The world is changing, and we are moving towards wireless technology. There is no doubt that the uproar for having more wireless devices over traditional is filled with tripping wires and devices. You must have come across laptops as full-time wireless in every possible way; you get Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Wireless connections for phones, keyboard, and mice. What’s left? We humans working through Wi-Fi (pun intended)?
The wireless connections are not restricted to laptops only. They have paved their paths to desktop computers too. It was only possible because of gamers-enthusiasts- who look forward to attaining a fully-fledged gaming experience. From the reported queries, ethernet ports on the motherboard are of no use for the latest AAA titles. That’s the reason why new motherboards come along with Wi-Fi devices that entail soaring internet speeds. For using inbuilt Wi-Fi, you need adapters, and that’s what the article will be focusing on.
Side Note: Don’t fall for USB internet gimmicks. They are nothing but an absolute abomination and disgrace to the concept of the internet. There’s the reason why the article focuses on the best PCIe Wi-Fi cards and not Wi-Fi dongles.
What’s the right way to choose a decent PCIe wireless adapter?
Nothing is intimidating about the selection criteria of the right adaptor for your system. Albeit, you would have to keep individual bulletins in mind before proceeding to the final step. It’s worth adding that as long as you are well-versed about the given scenario, there are zero chances of you getting coaxed by a vendor into buying a faulty card. Keep your eyes open, and you’ll make it to the end!
There’s a way to explain the concept of how the number of antennas proposes proportionality to faster bandwidth absorption. Let’s assume each antenna is a discreet cell. You are standing outside the cellar and want to communicate with the person inside. The cell is locked away, and can only be opened with a single key. The rules are simple. One person can communicate inside the cellar at a time, and the key can only be used once until the request is catered to. Now, multiple cellars mean there’s a higher bandwidth for housing in more requests. Rather than standing in a queue, requests have been divided within the various cellars.
Well, Just like that, antennas work. As long as your Wi-Fi device has more antennas, it will be serving a whole load of devices. A single antenna might not be sufficient to entertain the users.
It’s another vital factor to consider while cherry-picking your PCIe card. Quality affects Speed adversely. Some antennas are intentionally designed for long-distance broadcast. If a manufacturer explicitly rates the adapter with the maximum range, you need to ensure that you stay within the given threshold for broadcasting. Usually, it’s 30-feet approximately. But the question is how to determine what antenna proposes greater bandwidth distances?
To answer your question, I’ll only say the range varies from product to product. For that, you need to get the best possible flagship item to sustain your dreams. Not to mention, you can enhance the quality of the antenna by rotating it 360 degrees. The findings say that the rotation helped in boosting the signal strength by two folds.
Size of the adapter
Getting the wrong adapter size can be a real bummer. To purge out such possibilities, you need to ensure what casing profile you have. Not only this, but you will be in need to have a good view of the motherboard slotting. The adapter is all about heights and widths, and how antennas tentacle out of the casing.
If you have a micro-ATX or ITX case, you may need to reconsider your options.
Operating System support
Native support is poles apart with the compatibility of the adapter card with the OS. In short, native support does not guarantee that it will work on an X version of the windows. You can extend the native support, but only do if you know what you are getting yourself into. Tweaking the BIOS data of the card can result in an ultimate death of the item.
Speed and Bandwidth
Speed and bandwidth are hot topics regarding Wi-Fi cards. Indeed, Speed is a combination of several factors working together. It’s a myth that the same card that works flawlessly at your friend’s place will work at yours too. You should be aware of the fact that network cards from different geological locations work differently.
It’s worth mentioning that a suitable adaptor will accommodate, on average, at least one Gigabit of data throughout which is capable of serving people at your house.
Power dissipation is a common issue on onboard circuits, and there’s no way to eliminate this problem, except for using an active cooling solution. Excessive heat can degrade the device’s performance, and for that, you need to take proper measures; thus, a need for a cooler.
It’s time to shift ourselves to the real topic: enumeration of the best PCIe Wi-Fi cards in 2021!
List of 7 best PCIe Wi-Fi cards (Overview Table)
|The best overall PCIe Wi-Fi card||4.9/5||Buy on Amazon|
|The best budget PCIe Wi-Fi card||4.8/5||Buy on Amazon|
|Best High-end PCIe Wi-Fi card for PC||4.7/5||Buy on Amazon|
|Best High-speed PCIe Wi-Fi card||4.6/5||Buy on Amazon|
|Best performance PCIe Wi-Fi card||4.6/5||Buy on Amazon|
|Best M.2/PCIe Wi-Fi card Combo||4.5/5||Buy on Amazon|
|Best Alternative budget PCIe Wi-Fi card||4.4/5||Buy on Amazon|
Best overall PCIe Wi-Fi card
What buyers say?
Many users reported that Wi-Fi is compatible and performs well. It was only possible with the card to attain soaring internet speeds. Not to mention, they didn’t regret buying the card. If you are looking forward to an exceptional internet range, then this is a dream card; thus, making TP-Link TL-WDN4800 the best overall card.
