Whether you’re looking to boost the wireless performance of your old laptop, add wireless capabilities to your old PC which lacks such features, or basically want to declutter your desk or floor from all the crisscrossing cables creating a messy look in your room or apartment, getting the best USB WiFi Adapter is the wisest decision you’ll ever make.
A USB WiFi adapter does a great job boosting the WiFi performance of your old laptop. Because many old laptops support the rather congested and slower 2.4GHz frequency, adding a USB WiFi adapter that is engineered with dual-band WiFi as well as the latest wireless standard, the 802.11ac, you’ll be able to enjoy faster, more stable, and reliable speeds on the less congested 5GHz band.
For an old PC that doesn’t have a built-in WiFi card, a USB WiFi adapter can make all the difference.
That said, if you’re looking for the USB WiFi adapter that will boost your WiFi performance, extend the coverage, and most importantly, get rid of the messy wires, we’ve got your back. Here are Our Top 12 Picks:
Best USB WiFi Adapter (Our Top 11 Picks and Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide)
1. Netgear Nighthawk AC1900
NetGear is well known for its best-selling high-end routers. But this tech giant also designs and develops high-performance and affordable USB WiFi adapters.
The NetGear Nighthawk AC1900 WiFi USB Adapter (A7000-10000S) lets you upgrade your desktop or old laptop to the faster 802.11ac WiFi standards which deliver blazing fast speeds of up to 600Mbs on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band.
These dual-band WiFi connection speeds make this USB WiFi adapter an excellent choice for lag-free gaming and HD streaming.
To enhance performance, this adapter also features the Beamforming technology which directs wireless signals to each device’s location.
The result is faster, more stable, and reliable speeds. In addition to the beamforming technology, this adapter also sports the 3 by 4 Mimo design which significantly increases bandwidth capacity for faster download and uploading of data to and from the wireless network.
This simply means that you can stream, download, or transfer large files simultaneously on various connected devices and still achieve great speeds.
Other notable features include a high-speed USB 3.0 port for fast USB connection to your device, 4 internal antennas for improved performance, a magnet cradle for easy, flexible mount on a metal surface, and a NetGear Genie App for hassle-free installation and control of your network.
Overall, the NightGear Nighthawk AC1900 Wi-Fi USB adapter is an excellent option if you’re looking for a performance upgrade on your network.
You can ditch the cables and use this small, compact, sleek adapter which is really simple to install and is quite affordable too.
2. TP-Link | AC1900 High Gain Dual Band Wifi Adapter | (Archer T9UH)
Like the NightGear Nighthawk AC1900 adapter, the Archer T9UH provides combined speeds of up to 1900Mbps on its dual-band WiFi connection.
With the 5GHz band, you get a whopping 1300Mbps suitable for high-speed gaming, streaming, and downloading while the 2.4GHz delivers speeds of up to 600Mbps.
The Archer T9UH USB WiFi adapter uses advanced BeamForming technology that focuses your WiFi signal to connected devices even at further distances.
Coupled with 4 high-gain antennas that provide extended coverage for your network, this adapter is just what you need to boost performance and coverage of your WiFi.
The adapter also features the superspeed USB 3.0 which connects to your PC up to 10 times faster than the older USB 2.0.
With its cable design and portable dock, this USB WiFi adapter adds speed to your wireless connection without adding bulk to your laptop.
It’s fully compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless network standards and works with operating systems such as Windows and Mac.
This unit also has an AC600 model that delivers combined speeds of up to 600Mbps.
Overall, the TP-Link Archer T9UH AC1900 WiFi Network Adapter would be an excellent addition to your laptop or PC if you’re looking for a wireless network boost. It boasts of a sleek design and is even foldable so you can use it just anywhere with your laptop.
3. TRENDnet AC1900 High Power Dual Band Adapter, TEW-809UB
Our number 3 best USB WiFi adapter is the TRENDnet TEW-809UB AC1900 High Power Dual Band Wireless USB Adapter.
