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|USB Wifi Adapter 1200Mbps TECHKEY USB 3.0 Wifi Dongle 802.11 ac Wireless Network Adapter with Dual Band 2.4GHz/300Mbps+5GHz/866Mbps 5dBi High Gain Antenna for Desktop Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 Linux Mac||USB Wifi Adapter 1200Mbps TECHKEY USB 3.0 Wifi Dongle 802.11 ac Wireless Network Adapter with Dual Band 2.4GHz/300Mbps+5GHz/866Mbps 5dBi High Gain Antenna for Desktop Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 Linux Mac||ANEWKODI 600Mbps Dual Band (2.4G/150Mbps+5G/433Mbps) Wireless USB WiFi Adapter,802.11N/G/B Antenna Network LAN Card for Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10 (32/64bits) MAC OS|
Scores calculated from 48466 reviews
Wi-Fi is the standard for letting us connect to the Internet so we can do the things we love, from gaming with our buddies all around the world to streaming our favorite shows. Most devices naturally come with this special type of connectivity built in, but what about older devices that don't? Fortunately, you don't have to worry about not taking advantage of your favorite café's Wi-Fi to connect to your pals on social media. A Wi-Fi USB adapter can help you get your device up to speed (so to speak).
To get you started on your search, you can check out some top adapters on Amazon below or you can hop on down to our buying guide. There, you'll have plenty of information to access so you can make an informed purchasing decision.
This USB wireless Wi-Fi adapter from JFONG tops our list, with plenty of customer reviews to back it up. This handy little device is compatible with many recent editions of both the MAC OS and Windows operating systems. Phones, laptops, desktops, you name it! This dual-band USB adapter has you covered. Start getting the Internet connection you deserve today! It's only $19.99 on Amazon.
It's a tie! This mini Wi-Fi adapter from MIZOO also scores a perfect 10 from us. This dual-band USB Wi-Fi adapter likewise supports a number of operating systems, so it should work well for most people. The easy-to-turn antenna means adjustment is a breeze; better WiFi is within reach, for a great price of $18.99 on Amazon!
Best-priced Wi-Fi USB adapter on our 2019 list? Hands down, it's this nano adapter from Comfast. It will only cost you $6.99 on Amazon! Better yet, this little guy is easy enough to plug into your laptop and forget about it—no hassle with antennas or wires required! If that wasn't amazing enough, this adapter is also compatible with Linux, unlike our other two top picks.
Want to learn more about these Wi-Fi adapters? Check out our buying guide below so you can learn how to buy the best wireless adapters in 2019!
Anyone who remembers the early days of the Internet can attest to how difficult it was to get connected on the fly—if you could at all. Lugging around your giant PC, fishing around through a tangle of cords to find an open LAN connection, and hoping that the place you were going to even had a connection. . . Fortunately, these problems are all in the past. Today we have nearly magical access to the Internet everywhere we go thanks to WiFi technology. But what good is WiFi if you can't connect to it? That's where USB WiFi adapters come in.
These adapters are external devices that connect to your computer or laptop through an open USB port and get you online from there. If you're considering buying a USB WiFi adapter, but don't know where to start, follow this guide and learn all about how these devices work and which kind is right for you!
Why would you want an adapter? After all, in today's technology market pretty much everything comes with a built-in adapter. Your phones, watches, tablets, even some toasters are Internet-ready now. It seems like every device, appliance, and car on the market has WiFi capabilities as a default option, but there are still plenty of reasons to purchase an adapter.
The most common reason is that you own an older device that does not have a built-in WiFi card and needs the external support. There are plenty of older laptops and even current desktops without this card as a default option. A WiFi adapter is the best solution to get these devices connected. Even if your device has a built-in WiFi card, you might want to get an external WiFi adapter in order to boost your signal. Two WiFi adapters won't stack, but if your WiFi card is older, a newer adapter is a non-invasive way of getting your machine back up to speed.
WiFi, and by extension the Internet, seems to work almost like magic. You power up your device, enter a password, and now you're connected to more information and entertainment than any one person could ever take in. While it may seem like magic, this all is actually just some clever uses of old technologies.
Let's start with the basics. WiFi has come to stand for Wireless Fidelity. How does WiFi get information from your router to your computer without a "wired" connection? It's simple: radio! It may seem surprising at first, but the same technology that your great-great-grandfather used to listen to baseball games now powers today's fastest Internet connections. The key difference between the two is that WiFi operates at a much higher frequency than AM or FM radio, which means that these devices won't interfere with each other.
