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While Ethernet is certainly the fastest way to connect to the internet when gaming, wireless technology has become fast enough to get rid of cable clutter and provide enough speeds for multiplayer gaming through WiFi. WiFi adapters for gaming are now easily available, and their higher speeds ensure they can match the modern broadband speeds for the lowest latency and the best connection when you’re racking up kills on Apex Legends or grinding for gear on Destiny 2.
Choosing The Best WiFi Adapters for Gaming on PC
If your PC’s motherboard doesn’t have an integrated wireless adapter or has one that is simply not fast enough, you’ll want to get a WiFi adapter. There are two kinds you can acquire: the much faster PCI Express adapters that you slot into one of the PCIe x1 slots in your motherboard, or a USB adapter that plugs into any USB 3.0 port.
We’ve reviewed products of both types in this article, focusing on two PCIe wireless adapter cards and three USB 3.0 ones. Let’s check them out.
TP-Link Archer T9E
Fast PCIe Wi-Fi Adapter
The TP-Link Arche T9E is a PCI-express dual-band Wi-Fi adapter that reaches fast speeds on the 5GHz and 2.4GHz channels. It comes with native support for Beamforming technology, MU-MIMO, and supports 4K HD Video Streaming. The standard rating for this Wi-Fi adapter is IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with speeds of AC1900.
If you have the space for a PCIe wireless adapter, the TP-Link Archer T9E is our favorite option as it comes with all the necessary technology and has good enough speeds to make taking the wireless route easy.
Plugging in a PCIe Wi-Fi adapter for gaming can be a challenge for most PC owners because of just how big modern graphics cards can be. Yet having one dedicated PCIe wireless adapter can be largely beneficial because it connects to your motherboard and uses the much faster PCIe lanes to transfer data.
Furthermore, you can simply plug it in and forget it was ever there as it behaves an integrated part of your rig. Of course, not every system has the space given the size of the graphics card, but if you’re packing just one GPU and have an ATX motherboard with multiple PCIe x1 slots, you’ll probably find enough space to cram this card in.
TP-Link Archer T9E is designed with a special heat sink to ensure things stay cool. Of course, it’s a completely passive heatsink, so it’s recommended you have really good exhaust fans that create a large negative pressure inside the case to ensure the internal temperatures are acceptable and other components have thermal breathing space.
The TP-Link Archer T9E has a wireless standard of IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and speed standard of AC1900. This means that it can reach speeds of up to 600Mbps on 2.4GHz frequencies and 1300Mbps on 5GHz frequencies. This is much faster than most USB type WiFi adapters.
Additionally, with this wireless adapter, you get all the useful features like MU-MIMO and Beamforming. TP-Link also provides a 2-year warranty for this device.
Once negative with this wireless adapter is its tricky driver installation on Windows 10. You need to first disable the existing Network Interface Device first after installing the drivers, then reboot the system. Still, if you know how to access the Device Manager, this shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Rapid Throughput for Gamers’ Needs
The ASUS PCE-AC88 is a PCIe based wireless adapter card with four external antennas. It also comes with an antenna hub that you can connect the antennas separately for a slight extension in range and remove clutter at the back of your desktop computer. It is one of the fastest PCIe wireless cards out there, with a rating of AC3100.
While it demands a premium price for its offering, this is one of the fastest PCIe wireless adapters out there, making it ideal for gaming.
ASUS makes some fantastic gaming routers and PC peripherals, so they have quite a good idea of how to make a fast-performing, reliable product. The ASUS PCE-AC88 is a PCI Express wireless card that will slot into one of the PCIe x1 slots on your motherboard. Once again, we recommend going down the PCIe wireless adapter route if you have a slimmer graphics card or a full ATX motherboard with generous spacing between the PCIe x16 and PCIe x1 slots.
The AC68 is a wireless 802.11 b/g/n/ac dual band adapter with four antennas. Thanks to its blistering AC3100 rating, you can expect speeds up to 1000 Mbps on the 2.4GHz frequencies and 2100 Mbps on the 5GHz frequencies. In the real world, these numbers don’t always reach their designated peaks, but the AC68 is one of the best performing PCIe wireless adapters out there.
This router also has MU-MIMO, and it does come with beamforming and Broadcom’s TurboQAM technology. For the amount of money, you’ll be spending, it’s a surety that you’ll be getting the fastest and most comprehensive feature-set a PCIe wireless adapter can give you.
One neat little addition into the box with the ASUS AC68 is a triangular antenna hub that comes with cables. The 1-meter long cables connect to the rear end of your pace, and you can attach the three antennas of this adapter onto it. This is especially useful if your desktop computer’s back faces a wall; you can make use of the antennas for better signal capture when they’re facing away from it.
