- The best Wi-Fi card for your PC is the ASUS PCE-AXE59BT, which offers Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 support.
- The TP-Link Archer T5E is a budget-friendly option with high-gain antennas, although it uses older Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2 standards.
- For a premium choice, the TP-Link Archer TXE75E offers Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 support, but it is more expensive.
- The GIGABYTE GC-WBAX210 is the best option for speed, with Wi-Fi 6E support and native Linux compatibility.
- The TP-Link Archer TXEX72E is ideal for Bluetooth devices, with low latency and multiple mounting brackets for different hardware configurations.
Are you on the hunt for the best Wi-Fi card for your PC? Wireless adapters come with a variety of options these days. You’ll likely want to get a dedicated wireless adapter to have a more reliable connection than your PC’s built-in one.
While your connection might be fine when using your default wireless adapter, it might not be up to snuff if you have a newer router. Reaching for the Ethernet cable might not be a viable option, depending on your home. As such, a dedicated wireless adapter is a great choice for having a stable connection. After looking at dozens of options, here are our top picks:
- Best Overall: ASUS PCE-AXE59BT
- Best Budget Choice: TP-Link Archer T5E
- Best Premium Choice: TP-Link Archer TXE75E
- Best for Speed: GIGABYTE GC-WBAX210
- Best for Bluetooth Devices: TP-Link Archer TXEX72E
Best Overall: ASUS PCE-AXE59BT
The ASUS PCE-AXE59BT is one of the best Wi-Fi cards you can buy right now. You’ve got access to Wi-Fi 6E, as well as Bluetooth 5.2. The peripheral comes with native support for the 6 GHz used by some tri-band routers, meaning you’ll get blazing speeds.
Once installed, the antenna array occupies very little space. You could easily place it behind or on top of your PC tower for better access to the wireless signals in your home. The range is superb; you should be picking up wireless signals from anywhere in a medium-sized home.
|This adapter has two external antennas to provide extra range and stability.
|ASUS’s provided drivers can be touchy to install, depending on your configuration.
|The ASUS adapter comes with Bluetooth 5.2 support.
|It’s not ideal for Linux users, with spotty driver support and poor connection quality.
Check out the ASUS PCE-AXE59BT on Amazon.
Best Budget Choice: TP-Link Archer T5E
TP-Link’s Archer T5E isn’t the latest and greatest around. However, it is an affordable adapter, making it one of the best Wi-Fi cards you can purchase on a budget. It features a pair of high-gain antennas, meaning you should have range to spare in most homes.
Now, the Archer T5E isn’t up to modern standards. You’re stuck with Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi 5. However, it isn’t meant to sit atop the cutting edge of wireless adapters. Instead, this is a solid choice that’ll get your desktop connected without breaking the bank.
|It is one of the most affordable wireless adapters available.
|Uses the older Wi-Fi 5 standard, so speeds and available bands can suffer.
|The external antennas do a great job of obtaining a signal.
|It uses the older Bluetooth 4.2, so you won’t get lossless audio over wireless headphones.
Check out the TP-Link Archer T5E on Amazon.
Best Premium Choice: TP-Link Archer TXE75E
If you don’t mind spending a little extra on your wireless adapter, the TP-Link Archer TXE75E is a superb choice. It features a pair of high-gain antennas that will help with catching the 5 or 6 GHz bands from a modern router.
The Archer TXE75E also comes with support for Wi-Fi 6E, so you’ll have blazing speeds on a wireless connection. TP-Link has also provided support for Bluetooth 5.3, which is a blessing for users who prefer wireless headphones and other peripherals. It does cost more, but it does more, too.
|It supports the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standards.
|It is considerably more expensive than the competition.
|The TXE75E is easy to install and comes with a custom heatsink.
|Bluetooth compatibility can be iffy, depending on the devices you’re trying to use.
Check out the TP-Link Archer TXE75E on Amazon.
Best for Speed: GIGABYTE GC-WBAX210
GIGABYTE’s GC-WBAX210 is superb for getting great speeds for the likes of gaming or high-volume downloading. It comes with Wi-Fi 6E support out of the box and is priced affordably when compared to the competition.