TP-Link TL WDN4800 comes with a plethora of top-notch features. Firstly, the device has a dominant heatsink that protects your device for getting overheated. It’s worth mentioning that it’s better if your device remains cool; otherwise, you might experience degrading performance. The model targets gamers and video streamers alike because of its fast internet speed. On top of that, you get detachable antennas for better connectivity. The device also has a wide range of connectivity because of the better quality of antennas. So, in short, there’s zero impedance and hindrance while gaming.
Additionally, the card can reach 450 MBps speed, supports dual-band 2.4 GHz or 5GGz, is seamlessly compatible with 802.11a, and supports the latest windows. Notwithstanding, the installation process for the card is as user-friendly as possible.
- Suitable for online gaming and 4k video streaming
- Offers amazing compatibility
- Allows data sharing with up to 3 times better speeds
- Higher range
- Adjustable antennas
- Hard to find replacement parts
Best budget PCIe Wi-Fi card
What buyers say?
Many users reported that card to be of top-notch quality and that too at subsidized cost. That’s the reason why it won the title of being the best budget PCIe Wi-Fi card. The card was mostly stable on different geological locations with proper packet switching. There was nearly no loss in the acquired data.
The card can be put into use of HD video streaming and gaming alike. The card indeed offers mediocre latency (irregular spiking); nonetheless, it’s performing way better than other flagship entities in the list. If you are looking forward to achieving a seamless online gaming experience, then Rosewill N300 should be your resort.
Moreover, you get 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 802.11n protocol with dual antennas for higher coverage. I know the Speed isn’t humongous, but again it’s a decent card for the most part. Not to mention, you can get hold of the card under $30, which is quite low when compared with other existing models. Not to mention, the card is windows optimized; hence is workable on Windows XP, 7, Vista, 8, 8.1, and 10. On top of that, you get detachable antennas that can be easily rotated for extensive coverage.
- A Dual-band adapter provides excellent wireless connectivity.
- Heat sink
- Reliable network connection
- At times you may face connectivity issues.
Best High-end PCIe Wi-Fi card for PC
What buyers say?
The presence of a wide range and scalability has put the card as the best high-end adapter in the list. Many users were impressed because of its robust performance and ability to customize as per your will. It’s worth mentioning that the adapter comes with an array of features that are impressive and enthralling to look at.
The card offers extreme stability, high speeds, great build-quality, and long-lasting warranty. The card is indeed luxurious in every possible way-no doubt why it costs so much. You get dual-band 4×4 Wi-Fi set up, with 2100 MBps speed (that’s exceptional). The antennas on the card are removable and replaceable for your ease. On top of that, the card offers ideal placement of receptors, Wi-Fi AC support, and the ability to operate in almost any given temperature.
It’s true that for heat-dissipating, the card comes with a proper heat sink attached. You don’t want your Wi-Fi adapter to melt because you were incompetent to find the best card for heat radiation. On top of that, you get an external magnetic antenna base that allows flexible antenna placement to maximize potential coverage. For compatibility, the Wi-Fi can run on different versions of windows without any known issue.
Surprisingly, you get a custom cooler that looks aesthetically pleasing and matches it with your gaming aura.
- Does not require ethernet cables
- Ensure fast connections for online gaming
- Provides maximum flexibility
- Suitable for 4k content streaming
- Heatsink optimization is at a bare minimum.
- Difficult to find replacements
Best High-speed PCIe Wi-Fi card
What buyers say?
From the recent findings, it would be considerable belief to say that the card is performing as per the highest boundary; hence, making it the best high-speed card on the list. However, it is not the cheapest, yet not expensive. The card falls within the boundary that is acceptable. Many users reported that they experience high internet speeds and strengthened internet connection without any packet drops.
TP-Link archer enables users to enjoy soaring internet speeds up to 1300MBps, which is exceptionally high. The devices make use of 802.11 AC wireless settings that help in enabling beamforming technology. It just doesn’t end here! You also get hold of maximized performance and customizable tools for the Wi-Fi. It comes with a dedicated heatsink that allows heat dissipation to occur, hence reducing the temperatures. Not only this, but you can stream 4K videos without buffering. What an incredible sight! Not to mention, the adapter comes with three Wi-Fi antennas for a faster transfer rate.
All in all, it’s a recommended card if you are seeking absolute note-worthy performance.
- Beamforming technology enables greater strength over large distances.
- Assured Strong connectivity range due to three antennas
- HD video streaming, and seamless 4k gaming possible
- Installation steps are required for Windows 10
- Not compatible to run on Linux operating system
Best performance PCIe Wi-Fi card
What buyers say?
It feels enthralling when you know that you are given a choice to expand, upgrade, and tweak as per your will. Just like that, TP-Link AC1300 has been playing a vital role in broadening computer networks online. It was indeed only possible with the help of the adapter; hence, making it the best performance PCIe Wi-Fi card on the list.
The card offers lightning-fast speed internet up to 867 MBps over 5GHz frequency. You also get hold of stable performance charts with the help of heat sink technology that allows heat dissipation to occur at a significant rate. The card indeed allows online gaming and 4k streaming to take place without any problem. On top of that, the card offers an increased wireless range with the help of 2x antennas. It’s worth mentioning that you can replace and deject the antennas as per your will.