This adapter lets you enjoy fast and seamless streaming of your favorite TV shows, movies, videos, games, and even fast downloads.
The adapter lets you achieve speeds up to 1900Mbps on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz dual-band with up to 1300Mbps on the 5GHz and up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz.
The adapter comes with a high-power radio with detachable antennas to increase your WiFi coverage.
It’s also equipped with Beamforming technology that directs strong wireless signals to each one of your device’s specific location. This ensures faster, stable, and more reliable wireless connections.
The unit is also a USB 3.0 type that ensures a faster connection to your PC- it’s 10 times faster than USB 2.0.
Overall, the TRENDNET TEW-809UB AC1900 dual-band USB WiFi adapter is a budget-friendly option if you’re looking to boost your wireless performance without all the messy wires. It works with most types of routers too.
4. ASUS USB-AC68 AC1900 Dual-Band USB 3.0
The ASUS USB-AC68 AC1900 Dual-Band USB 3.0 WiFi Adapter is yet another high-speed USB WiFi adapter that instantly upgrades your laptop or desktop to dual-band AC1900 WiFi, allowing you to enjoy combined data rates of up to 1900Mbps.
Connecting your devices to the 5GHz band will give you a whopping 1300Mbps and up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.
Coupled with its robust 3x4 MIMO antenna design, your laptop or desktop will be perfectly capable of handling bandwidth-intensive tasks like playing games online, streaming video/movies, downloading content, and even transferring large files.
The USB WiFi adapter is also engineered with the ASUS’s AiRadar Beamforming technology which strengthens your wireless connectivity by focusing the wireless signals to the device’s specific location.
With a stronger signal on your laptop or desktop, you’re bound to achieve much faster, more, stable, and highly reliable data speeds.
The adapter also comes with a desktop cradle that makes it super easy to place in a good position to ensure good reception. This is especially beneficial if your device is stationed in a spot with poor wifi signals.
Other notable features include a USB 3.0 interface that allows this adapter to pair nicely with laptops and desktops and even connect to them at blazing fast speeds.
Overall, the ASUS USB-AC68 is a great choice if you’re looking to add wifi to your old desktop or basically upgrade your laptop’s wireless connectivity while extending coverage. The adapter comes at a budget-friendly price, has a sleek design, and its design allows for increased reception and coverage.
5. NET-DYN USB
The NET-DYN USB Wireless WiFi Adapter AC1200 is yet another incredible USB WiFi adapter that boosts your data speeds, extends coverage, and even eliminates those dead zones in your home.
A dual-band WiFi adapter, the Net-DYN offers blazing fast speeds of up to 867Mbs on the less congested 5GHz band for high-speed gaming and smooth video/movie streaming.
The 2.4GHz band offers up to 333Mbps, which is pretty decent, though this is often the more congested band.
Since the 5GHz band is often less congested, you will never experience any lagging or buffering while playing games online or streaming content. Your video calls will also be smooth and seamless- no annoying call drops whatsoever.
The NET-DYN WiFi USB adapter provides wide coverage of up to 100 yards. So whether you’re in the basement, garage, or on the porch, you’ll still be able to surf or stream content at faster speeds than normal.
The adapter also helps to eliminate dead-zones so you’ll never have to suffer low internet speeds ever again.
The adapter also features a USB 3.0 Interface for speedy connections to your laptop or desktop and is also equipped with the latest wireless security protocols such as WEP, WPA, and WPA2 which secure your wireless network, making it impossible for malicious attackers to penetrate.
The adapter does not work with Mac OS Sierra though- it’s only compatible with Windows XP to 10 and Mac 10.7 to 10.8.
The unit is also half as expensive as most adapters in the market, making it an affordable choice if you’re on a strict budget.
6. NETGEAR A6210-100PAS AC1200 USB 3.0
NetGear is one of the most reputable and trusted names in the networking devices industry.
Their A610-100PAS AC1200 USB WiFi adapter is one of the fastest adapters in the market, delivering speeds of up to 867Mbps on the 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.
