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6 Reasons Why I’m Buying a USB Wi-Fi Adapter for a PC

Wi-Fi USB adapter

6 Reasons Why I’m Buying a USB Wi-Fi Adapter for a PC

Why would you consider a USB Wi-Fi adapter? Most laptops and pre-built desktops come with some form of wireless access. As such, replacing or augmenting the capabilities of your computer can seem a bit of an odd choice. However, there are some valid reasons to opt for a wireless adapter. When you purchase a computer, the hardware isn’t going to be subject to changes.

This is especially true when looking at a laptop. However, a USB wireless adapter is one of the cheapest upgrades to bring your older laptop to a modern standard. Today’s guide will be taking a closer look at the strongest reasons you would want to consider purchasing a USB wireless adapter. These versatile devices are popular for a reason, as you’ll soon discover.

What Is a USB Wi-Fi Adapter?

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$49.99
  • WLAN up to 1800Mbps
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  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
  • MU-MIMO and beamforming technologies
  • WPA3 security
  • Adjustable antenna
  • Includes wired bracket
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03/12/2024 12:27 pm GMT

A USB Wi-Fi adapter is a network device that interfaces through the USB protocol rather than relying on the built-in wireless adapter found on most motherboards. Modern computers come with wireless access out of the box in most cases. However, if you have a faulty adapter, then a USB wireless adapter might be in order.

They aren’t the best fit in some scenarios. Some wireless adapters lack an antenna, which can hinder overall wireless access. However, when picking the right USB Wi-Fi adapter, you should enjoy increased connectivity and greater speeds.

Reasons to Buy a USB Wi-Fi Adapter

Here are the six main reasons you might consider a USB Wi-Fi adapter. Rather than focusing in on the aspects and strengths of a few different brands, these are broader strokes. Wi-Fi adapters come in all shapes and sizes, so picking the right one might be a bit of a minefield. However, when it gets down to it, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to upgrading your wireless access.

You Can Upgrade It

usb wi-fi adapter
Wireless adapters are readily upgraded as new standards become available.

One of the best reasons to buy a USB Wi-Fi adapter is that you can upgrade it. What this means is if you happen upon a Wi-Fi 6 adapter and want to move to Wi-Fi 7 when things are more widely available, you can. These devices aren’t meant to be a permanently installed piece of hardware on your computer.

As such, when you feel like your wireless access is due for an upgrade, you can purchase a new router and USB Wi-Fi adapter and be on your way. That’s a fair bit cheaper than going out and purchasing a brand-new laptop or desktop with that sort of wireless support.

Most Are Plug-and-Play

Just about any USB Wi-Fi adapter is going to be plug-and-play out of the box. One of the major advantages of modern operating systems and the USB protocol is that things don’t need specialized drivers. Now, compared to something like a PCI-E network access card, this has an inherent advantage.

Once you’ve installed your USB Wi-Fi adapter, you’re off to the races. You don’t have to download a driver to a flash drive to install your computer at your own leisure. Instead, you should just have network access right away. This plug-and-play nature is one of the strongest reasons to consider a USB Wi-Fi adapter.

USB 3.0 Compatibility

USB 3.0 has brought a lot of positive changes to the protocol. One of the strongest things to keep in mind with USB 3.0 and higher is the greater throughput. When looking at a USB wireless adapter, this translates to overall faster speeds. The increased throughput means that you can really take advantage of the bandwidth available on newer wireless standards.

Now, if you’ve got an older USB 2.0 Wi-Fi adapter, that is absolutely fine. However, it isn’t likely to take advantage of the massive speed boosts seen with the newer standards. A Wi-Fi 6E USB 3.0 adapter is going to be blazing fast, provided you have the connection to support it.

They Can Surpass a Built-In Adapter

Black removable flash disk memory in fingers with laptop USB slot on white background
A wireless adapter is a great way to bolster the capabilities of an older laptop.

One of the best reasons to consider a USB Wi-Fi adapter is that it is generally going to be more powerful than whatever your laptop has. Unless you have a brand-new laptop manufactured with the latest standards in mind, then you’re going to be dealing with older Wi-Fi protocols. A USB Wi-Fi adapter can exceed those capabilities, however.

This comes together to give a breath of fresh air and modernity to your laptop. You might have strong components and performance still, but the wireless access is a bit lacking. Getting better overall wireless access at the cost of one of your USB ports is a sensible trade-off.

Wireless adapters in laptops are usually frozen at a specific point in time in terms of the technology. You might be able to find a supported adapter, but the installation process is tricky. A USB wireless adapter is far easier to install and can offer overall greater capabilities than gambling on a new wireless adapter inside the case.

Not All Desktops Come with Wireless Access

Not all motherboards and processors are built equally. As such, you might go through an astounding build for your desktop computer and find the wireless capabilities are lacking. You could take up one of your valuable PCI-E lanes for a wireless adapter. However, a USB Wi-Fi adapter will give the same access and leave room for a GPU or more storage.

Most desktops do have some means of wireless connectivity, but it might be running an older standard. As such, if you’ve got a desktop that is sorely lacking in modern capabilities, a USB wireless adapter is a great way to give everything a new lease on life. It is one of those crucial upgrades like switching your main drive to an SSD.

They’re Easy to Troubleshoot

If you’ve got a faulty wireless adapter, troubleshooting it is usually a piece of cake. Network cards dying are nothing new, and the usual fix is a replacement. Now, if your built-in wireless adapter dies on a laptop, you might have few options. Replacement requires the use of things like a donor board or mail-ordering specialty parts.

If a USB wireless adapter dies, you just purchase a new one. The installation process is identical, and resuming your service is a piece of cake. It just makes sense to go for one if you’re concerned about component shelf-life. A USB adapter might not have the same level of strength, but it is far easier to install and replace in the event of component failure.

Closing Thoughts

A USB Wi-Fi adapter is a great way to breathe some new life into your computer. You aren’t restricted to more restrictive installation processes as you would with a laptop’s built-in adapter. In some cases, you’re getting access to even better wireless standards. If you’ve recently upgraded routers, opting for a USB Wi-Fi adapter is one of the best purchases you can make to bolster your network functionality.

Reasons to Buy a USB Wi-Fi Adapter Summary

1. You can upgrade to a newer model as needed.
2. Most USB adapters don’t require any drivers to function.
3. They can take advantage of the greater throughput of the USB 3.0 protocol.
4. USB Wi-Fi adapters can have better wireless support than a laptop’s default adapter.
5. Not all desktops have access to a wireless adapter.
6. Troubleshooting them is generally quite easy, and replacement is even easier.
  1. MSI AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 Dual-Band USB Adapter
    $49.99
    • WLAN up to 1800Mbps
    • 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands
    • USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
    • MU-MIMO and beamforming technologies
    • WPA3 security
    • Adjustable antenna
    • Includes wired bracket
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/12/2024 12:27 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Can any PC take a USB Wi-Fi adapter?

If it has USB ports, yes.

Do they make Wi-Fi adapters using 6E?

They certainly do, there are wireless USB adapters with all sorts of capabilities.

Can you use a USB Wi-Fi adapter with a Mac?

Provided you have the right adapter, yes, you certainly can.

Are USB adapters a replacement for a faulty wireless module?

Yes, and the added benefit is you don’t need to risk opening your laptop to get back online.

Is USB 3.0 superior for Wi-Fi?

The greater throughput of the USB 3.0 standard makes it a great fit for any sort of wireless transmission.

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