When it comes to gaming, most gamers will certainly agree that desktops are far better than laptops in terms of overall performance. However, most, if not all, desktops lack one very important feature: wireless technology.
One of the things that gamers hate most is having cords scattered all around their gaming setup, ruining the modern, techy vibe we all try to go for. That is one of the reasons why wireless devices (laptops, wireless mouses, wireless keyboards,) are getting increasingly popular as their technology gets even better.
Gaming laptops can be almost as potent as some desktops nowadays, but full desktops are still the best option for gamers seeking the most powerful and lag-free gaming experience. USB Wireless Adapters are an alternative for those who want to continue playing on their PCs but also want to have wireless technology.
You can simply plug a USB wireless adapter into your computer and that’s it. You’ll have wireless connection and will finally say goodbye to all those messy cords. Keep in mind that there are some things you should pay attention to when choosing the best USB wireless adapter, though!
Best USB Wireless Adapters for Gaming
Now that you know exactly what to look for in a wireless adapter, let’s get into some of the best USB wireless adapters for gaming.
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Starting our list off is a budget-friendly USB wireless adapter, the Archer T2U.
The Archer T2U is an 802.11ac dual-band wireless adapter, which means that it can operate at 2.4 GHz — if you want stability — but can also go as high as 5.0 GHz if you want more speed. At 2.4 GHz its data transfer speed can go up to 200 MBps, and at 5.0 GHz it can go up to 433 MBps.
As for its USB port, the Archer T2U features a USB 2.0 port, which is still the most common USB port on older desktops and can support up to 480 MBps. Additionally, the external 5dBi antenna ensures that you will have a stronger signal through your house. You can rotate and adjust the antenna in multiple directions.
The TP-Link AC600 USB wireless adapter is compatible with Windows and MAC OS, but not with Linux distributions.
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One of the most popular wireless adapters in the market right now is NET-DYN’s AC1200 USB wireless adapter. Featuring a dual-band connection, this adapter offers high-speed data transfer and a modern USB port.
The AC1200 is an 802.11ac USB wireless adapter that operates both at 2.4 GHz and at 5.0 GHz. At 2.4 GHz, the AC1200’s data transfer speed goes up to 300 MBps, while at 5.0 GHz, it can go up to 867 MBps, which is more than enough for you to enjoy a lag-free gaming experience.
The AC1200 features an internal antenna that is just as powerful as external antennae. In terms of USB port, the NET-DYN AC1200 features a 3.0 port that is backward compatible with USB 2.0 devices. Thanks to a 2*2 technology, this wireless adapter can support up to 867 MBps even if it features a 3.0 USB port that, theoretically, can only support up to 480 MBps.
This popular USB wireless adapter is compatible with Windows and MAC OS, but not with Linux distributions.
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Asus is a multi-faceted brand, producing devices that range from gaming laptops to USB wireless adapters. Featuring a modern-looking design, this adapter will make your connection more stable at a slightly pricier cost.
The AC68 is a dual-band 802.11ac device that operates both at 2.4 GHz and at 5.0 GHz, allowing you to choose between stability and performance. At 2.4 GHz, the data transfer can go up to an impressive speed of 600 MBps, while at 5.0 GHz it can go up to 1300 MBps, which makes this adapter the most powerful on our list so far.
The ASUS USB-AC68 USB wireless adapter features MIMO (Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output) technology that uses multiple transmitters and multiple receivers to transfer more data simultaneously, and this is precisely why this adapter features such impressive data transfer speed even at 2.4 GHz.
On top of that, this USB 3.0 wireless adapter features a signal processing technique called beamforming, which directs the wireless signal towards a specific device, in this case, your router. This technology ensures that your connection will be as stable and reliable as possible.
The AC68 features 3-position foldable external antennae with a cool design and an internal antenna to improve your connection. Additionally, this adapter comes equipped with a desktop cradle that allows you to place the AC68 in the best position on your setup.
The Asus USB-AC68 USB wireless adapter is compatible with Windows and MAC OS, but not with Linux distributions.
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In case you don’t wish to have a USB dongle ruining your desktop’s rad vibe but you still need to have a wireless connection, you can always choose a mini USB wireless adapter. TP-Link’s N150 is the most popular adapter in the ‘mini’ category.
The N150 is the only USB wireless adapter on our list that features an 802.11n protocol. This adapter is pretty simple in design but also in features, operating at 2.4 GHz and supporting a data transfer speed of up to 150 MBps, which is not a lot but it’s enough for you to enjoy a good gaming experience.
Because this USB wireless adapter is pretty small, it doesn’t feature an antenna, making it suitable for desktops that are located within a short distance from the router. The N150 features a USB 2.0 port that supports up to 480 MBps, though this device supports up to 150 MBps only.
The TP-Link N150 is compatible with Windows, MAC OS, and with Linux Kernel.
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Another mini USB wireless adapter that has made it onto our list is the TP-Link AC1300, also known as Archer T6E, which features a dual-band signal, MIMO and beamforming technologies, as well as a USB 3.0 port.
Though this adapter is similar in size to the N150, it differs from the other adapter in a very important aspect: the AC1300 is a dual-band wireless adapter, whereas the N150 only operates at 2.4 GHz.
This USB wireless adapter operates at 2.4 GHz with a data transfer speed of up to 400 MBps and it operates at 5.0 GHz with a data transfer speed of up to 867 MBps, which is more than enough to ensure that you’ll enjoy a lag-free gaming experience.
On top of that, the AC1300 features MIMO technology as well as beamforming technology, which means that you’ll get to experience a powerful, reliable, and stable wireless connection throughout your gameplay. Additionally, this USB wireless adapter features USB 3.0 that ensures that you’ll have superior transfer speeds.