The adapter uses the fastest 802.11ac wireless technology for faster speeds and is backward compatible with Works with 802.11a/b/g/n and ac devices.
With its high-gain antennas and Beamforming technology, this adapter can transmit the most powerful wireless signals to your devices for a performance and range boost.
You can rely on it for faster and seamless streaming of games and HD movies/videos- simultaneously.
The adapter features a USB 3.0 interface that allows for faster access and is fully compatible with the innovative NetGear Genie App which makes installation extremely easy while letting you easily connect, control, and monitor your home WiFi network.
Like the Net-Dyn USB WiFi adapter, the A6210-100PAS from NetGear is also budget-friendly. Overall, it's an excellent choice for upgrading the WiFi network on your old laptop or desktop.
It increases your speeds for lag-free gaming and HD streaming, not to mention increasing range for optimal performance.
7. TP-Link USB Wifi Dongle 300Mbps
The TP-Link USB Wifi Dongle 300Mbps High Gain Wireless Network Adapter is yet another high-performance USB WiFi adapter that lets you enjoy high-speed home entertainment with up to 300Mbps data transfer rates.
Coupled with the integrated 802.11n wireless network technology which boosts speed and performance, this WiFi adapter is a truly reliable option for video/movie streaming, high-speed gaming, and even video conferencing or calling.
The adapter comes with dual adjustable 3dBi external antennas that deliver better reception and wireless signal transmission performance.
Better signal transmission means stronger and wider coverage, so you can access fast and stable WiFi connection in every single room in your home or apartment.
The TP-Link high-gain Wireless network adapter also boasts of a desktop-style design that allows for better signal reception, not to mention a long USB extension cable which allows for easy and convenient installation.
As far as security is concerned, this adapter features the latest wireless security protocols to secure your wireless network from unauthorized access and even includes a WPS-button for one-touch wireless security encryption.
Compared to most of the adapters we’ve reviewed, the TP-Link USB WiFi dongle is dirt cheap yet it provides a more than average performance.
8. Linksys (WUSB6300) Dual-Band AC1200 Wireless USB 3.0 Adapter
Like NetGear, Linksys is well known for its high-speed routers that are currently some of the best-selling on Amazon right now.
Their dual-band WUSB6300 Wireless USB 3.0 Adapter delivers similar performance by upgrading your old laptop or PC to the high-speed next-generation AC WiFi and multi-used MU-MIMO technology so you can enjoy ultra-fast wireless speeds for smooth HD movie/video streaming, high-speed online gaming, web surfing, and other bandwidth-intensive tasks.
The dual-band adapter upgrades your wireless connection speeds up to 867Mbps on the 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.
For even better performance, this adapter is equipped with Beamforming Technology which focuses WiFi signals to your PC’s or laptop’s specific location.
It basically boosts the performance of your wireless connection for better speeds, increased range, stability, and reliability.
The USB WiFi adapter is fully compatible with all WiFi routers and as a plug-and-play device, it's super easy to set up on your computer.
Overall, it’s a budget-friendly and convenient option for upgrading your old device’s wireless connectivity while allowing you to eliminate all the messy cables crisscrossing in your house.
9. TP-Link TL-WN823N 300Mbps Mini Wireless N USB Adaptor
The TP-Link TL-WN823N 300Mbps Mini Wireless N USB Adapter is yet another USB WiFi adapter that is specifically designed to upgrade your desktop or laptop’s wireless connectivity and allow you to enjoy a speed and range boost.
It provides maximum wireless transmission rates of up to 300Mbps which makes it ideal for HD streaming, high-speed online gaming, and even voice calls.
The adapter supports devices with wireless networks including IEEE 802.11N b/g/n and even allows you to automatically switch between 802.11n or 802.11g or 802.11b modes based on the network available.
For enhanced performance and range, this adapter boasts of an MU-MIMO design that allows it to comfortably handle bandwidth-intensive tasks such as online gaming and HD streaming.