It focuses heavily on speed, so it does falter in a few areas. For starters, the range could be considerably better. That said, if you’re close enough to your home router, this might not be an issue for you. This wireless adapter is one of the rare entries that is fully usable on Linux, with supported drivers available.
|The GIGABYTE adapter gets great speeds right out of the box.
|Its range isn’t the best around.
|It comes with native Linux support, with stable drivers available to install it on your system.
|The Windows drivers can be buggy, depending on your system.
Check out the GIGABYTE GC-WBAX210 on Amazon.
Best for Bluetooth Devices: TP-Link Archer TXEX72E
The TP-Link Archer TXEX72E is a wireless adapter built with flexibility in mind. You have access to Wi-Fi 6E as well as Bluetooth 5.3. Where this device excels is in its minimal latency. By design, wireless devices will always have a bit of latency.
The Archer TXEX72E has lower latency than most, meaning you could easily use it for gaming when employing Bluetooth controllers. It is a bit more expensive than some of the other offerings on this list. However, what makes it one of the best Wi-Fi cards is the inclusion of multiple mounting brackets.
Some wireless adapters will have difficulties with flush mounting, depending on the case and the motherboard. You’ve got a low profile and standard mounting plate, which should give you plenty to work with regardless of your hardware configuration.
|It comes with support for the latest Bluetooth and Wi-Fi standards.
|It is one of the more expensive wireless adapters available.
|The wireless adapter has a great range.
|Despite the extra accessories, it might not mount flush on certain specialty cases.
Check out the TP-Link Archer TXEX72E on Amazon.
Picking the Best Wi-Fi Card for PCs: What to Know
Why should you use a Wi-Fi card over a USB adapter? Well, for starters, it keeps precious USB ports freely available for your many peripherals. PCI-E Wi-Fi cards have the added benefit of having the full bandwidth of a supported lane available.
You’ll also have room for larger antennas, which helps with connectivity. There are a few criteria to keep in mind when choosing a Wi-Fi card.
Wi-Fi protocols are one of the biggest factors in providing a stable and speedy connection to your desktop PC. While Wi-Fi 7 is slowly rolling out, your best bet is to aim for Wi-Fi 6 or 6E, at the minimum. With the right router, this gives great speeds, especially if you’re in the range of the 5 or 6 GHz bands.
Wi-Fi 5 works in a pinch and still has plenty of speed for most tasks. You’ll get the best quality connection with a newer protocol, especially if you have a new router.
Establishing a stable connection between your PC and router is contingent on a few things. First, you want to make sure the antenna on your router can reach your PC. Having a higher-output antenna on your Wi-Fi card will make it an easier task.
Now, you could have your PC in range of the slower 2.4 GHz band seen on most routers. This is fine for stability and the sake of range, but you’ll want enough output from the antenna to catch the 5 GHz band if possible.
Using the long-range band means you’re getting less speed, which can increase latency and slow down file transfers. The faster bands have less range, so it really is a balancing act of making sure the output from devices intersects at a mutually beneficial range.
Some wireless cards come with Bluetooth functionality built into the peripheral. This is great for a few reasons, chief among them being keeping those USB ports open. Bluetooth functionality is a blessing if you prefer using wireless keyboards, mice, or headphones.
Certain gaming controllers also operate with Bluetooth, and the PS5’s DualSense 5 and Switch Pro controllers are popular choices. Having the extra functionality is nice, but isn’t a dealbreaker.
Using a Wi-Fi Card for PC: What It’s Like
Using a dedicated Wi-Fi card is a better overall experience than using the likes of your chipset’s built-in wireless adapter. Most wireless adapters included on the CPU or motherboard lack power, and may also be prone to interference from the other components in your case.
A dedicated card gives you reliable access and better driver support. Now, this will vary with manufacturers. It should prove to be a more pleasant experience than relying on a USB adapter or the built-in wireless adapter.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©NMStudio789/Shutterstock.com.