The 7 Best Laptop Computer GPS

Turn your laptop computer into a GPS navigator

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Dedicated GPS systems can be nice, but transforming your laptop into a GPS platform has a ton of advantages. For one, it means your GPS device isn't anchored, so you can take it with you anywhere you need directions or positional data. That means it's as useful on camping trips as road trips, and can help you find your way virtually anywhere. Plus, the best laptop computer GPS add-ons are often much less expensive than a dedicated GPS system, so you can save a few bucks in the bargain as well.

For a great machine to hook one of these devices up to, our best laptops roundup collects some of the greatest portable PCs on the market, or read on for the best laptop computer GPS systems.

Best Overall: Garmin 18x USB GPS Navigator

Garmin 18x USB GPS Navigator


Garmin is a brand name in GPS navigation and this USB device warrants the esteemed reputation. This small puck is a WAAS Enabled Sensitivity GPS receiver that is manufactured for use in personal automobiles, fleet vehicles and electronics applications where a GPS receiver is necessary. It has 12 parallel channels and an integrated magnetic base, outputting data in an industry standard NMEA 0183 format. It is a low latency unit, meaning it is ideal for vehicle applications that need to be refreshed on the move. Industry-standard 10-foot accuracy also ensures that you will not be far off base when using this device, which works with most industry software.

Best Rugged: Stratux Vk-162 Remote Mount USB GPS

Stratux Vk-162 Remote Mount USB GPS


With a start time of 32 seconds to get signal acquisition, the Stratux Vk-162 remote mount USB GPS hardware is an affordable option for laptop owners. The attached seven-foot cord, included, works well with the removable magnetic hardware base that attaches safely to any magnetic surface. The cord adds extra function as the Stratux can easily be moved around a room to find the best signal. Water and dustproof, the receiver has an IPX6 rating for protection against outdoor elements. Safe for outside work, the Stratux adds the capability of working with a multitude of open-source software and is compatible with all current versions of Windows computers. It's ready to sync with OpenCPN and Google’s suite of GPS-ready software.

Best Magnetized: GlobalSat USB GPS Receiver

GlobalSat USB GPS Receiver

Courtesy of Amazon

This GPS patch antenna has been serving drivers and laptop owners for years. The compact device is powered by a highly sensitive chipset that can provide superior performance whether you are in the city or out in the country. Just plug the USB into your Windows PC or Mac and harness the power of SiRF Client Generated Extended Ephemeris (CGEE) technology, which can predict satellite location up to three days in advance and automatically updates every 15 seconds. The device is built with a magnet that can stick to the top of your car and it can withstand both freezing and extraordinarily hot temperatures, so you don’t have to worry about elemental exposure.

Best Sensitivity: GlobalSat USB GPS Receiver

GlobalSat USB GPS Receiver

Courtesy of Amazon

Take GPS with you in this compact micro usb with built-in LNA and built-in GPS antenna. About the size of a small thumb drive, this laptop GPS device supports industry standard NMEA 0183 and SBAS. It is compatible with Mac, Windows and Android operating systems and is compliant with all NMEA navigation software, letting you pick the best app or program to create your ideal GPS solution.

The high sensitivity MediaTek GPS chipset has an extremely fast time to first fix, even at low signal level, which makes it ideal in remote areas. A handy GPS LED tells you whether the device is operating, which is also useful in spotty reception.

Best for Searches: VFAN USB GPS Receiver



Powered by a Ublox 7 chipset, the VFAN USB GPS receiver is a good choice for laptop owners looking to initiate location-based searches. Designed to work with Windows computers, activating the GPS signal requires the download of UBlox’s UCenter software that initializes the 56-channel VFAN receiver to acquire and continuously reacquire GPS signals. Rated IPX4 for water-resistance, the VFAN’s durability against the elements extends to its 6.5-foot cable that incorporates the same IPX4 rating. The magnetic base helps the VFAN attach to magnetic surfaces, keeping it firmly in place to establish and hold a GPS signal while connecting to software such as OpenCPN, Google Earth Pro and Google Maps. Beyond laptops, the VFAN doubles as an ideal GPS receiver for cars and marine navigation, thanks to the attached USB connectivity.

Best Start Time: VANWEI VK-162 USB GPS



This inexpensive USB GPS solution pairs an industry-standard, highly sensitivity GPS Antenna with KDS .5PPM high-precision TCXO. The RTC chip and pF capacitor are designed for faster start times even in low signal areas, while a 1-5 Hz position update rate is ideal for map making and car navigation. The device stores the latest satellite information while it receives WAAS/EGNOS signals without software. With compatible applications such as Google Maps you can use NWEA0183 data, making this a versatile and inexpensive solution for fleet vehicles.

Best Portable: Geekstory VK-162 USB GPS

Geekstory VK-162 USB GPS


This GPS can pick up a satellite signal in a flash with precise accuracy (it has a hot start time of only one second). Particularly good for travelers, this device is compact, portable and works anywhere in the world without having to pay for any kind of GPS service. And while it’s one of the more affordable USB GPS options out there, it’s also more limited in its compatibility — Android and iOS users will have to look elsewhere as this device only works with Windows and Linux systems. This GPS has 50 tracking channels with a tracking sensitivity of -160dBm and comes with a two-meter-long USB cable for easy setup with your laptop.

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