The 10 Best USB Wi-Fi Adapters of 2020

Get Wi-Fi connectivity easily with these wireless adapters

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The Rundown

Best Overall: NET-DYN AC1200 at Amazon

"Provides a fast and secure connection over the WPA/WPA2 protocols to encrypt your personal information."

Best for Gaming: Asus USB-AC68 AC1900 at Amazon

"Easily foldable external antennas give this adapter great performance and range without sacrificing portability."

Best Design: D-Link DWA-192 AC1900 at Amazon

"This little orb isn't exactly portable but it provides great Wi-Fi range and manages to look cool while doing it."

Best with Antenna: EDUP-1635 at Amazon

"The EDUP-1365 has a one-key encryption function to protect your personal information while you use the internet."

Best for Travel: Netgear Nighthawk A7000 at Amazon

"If you take online gaming seriously, you need to get the Netgear Nighthawk A7000 Wi-Fi adapter."

Best for Desktop PC and Mac: Wise Tiger GXIVR8020A5 at Amazon

"Lets you create a Wi-Fi hotspot for your mobile devices."

Best for Linux/Kali: BrosTrend AC3L at Amazon

"Specifically designed to work with non-traditional operating systems."

Best for TV: Velidy FV-N700 at Amazon

"Features plug-and-play functionality, eliminating the need to download complicated setup or configuration software."

Best for Laptop: Glam Hobby Ourlink at Amazon

"The ultra-compact design is great for both storage and travel."

Best Budget: TP-Link TL-WN725N at Amazon

"With a price point that will fit all but the strictest of budgets, this Wi-Fi adapter still delivers a fast, reliable connection."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: NET-DYN AC1200

What We Like

  • 100-yard range

  • Plug-and-play functionality

  • Lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't work with macOS Sierra

Whether you're building a custom desktop or using an off-the-shelf computer, you don't need a fancy and expensive Wi-Fi card to get a fast, reliable connection. The NET-DYN AC1200 utilizes a USB 3.0 connection to give you up to 856 Mbps data transfer speeds so you can stream movies or play games online without worrying about a sluggish connection. This USB Wi-Fi adapter has a 100-yard range so you can use it just about anywhere in your home: your porch, your basement, your attic, or even your backyard.

With this adapter, you don't need to download specialized programs to get it to work; simply plug it into a USB port and start using your favorite sites almost immediately. The AC1200 provides a fast and secure connection over the WPA/WPA2 protocols to encrypt your personal information. This adapter is also backed by a lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing defects and dead units.

Best for Gaming: Asus USB-AC68 AC1900

What We Like

  • Excellent range and speed

  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi with Beamforming

  • Cradle allows for optimal placement

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive

Good network performance requires good antennas, and this seems to be the philosophy behind the Asus USB-AC68 AC1900 network adapter, which sports a pair of big red three-position external antennas that make it look like something that should be orbiting the earth rather than sitting on your desk. However, combined with a pair of internal antennas and a 3x4 MIMO design, this lets it achieve blazing fast 802.11ac speeds at an extended range or even 802.11n speeds 

Asus also provides a matching USB 3.0 cradle that you can plug into your PC or Mac to place the USB-AC68 at an appropriate distance from your computer to get the best signal and avoid any potential interference. However the adapter itself folds down into the size of a USB stick, so it’s still portable enough to take on the road with you.

With support for 5 GHz speeds of up to 1,300 Mbps, this adapter also naturally supports USB 3.0, and it actually delivers on this kind of speed thanks to the antenna configuration and other advanced technology that it packs in, and its low latency also makes it one of the best choices for gaming.

Best Design: D-Link DWA-192 AC1900

What We Like

  • Unique design

  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi with Beamforming

  • Great range

What We Don't Like

  • Not portable

  • Expensive

  • No support for Mac or Linux

While most USB network adapters simply hang off of a USB port, D-Link’s DWA-192 AC1900 USB network adapter doesn’t hesitate to stand out from the crowd with one of the most unique designs we’ve seen — it’s an orb about the size of a baseball that’s designed to sit on your desk, connecting to your PC via a proprietary USB cable. 