It’s an expensive purchase for sure, but this is one of the fastest wireless adapters you can get, ideal for when you’re really serious about your online multiplayer gaming experience.
Best USB Wi-Fi Adapter
A Great USB Dual-band Adapter
The dual-band USB wi-fi adapter from Trendnet is a high power USB 3.0 WiFi adapter for gaming that has speed ratings of AC1900. This adapter comes with excellent range, and also features beamforming.
The Trendnet TEW-809UB is fast, stable, and reliable, and makes for a great USB wifi adapter for gaming if bulk isn’t much of a concern to you.
One of the biggest conveniences of USB Wifi adapters is their small size. Sure, the smaller ones aren’t the fastest nor do they have advanced features, but they’re almost non-existent when you plug them at the back of your desktop computer.
Contrary to their name, Trendnet isn’t exactly following that trend with this router. Instead, they’re going big, bold, and bulky. Their AC1900 TEW-809UB wireless adapter looks like a dead spider thanks to its flat and wide body that supports its four towering antennas. Yep, this isn’t just something you can stick into a USB port and forget about. The Trendnet TEW-809UB is here to stay, and it’s going to make sure you know it.
Yet this isn’t just bulky for the sake of it, the Trendnet TEW-809UB utilizes its bulky size and 4 antennas for a great range for a USB adapter, with each antenna reaching signals of up to 5dBi strength each for a range of 30 feet radius. Speeds on this USB wifi adapter can reach up to 600Mbps over 2.4GHz frequencies and 1300Mbps over 5GHz frequencies, which is what you’d expect from an adapter with AC1900 rating.
The drive of this USB Wi-Fi adapter comes with it in a CD, and there’s no additional software to run it as Windows takes control of everything. Feature-wise, the adapter doesn’t support MU-MIMO, so it might not offer great speeds across all devices connected to it. It does support Beamforming though.
Overall, this is a great option if you want a USB wireless adapter with great range and excellent 5GHz speeds. The 2.4GHz speeds on this adapter are average, but with a modern router you should be able to get excellent WiFi speeds for gaming on the 5GHz frequency.
If the Trendnet wifi adapter is too big for you and too oddly designed to sit pretty on your gaming table, the ASUS USB-AC68 might be up your alley. It has all the gameresque looks, and ASUS could’ve even gotten away with adding the Republic of Gamers label to it. Following the gaming design philosophies of their ROG peripherals, the USB-AC68 (not to be confused with their PCIe AC68 wireless adapter) has a novel folding design with two deployable antennas.
You get the distinct red and black design on the cradle that you can plug it into, which should match your build if you’re following the modern gaming RGB PC trends. Feature-wise, this is a USB 3.0 adapter with AC1900 standard. It also features MU-MIMO through a 3×4 antenna design and ASUS’s own AiRadar Beamforming technology.
The dual-band antenna offers 600 Mbps speeds on the 2.4GHz frequency and 1300 Mbps on the 5GHz frequency. Real world performance, however, is not quite as designated. The 5GHz performance is excellent, fast, and reliable. However, 2.4GHz performance is mediocre at best.
Still, the ASUS USB-AC68 offers a much better form factor than the Trendnet TWE809UB, which makes it a great alternative to it if you’re not a fan of the latter’s bulkiness and obnoxious tall antennas.
If even the ASUS USB-A68 is too big for you and you’re looking for the absolute smallest form factor that still manages good speeds, you should consider the Edimax EW-7833UAC. This USB 3.0 wifi adapter is a great fit for gaming if you have a wireless router near your vicinity.
The speed rating of this Edimax USB wireless adapter is AC1750 – this is lower than that of the previous adapters we’ve mentioned, but it makes sense given the form factor and design of Edimax’s offering. The device has a deployable piece that contains 3 antennas that can be rotated out of the USB dongle itself on a single axis. There aren’t many options to maneuver it, but this is still a massive upgrade over most dongle styled USB adapters, which often don’t feature any deployable antenna at all.
The speed rating of AC1750 means this USB wifi adapter can reach speeds of up to 450 Mbps on 2.4GHz and 1300 Mbps on 5GHz. For those running AC routers with 5GHz frequency, this shouldn’t be a problem. The speed and connectivity, however, does drop considerably at longer distances, which you should keep in mind. Ideally, try to install this USB adapter to the port closest to the wireless router’s location and in the same direction, if possible.
The adapter also supports MU-MIMO and Beamforming technology. Perhaps the best aspect of all with this adapter is how little it costs compared to other options with similar speed performances in the market. You can grab this for less than $35 for great speeds.