Best WiFi Cards of 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Wireless internet connection is the talk of the town, and our lives are dependent on it; there is no denying that. From completing tasks to online gaming, from sharing photos to streaming content online, every aspect of our life is dependent on a good wireless connection.

Most motherboards come with inbuilt Wi-Fi, but they often end up providing lesser speeds and poor connections. The best way to improve speeds, coverage, range, and connectivity is to install a Wi-Fi card. These come in a range of shapes and sizes and can help cater to all of your issues.

This article not only introduces some of the best Wi-Fi cards in the market but also makes you understand the differences between the different kinds of cards available in the market. 

Comparison Chart of the Best WiFi Cards



  • Comes with 2 external antennas
  • Has a dual-band technology for better customization
  • Promises higher relative speeds
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TP-Link AC1300

  • Comes with heat sink technology for more optimal performance
  • Specially built for high-performance computing
  • Ensures a higher range
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Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I

  • Comes with a Bluetooth that is fully qualified for a number of purposes
  • Has a standard-compliant Intel Wi-Fi modulus support system
  • Best for the money
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TP-Link AC1200

  • Comes with an amazing heat sink technology that ensures higher heat dissipation
  • Provides upgrades up to 1200 Mbps
  • Best PCI-E Wi-Fi card
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  • Comes with dual-band technology for greater customization
  • High speeds of up to 2100 Mbps allow for better performance
  • Best Wi-Fi card for PC
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fenvi T919 for macOS PC

  • Supports hardware pairing on a number of systems
  • The model is a combination of three core technologies for better connections
  • Best PCI Wi-Fi card
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  • Provides an extensible design that can enable you to upgrade your device
  • Greater prioritization for all sorts of data
  • Best Wi-Fi card for gaming
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Intel 7260.HMW

  • Allows for Intel Wi-Fi and hotspot assistance
  • Comes with a Bluetooth 4.0 smart ready technology
  • Best laptop Wi-Fi card
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Toshiba FlashAir W-04 64 GB

  • Allows for full HD recording at all times
  • Wireless performance adds to the portability
  • Best Wi-Fi SD card
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Intel Dual Band Wireless-Ac 8265 w/ Bluetooth

  • Comes with a dual-band mechanism
  • Combines Wi-Fi properties with Bluetooth
  • Best M.2 Wi-Fi card
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What is a Wi-Fi Card, and What is it Used For?

Throughout your life, you might have come across the word a lot. A wireless internet card is also sometimes referred to as a local area network or even a LAN card. These are one of the several types of adapter cards that are available in the market. These not only add higher capabilities to your computer but can also enable teleconferencing. Not only this, but Wi-Fi cards are also known to improve the sound system of your computer and allow for faster downloading of photos and videos from digital cameras.

Wireless cards are of many types and come in a range of different sizes and shapes. There are different cards in the market that are available for desktops, laptops, and PDAs. Moreover, it is also important to remember that many computers come with preinstalled cards, but it is always advised that you buy an additional card to help boost up your computer’s overall system.

How Does a Wi-Fi Card Work?

Wi-Fi cards are often preinstalled and often need to be bought with a computer or PC system. They are simple to install as they only require you to insert the card inside a slot at the side of the computer. Before you understand how a Wi-Fi card works, it is important that you have a general understanding of how the internet works. It doesn’t transmit data through DSL, phone lines, or a high-speed cable; rather, it works by transmitting data through radio waves.

A Wi-Fi card or a wireless router has an access point that first receives information in the form of a signal. This usually happens in the old fashioned way where the router receives input through wires attached to it. It then translates all this data from the binary form to radio waves. Next, it broadcasts all these radio waves to the surrounding area and makes the signal accessible to you. It is known that a Wi-Fi card can generally transmit a signal between 75 and 150 feet.

How Do I Choose a Wi-Fi Card?

The biggest mistake that you can make while buying your Wi-Fi card is not to do your homework and hastily buy the first Wi-Fi card that you come across. Many companies also have you believe that the most expensive Wi-Fi card is actually the best one for you, but that’s certainly not the case. A good way is to ensure you know what you are looking for before you make this decision. And we are here to help you out with it.

High Compatibility

For a Wi-Fi card to work perfectly, it is important that it is compatible with the speeds of your internet connection. If you have a very high internet speed, you should not buy an adapter that has a speed lesser than the one required. Moreover, it is suggested that you buy the card that has a slightly higher speed than your adapter. This is because, over time, this high compatibility is likely to increase the overall speed of your internet.

Dual-Band Over Single

This debate has existed for far too long, but today we put a stop to it. A dual-band is always a better choice. This is because, with modern needs, you need a product that lets you have a greater say. A dual-band allows you to switch between 5 GHz and 2 GHz band speed easily. The former one gives the required speeds for high-end gaming, and the latter one can be used for streaming videos or downloading photographs.

