Best PCIe WiFi Card For PC
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In today’s world, wireless internet is a necessity for using most devices. Even though most desktop owners have access to LAN cables to get their PCs hooked to the internet, there are many reasons why you’d want your computer to have WiFi access as well. In offices, for instance, having cables running all over the place is not a good look.
On the other hand, your desktop may already have a WiFi card, but it’s run its course and now you have trouble connecting to the wireless. In any of these scenarios the clear answer is getting a new PCIe WiFi card for your PC.
But with so many options on the market, it’s hard to find the right choice for your home or office. Luckily, that’s what we’re here for! We’ve scoured the market and come up with the four best PCIe WIFi cards for PCs. Our top picks are affordable and offer excellent performance at the same time, improving the WiFi internet speed on your PC and ensuring a smooth connection.
Make sure to read our buying guide at the end of the article, where we go over the main factors you should consider when choosing the best PCIe WiFi card for your PC.
Best PCIe WiFi Cards for PC
Don’t have time? Here’s a quick review of the main features that come with our favorite models:
Without further ado, let’s look at the detailed reviews!
Best Overall: TP-Link AC1200 PCIe WiFi Card
Our favorite PCIe WiFi card for most people is the TP-Link AC1200, as it offers excellent performance at a highly affordable price. The TP-Link AC1200 runs on the WiFi 5 (802.11ac) wireless standard and offers fast speeds that go up to 1200Mbps. This PCIe Wifi card offers a reliable wireless connection which is great for most households, but we don’t recommend it for serious gamers.
The TP-Link AC1200 offers excellent value for your money. It costs almost as little as our top budget-friendly choice, and still offers a reliable, dependable, and fast internet connection. Plus, it comes with a 2-year warranty, which is near impossible to find in its price range. You also get free 24/7 customer support for any technical difficulties you may experience.
This PCIe WiFi card is a great way to upgrade your PC’s wireless speeds. The maximum speed of 1200Mbps is sufficient for seamless HD and 4K streaming, any sort of web browsing, and online work, as well as some lighter gaming. Plus, multiple members in your home will be able to stream simultaneously without problems.
The AC1200 is quite easy to install. All you need to do is plug the PCIe card into the existing slot inside your computer, and install the super simple software that’s provided on the CD which comes with the product. If you don’t have a CD/DVD drive, then you can download the software from TP-Link’s website. The PCIe WiFi card is compatible with Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP and some Linux versions.
We loved how durable the TP-Link AC1200 is. It features a heat sink which distributes the heat away from the card’s core components, thus expanding the product’s lifespan and ensuring reliable performance.
Last but not least, this PCIe WiFi card will improve the range coverage of your PC’s wireless. The two external, detachable antennas will increase the range of your WiFi signal, providing you with a stable connection. It also features beamforming technology, which focuses the WiFi signals to connected devices for a strong and stable connection.
While this PCIe WiFi card is best for most people, its maximum speeds make it insufficient for heavy gaming.
Additionally, you’ll need to download some updates for Windows 10 and some Linux versions, which is quite simple but can be a bit of a hassle.
Best For Gaming: TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 PCIe WiFi Card
The best PCIe WiFi card for gaming is the TP-Link AX3000, hands down. The AX3000 employs WiFi 6 technology (802.11ax wireless standard) allowing it to reach the fastest data transfer speeds on your PC. This makes it ideal for gaming with a fast and lag-free connection. The two featured external antennas will help you get the best signal and coverage.
The TP-Link AX3000 offers the fastest internet speeds, which is why it’s our prime choice for gaming. You can go up to 2400 Mbps on the 5GHz band, and 574 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.
The WiFi 6 standard is overall a great choice for gaming as it comes with OFDMA and MU-MIMO technology. OFDMA will help fight congestion and significantly reduce lag, so you’ll be able to game in real real-time with this ultra-responsive technology. MU-MIMO will allow multiple users to stream or game at the same time. In a nutshell, WiFi 6 offers fast speed, low latency, and next to zero interruptions in your connection.
This PCIe WiFi card is a great choice for busy networks. An office or a home with multiple users and devices is quite likely to experience high internet traffic. Using WiFi 6 can help you fight congestion and receive high speeds despite the traffic.
Installing the necessary software for the TP-Link AX3000 is quite simple. You can do it using the CD that comes with the purchase, or by downloading the software from the TP-Link website.
The TP-Link AX3000 has several features that boost wireless coverage and speed. To begin with, it comes with two external, multi-directional, high-performance antennas which will extend the existing WiFi reception capabilities. You can place the antenna base anywhere on your desktop to improve signal reception. Another performance-enhancing tool is the featured Bluetooth 5.0 technology, which will help you achieve speeds that are twice as fast and coverage which is four times the original.
Lastly, this PCIe WiFi card is quite affordable considering the fast, reliable, and lag-free connection that it can provide for your PC.
Unfortunately, this PCIe WiFi card is only compatible with Windows 10 (64-bit version) and some Linux versions.
