Are you tired of super slow Ethernet cables? Here is your solution, the PCIe Wi-Fi card. In connection to wireless routers, a PCIe wireless adapter helps to improve the ability of your PC to connect to any available network at high and stable speeds. Therefore, as the world shifts to the wireless regime, be sure to equip yourself with the best PCIe WiFi card for the best pc internet connectivity.
In this article, we have compiled a detailed buying guide for the best PCIe wireless card. Nevertheless, let’s first understand the meaning and purpose of a PCIe wireless network card.
What is a PCIe Wi-Fi Card?
PCI stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect, a bus standard in laptops and desktop pcs for facilitating high-speed Wi-Fi reception slotted components. PCIe Wi-Fi cards have replaced Ethernet cable systems which are slower with occasional instability and reduced range.
Primarily, a PCIe Wi-Fi card works to provide your desktop with the ability to connect to any wireless reception within its range. Most PCs have Ethernet ports and usb slots for internet modems, but the PCIe Wi-Fi card is the ultimate Wi-Fi adapter for faster and reliable internet. If you are wondering how a PCIe card is slotted in a pc, it is connected directly to a computer’s motherboard through a PCIe slot and not the USB port.
Having identified the meaning and purpose of a PCIe Wi-Fi card, let’s look at the five best products in this category.
Our odds-on favorite is the ASUS PCE-AC56 PCIe, ideal for gaming and other hefty wireless network demands. You can be sure to enjoy a high-speed wireless connection with reliable performance. This dual-band Wi-Fi card handles data transfer speeds of up to400Mbps (2.4GHz) and 876 Mbps (5GHz). Moreover, this ASUS wireless range PCIe card is built with modulation technologies such as CCK, DQPSK, 64QAM, OFDM, DBPSK, and 16QAM.
Data modulation technologies subsequently help this wireless adapter have an improved performance with the priority of data transfer. Also, it has two external antennas with a wide range of network coverage that enables you to use your wireless devices anywhere. Regarding compatibility, it has an appropriation for most Windows versions with an extra aesthetic appeal. Along with its powerful heat sink, this is one of the best PCIe WiFi cards.
- Fast dual-band speeds and connectivity
- Easy replacement with aftermarket antennas
- Effective heat sink for preventing overheating
- Wide wireless coverage due to a magnetic antenna with a data transfer priority
- Limited compatibility to windows operating systems, doesn't support Linux
- Lacks Bluetooth connectivity
Another brand with the combination of affordability signal strength and wide coverage is the TP-Link Archer. Specifically, the TP-Link AC1300 PCIe Wi-Fi Card carries these top-notch qualities with speed capacities of 400Mbps at 2.4GHz and 867Mbps at 5GHz. Such performances are adequate for most gaming tasks together with seamless browsing and streaming functions. It also has a dual external antenna system that provides it with a wide network range for good internet reception around a house.
Additionally, this TP-Link has excellent thermal dissipation through its heat sink, ensuring it doesn’t overheat during operation. Finally, this dual-band PCIe Wi-Fi card is compatible with most Windows versions but lacks coverage for Linux.
- Wide and quality network coverage
- Excellent cooling plus stable performance
- Advanced security with easy setup
- Diverse Windows OS compatibility
- Incompatible to Linux
- Lacks the highest level speeds.
Another wireless adapter from the best Wi-Fi cards by TP-Link is the Archer T4E. This incredible dual-band connectivity card ticks the boxes for high-performance, long-range coverage, and fair pricing. Among the best contemporary wireless cards, the Archer T4E promises maximum speeds of 1,200Mbps with two broadcasting bands, 5GHz, and 2.4GHZ. It also features detachable antennas for easy customization to suit your network requirements.
The 2.4GHZ band is adequate for web browsing, while the 5GHz band is for high-performance gaming and HD video streaming tasks. This card also uses the Beamforming technology for smart-reaching wireless signals across connected devices for improved WiFi signals. Additionally, this Archer T4E boasts stable wireless connectivity with an intelligent signal booster for wider coverage. Also, this wireless card has an inbuilt heatsink for dissipating any overheating for even better WiFi adapter performance and increased device lifespan.
Moreover, it has compatibility with dominant Windows OSs with a seamless setup through easy-to-use software and hardware installation package. Finally, this highly capable PCIe adapter can handle current encryption standards, including WPA-PSK and WPA/WPA2.
- Impressive connectivity speed
- Smart Wi-Fi signal boosting via Beamforming technology
- Alternative Low-profile bracket assembly
- Supports dominant Windows operating systems
- Lacks Bluetooth
- Minor disruptions at 5GHz band
Among the wireless cards with the latest WiFi 6 technology, the EDUP dual-band adapter is the best PCIe WiFi card. It is equipped with an Intel AX200 chip for increase robustness in providing high internet speeds of 3,000Mbps. Since it is a dual-band, it can easily transmit 2400Mbps on 5.8GHz and 600Mbps on 2.4GHz.
Furthermore, it applies the MU-MIMO technology to enable its dual external antenna base to simultaneously receive and transmit data up to three simultaneous connected devices. Its WiFi 6 capacity also enables 4k video streaming and seamless online gaming with the highest levels of stability. The WiFi 6 technology of this EDUP card also provides it with a superior wide range.