There’s a method to D-Link’s madness here, however, and that’s to get the wireless radios away from the interference that gets generated by the average PC, which offers more reliable connections and longer range. It’s not a problem that will impact every PC, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. On the other hand, the size of this thing means it’s probably not something you’ll want to carry around with your laptop, so it’s really for desktop setups only. 

In terms of the performance, this one checks off all of the usual boxes, offering dual-band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz support with up to 600 Mbps and 1,300 Mbps on each of the two bands, and performs noticeably better than most smaller adapters at distances of up to 30 feet thanks to the standalone unit and beamforming technology. 

Best with Antenna: EDUP-1635

What We Like

  • Dual band compatible

  • Easy to set up

  • Great warranty

What We Don't Like

  • Does not work with Linux based computers

When choosing a wireless adapter, a model with an antenna is one way to go. The EDUP-1635 adapter utilizes a USB 2.0 port and your router's dual-band Wi-Fi connection to deliver up to 600 Mbps so you can surf the web, play games, or stream video at blazing speeds. It has a wireless 802.11ac connection that is three times faster than previous products. 

The antenna has 360 degrees of rotation and 90 degrees of angle to help you get the best signal reception no matter where your desktop or laptop is in the house. The EDUP-1365 has a one-key encryption function to protect your personal information while you use the internet. The adapter is quick and easy to set up with the included CD or downloaded drivers so you can start surfing the web almost immediately. This Wi-Fi USB adapter is backed by a refund or replacement warranty that covers manufacturing defects and dead units.

Best for Travel: Netgear Nighthawk A7000

What We Like

  • Fast speeds

  • One-click encryption

  • Plug-and-play installation

What We Don't Like

  • Latency issues

If you take online gaming seriously, you need to get the Netgear Nighthawk A7000 AC1900 Wi-Fi adapter. This USB Wi-Fi adapter is dual-band compatible and gives you data transfer speeds up to 1300 Mbps when using a 5 GHz band; if you're using a 2.4 GHz band, you can still get speeds up to 600 Mbps. You can plug this adapter into either a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port, so it works with both current-gen and older laptops and desktops. 

Setting up your Wi-Fi connection is easy thanks to its plug-and-play installation and built-in configuration tools. The adapter features a WPS button for one-click encryption to protect your personal information. The Nighthawk A7000 also includes a magnetic cradle to give you more mounting and placement options, and it uses beamforming to give you the most reliable signal no matter where you are in your home. The sleek, foldable design is great for preventing damage while traveling or moving your computer around the home.

Best for Desktop PC and Mac: Wise Tiger GXIVR8020A5

What We Like

  • Low cost

  • Good warranty

  • Can create Wi-Fi hotspot

What We Don't Like

  • Installation issues with 64-bit Windows 10

If you're looking to install or upgrade your desktop PC or Mac's Wi-Fi adapter, check out the Wise Tiger GXIVR8020A5. This adapter uses a wireless 802.11ac connection, which is three times faster than wireless-N, to help you get more work done in less time. It also utilizes dual-band Wi-Fi connections to give you data transfer speeds over 400 Mbps when connected to a 5 GHz band. 

The external antenna ensures a consistent and reliable internet connection whether your desktop is in the same room as your router or on a different floor of your house or office building. Setup is quick and easy. Drivers are downloadable and installation is plug-and-play. This adapter also features a soft AP mode that allows you to create a Wi-Fi hotspot for mobile devices so you can use your smartphone without eating up your cellular data. This adapter is backed by a two-year warranty and 24/7 tech support.

Best for Linux/Kali: BrosTrend AC3L

What We Like

  • Designed specifically for Linux and Kali operating systems

  • Dedicated Linux tech support

  • Gold-plated connection pins

What We Don't Like

  • Reports of Ubuntu driver issues

If you run an unconventional, open-source OS on your desktop or laptop, it's difficult to find peripherals that are compatible with your system. Luckily, the BrosTrend AC3L Wi-Fi adapter is here to help. This Wi-Fi adapter is specifically designed to work with non-traditional operating systems, including Linux, Debian 9, Mint, Rasbian, Raspberry Pi, and Kali. 

