Back in 2006, only 57 percent of UK households had access to the internet. As of 2020, that number had reached 96%! With political parties moving to ensure that every household has internet access, we could be looking at 100% within the next few years.
But having internet access isn’t always the problem. Poor internet speeds and weak connections can mean that moving to another room in your home involves sacrificing the ability to make Zoom calls or stream movies.
One solution is a wireless WiFi dongle for PC. These devices plug directly into a USB port and can allow internet access in those WiFi blackspots.
How does a USB WiFi adapter work? What benefits does a WiFi dongle offer? What are the best available models on the market? To discover the answers to all your WiFi dongle questions, keep on reading!
What is a Wireless WiFi Dongle for PC?
Connecting to the internet is something many take for granted. Having a solid WiFi connection wherever you go isn’t an option for everybody. Some people struggle to watch a YouTube video in their own homes without constant buffering.
Some common WiFi obstacles include:
- Physical obstacles interfering with the connection
- Malfunctioning hardware or software on the PC
- Outdated hardware or software on the PC
- Lack of a wireless network adapter
When it comes to laptops, mobile phones, or any other handheld device, wireless network adapters come as standard. But older, longer-lasting devices (such as PCs) can come without one. Wired connections have their advantages, but they can also be problematic.
When choosing a WiFi dongle, there are many factors to consider, including:
- WPS Support
- Additional Features
But with such a range of dongles to choose from, which wireless WiFi dongle for PC is the best choice?
TP-Link Archer T9UH
At first glance, the TP-Link Archer T9UH resembles a thin, futuristic phone. The device is 10cm tall and 3.6cm wide, making it medium size in comparison to other options. A hinge allows you to open or close the device to improve connectivity.
You can plug this adapter directly into your PC, but it also comes with a USB 3.0 cradle. This 3ft cable allows you to position the device in a better location to ensure maximum WiFi connectivity. And due to the USB 3.0 connection, you can expect speeds 10x faster than with USB 2.0.
The dual-band antennas offer 802.11ac AC1900 support with two internet connections: 600mbps via 2.4GHz and 1300mbps via 5GHz. These high speeds make the device perfect for gaming, HD streaming, and sharing large files.
The device’s beamforming technology helps focus the wireless signal, allowing for a more direct, faster, and reliable connection. Not to mention that the WPS button allows for a hassle-free setup.
This WiFi USB for PC comes with a three-year warranty as standard.
Average Price: £49.99
If you’re looking for a basic connection at a low price, the Sandberg Micro is a great option. This device is perfect for any PC that doesn’t come with a wireless network adapter.
As the name implies, the Micro is a tiny device that you’ll barely notice sticking out of a USB port. There’s no antenna sticking out or cables to trip over. It supports USB 2.0, making it suitable for older PC models.
This device uses an 802.11 wireless type with a frequency band between 2.4 and 2.4835GHz. It offers speeds up to 150mbps and has a maximum range of 200m indoors.
The Micro comes with a five-year warranty as standard. Although this device is pretty basic, its price is the major selling point.
Average Price: £8.08
When it comes to size and capabilities, this Trendnet device is the opposite of the Sandberg Micro. The dimensions are listed in inches as 3.4 x 2.8 x 0.8 but when you include the antenna, it’s closer to 7 x 3 x 9. It weighs around 318g (0.7lbs).
There’s no denying that this is a full-size USB WiFi adapter, so what features does it offer?
Well, the four adjustable and detachable antennas offer 5dBi each! This allows a signal range of up to 500m! You won’t have a problem connecting to your wireless router with this device.
The dual-band AC1900 connection allows speeds of 600mbps via 2.4GHz and 1300mbps via 5GHz. At its most basic level, this device is great for HD video, browsing the internet, and webchat. But its more advanced features make gaming and HD movie streaming easy!
The device is compatible with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. As well as Mac OS 10.6-10.13. It comes with a quick and simple set-up guide to ensure you’re connected within minutes.
Average price: £125.00
Foktech Wi-Fi Dongle
This wireless WiFi dongle for PC and Mac is supported by Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and 2000. As well as Mac OX X 10.6-10.15.
It’s slightly larger than the Sandberg Micro, but not by much. Once plugged into your USB port, it only sticks out by 1.9cm (0.75 inches).
This device offers basic WiFi connectivity at a low price! It supports 802.11AC and thanks to its dual-band feature, you can use 2.4GHz or 5GHz. These offer maximum speeds of 150mbps and 433mbps respectively.
Although it’s not the fastest or most powerful device, it does the trick. Set-up is also simple, as the device comes with a mini-CD for driver installation. But there is also a download option for devices lacking an optical disk drive.
Average price: £11.99
The Netgear Nighthawk resembles the design of the TP-Link Archer T9UH. It looks like a small, thin, futuristic flip phone. This device also comes with the option of using a cabled (and magnetic) cradle to improve the device’s connection.
This product feels a little flimsy, especially when plugged directly into the USB port. This makes using the cradle more of a necessity. Being USB 3.0 compatible means it connects to your computer 10x faster than USB 2.0.
But the functionality of this device, given its size, is astounding. The dual-band AC1900 connection means you can get a lag-free connection for HD streaming and gaming. Up to 600mbps on 2.4GHz and 1300 on 5GHz.
The Netgear Nighthawk also comes with access to Netgear Genie, which allows you to install the device with ease. You can then monitor, connect, and control your home network via the app.
This device also comes with beamforming, for faster and more reliable WiFi connections. As well as a WPS button for hassle-free connectivity.
Average Price: £59.99
It’s safe to say that the ASUS USB-AC68 has one of the most unique designs of a WiFi USB for PC. Its adjustable, red-coloured antennas resemble something from Star Wars or Star Trek. It comes with a cradle for improved WiFi connectivity.
Similarly to many of the other devices, it comes with AC1900 dual-band wireless. It’s capable of top speeds of 600mbps via 2.4HGz and 1300mbps via 5GHz. And thanks to USB 3.0 compatibility, the device connects to your computer quickly.
The ASUS USB-AC68 also comes with ASUS AiRadar beamforming for stronger, faster, and more reliable WiFi connections.
The device weighs around 300g and its size is 10 x 3 x 2 cm, depending on how you adjust the antennas.
Average price: £59.99
The last wireless WiFi Dongle for PC that we’re going to look at is the Edimax EW-7833UAC. This device is less reliable than the other devices on this list, but it does have its advantages.
For starters, set-up is incredibly easy as this device is designed for Windows. Windows 10 (for example) will handle the entire installation process. Meaning all you need to do is plug it in and wait.
The compact size benefits from a small, deployable arm that holds the three antennas. This means the improved connectivity doesn’t require a bulky device.
With AC1750 speeds, you can expect up to 450mbps via 2.4GHz and 1300mbps via 5GHz. With beamforming technology, you get the same reliability and connection strengths as other models. However, the range for this device isn’t fantastic, and it performs much better at short distances.
This device is perfect for home use if your current PC doesn’t have a functional wireless network adapter. HD streaming and gaming are certainly a possibility, but the connection will become less stable as the distance from the WiFi router increases.
Of all the devices on this list, the Edimax EW-7833UAC is the one we recommend the least. It can be a good device, but it can also be unreliable.
Got More Tech Questions?
When buying a wireless WiFi dongle for PC, it’s important to explore your options. Consider the speed, size, price, and reliability of any device, and think about how well it will meet your needs. A cheap, slower option may suit someone better than a larger, faster design.
If you have any questions or need some technical advice before making a purchase, click here to contact us today!