Going wireless is the next step in connectivity and a wireless card is what your device needs for connecting to the internet. Now, all laptops and computers have these inbuilt into the product itself, so you don’t have to worry much about getting one if it is just to connect to your wifi, especially if you are at home. But, there are many types of Wifi cards (PCI &PCIE) available in the market that can really up your game. Keeping that in mind, we have decided to test the best wifi cards for you.
If you are in the middle of a library or a train station lounge and want to while away a bit of time whilst waiting to depart, you could connect to the wifi there. But with many people and many obstructions, comes a lot of interference.
You may want to just stream a video, or upload a file without having to buffer it, or may want to get better speeds wherever you are, even in a public space like a Library or an airport lounge. This is where a PCIE & PCI wireless card comes in handy.
This is a small device that allows electronic devices to connect wirelessly to the internet, transmitting data by converting your computer’s binary code into radio waves which is picked up by the network. Also known as wireless adaptors, these wifi cards can be plugged into your desktop computer via a USB port, Ethernet port or cable or a PCI-E slot.
The data is relayed with the help of an antenna which is inbuilt into the wifi cards used for laptops, but the PCI cards for desktops have a small external antenna. Wifi cards use both 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio frequency band and they follow the 802.11 broadcast standard.
PCI is the abbreviation for Peripheral Component Interconnect and the PCI-E is the improved version designed to replace the older PCI wireless card. When it comes to comparing the two as the best wifi card, the PCI-E wins hands down. Why, you ask? Here’s why.
You have to understand the differences between the two to know why we feel the PCI-E wireless card is better.
1. Parallel interface vs Serial interface
2. Shared bus vs Individual buses for each connected device
3. Standard slot with speeds of 133Mbps vs 16 slot which can receive speeds up to 16Gbps
Most of us have laptops, and the graphics card installed in it uses a PCI-E wireless card due to the high bandwidth provided by it. Even though devices all connected to the 16 lane PCI-E don’t need to utilize the max 1GBps speed they can receive per lane, it is designed in such a way that ally our devices, ranging from slow to fast can be categorized according to the lanes they are in. Looking at the above comparisons, it’s clear to see why a PCI-E wifi card will be the better option as the best wireless card to have.
The reasons stated above should convince you that you need to stay with the times, or be ahead of it. Having a PCI-E wireless card will only make your life easier, and with the wifi cards evolving for the better day by day, there really is no reason why you shouldn’t opt for a PCI-E wireless card as your choice for the best wifi card. However, many manufacturers still utilize the older PCI standard in their products which may make this a more popular option, but we see that changing rapidly day by day.
1. Asus PCE-AC68
2. Rosewill RNX
3. TP-Link Archer T9E
(Best value for money)
4. Asus AC3100
(Best Card For Gaming)
Let’s be honest, a USB adaptor is pretty convenient as it’s as simple as plugging it into your laptop or computer to get connected to Wifi. But in today’s fast paced world, where you want things to done now and fast, speed matters. Many of the USB adaptors available now don’t have external antennas or some have only one which may affect your power.
This is the main reason why a PCI-E wireless card is a better option for a wifi card rather than opting for a USB adaptor. Many users, including us at the bluegadgettooth team, discovered a drop in speeds between a PCI-E wireless card and a USB adaptor. Also, we found that we had better reception with a PCI-E wifi card. Overall, the PCI-E card gave better performance. Of course, with most wifi cards having Bluetooth capability only dips it in PCI-E’s favour.
Here comes the interesting part. We wanted to know which the best wireless cards found in most computers are and how they compare with each other. Which PCI-E card would be the best wifi card for you? Here are our results!
This wireless card has been given the thumbs up by our team at bluegadgettooth for so many reasons. The easy set up, magnetic base for simple installation were all plus points but the results from our tests revealed that the ASUS PCE-AC68 is a premium wireless adaptor, one that can make a huge difference to your wireless connectivity as compared to other traditional wifi cards.
802.11AC, the 5th generation of wireless standards enables the possibility to reach 1.3 Gbps via the 5GHz frequency band and the TurboQAM hardware helps make the ASUS AC68 a formidable opponent in the best wireless card comparison pool. It uses AiRadar to deliver extended coverage, a stable connection as well as increased data speeds. Not only that, the ASUS PCE-AC68 is a bit like AI – It manages to identify the strongest connections around you and mold the data transmissions to give you the best reliable connection. In fact, as compared to other generic wifi cards, this actually improved the coverage by 150%! And for those of you who are worried that the chip may just heat up – either through constant use or hot weather, this wifi card has been designed in such a way as to disperse the heat so that always enjoys lower temperatures to offer more stability.
