The 8 Best Wi-Fi USB Adapters of 2019

Get Wi-Fi connectivity easily with these wireless adapters

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Wireless USB Wi-Fi adapters should be compact and cover a wide area. We researched top options from TP-Link, Velidy, and more to help you stay connected.

Person plugging in a Wi-Fi adapter
Lifewire / Jie En Lee

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: NET-DYN AC1200

What We Like
  • 100 yard range

  • Plug and play utility

  • Lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't work with Mac OS Sierra

  • Reports of spotty signal

  • Reports of DOA units

Whether you're building a custom desktop or using an off-the-shelf computer, you don't need a fancy and expensive WiFi card to get a fast, reliable connection. The NET-DYN AC1200 utilizes a USB 3.0 connection to give you up to 856Mbit/s data transfer speeds so you can stream movies and music or play games online without worrying about a sluggish connection. This USB WiFi adapter has a 100 yard range so you can use it just about anywhere in your home: your porch, basement, 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. Not only does the AC1200 give you a fast WiFi connection, it gives you a secure one as well. It uses a WPA/WPA2 connection type to encrypt your personal information. This adapter is also backed by a lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing defects and dead units.

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

  • Reports of DOA units

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 WiFi connection to deliver up to 600Mbps so you can surf the web, play games, or stream video at blazing speeds. It has a wireless AC 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 WiFi USB adapter is backed by a refund or replace warranty that covers manufacturing defects and dead units.

Best for Gaming: Netgear Nighthawk AC190

What We Like
  • Fast speeds

  • One-click encryption

  • Plug-and-play installation

What We Don't Like
  • Reports of latency issues

  • Reports of failing units

  • Reports of driver issues

If you take online gaming seriously, you need to get the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 WiFi adapter. This USB WiFi adapter is dual band compatible and gives you data transfer speeds up to 1300Mbps when using a 5Ghz band; if you're using a 2.4Ghz band, you can still get speeds up to 600Mbps. 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 WiFi connection is easy with the plug-and-play installation process and built-in configuration tools. The adapter features a WPS button for one-click encryption to protect your personal information. The Nighthawk AC1900 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 travelling or moving your computer around the home.

Looking for more options? Take a peek at our roundup of the best wireless adapters for gaming on the market.

Best for Desktop PC and Mac: Wise Tiger GXIVR8020A5

What We Like
  • Budget friendly

  • Good warranty

  • Can create WiFi hotspot

What We Don't Like
  • Installation issues with Windows 10 64-bit OS

  • Reports of signal drops

  • Reports of failing units

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

The external antenna ensures a consistent and reliable internet connection no matter if your desktop is in the same room as your router or on a different floor of your house or office building. Set-up is quick and easy with the downloadable drivers and plug-and-play function. This adapter also features a soft AP mode that allows you to create a WiFi hotspot for mobile devices so you can multitask with ease or use your smartphone without eating up your cellular data. This adapter is backed by a two year warranty and 24/7 tech support.

Check out our list of the best desktop PCs of 2019.

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

  • Reports of DOA units

  • Reports of Raspberry Pi 3+ driver issues

If you run a Linux or Kali based desktop or laptop, it can be difficult to find peripherals that are compatible with your operating system. Luckily, the BrosTrend AC3L WiFi adapter is here to help. This WiFi 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 867Mbps over a 5GHz 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

  • Plug-and-play

  • Budget friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Only works with Samsung TVs

  • May not work with newer models

  • Reports of DOA units

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

The adapter features plug-and-play functionality, eliminating the need to download complicated set up or configuration software or to use a laptop for installation. It uses an AN wireless connection that is backwards compatible with wireless a/b/g/n router configurations. Not only is this WiFi adapter great for using with Samsung smartTVs, you can also use it with Samsung Blu-Ray players to download firmware updates and streaming apps.

Can't find what you're looking for? Read our guide to choosing the best Wi-Fi channels for your network for more options.

Best for Laptop: Glam Hobby OURLINK

What We Like
  • WPA encryption

  • Compact

  • Windows, Mac, and Linux compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Linux set up is difficult

  • Reports of dropped signals

  • Reports of driver issues with Windows 10 64-bit OS

The Glam Hobby OURLINK WiFi adapter is the perfect choice to use with laptops. The ultra compact design is great for both storage and travel; the 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 even Linux based laptops and features plug-and-play functionality for easy set up and installation. 

The OURLINK has a soft AP function to create a WiFi hotspot so you can use your mobile devices without draining your cellular data. It also uses 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 150Mbps over a 2.4GHz band or up to 433Mbps over a 5GHz channel. You can easily switch between bands to handle different workloads or for better media streaming.

Best Under $10: 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

  • Reports of speed throttling

  • Reports of failing units

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 WiFi adapter still delivers a fast, reliable connection. It uses a 2.4GHz band to give you speeds up to 150Mbps so you can surf the web, stream movies and TV shows, or upload photos without worrying about bandwidth. 

Like the OURLINK, this adapter has an ultra compact design that sits almost flush with your USB port to stay out of the way and keep 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 WiFi hotspot whenever you need it.

Want to explore other WiFi adapters? See our roundup of the best powerline network adapters on the market.

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Our Process

Our writers spent 42 hours researching and testing the most popular Wi-Fi USB adapters on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 8 different Wii-Fi USB adapters overall, screened options from 8 different brands and manufacturers, and read over 1000 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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 300Mbps should be enough for most tasks, some provide up to 1300Mbps.

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.

Test Results: Net-Dyn AC1200 USB Wireless Wi-Fi Adapter (Best Overall)

What We Like
  • Improved Wi-Fi connection

  • Great range

  • Reliable

What We Don't Like
  • Complex setup

  • Bulky adapter

Although one of our testers felt that setting up this adapter was a bit challenging, he found that it worked very well once it was up and running: “I was mostly using it at the furthest location from my router in my house and it worked perfectly,” he said. One tester even measured his wireless Internet speed before and after use and found it increased by approximately 15 percent.