High Signal Strength

Signal strength is one of the most important things to consider before you make the final choice. Your adapter or your Wi-Fi card needs to receive the signal from your router; hence it is important that the routers signal is as good as or even better than the average signal. Moreover, it should also be able to cover the area of your desktop with ease. For this, you can opt for an adapter that comes with powerful antennas and the ability to receive adequate signals from the router.

Quick Take - Best Wi-Fi Cards

Before we go any further, here are the best Wi-Fi cards:

2. TP-Link AC1300
3. Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I

Review of the Best Wi-Fi Cards

When it comes to Wi-Fi cards, the choice can be nothing less than perfect. There are many amazing Wi-Fi cards on the market, and the internet will have you believe that the cheapest of the most popular ones is the best one for you. But that isn’t true, because each user has its own specific needs.

To help you out, we are going to review the best Wi-Fi cards in the market, each of which falls into a specific criterion.

Best Overall:

TP-LINK Accessories


  • Higher range allows you to send data quicker
  • Allows data sharing with up to 3 times better speeds
  • Suitable for both online gaming and 4K video streaming
  • The presence of adjustable antennas give greater coverage
  • Offers amazing compatibility with a number of different models


  • Installation often requires complex steps
  • Higher relative cost makes it extremely expensive
  • Hard to find the replacement if any part gets damaged

What Recent Buyers Report

It is almost impossible to attain the highest internet speeds without the use of the best Wi-Fi cards, and hence recent buyers didn’t compromise on the quality of the model and chose to spend their money wisely on this model. Needless to say, they don’t regret doing so at all. The model offers amazing compatibility and range that makes it worthy of being the best overall product in the market.

Why it Stands Out to Us

When it comes to your PCs and Wi-Fi cards, the last thing you want is for your equipment to get hot and eventually stop working. This unit comes with an advanced heat sink technology that not only prevents heat accumulation but also ensures that heat dissipation happens equally in all components. This also ensures that the core components continue running smoothly.

Who Will Use This Most

The model is made especially to cater to the needs of gamers and video streamers. Its higher speeds combined with its detachable antennas ensure better connectivity. Moreover, the model also comes with an enhanced range, which ensures that passionate online gamers do not have to face any unnecessary hindrance while they are playing games.

Bottom Line

There is a reason why this product is at the top of our list. It has been known to set a benchmark in the industry with its utmost devotion to perfection and quality. The model comes with amazing compatibility, and its extra-high speeds ensure that gamers and online streamers all over the world can have the best experience possible.

 TP-Link AC1300

TP-Link AC1300 PCIe Wireless Wifi PCIe...


  • Gives the option of upgrades for up to 867 Mbps
  • Allows for extremely fast speeds and connections
  • Suitable for online gaming and ultra HD video streaming
  • Higher compatibility allows the device to be used with a range of PCs
  • Detachable antennas provide greater convenience and customization


  • Can get very hot at high speeds
  • Relatively expensive than some other models
  • Installation process takes relatively more time

What Recent Buyers Report

People all over the world are so heavily dependent on the internet that they want their Wi-Fi cards to be absolutely the best one, and that is exactly what recent buyers of this model feel about their choice. The model comes with many expandability options that not only let them upgrade the speeds but also increase the overall connections.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The model stands out to us due to many reasons, but if we have to boil it down to one feature, then it would definitely be its high-speed dual-band technology. This not only allows you to switch between different speeds but also gives you a greater choice in how you want to avail certain features. Not only this, but the model also comes with advanced mechanism technology that offers 3 times as much speed as any other model.

Who Will Use This Most

The model is made for high-speed computing, which essentially means that it works by providing faster speeds and greater coverage. This not only makes it one of the best models for online gaming, but it also provides unparalleled and stable connections during the streaming of HD content. Moreover, the presence of heat sinks ensures that you can use this product for a long time without any issue.

Bottom Line

Anyone looking for a plethora of features in a single model should definitely consider this Wi-Fi card. It not only comes with amazing data coverage, but its external antennas also help boost the connections. Moreover, its advanced heat mechanism, coupled with better Wi-Fi speeds, gives you an experience like none other.

Best for the Money:
Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I

Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I REV Bluetooth...