Now we come to the main part. For testing, we used our trusty Desktop computer, and we also wanted to see how it compared to a wired Ethernet cable. Of course, wired always came up tops, but we wanted to see just how well the wireless did in comparison to wired. We ran a series of Ping tests and our Ping test was just 1ms higher than the wired, while the jitter remained stable. Next, checking a Speed Test, the download speed was lower than the wired, but it did pretty well for wireless, reaching 280Mbps.Upload speed was more or less constant at 115Mbps. While connected to the 5GHz band, our file transfer rate stayed stable at 80Mbps download speeds, as tested on LAN Speed Test. All these were very good results and it did manage to deliver as promised.
Touted to be the next generation for fast Wifi, the Rosewill RNX-AC1900PCE is backwards compatible with current and previous 802.11 wireless standards while ensuring that you receive high Wifi speeds. The dual band technology allows you to enjoy a lag free internet experience, reaching 1900Mbps on both frequencies. You’ll be amazed at what this wireless card can do. This is one of the best wifi cards available because it is a quick solution to being wire free without paying a lot as compared to many wifi cards in the market.
Having a heatsink (which is sorely needed in many electronic gadgets), means that the heat generated from continuous usage is dissipated efficiently so that your device doesn’t overheat, thereby delivering a better user experience. Equipped with the best internet security technologies available today, you know you’ll always be protected.
While the speeds are awesome enough, what really boosts it is the beamforming technology which improves the wireless connection considerably. Also, the three external antennas offer 3.3 dual band modulation and increased coverage for a stable connection no matter how long your device is running.
As condos and apartment blocks provide the most interference, we decided to take the Rosewill RNX-AC1900PCE wireless card and test it in an apartment complex. Woohooo! Firstly, we have to say kudos for the extremely easy installation process. Download the drivers from the Rosewill website and you’re done! The Ping tests were stable at 12ms, and the speeds! Well, the multiple antennas allows this PCIE wireless card to make the most of MIMO special multiplexing, which in a nutshell, means that you get faster speeds, a stronger signal as well as better data transfers. Depending on what ISP you are subscribing to, chances are, it will help you reach the maximum speeds that are realistically possible.
Whether you’ve moved into a bigger home or you want to go wireless, the TP-Link Archer T9E PCIE wireless card is a great option because it is affordably priced, is a great product for those with basic computer knowledge and it delivers on performance. If you’re looking for a budget AC card, a stable wireless connection and have a PCI-E slot free on your computer, then you should definitely opt for the T9E wifi card.
Being built for high performance, the T9E is one of the best wifi cards out there. With the latest Wifi technology installed in the T9E, it delivers on speed, stability and performance. The omnidirectional antennas help in maximising the stability as well as range of the network and combined with Beamforming technology, you really do end up getting a stable connection.
It is backwards compatible with 802.11 a/b/g/n and is well supported on all Windows versions. The Heatsink technology helps to redirect the heat produced to make the chipset running at an optimum temperature so your performance is not affected adversely.
To be honest, when we installed the PCIE wireless card, we noticed a huge jump in speeds – we could see this even without running a speed test. But when we did run a Speed test, it revealed that this card could easily handle the fast wifi connections. The speed just about doubled, while we have to give a special mention to the beamforming technology that gave us rock solid signal strength.
We could not see any significant packet losses, especially when we were happily gaming away. Low pings made gaming seamless and the stable connection made drops and lags a thing of the past. There were no drops in performance, which was comparable with a wire connection.
ASUS is a brand that has created quite a reputation for itself over the years, and many gamers, me included, have found this brand to be ranked amongst the best for delivering an ultimate gaming experience. ASUS is also the first to release a PCI-E card that offers quad band networking and this powerful networking card is proven to be the best wireless card for gaming for desktop users. A card that follows function over form, the ASUS PCE-AC88 is available in a half height PCI-E card that will fit into any desktop computer, compact or otherwise. This is an amazing product that will really knock your gaming socks right off and it feels like finally, wireless networking is as good as wired networking.