Okay, but the question still remains as to how this transfers that movie you're streaming from your router to your computer.
Without getting bogged down in the technical details of things like Orthogonal Frequency Division Modulation, WiFi sends data in a manner quite similar to radio. The data—in our example a movie being streamed—is converted into an electronic signal, which is then broken down into smaller units called "packets." The WiFi signal sends these packets out into the air in every direction, but each packet is tagged with a special address so that only designated devices can open it. If you've ever wondered how dozens of people can log onto a cafe's WiFi and each get their own content without the noise of everyone else's getting in the way, that's how!
Most modern computers you're going to encounter already have WiFi built it. These devices work by having a dedicated "WiFi card" built into the computer's circuits. This card is essentially just a radio receiver that is specially designed to pick up the frequency WiFi operates on, paired with the necessary components to translate that signal into something you computer can make use of. In laptops, tablets, and phones, these are hardwired right into the motherboard; it is unlikely you'll ever need to change them out. The story for desktop computers is slightly different.
In desktop computers, it is still fairly common to find models without onboard WiFi adapters. Many people and companies still expect to be able to plug their desktop into a wired LAN connection in order to get them online. These devices will require a WiFi card. These WiFi cards attach to one of the motherboard's available PCI slots. These are open connectors on the motherboard that can attach a variety of extra components. Some people prefer the built-in option for its convenience while others prefer the add-on approach as it allows them to upgrade as faster technology develops. The add-on approach also allows people to service their own parts if anything breaks down.
As hard as it is to believe, there was a time not too long ago when WiFi was seen as a convenient, but not mandatory, feature. If we go back even further, say 20 years ago, this technology wasn't even around. Broadly speaking, these are the two categories your device in need of an adapter will fall into. Either it was made before WiFi technology became available, or it was made during that stretch after it was invented but before it became a household standard.
So, how do these adapters work? They work by connecting through your computer's USB port and functioning as an external WiFi card (but we'll get more into that later). This means that, for devices that were made before WiFi was invented (in 1997), they'll also need a USB port (invented in 1994).
Devices made after 1997 still might not have onboard WiFi capabilities, though, as these features didn't become standard until the late 2000s. Even if these older devices have such capabilities installed, it is likely that the tech is out of date. You likely won't be able to easily stream 4k movies, HD pictures, and gaming services.
If you're using a device from the 1990s or early 2000s to connect to the Internet today, odds are you'll need to upgrade that connection. Most adapters will have both 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz bands in them to boost speed. The slowness and lag you're experiencing with your old machines is probably due to incompatible and outdated technology slowing your machine down, but there is also a good chance it could have less to do with age and more to do with wear.
Those circuits that make up your WiFi card wear down a little bit each time electricity passes through them (not to mention all those times we've accidentally dropped our devices or spilled coffee on it. . .). An external WiFi adapter makes a great quick fix for an older WiFi card that is starting to break down. We've talked a lot about how WiFi works, who needs WiFi adapters, and why you should get one, but now let's take a look and see how WiFi adapters actually work.
Unlike with our "How WiFi Works" section, we won't have to deal with any complicated terms here. USB WiFi adapters are very straightforward pieces of technology. They are a combination of two pieces of technology that we discussed earlier: the USB adapter and the WiFi card.
The USB WiFi adapter works by connecting an external WiFi card to your computer through your USB drive. This connection is reliable enough to manage the constant streaming of data from the Internet. In new models that use USB 3.0 or USB C, you'll have a lightning-fast connection between the external WiFi card and your computer—let's just hope your Internet connection can keep up with it!
If you've been around the tech scene for a while, you'll likely be thinking of those massive USB WiFi adapters that have antennas and even those giant devices that had their own little cooling fans! Luckily, these adapters have gotten much more compact since then. Modern adapters are fairly small and some are even no bigger than a USB flash drive. Many are designed to be left in your device so you don't have to worry about constantly plugging something in.
There is a whole world of adapters out there to meet your needs. While the technology behind USB WiFi adapters may be combinations of a few older inventions, it's still the dominant way we connect to the Internet around the world. If you're looking to make sure your old computer or laptop can keep you connected, an external WiFi card will help you out.