  • It can hide well under relatively larger graphics cards
  • Also ensures a convenient Bluetooth enhancement rate 
  • Comes with 2 antennas that support better connections
  • Allows for quick installation hence providing convenience
  • Provides a very high-speed connection for up to 867 Mbps


  • BT requires a USB 2.0 header on the motherboard
  • Requires you to download the Qualcomm Bluetooth driver
  • You need to enable the audio streaming from the phone manually

What Recent Buyers Report

Any product that offers superior performance at a relatively less cost is bound to impress recent buyers; hence it is no wonder that this model has won hearts too. It comes with a Bluetooth mechanism that is fully qualified to deal with all Wi-Fi-related phenomenon. Not only this, but buyers have also liked the introduction of a standard-compliant modulus system that adds reliability to the model.

Why it Stands Out to Us

When it comes to Wi-Fi cards, people fear the installation process the most. This is also another reason why people sometimes prefer onboard motherboards. But with this model, installation is a piece of cake. The card is small and of compact size, and hence inserting it in your PC system does not require any additional time or energy.

Who Will Use This Most

People looking for ease and convenience will absolutely love this model. It offers some of the most amazing features in the market at a relatively lower price. But its lower cost should not be equated with cheaper quality. The antennas are extremely fine and well aligned and offer more flexibility. Moreover, the smaller size of the model allows it to hide well under the larger graphics cards, thus not requiring much space.

Bottom Line

Low cost and superior performance are a combination every user is looking for these days, but there are very few products that offer both. This unit offers a good amount of speed along with flexible antennas that offer good coverage. Not only this, its smaller size and easy installation also makes for an impressive model and adds to its appeal.

Best PCI-E Wi-Fi Card:
TP-Link AC1200

TP-Link AC1200 PCIe Wireless Wifi PCIe...


  • Higher compatibility with Windows 10 
  • Suitable for 4K and Ultra HD video streaming
  • Provides 2 antennas for maximum connectivity
  • Provides greater stability hence ensuring longevity
  • The heat technology can distribute heat waves away from the core components


  • Parts are difficult to fix once broken
  • Speed is relatively low than some other models
  • Does not work very well with Windows below 10.0

What Recent Buyers Report 

A good coverage boost and higher stability come together in this model that has impressed recent buyers and potential customers. The model is also known to have 2 perfectly aligned antennas that not only offer better connectivity but also maximize your coverage. Moreover, recent buyers are also pleased with the cooling mechanism inserted in the device that helps keep their product safe.

Why it Stands Out to Us

When it comes to PC equipment, the most important thing is stability, and that is exactly what is offered by an efficient heat sink in this Wi-Fi card. This special feature helps dissipate heat evenly in the whole system, thereby preventing thermal energy to be concentrated at any of the core components. Not only this, but it also helps lower the overall temperature, thereby extending the product’s overall lifespan.

Who Will Use This Most

The product is known to have an amazing beamforming coverage technology. This not only gives you better coverage but also ensures that the Wi-Fi signals are concentrated at the place that needs it most. These features make this model a perfect fit for most models as it allows for better coverage for both multi-tasking and high-end work.

Bottom Line

The bottom line on this one is simple, buy the card if you want your product to provide coverage for a longer time. The heat sink technology and the better antennas make for an impressive model that is suitable for both online gaming and video streaming. Moreover, the flexibility of antennas allows for broader coverage.

Best Wi-Fi Card for PC:

ASUS PCE-AC88 AC3100 4x4 802.11AC PCIe...


  • The magnetic antennas have an external base
  • Provides reception like none other with its 4x4 adapter
  • Has a heat sink that works by effectively dissipating heat
  • Improved stability and reliability prevent damage over time
  • Better and flexible antennas placements make signals stronger


  • Connected devices need to be at least 802 compatible
  • External networking factors can also hinder performance
  • Actual performance is sometimes affected by service provider factors

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are absolutely thrilled with the performance of this unit. They particularly like the detachable and flexible antennas that not only boost the signal of the device but also ensure greater convenience. Moreover, they have also complimented the enhanced stability that the model has to offer. The presence of a good heat sink and a good running bandwidth also adds to the appeal.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The product stands out due to many reasons, but its most notable feature has to be its efficiency. The advanced NitroQAM technology gives you extremely high speeds of up to 2100 Mbps. While going through this review, you will be able to vouch for the high relative speed of this model. It not only allows you to enjoy smooth and fast streaming but also allows you to use almost 60% faster Wi-Fi on your desktops.

Who Will Use This Most

The product is known to be the best one for PC, but that’s not all it is good for. It is also the first-ever 4x4 adapter in the market that provides Wi-Fi connection like none other. It has a four transmit antenna design that adds to your Wi-Fi range. So whether you are playing games online or need to transfer heavy files from one place to another, rest assured that the broader coverage and range will make your work extremely easy.

Bottom Line

With a flexible antenna placement and an unmatched speed, there isn’t much that can go wrong with a model, and that is exactly the case with the super amazing ASUS Wi-Fi card. It not only includes extension cables and detachable antennas, but its 4x4 adapter technology allows for better connections. Not only this, the model is known for boasting a 60% faster Wi-Fi connection that is unlike any other model that you will come across.

