The Best USB Wi-Fi Adapters By Engadget

The competition

Like the Nighthawk A7000, the Asus AC-68 is a large expensive stick with a pair of pop-out antennas. While its performance at the long distance testing point was adequate, the A7000 trounced the AC-68’s throughput results, and the Asus adapter is significantly more expensive.

The D-Link DWA-192 tested well for PCMag and Tom’s Hardware, but those tests happened in the early days of 802.11ac and many newer adapters have come out since then. It performed well on our tests, but it is expensive, and its external ball-shaped housing isn’t as portable as our picks.

The Netgear A6210 completed all of the tests within time limits, but it was the slowest adapter we tested that did so. The A6210’s price is double that of the T2U Plus, sealing its fate in last place.

The D-Link DWA-171 completed three of the long-range transfer tests, but it took longer than 45 minutes to copy the music files folder in the bathroom. One oddity was that the DWA-171 didn’t automatically load Windows 10 drivers when plugged in. It has a built-in thumb drive with an installer for the drivers, which is a lot more inconvenient as we couldn’t use the adapter until we installed the driver manually. We checked Windows Update after getting online, and it loaded an up-to-date driver.

The rest of the adapters we tested failed our long-range tests, whether they were mini/nano–sized (the type of USB adapter that sticks out less than an inch or so and can be left plugged into the laptop when you store it in a bag) or larger sticks with room for better antennas and radios. The mini/nano–sized adapters that took too long to complete the tests included the Asus USB-AC53 NanoEdimax EW-7822UTCEdimax EW-7822ULCLinksys WUSB6100MTP-Link Archer T2UTP-Link Archer T2U NanoTP-Link Archer T3U, and the Trendnet TEW-808UBM. The larger sticks that took too long were the Asus USB-AC56Edimax EW-7833UACLinksys WUSB6400M, and the TP-Link Archer T9UH. The Trendnet TEW-809UBwas the largest and most notable adapter to not pass the tests: it is a large external block with four external antennas, and it costs even more than the Nighthawk A7000.

Source: Engadget


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