The adapter also features the SoftAP Mode that turns your wired internet connection to a laptop or PC into a WiFi hotspot.
Overall, the TP-Link TL- WN823N is an ideal choice if you’re looking for better speeds, increased range, and a reliable connection.
The adapter is small and compact so you can simply attach it on your computer and leave it there. It’s also really cheap and affordable compared to most models.
10. TP-Link TL-WN821N N300 USB WiFi Network Adapter
With its Mu-Mimo design which includes multiple inputs and multiple output antennas technology, the TL-WN821n allows for faster data transfer rates for bandwidth-intensive tasks like online gaming and streaming.
The adapter also boasts of the CCA Technology which avoids channel conflicts by using its clear channel selection feature and basically utilizing the numerous advantages of channel binding for ultimate wireless performance.
It's fully compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. It also features the latest security features and even includes the easy one-touch wireless security encryption with the Quick Security setup button.
Overall, the TP-Link TL-WN821N is an amazing adapter that does a really great job boosting your wireless performance so you can enjoy uninterrupted entertainment.
11. TP-Link USB Wifi Adapter for PC N150
And last but least, we have yet another TP-Link USB WiFi adapter, the N150 which quickly upgrades your WiFi speeds up to 150Mbps for buffering-free video streaming and lag-free video games.
With such speeds, you won’t even experience annoying video call drops.
The TP-Link N150 provides fast connections with a wider coverage on the 2.4GHz band, making it an excellent performance booster for whole-house wifi coverage.
Its nano-sized design allows you to plug and leave it on your laptop or desktop for as long as you want. And thanks to its small size and great portability, you can take it with you anywhere in the house.
Like most wireless USB adapters, the N150 also features enhanced security features by supporting the strongest wireless security protocols to prevent unauthorized individuals from hacking into your network.
It's fully compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
This adapter also happens to be dirt cheap. It's amazing how such an adapter can boost your existing network performance without having to spend so much money.
1. Do USB Wireless Adapters Work Well?
These adapters are your best bet when it comes to upgrading the wifi performance of your laptop or old desktop.
All you have to do is select the right one and you’re good to go. Either one of the above 11 USB WiFi adapters will do the magic.
2. Is a USB WiFi Adapter Better than Internal?
The performance of a USB WiFi adapter is not really different from that of the internal WiFi chipset in your computer.
However, you need to understand that a USB adapter’s performance really depends on integrated technology.
For example, if you purchase an adapter with the old b/g wireless technology for use with a laptop with an n internal WiFi card, it would help your wireless performance one bit especially since the b/g technologies are quite old and don’t offer any kind of performance boost.
However, using a wireless-n adapter on a computer with the same will definitely give your WiFi performance a significant boost.
3. What is the Best USB WiFi Adapter for Windows?
All the above USB WiFi adapters work great with Windows computers. However, the best adapter for Windows is definitely the TRENDnet AC1900 High Power Dual Band Wireless USB Adapter, TEW-809UB.
It’s a dual-band USB WiFi adapter that delivers up to 1300Mbps on the less congested 5GHz, making it extremely suitable for HD streaming and high-speed gaming.
4. How Do I Setup a USB WiFi Adapter?
Setting up a USB WiFi adapter is quite easy and hassle-free.
In most cases, USB WiFi adapters are plug-and-play especially in Windows 10.
This is because Windows comes with minimal drivers so attaching some devices is often automatic and eliminates the need to download the drivers online.
If Windows already has a driver for the adapter, you'll be able to use it almost immediately. In the wireless network list on your computer, you will see the new network already listed. Simply connect to the network and that’s it.
If Windows lacks a driver for the adapter, you can simply download the required drivers on your computer or just use the included Original Driver CD that the adapter came with. Install the disk and follow the installation procedure.
You’ll not be able to enjoy your wireless network upgrade after hassle-free installation.
Not all USB WiFi adapters are created alike. Some get the job done and there are those that don’t.
Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up the best of the best. Take your pick and start enjoying fast and uninterrupted entertainment from your home WiFi network.