An extra feature of this Wi-Fi card is a heatsink that prevents overheating for reliable and durable performance. In addition, unlike other cards with omnidirectional antennas, this EDUP PCIe card has a Bluetooth 5.0 capability for a four-times faster connection with peripheral devices such as printers, keyboards, tablets, and mice.
- Excellent connection speeds with heatsink
- Affordable for its capacities
- Newest WiFi technology for faster and wide range signal
- Enhanced Bluetooth capabilities
- Allows concurrent multi-user with high speeds
- Only compatible with Windows 10 (64 bit)
Finally, in this category of best PCIe WiFi card, we have the Gigabyte GC-WB867D, which comes with a shiny aesthetic. Behind this attractive appearance, it is also a top performer yet with a simple build. You can be guaranteed reliable and high-speed internet connections due to its quality antenna that is detachable for placement on an external base. The antenna can also be adjusted through a 90 degrees range.
Its simple build also makes this wireless card affordable. You can enjoy full compatibility with Windows 10 (64-bit) through a hassle-free installation. Installation is a simple plug-and-play for drivers to be installed in a device. The incredible range of this simple PCIe card will totally beat your expectations with its amazing support for 4k video streaming and quality gaming.
- Easy plug-and-play setup
- Simple design
- Reliable Bluetooth connectivity
- Wide range and fast internet speeds
- Lacks a heatsink.
Are PCIe Wireless Adapters better than USB?
Indeed, a PCIe Wi-Fi adapter is better than a USB adapter because it is more responsive and faster. Furthermore, if your pc has a PCI slot, you can benefit from the card’s antennae to provide stronger Wi-Fi signals than an internal USB header. Subsequently, a wireless card is the ideal Wi-Fi hardware for seamless online and pc gaming.
Moreover, a wireless card directly connects to a PC’s motherboard, unlike the USB ports for connecting peripheral devices. Nonetheless, PCIe Wi-Fi cards have the limitation of trickier installation than the USB alternative.
Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best PCIe WiFi Card
1. Number & Quality Of Antennas
Antennas with a PCIe wireless adapter play the important function of receiving and transmitting data produced by a wireless internet adapter. In this context, it is important to consider the quantity and quality of PCIe wireless adapters.
On quantity, we are referring to the number of external antennas a WiFi card can carry. Each attached external antenna can receive and transmit data, meaning the more antennas a wireless card has, the more data your wireless router can receive and transmit to your pc. Therefore, with multiple antennas, you can position them differently to increase a wireless connection range.
Regarding quality, numerous PCIe wireless cards offer attractive price tags but at the expense of reduced quality levels. Subsequently, you should check the signal distance, strength, speed, range, and bandwidth of the WiFi card to establish its quality. Additionally, you should check the type of antenna used on a WiFi card to know its quality. Finally, you should avoid PCIe cards with unimpressive stock antennas if you want a reliable connection.
2. Speed and Bandwidth
Bandwidth and data speed are critical aspects to prioritize for console or pc gaming, especially online gaming. Accordingly, the bandwidth and transmission speeds of your WiFi card will directly affect the speed of your wireless connection. Specifically for gamers, you will want to choose a wireless card with speeds that match the internet connection speed of your service provider. Therefore, buying a PCIe WiFi card that matches your network demands for smooth running is necessary.
For instance, a wireless network card with a throughput of around one Gigabit should be adequate for gaming, among other household internet needs. However, you can get a wireless adapter with an enhanced data rate for higher demands of wireless connections. Eventually, the best PCIe WiFi cards will vary across users, but the ideal one should provide adequate wireless coverage to suit your internet needs.
3. Heat Sink Capability
PCIe WiFi cards can operate at high demands without straining, but it is important they are equipped with heat sinks for increased longevity and reliability. A heat sink works to regulate a WiFi card’s cooling and thermal aspects to maintain high-efficiency levels. Ideally, the best Wi-Fi card should be fitted with an adequately sized heat sink for optimal wireless capability.
Before buying a WiFi adapter, you should consider the available installation space. The reason for this is to avoid buying an overly large card that will adversely affect other router hardware. This aspect is not directly related to the quality of a Wi-Fi network or WiFi speeds. Nonetheless, if you choose the wrong size of a PCIe adapter, you might hamper the overall WiFi reception and performance of your pc.
Considerably, the best PCIe WiFi card should include a manufacturer’s specifications on the size appropriation.
5. Operating System Compatibility
Excellent PCIe wireless adapters should be compatible with the operating system of the desktop computers you’re using. Otherwise, if you don’t check for OS compatibility, you might end up suffering poor internet speed or even no connectivity. The best Wi-Fi adapters in the market are compatible with all operating systems. However, a few wireless cards show enhanced performances in some operating systems and rare occasions of exclusive compatibilities with a single OS.
For example, WiFi 6 PCIe cards only have compatibility with Windows 10 64-bit OS. In that case, there are numerous OS compatibility options; ensure you acquire the appropriate compatibility to enable optimal running of the card’s network functions on your desktop pc or laptop.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Best PCIe WiFi Card
1. Which slot is best for PCIe wireless adapter?
You can place your WiFi card in different PCIe slots, including x1, x4, and x16. These slot types apply the PCI express connectivity with a bracket for fitting your card in the case of smaller tower PCs.