Best PCI Wi-Fi Card:
fenvi T919 for mac OS PC

fenvi T919 for macOS PC PCI Wifi Card...


  • Can also support Apple Bluetooth keyboards
  • Provides a faster throughput than most other devices
  • Does not require an additional keyboard to get to BIOS
  • The files transferred between devices are first encrypted
  • Allows for a peer to peer and a direct connection between phones


  • Size is more so requires more space
  • The speeds are relatively lower than some other models
  • Does not support Bluetooth pairing on a number of systems

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers are of the view that Wi-Fi cards need to be diverse for them to serve their purpose. The fenvi model comes with three technologies combined in one. This not only provides it with better compatibility but also ensures that it can pair with a number of hardware systems easily. Moreover, the model doesn’t require an additional keyboard for BIOS, thus saving on additional money.

Why it Stands Out to Us

When it comes to networking, throughput is not a new word, and buyers are well acquainted with its importance. It is basically the amount of data that can be successfully moved from one place to another in a given amount of time. This is also measured in bps and megabits. The best thing about this model is that it has an amazing throughput that allows for fast data processing and communication.

Who Will Use This Most

People who work with sensitive data often need to put security first, and that is why they prefer this model. It comes with a thorough encryption technology that not only encodes your data but also ensures that it remains hidden from other sources. Moreover, the model ensures that no unwanted person can access or get their hands on your data. This thus helps in the protection of private information of clients and servers.

Bottom Line

With three core technologies in one technology, this model is already in the limelight for all good reasons. It not only offers a peer to peer connection but makes sure that this direct communication is secured and protected. Not only this, but the presence of higher throughput is also a noteworthy feature that helps support better coverage and range of the card.

Best Wi-Fi Card for Gaming:

ASUS PCE-AC56 PCI Wireless Express...


  • Suitable for high-end content streaming
  • Allows for maximum flexibility in performance
  • Provides the option for quick and convenient upgrades
  • Does not require any messy Ethernet cables for functioning
  • Ensures extremely fast connections for superior online gaming


  • Upgrades often require a lot of money
  • Does not offer a very good heat sink mechanism
  • If parts of the card get damaged, it is difficult to find a replacement

What Recent Buyers Report

Any buyer who is interested in better speeds over the course of their adapter usage would tell you how important Wi-Fi card updates are. The presence of high scalability has impressed buyers who think that this feature is exactly what they need in this modern world. Moreover, the model allows buyers to prioritize their data according to their wishes and hence have a greater choice in how they want their systems to run.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The model stands out to us, particularly due to its upgrade mechanism. People generally buy Wi-Fi cards to provide them with better speeds and better connections, but during the course of their usage, they might also want to increase the throughput of the card, and that is exactly what the card has to offer. This expandability feature means that users can enjoy advanced gaming and streaming with ease.

Who Will Use This Most

The model is made for gamers, especially because the market right now doesn’t cater much to the individual needs of high-end gamers. ASUS has taken a positive step in this direction and introduced a Wi-Fi card that not only avoids the use of any Ethernet cables but also allows for fast connections. Not only this, people who are interested in streaming content online will also love the stability that it has to offer.

Bottom Line

ASUS is a company that has a loyal fan base, but people don’t love this product simply because of its association with the company. The model is one of the most distinguished ones, especially for gamers who not only want better speeds but also care for greater coverage. The model also allows for faster connections that ensure that gamers don’t have to face any hindrance during their playtime.

Best Laptop Wi-Fi Card:
Intel 7260.HMW

Intel 7260.HMW Dual Band Wireless-AC...


  • Higher capacity allows for multitasking
  • Comes with Intel smart connect technology
  • Long battery life makes it cost and energy-efficient
  • Comes with a dual-band that allows you to switch between speeds
  • Broader coverage means that you can send and receive data from other places


  • Range is slightly limited
  • Not very suitable for desktop computers
  • Relatively expensive than single band cards

What Recent Buyers Report

Most people have shifted from the use of larger desktop PCs to laptops, and this shift has compelled them to find Wi-Fi cards that better suit their needs. Intel is known to be the perfect laptop Wi-Fi card that not only allows for hotspot assistance but also comes with the amazing Bluetooth 4.0 smart ready technology.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The model stands out to us because of its dual-band technology and Bluetooth adapter combination that lets you use faster speeds and higher capacity. Not only this, but the mechanism also allows for longer battery life and broader coverage. All in all, the card dramatically revamps your connected experiences at both home and work.

