini-USB. Convenient configuration is carried out through the Quick Security Setup Wizard. To call it, there is a hardware QSS button on the body itself.
The adapter itself is made in an interesting and original design in a high-quality white plastic case. Overall dimensions – 90x68x16.8 mm. In addition to the adapter and connection cable, the delivery set contains a CD with drivers for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X and specialized software.
- powerful enough;
- stable connection;
- quick setup;
- interesting design;
- affordable price.
- speed limits (one range);
- there are complaints about driver problems.
Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.