Best Splurge: Asus PCIe Adapter PCE-AC88
The Asus PCIe PCE-AC88 is a great choice if you want consistently fast speeds – and let’s be honest, who doesn’t – but it’s also quite pricey, making it our favorite splurge option. The PCE-AC88 provides you with fast speeds and supports MU-MIMO technology. It comes with four external antennas for improved coverage.
The Asus PCE-AC88 WiFi card can support fast speeds of up to 2100Mbps on the 5GHz band and 1000Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. This makes it a good choice for streaming as well as gaming. Plus, it supports MU-MIMO technology so multiple members in your home can stream simultaneously without experiencing lag or interruptions.
This option comes with 4 external antennas for an increased coverage range. You can place them anywhere on your desk or attach them directly to the PCIe card at the back of your desktop, which allows for neat and compact installation.
This WiFi card is quite durable. The custom heatsink works to dissipate heat from the core constituents, thus improving the stability of your connection and increasing the card’s lifespan.
The PCE-AX88 is compatible with Windows 10 and Windows 7, 64-bit.
One drawback is that this PCIe WiFi card is quite pricey. Another issue is that Asus isn’t exactly known for stellar customer support.
Lastly, you may need to update the driver every now and then to keep the 5GHz band running smoothly.
Our recommendation for most people is the TP-Link AC1200 PCIe Wifi Card, as it offers everything most internet users need for a highly affordable price. It costs $29.99, which is a very reasonable price and similarly priced to most models on the market. This PCIe WiFi card can support speeds up to 1200Mbps, and make sure that your connection is dependable and stable throughout. The featured beamforming technology will focus the signal to your computer without it being broadcast all over. The two external antennas will improve the range of your computer. Lastly, the TP-Link AC1200 is quite durable, as it comes with an awesome 2-year warranty, and a heatsink that will not only improve its performance, but also increase its lifespan.
The best option for gaming is the TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 PCIe WiFi Card. We came back to TP-Link for this one because, to be fair, TP-Link know what they’re doing when it comes to all things wireless. The AX3000 runs on WiFi 6 wireless standard, which allows it to support the fastest speeds available for your PC, going up all the way to 2.4 Gbps. Additionally, it supports OFDMA to prevent the negative effects of network congestion such as lag. At the same time, the featured MU-MIMO technology will enable streaming and gaming for multiple users simultaneously. The employed Bluetooth 5 technology improves speed, range and performance. Range is also boosted by the 2 external antennas. In a nutshell, it’s the best choice for gamers as it will provide you with a fast and lag-free connection. The AX3000 is a bit pricier than the AC1200, as it costs $49.99.
Our favorite splurge PCIe WiFi card is the ASUS PCIe Adapter PCE-AC88. This option also provides fast speed of up to 2.1 Gbps – which is great, but still less than the TP-Link AX3000. It supports MU-MIMO for multi-user simultaneous streaming, making it a great choice for crowded homes. The Asus PCE-AC88 has four external antennas, which significantly improve the wireless range of your computer. It also comes with a custom heatsink, which increases the durability of the card and offers a more reliable performance. However, the Asus is the at the pricer end of our list, costing $109.99.
How To Choose the Right PCIe WiFi Card For Your PC
Now that you’ve seen what the best PCIe WiFi cards for PCs are, it’s time to figure out which one is the best choice for your unique needs and preferences. Here are some of the main factors you should consider when choosing the right option for your home or office PC.
WiFi Standard and Internet Speed
So you check out a PCIe WiFi card and get really excited about the specs. WiFi 6? Internet speed of 2.4Gbps? OFDMA and MU-MIMO technology? Only $50? Sounds alluring, right?
Unfortunately, none of that means anything if you don’t have the corresponding WiFi router that supports WiFi 6 in your home or office. It also doesn’t mean anything if you haven’t purchased a high-speed internet plan from your ISP (internet service provider). So before you choose the best possible option, make sure you’re choosing a PCIe WiFi card that’s compatible with the existing network in your home or office.
It’s a PCIe card. It’s not a miracle device. It will work with what you give it.
Of course, it goes both ways. If you have ultra-high-speed internet and an excellent WiFI 6 router, it’s a shame to buy a PCIe WiFi card that will limit your internet speed and usage.
In a nutshell, check out what your ISP and router are offering, and find a PCIe WiFi card that can match and optimize their specs.
PCIe WiFi cards that feature decent heatsinks are more likely to offer improved performance and a longer lifespan. This is because proper thermal dissipation ensures that the main components of the card are kept cool and away from the build-up of heat, which can cause them to fail after a couple of years.
Additionally, check the warranty offered for the PCIe card of your choosing. In addition to Amazon’s 30-day return period, you may want to look out for an option with a manufacturer’s warranty, so you can feel confident about your purchase.
The number of external antennas that come with a PCIe WiFi card can play a role in your computer’s wireless reception. More antennas and better antennas generally mean better coverage.
A Few Words Before You Go…
Hopefully, our reviews and buying guide of the best PCIe WiFi cards for PC has been useful in your search. After all, a well put together system can make all the difference in the way your PC performs.
In case you need it, here’s a reminder of our top picks:
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Last updated on September 22, 2020. Pricing Information and Product Images obtained from Amazon Product Advertising API.
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