Who Will Use This Most

People who have laptops and have to travel a lot will make the most use of this model. This is because the dual-band technology helps provide better battery life for the model, which means that you don’t have to charge it again and again. Not only this, but the card is also a perfect fit for people who have to transfer large and heavy files from computer to computer.

Bottom Line

With strong dual technology and cost-efficient mechanism, this model is already making rounds in the market. It not only ensures a much longer battery life but also ensures that consumers don’t have to charge their laptops again and again. Moreover, the presence of advanced Bluetooth mechanism along with Intel smart technology means that it is undoubtedly one of the best models in the market.

Best Wi-Fi SD Card:
Toshiba FlashAir W-04 64 GB

Toshiba FlashAir W-04 64 GB SDXC Class...


  • Provides up to 64 GB of capacity
  • Easy installation saves on your time and energy
  • The models offer a read and write speed of 90Mbs
  • Can be used with mobile phones, cameras, and most PCs
  • Better heat sink technology allows for more heat dissipation


  • Throughput is not very efficient
  • Not very suitable for online gaming
  • Relatively slower speeds than some other models

What Recent Buyers Report

The model comes with an in-built Wi-Fi technology that allows for faster data transfer between devices, and that is exactly what recent buyers love about it. The model helps save time by ensuring less time is taken for installation. Moreover, consumers also appreciate the presence of the heat sink technology that adds stability to the model.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The best thing about this model is that it offers you the most advanced eyefi connected feature. This not only allows for better connectivity but also promises enhanced power with a wireless mechanism. It also prevents the model from automatically powering off. Moreover, advanced heat sink technology is another noteworthy feature that allows for better heat dissipation.

Who Will Use This Most

This is considered as the best Wi-Fi SD card, and it means exactly what you think it means. The model brings together the pros of both the Wi-Fi card and SD card together, thus saving on your cost. More importantly, the model is comparatively easy to install and does not require too much space on your motherboard. Hence anyone who wants to have a 2-in-1 product would be wise to invest in this card.

Bottom Line

When it comes to your Wi-Fi cards, you want two things to be absolutely present, one is better heat dissipation, and the other is better storage. The model comes with not only these two features but a plethora of others. Its easy installation mechanism and its relatively time-consuming adjustments make it one of the most desirable products in the market.

Intel Dual Band Wireless-Ac 8265...


  • Compatible with Bluetooth proximity usage models
  • Most suited to be used with 7th generation processors
  • Higher overall throughput makes it suitable for gaming
  • Relatively lesser price than most other models with dual properties
  • Does not require the use of any Ethernet cables for Wi-Fi connection


  • Requires space for installation
  • Antennas are not easily detachable
  • The overall throughput is relatively lesser than some other models

What Recent Buyers Report

You ask anyone Wi-Fi user in the world, and the first thing they’ll say is that they want uninterrupted connections, and that is exactly what they get with the Intel dual-band card. The card delivers on its promises and ensures higher speeds and fewer dropped connections. Moreover, consumers have also praised the existence of better connections for a long time.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The model can offer you speeds that are 3 times faster than your regular model, but that’s not the only reason it stands out to us. It comes with dual-mode Bluetooth technology that enables low energy devices to act as a peripheral and hub at the same time. This, in turn, helps connect your Wi-Fi to the low energy Bluetooth products as easily as it would high energy products.

Who Will Use This Most

The model has been recommended for all 7th general Intel core processors, but it also provides better compatibility with most other PCs. Not only this, but the model also enables it to be used with authenticate Bluetooth proximity models. Moreover, the higher speeds also ensure that the card can be used for online gaming purposes as well as online streaming.

Bottom Line

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could get all the advantages of a Bluetooth card and a Wi-Fi card in one simple device? Well, this is exactly what you are getting when you purchase the Intel dual-band wireless card. Its dual-band technology ensures better customization and helps you have a greater say in the speed you want for specific purposes. Not only this, its efficient Bluetooth properties make it a must-have product for anyone seeking perfection.

How to Install a Wi-Fi Card

If you are reading this part of the article, the chances are that you already have found your dream Wi-Fi card, but still have no idea how to install it. But you don’t have to worry. Installation is quite easy and only requires a few simple steps before you are ready to go. Follow them in order, and you’ll be done in no time.

1. Know Your Model

There are many different models available on the market, and each one’s installation is slightly different from the rest, so before you start on the next steps, make sure you know your card well.

2. Close Your PC and Unplug it Completely

This is the initial step which requires you to shut down your PC completely. You should also try to unplug the model before moving on to your next steps.

3. Opening the Front of the Work Area

There are certain very well established PCs that require you to completely unscrew the connector sticks at the backside of the case. However, with most PCs and Macs, you only need to pull on a switch, and it will automatically enable you to either compel some portion of your case or pull down the sides.