There are many things to rave about, but what has our bluegadgettooth team fawning all over it is the quad band connectivity and the 1024 QAM rating, making this a super powerful wireless card for gaming. The omnidirectional antennas deliver great speeds over long ranges, but you also have the option to replace them with a unidirectional antenna if you wish – but why would you? The ones included in the product are better than most that are available.
It can offer over 3GBps on the dual bands and if the antennas come in your computer’s way, you have the option to place them in an external unit as well.
When in a normal world, you’d need to use two routers and spend four times the amount to enjoy the speeds you get with the ASUS PCE-AC88. While speeds are simple brilliant, as we were getting comparable speeds to a wired connection, at least in short ranges. As we went further away, we found a barely noticeable drop in the speeds. Welcome to the Gigabit world.
While before our data transfers always took time, we found that our heavy multiple GB files transferred at a rate of 850Mbps, which is faster than anything we’ve ever seen. Of course, this being only a few feet away, it wasn’t indicative of real-time performance, so we decided to increase the distance. Tested it again at a distance of 15 feet, and we found the bandwidth was barely impacted at all. Taking it even further to a distance of 35 feet, we say that the speed had dropped to 745 Mbps. The brilliant thing about this whole test is that the files never once stopped or dropped, which usually happens with many wireless technologies. This, in our eyes, is as close as you can come to future proofing your home’s wireless technology.
Of course, our last test involved gaming. With such amazing features, this was more like a reward for our previous testings and reviews rather than work. As you can imagine, gaming was a dream. There is nothing we can compare this to because there is nothing like this yet. We did combine it with an ASUS router to really get the best compatibility, but honestly, gamers – there is hope after all, and it comes in the form of the ASUS AC88 wifi card.
Wireless technology is 21st century technology, but not all desktop computers are equipped with the best wireless cards to enjoy seamless wireless networking. If you want to jump on the wireless networking bandwagon, you need to install a PCI or PCI-E wireless card onto your computer. And how do you do that?
This may seem like common sense, but a lot of people don’t realize the dangers of working on your computer’s parts while it is still active. You could damage your computer or even yourself.
While the steps or the way you remove the case may differ form computer to computer, you’ll be able to notice that one side of your device has a removable panel. You may need a screwdriver for this. Remove the screws, or keep your eyes peeled for any leverage that may click open your panel. Whatever you do, don’t try to force it open, you may just damage your device.
There will be a bunch of empty slots on your motherboard at the rear, near the removable metal plates.
You will need to remove the metal plates by either unscrewing them or pulling the plastic clip that hold them in place. If in doubt, with any component of your computer, please do check your Computer manual. Leave any protectors on empty slots as they are, if they are not being used.
We don’t mean being sent to your room, but that you have to ensure that you do not emit any electrostatic discharge which could damage the more sensitive and delicate parts of your computer internals. Just touch a metal water tap.
Once it has been removed from its packaging, handle it carefully and avoid touching the card’s circuitry. Line it up to the slot you are planning to insert it into, and then press down firmly. Always make sure that it is aligned correctly and is seated well before trying to push further to avoid damaging it. When possible, leave an empty slot between your wireless card and another card already installed to help keep the circulation and components cooler.
Re-insert the screws you had removed earlier and ensure that the card is fastened properly to avoid any accidents.
Use the screws removed earlier to put your removable panel back in place.
You would have received a setup program disc with your wireless card. If your computer does not automatically detect the presence of the card, you may have to download drivers form the company’s website.
Once all has been successfully set up, you can then insert the external antennas to the card.
If you have made the decision to go for a wireless card, you would, of course, want the best wifi card available. But there are certain points to keep in mind while choosing your wireless card.
Once you have decided to buy the best wireless card for you, you will need to determine whether you want PCI or PCI-E. In all fairness, as of now there isn’t so much of a difference between the two because internet technology and bandwidth has not improved drastically.
However, that being said, it is better to future proof your home’s wireless technology because the day is coming near when fibre technology will replace cable, and that is when you’ll feel the difference. With PCI-E being the newer, improved version of PCI, if you are planning to go for a wireless card, we recommend opting for a PCI-E card. It offers more bandwidth and is great for heavy local transfers, and for now, this is option that everyone should go for.
Hey, it's Tomas here! I'm the founder and chief editor here at BlueGadgetTooth. After spending hours explaining my parents how to hook up their Internet, why it's being so slow etc. I decided to start this blog to help people with their gadgets and questions about technology.