When buying a USB network adapter / dongle knowing a few things will go a long way to fit your setup.
If you are considering purchasing a USB network adapter there are some thing you will want to know to help you choose the right dongle for your setup.
Most likely you are trying to adapt a desktop, tablet, or another wireless device to your network. If you are like most of us, you have probably upgraded your network and its possible your ISP is providing service on two bands or dual-band frequencies. For example 2.4 Ghz and 5.0 Ghz
2.4 GHz was the frequency used for WiFi until 2013 when the 5 GHz band was opened up for wireless devices.
The thing is the higher the frequency the less distance it can reliably travel. So a dongle using the old 2.4 GHz will transmit farther than the new 5 GHz dongles.
So why use the new 5 GHz band? Simply put there are too many devices talking in the 2.4 GHz frequency. It has become overcrowded which slows everyone down trying to get a signal through. The new 5 GHz while not able to send a signal as far, is not crowded and relatively unused.
Our USB Wireless Adapter Picks
1. Etekcity Dual Band 802.11AC 1200Mbps USB 3.0 WiFi Dongle / Wireless Network Adapter Support Windows 10
When Windows 10 was released systems began having issues as internal and external wireless cards found it problematic.
For awhile there was a shortage of WiFi adapters that would work with Win 10.
This dongle also supports Windows XP, Vista, 7,8, 8.1, 10, (32-bit / 64-bit) and is a 802.11ac dongle that can move data up-to 1200Mbps.
The combination of low price and compatibility make it one of our top picks.
2. Edimax EW-7811Un 150Mbps 11n Wi-Fi USB Adapter, Nano Size Lets You Plug it and Forget it, Ideal for Raspberry Pi, Supports Windows, Mac OS, Linux
This is small and convenient wireless dongle. It is a 802.11n 2.4 GHz adapter.
This is not a dongle built for speed or distance since their is no large antenna. If you are looking for a quick reliable cheap WiFi adapter this one will get you online. Just dont expect it to do wonders.
3. TP-LINK AC600 High Gain Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter (Archer T2UH)
The TP-Link Archer T2UH USB Adapter is a entry 802.11ac adapter.
In our test is worked well enough although not as good as we expected from TP-Link, and is compatible with Macs and Window machines.
The downside was it is only a USB 2.0 dongle which will bottleneck at 480Mbps.
4. Alfa Long-Range Dual-Band AC1200 Wireless USB 3.0 Wi-Fi Adapter w/2x 5dBi External Antennas – 2.4GHz 300Mbps / 5Ghz 867Mbps – 802.11ac & A, B, G, N
The Alfa AC1200 is not very portable but has good antennas for distance.
It also support 5 GHz and 802.11ac.
If you need a USB adapter that gets WiFi from a distance and supports the newest protocols this is a good one to get.
5. WiFi AC Adapter, GMYLE® Wireless AC1200 Dual-Band 802.11ac USB3.0 866.7 Mbps WiFi WLAN 2T2R Network Adapter (Realtek 8812AU Chipset)
This USB adapter is dual band so it can work in the old 2.4 GHz range and the new 5 GHz range along with 802.11ac.
It is also a USB 3.0 dongle so it wont bottleneck at USB 2.0 speeds as long as the computer has a USB 3.0 port.
Choosing the an adapter can be simplified down to buying a Dual Band Adapter. If you don't know what frequency your provider offers, a Dual Band will get you there regardless since they will work with both the older 2.4 GHz and th new 5 GHz frequencies.
Also be sure your operating system is supported by the dongle and the drivers available.
And always read through Amazon's reviews and other sites offering reviews. Its indispensible.