4. Find the Most Suitable Opening of the PC for Your Remote Card

This is a slightly tricky step and might require you to spend some time, but it’s also extremely important that you find the right opening for your remote card. To do this, you need to make a small point to evacuate the faceplate. This will enable you to introduce the card successfully.

5. Close the Case

The next step requires you to uncover the new card from the back of the PC and then close the case carefully.

6. Embed Your Remote Card

Once you are done with the earlier parts, it is now time to embed the remote card successfully in its place. You can do this by appending any screws with your card by utilizing a head screwdriver. Next, you need to join the radio wire that is situated on the outside of the card and then close the case.

For a more detailed guide, you can refer to the video given below.

Key Terms to Familiarize Yourself With

Many people these days have general know-how of what the key terms are, but when asked to differentiate between them, they are often confused. Here are all the key terms that you need to be familiar with, especially if you want to understand your product better.


An adapter is a device that not only transmits data but also receives it on a Wi-Fi frequency. It can also connect the computer to any wireless area network. For your wireless system to work properly, you need an adapter and a good one too.


Many people get confused between an adapter and a router, but they are two substantially different things. A router basically connects your computer to the internet via the use of a modem. Not only this, but it also allows multiple computers to use and share the same signals.


In data transmission, the network throughput refers to the amount of data that can be moved successfully from one place to the other in a given amount of time. It is also typically measured in bits and sometimes in megabits too. If the signal is too high, then you might also need to use gigabits.


This basically keeps your data secured and safe from unwanted and external sources. Through encryption, your computer or your device changes the coding of the data, so it is unrecognizable until it is de-encrypted.


This is the capacity of any wired or wireless network communications link to transmit a large amount of data from one place to another, or from one computer to another. This data transference is usually measured in seconds.

PCI-E Wi-Fi Card vs. USB - What’s the Difference?

In order to add additional wireless networking capability to your computers, people can do 2 things. They can either use a PCI-E adapter or a USB wireless solution. People have long debated over the use of PCI-E Wi-Fi or USB, but in order to know which one is better for you, you need first to know what each of them represents.


A PCI-E is a wireless network adapter that is plugged into a PCI express port on your computer. In case you are building your own PC, it should be very easy for you to locate this part on your motherboard. Some people might find this work nerve-wracking, but others are pretty comfortable with it. Once it’s installed, it gives you a comparatively high networking power, which also acts as its biggest pro. It also comes with at least 2 or 3 antennas, and each of these helps to give a boost to your Wi-Fi signal reception. The higher number of antennas also ensures the card’s potential for very high-speed communication.

USB Wireless Network

USB wireless networks are really popular, and most of their popularity stems from the fact that they are extremely convenient pieces of equipment. They are simple units that you plug into a USB port on your computer, and they then connect your device to a Wi-Fi network. This is exactly as simple as it sounds and does not involve any complex installation procedures. Moreover, these USB devices are extremely small and portable; you can carry them anywhere, and they can be used on a multitude of PCs. Moreover, they don’t limit you with the PC options, as one USB adapter can be switched between your entire home PCs.

So Which One is Better

We have already highlighted the pros and main features of these two products, and now it’s time to find out how they differ from each other. A USB adapter is definitely more convenient, but this convenience often comes at the cost of a higher power. On the other hand, PCI-E slots offer more networking, but they often require more time for installation and, once installed, cannot be switched from PC to PC. A USB also provides a weaker connection at long ranges. So before you jump on to conclusions, make sure you understand these differences well.

Motherboard vs. Wi-Fi Card - What You Need to Know

If you have ever used a PC, the chances are that you are well acquainted with what a motherboard and a Wi-Fi card are. They are both extremely essential for the optimum functioning of your PC, and for better clarity, we will explain what these two are and what their role is in the functioning of your PC.


A motherboard is primarily the instrument that provides better connectivity between your hardware components and your other processors like memory, hard drive, and video card. There are a great many variations of motherboards that exist in the market, each of which comes with their unique features and sizes. Another important thing to note in regards to motherboards is that they are designed to cater to a specific type of processor only, and hence if you use a motherboard that isn’t compatible with your processor, you are likely to face a lot of issues. The motherboard comes with pre-installed Wi-Fi adapters, and although this is convenient, it is not always the best possible solution, but more on that later.

Wi-Fi Card

We have discussed Wi-Fi cards in detail above. These are generally cards for PC that are attached to the express slots on your PC. They not only free you from using Ethernet cables and losing signals, but they also help you establish a secure and steady Wi-Fi network in the desktop of your PC. These Wi-Fi cards also come with detachable antennas attached to the exterior. These connect well with the corresponding antennas of your router. They also come in handy when you have only a limited number of USB ports on your PC.