The TP-Link AC1300 is compatible with Windows and MAC OS, but it isn’t compatible with Linux distributions.
- Next Generation Wi-Fi AC Technology for Superior Wireless Performance
- Dual Band Technology - 2. 4GHz (up to 300Mbps) or 5GHz (up to 867Mbps)
A list of wireless gear that doesn’t contain at least one D-Link product is not complete. This brand is one of the most popular when it comes to routers and other wireless stuff, and their USB wireless adapter DWA-182 is also pretty popular among PC users.
This simple-looking dual-band USB wireless adapter operates at both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz, with data transfer speeds of up to 300 MBps and 867 MBps, respectively. The 5.0 GHz band is more suitable for a lag-free, no-interference gaming experience.
As for USB port, the D-Link DWA-182 features USB 3.0 technology that supports up to 400 MBps, which is more than enough for a flawless gameplay. On top of that, this USB wireless adapter is backward compatible with 802.11n and it is also compatible with all brands of Wi-Fi routers.
The DWA-182 is compatible with Windows and MAC OS, but it isn’t compatible with Linux distributions.
Another D-Link USB wireless adapter that has made it into our list is the AC1900, which features an innovative design and a dual-band, long-range connectivity. This powerful adapter is the perfect option for gamers who aren’t running on a tight budget and who are looking for impressive wireless performance.
This Pokemon ball-shaped wireless adapter operates at both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz. If your router is not exactly near your gaming setup, you can opt for the 2.4 GHz band with a maximum data transfer speed of 600 MBps.
However, if you’re looking for ultra wi-fi performance and your desktop is not too far from your router, you can opt for the 5.0 GHz band with a maximum data transfer speed of 1300 MBps, which is more than enough for you to enjoy a flawless gameplay.
As for the USB port, the AC1900 features a USB 3.0 port that is 10x faster than a USB 2.0 port. On top of that, D-Link’s AC1900 features an advanced AC SmartBeam technology that enhances your connection quality by directing the wireless signals towards your router. This cool-looking USB wireless adapter also comes equipped with high-powered amplifiers that penetrate walls more easily, thus extending your computer’s signal.
If your router doesn’t feature an 802.11ac protocol, you don’t have to be worried about buying this USB wireless adapter: the AC1900 is backward compatible with 802.11n, 802.11g, and 802.11a routers of all brands.
On top of that, the D-Link AC1900 USB Wireless Adapter is compatible with Windows, MAC OS, and Linux distributions.
Features to Look For in a USB Wireless Adapter
In addition to basic aspects such as build quality and size, you also need to pay attention to the internal components of a USB wireless adapter. It’s crucial that you understand what things such as wireless protocols, USB ports, and wireless frequency are before you buy a wireless adapter.
Those features will determine whether or not the USB wireless adapter you’re choosing is the best option for gaming. Below, we’ll briefly explain each of them:
- Wireless Frequency
There are two different frequencies that wireless devices come equipped with: 2.4 GHz or 5.0 GHz. Both are good frequencies, so you have to choose based on your needs.
2.4 GHz is the best option if your priorities are coverage and price. The 2.4 GHz band covers a larger area and it is cheaper than a 5.0 GHz band. On top of that, many wireless devices that are utilized in our homes operate at 2.4 GHz, which means that your connection may experience interference.
5.0 GHz is the best option for gamers who are looking for the best Wi-Fi performance possible. Because its coverage area is lower, a 5.0 GHz is able to carry more data at a faster speed. It is more expensive than a 2.4 GHz band, but it has more channels (23 channels, compared to 11 channels in a 2.4 GHz band), which means that you will experience little to no interference.
- Wireless Protocol
Basically, all WLAN devices are equipped with a standard protocol called 802.11. Because the original 802.11’s internet connection was too slow, many variants have bee created ever since. The most popular types in the market today are 802.11a, 802.11b/g/n, and 802.11ac.
– 802.11b: This was the first alternative version of the 802.11 protocol. It supports a data transfer speed of up to 11 MBps and operates at 2.4 GHz.
– 802.11a: The second alternative to the original WLAN protocol supports up to 54 MBps, operating at around 5.0 GHz.
– 802.11g: The third ‘generation’ of the standard 802.11 came to the market providing a data transfer speed of up to 54 MBps (just like the 802.11a) but operating at a 2.4 GHz band, providing more area coverage (just like the 802.11b). Most wireless devices today are compatible with 802.11g, and this protocol is less expensive than the most modern ones.
– 802.11n: One of the most popular wireless protocols today, the 802.11n supports up to 300 MBps due to its use of MIMO (Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output), a technology that uses multiple transmitters and multiple receivers to transfer more data simultaneously.
– 802.11ac: Another popular protocol nowadays is the 802.11ac, which features a dual-band channel that supports both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz. Its data transfer speed is up to 400 MBps when operating at 2.4 GHz and up to 1300 MBps when operating at 5.0 GHz, making it the fastest out of all WLAN protocols, but also the most expensive.
- USB Ports
There are two main types of USB ports that USB wireless adapters use nowadays: USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.
USB 2.0 wireless adapters only support up to 480 MBps (60 MB/s), whereas USB 3.0 wireless adapters are 10x faster, supporting up to 5 GBps (640 MB/s).
There are also two newer types of USB port called USB 3.1, which supports up to 10 GBps (1250MB/s), and USB 3.2, which supports up to 20 GBps (2500 MB/s). Because they’re still pretty recent, these newer types are not as widely used as USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.