If you would like to enjoy the convenience of Wi-Fi connections, you must invest in a quality wireless adapter. Unfortunately, finding a quality wireless adapter that matches your individual needs requires a deeper understanding of how Wi-Fi adapters work and what separates them from one another. Although all Wi-Fi adapters serve the same role of helping you connect without the use of wires, it is important to understand that they also have some differences that range from their design to specifications.
Factors and traits that vary in wireless adapters
1. Computer connection
The first decision that you should make when buying the best Wi-Fi adapter is whether you would want a PCI or a USB Wi-Fi adapter. When making your decision on the best type of an adapter, you should consider convenience and performance. USB Wi-Fi adapters are easy to install as they are plug and play devices but PCI adapters require a bit of technical know-how to install as they are installed internally. The PCI Wi-Fi adapters were considered more powerful in terms of performance but the introduction of USB 3.0 has evened the performance issue. If your computer has few USB ports requiring you to detach some devices to use others, you may find PCI adapters more convenient.
2. Wireless Protocol
Although several Wi-Fi protocols exist, the leading two technologies you will likely encounter are the 802.11ac and 802.11n. The differences between these two protocols are transfer speed and frequency. The 802.11ac is the latest protocol and it is designed to work with faster internet connection opportunities offered by recent upgrades such as fiber connectivity. They support the transfer speed of up to 866 Mbit/s and frequency of 5 GHz. On the other hand, then protocol supports two speeds of 150 and 300 Mbit/s and frequency of 2.4 GHz. When choosing the ideal protocol, you should consider the speed of your connection with the aim of matching the speed of your router to that of your adapter for reliability.
3. Operating Wi-Fi Frequency
In addition to the connectivity speed, it is important to note that different frequencies have different strengths and shortcomings. Although an adapter with 5.0GHz guarantees speed when paired with an ac protocol adapter, it is not ideal over a long distance. For example, if you would like to use Wi-Fi from across your home, you may find an adapter with 2.4 GHz more functional. Therefore, the 5.0 GHz protocol is ideal for short distance use while 2.4 GHz is best suited for use in a home with a lot of walls.
4. Build Quality and Size
If you go for a USB unit, you should ensure that it can withstand the normal knocks and accidental falls that will likely happen. You should also ensure that the device will not block other USB ports on your computer.
Wireless adapters come in a wide array of sizes, designs, and specifications. It is always helpful to read reviews of users to find the device that is most applicable to your needs. If you go for PCI adapters, you should also consider the antenna.