Which One is Better

People often get confused between using an onboard Wi-Fi adapter in their motherboards and getting a new one. Although getting a new card seems to be the more expensive option, but that doesn’t mean that it is a bad option. The best thing about a Wi-Fi card is that it doesn’t limit you. You can always upgrade it without having to rebuild your entire system. Moreover, Wi-Fi cards tend to have better signals and better portability, so you can use these cards wherever you want.

PCI vs. PCI-E - Comparison and General Overview

PCI is also known as a parallel connection, and any device that is connected to the PCI bus also appears to be a bus master and can connect directly on its own. On the other hand, the PCIE card promises very high speed and serial connection. But if you thought that’s all to them, you are wrong because there is so much more to this story. But before we tell any more, first, let’s find out the basics.

What Does PCI Stand For?

PCI basically stands for peripheral component interconnect. It is a local bus standard that is developed by Intel. A lot of modern PCs right now include a PCI bus in addition to having a more general ISA expansion bus. The PCI is also sometimes used on some versions of the Macintosh Computer.

What is PCI Express?

PCI Express is basically a hardware interface with high speed. It is from Intel and is used to connect the peripheral devices of your PC. A PCI express was first introduced in 2002, and it has gained massive popularity over recent years. Now almost all motherboards have at least one PCI-E slot for their graphics card. The PCI-E can also be used for hard drives, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and SSDs.

What Does PCI-E Stand For?

PCI-E stands for peripheral component interconnect express. It is an interface standard that is used for connecting high-speed components of your PC. Every desktop in the market has a motherboard which has a number of PCI-E slots. These are used to add video and graphics cards. They can also be used to insert Wi-Fi cards.

Which One is Better

The answer to this question really differs from individual to individual, because where one component lacks, the other excels, and vice versa. PCI-E provides you with a switched architecture of up to 32 independent serial lanes as opposed to a shared bus that the PCI has to offer. But your decision shouldn’t be based on that information only because PCI is comparatively cheaper than PCI-E, so in the end, you only need to see which feature best meets your needs.

AGP vs. PCI - General Guide

Many people who know what PCIs are don’t really have any idea about AGP, and this isn’t shocking because PCI has generally overpopulated their market, but is that a good or a bad thing is exactly what we are going to find out. But let’s look at what AGP is first.

AGPs are also known as accelerated graphics ports and were designed to provide a high-speed point to point channel for attaching a video card to your computer system. Its primary purpose is to assist in the acceleration of 3D computer graphics. Moreover, you would be surprised to know that these cards have been in the market for quite some time now and were originally designed as a successor to PCI type connections.

Now that we know a little about AGP and PCI, it is time to see which one is better. The biggest difference between the two is that the former can easily access your system’s memory to help with extremely complex operations like texture mapping. On the other hand, PCI cards can only access your memory that is available on the actual computer card. 

Another difference worth noting is that AGP doesn’t really share its bandwidth with any of the other devices, whereas PCI cards can do it easily. AGP can also pipeline most requests, which means that it can easily and effectively execute multiple instructions all at the same time. On the other hand, PCI cards are not at all pipelined, and they need to finish one set of instructions before they can move on to the other tasks.

All that being said, you might think that the AGP is the right choice, but don’t decide just yet, because there is so much more to that story. Tests of similar kinds of AGP and PCI found out that they perform in essentially the same way and provide the same kind of outcome. So make sure that before deciding on which one to get, you carefully evaluate your needs.

PCI-E Pins and Connection Per Size

PCI-E allows slots to have varying physical sizes, depending upon the number of lanes that are connected to each slot. This is done to reduce the amount of space required in the motherboard for each slot. For example, if a slot with an x1 connection is required, then the manufacture of your motherboard will use a much smaller slot, thus saving a significant amount of space on your motherboard. 

Having bigger slots, on the other hand, is likely to have fewer lanes as their size increases. Moreover, with bigger slots, you need to ensure that the speeds correspond to the number of slots. To help you better understand, here are the PCI-E pins and their connections per size.

  • PCI Express x1 has one lane and can move data in one bit each second.
  • PCI Express x4 has 4 lanes and can move data in 4 bits each second.
  • PCI Express x16 has up to 8 or 16 lanes and can move data in 8 bits per second or 16 bits per second.

The speeds increase with the increase in the number of lanes, but so does the cost, so before you decide which PCI-E pin to purchase, make sure you compare their benefits with their drawbacks.