Additionally, the card is also compatible with most versions of the windows; thus, increasing its durability with multiple users. Last but not least, the card offers a 2-year warranty span for RMA. If you think your card is malfunctioning, get it replaced ASAP.
- Suitable for online and streaming niches
- Detachable antennas provide convenience and customization.
- Allows for breakneck speeds and connections
- Gets hot at soaring internet speeds
- The installation process takes relatively more time.
Best M.2/PCIe Wi-Fi card Combo
What buyers say?
Well, I’m not veering off from the guide. The PCIe is indeed becoming ancient day by day; thus, bringing M.2 Wi-Fi cards. It’s worth noting that many users are using the card with the PCIe converter, where they can use M.2 cards on their PCIe slots. You know what, all the reviews were positive. It’s because of the changing technology. Humans need to adapt, and I guess that’s what all the users are doing.
Let’s welcome the Intel AX200 M.2 Wi-Fi card. For the features, you will be getting a Fenvi PCIe/M.2 adapter. Without this, you might never be able to run the Wi-Fi card. The adapter changes the allocated signals and makes it recognizable by the PCIe slots. Well, the adapter requires an internal USB header, which is easily accessible on most of the latest MOBOs in the market. Not to mention, the card offers excellent Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. Surprisingly, the card does support not only Wi-Fi AC but also the Wi-Fi AX. That’s incredible because now you will be getting twice the Speed.
On top of that, the card is compatible with most of the versions of windows. Notwithstanding, the device ensures that you get 160 MHz channel width, 802.11ax support, and a couple of value-added features like enabler and disabler.
- Uses M.2 technology with an adapter
- Soaring internet speeds
- Bluetooth included
- Requires onboard USB header
Best Alternative budget PCIe Wi-Fi card
What buyers say?
It’s the universal truth: if an X thing is benefitting you at a low cost, everyone jumps in to get it. The same is the case with Gigabyte GC-WB867D-1. The card has impressed a huge audience, and the narratives speak volumes. The device has a discreet Bluetooth mechanism that is fully qualified to deal with all Wi-Fi-related businesses.
Do you know what compels a user into buying the card? The ease of installation. Well, the award for an easy installation process goes to the gigabyte card. No one loves intricacies, especially when it’s about slotting in a delicate component. On top of that, the card has a unique compact design, making it portable and appealing. Additionally, the antennas on the card are top-notch quality, making the card reach its destined pedestal for celebration. Not to mention, the card offers detachable antennas that can be replaced and dust-off at ease.
It’s worth adding in that the price factor and the number of features go hand in hand. But, for this particular card, the narrative holds a different stance. You get most probably everything at a low cost. What else do you want?
- It can hide under large GPUs
- Comes with two antennas
- Provides soaring internet speeds up to 867MBps
- Easy and quick installation process
- Has Bluetooth
- Requires you to download Qualcomm Bluetooth driver
- BT requires a USB 2.0 header on the motherboard.
- You will also need to enable the audio streaming from the phone manually.
Final take on
For wrap up, I would like to add that whatever PCIe card you choose for your system should have all the fundamental features to sustain gaming and streaming. It’s worth mentioning; there are many cards to choose from, the best way to cherry-pick your dream adapter is to skim through all the specifications of that particular model. At times, what happens is that the person ends up getting the wrong model/card. Well, misconfigured or mismatched cards can cause wreckage in your system, and you don’t need it.
No one needs it, to be honest!
So, what’s the catch? Let me recommend a couple of decent pieces for your system. If you want something out of this world, and non-traditional, then TP-Link TL-WDN4800 N900 dual-band is your shot. Although the card is expensive and might cause you heavens, it’s worth trying. On the contrary, if your motives align with something inexpensive, then Gigabyte GC-WB867D-1 might work for you.
I hope this article cleared most of your doubts regarding the selection criteria, and which models to root for in 2021. I’m looking forward to hearing from you in the comments!
People Always Ask
Which is better: Wi-Fi USB or PCI?
Speaking from personal experience, don’t ever launch yourself into buying Wi-Fi USBs. They have been notorious for causing signal fluctuation, which is an anti-gamer thing. I will always recommend you to root for PCIe adapters because they give you more room for expanding your network, and have soaring internet speeds.
Is it better to buy a motherboard with in-built Wi-Fi?
Yes, at times, in-built Wi-Fi adaption can ease you out. When you have in-built Wi-Fi, it saves you from the hassle of attaching new PCIe, so yeah, that’s the thing.
What makes a sound Wi-Fi card?
High signal strength. If your Wi-Fi has good quality antennas and works very well on your network, then for sure, it’s one of the decent devices you have stashed in your system. But, beware, at times, there could be possible node fluctuation, which you would need to address accordingly.
Hey, I’m Muhammad Bilal. I’m a tech fanatic (also read: Gamer), who loves scrutinizing fine details. I aim to strive hard in my respective fields (as a writer and software programmer). Before pursuing my majors in a university (right now in A-levels), I want to spend time exploring and reviewing the latest technology.