USB Wi-Fi adapters can help you improve the strength of your wireless connection if you wish to reduce ping time when gaming or streaming 4K movies and TV shows. And if you’re having major connection problems, it’s not a good idea to get a cheap $9.99 USB Wi-Fi adapter, as this is usually only useful if you’re operating on a system that can’t establish a connection in the first place.
Instead, you’ll need to invest some money to ensure your connection is better and more stable. This means that you might wind up paying anywhere between $29.99 and $89.99, but determining which adapter to buy is a combination of factors. Without further ado, here are the top USB Wi-Fi adapters available today.
Which USB Wi-Fi adapters are the best?
The finest USB Wi-Fi adapter is determined by the operating system you use. Every USB Wi-Fi adapter on this list is compatible with Windows 7, 8, and 10, but if you’re using macOS or an older version of Windows, you’ll have to be a little pickier.
The Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 is our favorite USB Wi-Fi adapter, owing to its excellent data transfer rate, inbuilt magnetic cradle, and ability to support Windows 10 and macOS Catalina (10.15). If you’re running Windows XP or Vista, the Trendnet TEW-809UB is the only USB Wi-Fi adapter on this list that can handle those operating systems.
The TP-Link Archer T9UH offers an excellent blend of affordability and performance, with data transfer rates comparable to the finest entries on this list for the low price of $49.99. It does not, however, support macOS Big Sur. If you’re simply looking for the most economical solution that still delivers results, the TP-Link Archer T4U Plus is worth considering. It has the slowest data transmission rate of any USB Wi-Fi adapter on this list, but it’s only $29.99, which means you’ll save a lot of money.
The ASUS USB-AC68 is especially appealing due to its wireless USB features. It’s the most costly USB Wi-Fi adapter on this list, but if you don’t want to deal with a cord and want fast data transfer rates, this could be a good buy.
macOS Big Sur supports USB Wi-Fi adapters.
We’ve discovered a stunning absence of macOS Big Sur support for USB Wi-Fi adapters, so if you’re using this operating system, you may have some difficulty getting it to work. There are no official drivers for the TP-Link, Netgear, Trendnet, and Asus adapters on this list, but members of the community have worked hard to make them work.
For example, someone discovered a user-created driver on the TP-Link forums and removed SIP (System Integrity Protection) on macOS to make it compatible. We cannot confirm how safe this procedure is, however it appears to have worked for a number of people. If you don’t want to take this risk, we recommend waiting until these businesses release official macOS Big Sur drivers.
The Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 USB Wi-Fi adapter costs $68.99 and is the best USB Wi-Fi adapter available right now. It has a high transfer rate of 1,300 megabits per second at 5GHz and 600 megabits per second at 2.4GHz. It is also compatible with Windows 7, 8, and 10, as well as macOS X 10.8.3 through 10.15. (download this driver for Catalina support). When plugged in, it should start working instantly, however to for it to work effectively, we recommend putting it into a USB 3.0 port. When put into a conventional USB 2.0 port, it will still function, although not as well.
The Netgear Nighthawk AC1900, on the other hand, is large. If you plug it directly into your laptop or desktop, it will take up a lot of room, and if it’s surrounded by other ports that are in use, we expect it won’t fit at all.
Fortunately, the package includes a USB 3.0 cable as well as a magnetic cradle (the Amazon version comes with this). This allows you to connect the USB Wi-Fi adapter through a cable and prevents the bulky device from taking up valuable port space.
Look no further than the TP-Link Archer T9UH for a USB Wi-Fi adapter that strikes a compromise between price and performance. It costs $49.99 and has a 5Ghz bandwidth of 1,300MBps and a 2.4Ghz bandwidth of 600MBps.
A USB 3.0 connection will help to increase transmission speeds. It’s also a somewhat thick adapter, so you’ll want to use the magnetic cradle that comes with it to keep it out of the way of other ports. When I compared the performance of a wired connection to that of a wireless connection using this Wi-Fi adapter, both attained the maximum speeds supported by my internet connection.
It also comes with a two-year warranty, which should provide more than enough time to evaluate for flaws.
And, with the WPS button, connecting is quick and simple. This device performed admirably in providing wireless internet access to one of my desktop computers that lacked an internet card. The adapter is compatible with Windows XP, 7, 8, and 10. However, according to the Amazon page, it only supports macOS 10.12 through 10.8.
According to TP website, Link’s drivers for macOS Catalina and Big Sur are not available.
For those on a tight budget, the TP-Link Archer T4U Plus is the best USB Wi-Fi Adapter. It costs only $29.99, and while it lacks some of the luxury features found in more expensive models, it is more than adequate for people searching for a good adapter without breaking the bank. It has a 2.4GHz bandwidth of 400Mpbs and a 5GHz bandwidth of 867Mbps, making it substantially slower than the first two entries on our list.
It does, however, include a USB 3.0 port, which means that when connected to the suitable port, you may expect even faster transfer speeds. It is also compatible with Windows 7, 8, and 10 as well as macOS (a Catalina driver is available on the TP-Link website, but a driver for Big Sur is not yet available). It also has a 2-year guarantee and free 24/7 technical assistance.
The Trendnet TEW-809UB is an excellent alternative for people looking for a USB Wi-Fi adapter that can connect to a wider range of Windows operating systems than the competition. It is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. However, it is only compatible with macOS 10.6-10.13, and the Trendnet website shows no new driver updates. It operates at 1,300MBps on 5GHz and 600MBps on 2.4GHz, the same as the other USB Wi-Fi adapters. It’s also quite enormous, measuring 7 x 3 x 9 inches. Nonetheless, I adore its unique all-black spider design. And you can attach it pretty easily owing to a simple USB cable connection and an LED indicator that shows the device’s state.
The $79.99 price tag, though, makes it one of the more expensive USB Wi-Fi adapters on this list. Furthermore, for some reason, the antennas are completely detachable. TRENDnet Manufacturer’s Protection is also included for three years.
How to Select the Best USB Wi-Fi Adapter for Your Needs
The best USB Wi-Fi adapter is determined by a mix of price, data transfer rate, connection convenience, and compatibility with your operating system. The TP-Link Archer T4U Plus is the cheapest adapter on this list, but the $29.99 price tag means it will transfer data at a slower rate than some of the more expensive alternatives. The ASUS USB-AC68, on the other hand, is the most expensive adapter on this list, but it offers substantially quicker data transfer rates and the option for a wireless USB connection.
If you want to strike a nice mix between quality and price, the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 and TP-Link Archer T9UH should do the trick. Both offer data-transfer rates comparable to the other items on this list while being reasonably priced. Finally, the Trendnet TEW-809UB is certainly pricey, but if you’re still on Windows Vista (please switch to Windows 10), it’s the only adapter on this list that supports it.