The Pros And Cons Of Pci E Wireless Network Adapters Vs Usb Wireless Solutions

You have two choices if you want to add wireless networking to your computer: a PCI-e network adapter or a USB wireless solution. USB wireless adapters are cheap, small, and easy to carry around, but does that make them better? Let’s compare PCI-e Wi-Fi cards to USB adapters and talk about their pros and cons.

More power, less flexibility: PCI-e wireless adapters

As you might expect, a PCI-e Wi-Fi network adapter plugs into your computer’s PCI-e (PCI Express) port. If you’re building your own PC, it should be pretty easy to take apart the case and find this port on the motherboard.

Still, not everyone is comfortable doing this kind of work on their computer. It’s not hard, but it can be a little scary to open up your PC and work with parts that are sensitive to static electricity.

The PCI-e wireless adapter will give you more networking power once you’ve set it up. Most of the time, they have at least two antennas, each of which will help you get a better Wi-Fi signal. Some of them, like the Rosewill RNX-AC1900PCE, have three antennas, which makes high-speed communication even more likely.

Multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) spatial multiplexing works well with wireless cards that have more than one antenna. which is a lot to say and not easy to understand.

You should know that it can lead to a stronger signal and faster Wi-Fi transmission. (Though it doesn’t always work either.) Also, USB Wi-Fi solutions aren’t as common as they used to be with USB Wi-Fi cards.

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So it’s likely that a PCI-e wireless adapter will have better reception. Why wouldn’t that be the best choice all the time?

First of all, it’s hard to move to another PC once it’s installed on your motherboard. You have to take both cases apart, being careful not to get static electricity, and move it.

Some people also think that putting the antennas between the back of your computer case and the wall (where the back of your case is usually) can make it hard for the adapter to work. Even though the antennas are stronger, putting metal between them and the Wi-Fi signal source can hurt performance.

And it’s not a big deal, but some people don’t like how antennas on the back of their computer look.

USB wireless adapters use less power to make things easier.

A USB Wi-Fi network adapter is about as simple as it gets: you just plug it into a USB port on your computer to connect your device to a Wi-Fi network. (Well, you might need to download some drivers and other things first, but you get the idea.)

And that is the biggest reason to use a USB Wi-Fi adapter. It’s very easy to use, and you can’t really mess up the installation. It only takes a few seconds to move it to a new computer. The adapter doesn’t take up much space, and you can use it on either a desktop or a laptop. A PCI-e card, on the other hand, will almost certainly only work on a desktop.

Unfortunately, having a small size isn’t always a good thing. Most USB wireless adapters don’t have antennas on the outside, which makes them less powerful. They probably won’t work as well as PCI-e cards, and many people say that USB adapters also have slower speeds.

Some USB Wi-Fi adapters, like the TP-Link AC600 USB WiFi Adapter, do come with a single external antenna. Even though this isn’t as much as the triple-antennaed PCI-e cards, it can help your USB adapter pick up more signals. Some have antennas that you can move to a better spot for Wi-Fi reception because they are wired to a remote.

The best way to use a USB adapter is when there is a clear path from the adapter to the wireless router. (That’s the best case for any wireless adapter, but especially for USB.)

Still, some people find that USB wireless adapters give them very good speeds. It probably depends on how good the adapter is and how far away the computer and router are. If you buy a high-quality adapter that can send 802.11n, 802.11ac, or 802.11x signals and have a clear line of sight between the adapter and the router, you may get very good Wi-Fi speeds.

One thing to keep in mind is that USB ports used to be limited by how much data they could handle. But with USB 3.0, which is almost everywhere now, that’s no longer a problem. Check out the best USB Wi-Fi adapters if you want specific suggestions.

PCI-e Wi-Fi Adapter vs. USB Wi-Fi Adapters: Which Is Best?

Now that you know some of the pros and cons, you can decide which wireless solution will work best for you.

If you’re using a desktop, you don’t plan to move the wireless card to other computers, and you can position the antennas well (so that the Wi-Fi signal doesn’t have to go through the computer case), a PCI-e card will probably give you better performance.

But there are some good things about a USB wireless adapter. It’s small, easy to install, and easy to move between computers. With the right settings, it can get very good speeds. And since your router is probably not in the best place for maximum speed, you may be able to move things around to get better results.

How to Decide on a Wireless Network Adapter

If you have chosen one format or the other, you may be wondering which one to buy. There are a lot of different brands, models, and prices, but there are a few rules to follow.

Both types of adapters should be able to work on two different bands. If you want the best reception, you should be able to choose between 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz transmission standards. Even though 2.4 GHz is slower, it is stronger and more likely to get through walls and other obstacles.

PCI-e adapters almost always have two bands, but not all USB adapters do. The TP-Link N300, for example, can handle 802.11n and is very cheap, but it only has one band. Usually, the word “dual-band” will be in the title in a big way.

If you do decide to use a network card, you will get more power from three antennas than from two. For example, TP-AC1900 Link’s has three antennas and can do 1,300 Mbps over 5.0 GHz Wi-Fi, which is probably faster than your internet connection.

Your best bet is to look for a wireless solution from a reputable company that works with the wireless standard of your router. This is more important than dual-band capability and more antennas. For example, if you have an AC router, a wireless network adapter that works with AC will give you better speeds.