This adapter includes dedicated Linux technical support to help you troubleshoot connection or hardware issues or replace defective units. The AC3L is compatible with dual-band wireless routers and gives you speeds up to 867 Mbps over a 5 GHz band. It uses a USB 3.0 port and has gold-plated connection pins for long-lasting durability and a reliable connection. The dual antennas are adjustable and feature copper construction to give you the best signal reception no matter where you are in your home or office.

Best for TV: Velidy FV-N700

What We Like

  • Fast speeds

  • Easy setup

  • Affordable pricing

What We Don't Like

  • Only works with Samsung TVs

  • May not work with newer models

For smart TVs that need a Wi-Fi connection boost, the Velidy FV-N700 adapter might be able to help. This adapter is designed specifically for Samsung smart TVs to provide a steady and strong connection to your wireless router so you can download apps and stream movies or music without connectivity interruptions. The FV-N700 is compatible with dual-band routers and can deliver speeds up to 130 Mbps over a 2.4 GHz band or up to 300 Mbps with a 5 GHz channel

The adapter features plug-and-play functionality, eliminating the need to download complicated setup or configuration software. You don't even need a laptop for installation. Its 802.11ac wireless connection is backward compatible with wireless a/b/g/n router configurations. Not only is this Wi-Fi adapter great for using with Samsung smart TVs, but you can also use it with Samsung Blu-Ray players to download firmware updates and streaming apps.

Best for Laptop: Glam Hobby Ourlink

What We Like

  • WPA encryption

  • Compact

  • Windows, Mac, and Linux compatible

What We Don't Like

  • Linux setup is difficult

The Glam Hobby Ourlink Wi-Fi adapter is the perfect choice for new laptops. The ultra-compact design is great for both storage and travel; its low profile prevents damage to the adapter and USB port during travel and doesn't block other connection ports on your laptop. This adapter is compatible with Windows-, Mac-, and Linux-based laptops. Setup is plug-and-play.

The Ourlink has a soft AP function to create a Wi-Fi hotspot so you can use your mobile devices without draining your cellular data. It also harbors WPA encryption technology to protect your information while you use public or unsecured wireless networks. This adapter works with most dual-band wireless routers and gives you speeds up to 150 Mbps over a 2.4 GHz band or up to 433 Mbps over a 5 GHz channel. You can easily switch between bands to handle different workloads or for better media streaming.

Good to Know

While small adapters are great for portability—some are so small you can even leave them plugged into your laptop all the time—there's always a big tradeoff between size and Wi-Fi performance, so if you're looking for an adapter that will work in busy areas like airports and convention centers, it's always better to get one with external antennas.

Best Budget: TP-Link TL-WN725N

What We Like

  • WEP and WPA security

  • Windows/Mac/Linux compatible

  • Soft AP mode

What We Don't Like

  • Not dual band

If you're looking to upgrade your computer's wireless connection but don't want to break the bank, check out the TP-Link TL-WN725N adapter. With a price point that will fit all but the strictest of budgets, this Wi-Fi adapter still delivers a fast, reliable connection. It uses a 2.4 GHz band to give you speeds up to 150 Mbps so you can surf the web, stream movies and TV shows, or upload photos without concern for bandwidth. 

Like the Ourlink, this adapter has an ultra-compact design that sits almost flush with your USB port, staying out of the way and keeping other connection ports free to use. It uses both WEP and WPA functions to protect your privacy over public and unsecured wireless networks. This adapter is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux Kernel computers and features plug-and-play functionality. You can also utilize the soft AP function to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot whenever you need it.

What to Look for in a Wi-FI USB Adapter

Size - Wi-Fi USB adapters vary in size, with some as small as a Lego block and others as large as a full-fledged router with antennas. If you’re looking for something more portable, the smaller ones work well, but bigger ones often come equipped with neat features like beamforming technology for diverting interference.

Speed - There’s nothing more frustrating than a buffering stream, so make sure you get an adapter with speeds fast enough for your needs. While 300 Mbps should be enough for most tasks, some provide up to 1300 Mbps.

Range - Depending on where your router sits, you might have trouble connecting. Splurging on an adapter with a longer range will come in handy if it’s far away. Some of the best options will score you up to 100 yards of range.