After reading this review, one thing is fairly certain that the perfect wireless experience absolutely requires an additional Wi-Fi card to be purchased. And since you are aiming for something so huge, it is natural for you to be scared of not finding the best product. But you shouldn’t worry, because our list includes products from the cheapest to the most expensive, and each one has been added to the list because it meets specific criteria. So whether you are looking to enhance your gaming experience, or simply trying to find a card with better storage, rest assured that you will find the right product right here.

People Also Ask

With most products, people don’t really care enough to ask questions, but that’s certainly not the case with Wi-Fi cards. Wireless internet is so well entwined within our lives that we can’t make the wrong choice in regards to our purchase. To help you out with your decision, we will be answering the most repeated questions on the internet.

What Wi-Fi Card Do I Have?

Most people don’t know whether their motherboards have Wi-Fi properties preinstalled or not, let alone know about the kind of Wi-Fi card they have. But the process of finding that out is pretty simple. You need to click on the search box on the taskbar. Then you need to type device manager and wait for the results. The next step is to simply scroll down to see the Wi-Fi card details on the network adapter.

How to Tell if Wi-Fi Card is Bad?

This should be fairly easy to tell because a bad Wi-Fi card is likely to disrupt both your signals and your connection. But to be sure, you need to wait for a couple of hours to see if the issue isn’t fixed. You can also find it out by opening the window command and hitting the return button. If your card doesn’t respond, the chances are that it is faulty.

How to Update Wi-Fi Card?

Many latest cards come with the option of upgrades, and the process doesn’t really consume too much time. You need to use the windows keys and X key to open the power user menu and then select device manager. Next, you need to click on expand network adapters and select your adapter to update. This will automatically update the driver software option.

How Much is a Wi-Fi Card? 

There are a plethora of Wi-Fi cards in the market, and they range from the cheapest to the most expensive. Typically, a wireless card costs around $30 to $70. However, there are other cards that are relatively expensive and can be undesirable.

How to Remove Wi-Fi Card From Laptop?

One of the best things about these Wi-Fi cards is that they can be removed as easily as they can be installed. You need first to slide the latches over and slide your battery out of your laptop. Next, you need to remove the screws and press the button for ejection. Now you need to remove the hard drive screws and unplug the antenna for the safe removal of your card.

Why is My Wi-Fi Card so Slow?

Wi-Fi cards are generally extremely efficient and provide high speeds and connectivity, so if you see your Wi-Fi card getting slow, you should assume that it is broken or damaged. You should always wait a couple of hours before changing your Wi-Fi card.

Do You Need a Wi-Fi Card for PC?

Most modern motherboards come with an inbuilt Wi-Fi system. Still, many people choose to get a new Wi-Fi card. This is because installing one not only increases your signal speed but also provides much better throughput. Moreover, having a new card will also improve your system’s overall performance.

Is a Wi-Fi Card a NIC?

Any computer can use a network interface card, or NIC to become part of a network. The NIC basically contains electronic circuitry that is required to communicate using the wired connection. This includes either an Ethernet or a wireless connection such as Wi-Fi.

Do You Need a Wi-Fi Card for Wi-Fi?

Unless you have one or several Ethernet ports where your PC will dominate, you definitely need a Wi-Fi card to connect it to the internet. Some motherboards come with Wi-Fi already inbuilt in them, but they are known not to be very good, so getting a separate card is always better.

Does my Motherboard Have a Wi-Fi card?

Most motherboards have a Wi-Fi card, but the quickest and easiest way to see if your motherboard has an inbuilt Wi-Fi is to first look at the IO panel. This is where most of the USB ports and audio ports are located. You should look for antenna connectors to see if your motherboard has Wi-Fi.

How to Install a Wi-Fi Card on a Desktop Computer?

The installation of a Wi-Fi card is fairly simple and does not require many complex steps. You need first to shut down your computer and unplug it completely. Then you have to open the upper cover of your desktop and locate the exact slot of the wireless card. The final step is to simply place the card in the right area and close the case.

6 thoughts on “Best WiFi Cards of 2020 – Buyer’s Guide”

  1. You say about the ASUS 4×4 802.11AC Wireless AC3100 PCIe Adapter (PCE-AC88) just plug it in and let the computer fetch the drivers, I guessing you need to keep the previous internet device plug in so it can do that.

  2. I have the ASUS AC3100 and yes using the drivers from asus did cause problems but only with 5 ghz channels but doing a fresh install did fix my issue use the default windows drivers unless you run into other issues

  3. The PCE-AC88 is not supposed to be in the first place because it has stability issues. I paired it with GT AC5300 but the connection drops out randomly. On the other hand, if you are seeking for a reliability, then T8E will do the job right.

    PCE-AC88 is strong network wise only when it is working right. High end asus products have issues with drivers and the reliability issue is driving me nuts.

    Today, drivers are poorly programmed.


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