The USB wireless network adapter is the best option for getting the WiFi connectivity on almost any device. Find the best wireless USB network adapters.

USB Wireless Network Adapter

USB – Universal Serial Bus was designed to standardize all computer peripherals (mouse, keyboards, digital cameras, printers, media players, disk drives, memory cards and network adapters). It enables both communications and power supply. The other devices like smartphones, PDAs, game consoles, tablets also have USB ports.

Different USB Sizes

USB has four different sizes of the connectors.

  • Standard size with the USB 1.1, USB 2.0 and USB3.0 versions – usually on memory cards and disk drives.
  • Mini size – usually on cameras.
  • Micro size with USB 1.1/2.0 and USB3.0 versions – usually on smartphones.
  • On-the-Go – in both mini and micro sizes.

Different USB versions

USB has lots of different standards that define the data rates:

  • USB 1.X
  • USB 2.0
  • USB 3.0
  • USB 3.1

USB 1.x

USB 1.0 has the following data rates:

  • Low data rates of 1.5 Mbps
  • Full bandwidth of 12 Mbps

Usually they have white connectors and they can work also on USB 2.0.

USB 2.0

  • Maximum data rates of 480 Mbps
  • Effective data rates up to 35 Mbps or 280 Mbps

Connectors are usually black.

USB 3.0

  • Data rates of 5 Gbps
  • Effective data rates up to 500 Mbps or 4 Gbps.

They usually have blue connectors and they are compatible with the USB 2.0.

Different Types of the Wireless USB Network Adapter

The USB wireless network adapters are usually in two forms.

  • “Small” WiFi USB adapters.
  • WiFi USB adapters with antenna.

Small WiFi USB Adapters

A small wireless USB network adapters don’t have an external antenna. They are the best option for the following cases:

  • You need WiFi connectivity on the device.
  • You need a new WiFi USB adapter which works on the new WiFi generation.

Your computer is without WiFi connectivity and logical step is to buy a wireless USB network adapter. The other, maybe the more common, case is that your device has a built-in WiFi card that works on older WiFi generation.  Buying the new WiFi USB card can enable faster speeds and better performance. More about different generations of WiFi (a, b, g, n and ac) you can read on what does WLAN stand for.

WiFi USB Adapter with Antenna

Your wireless built-in card has poor WiFi signal. One of the options to boost the wireless signal is to buy a USB wireless network adapter with external antenna. This kind of WiFi adapters is more expensive, but they external antenna should bring you stronger WiFi signal, higher data rates and better coverage. Read more about the WiFi adapters with an antenna on the USB WiFi antenna.

If you have problems with the wireless range, I recommend that you check the following articles:

There are different kinds of wireless adapters. More about the wireless adapters you can learn on wireless internet card.

The Best USB Wireless Network Adapters

There are lots of different wireless USB adapters on the market. I will show you the most reliable and with the best performances.

Medialink Wireless-N USB Adapter (150 Mbps) – 802.11n, 2.4 GHz


  • Professional and knowledgeable support.
  • Easy installation on Windows, OSX and Linux.
  • Plug and play installation for Windows 7.
  • Very small but powerful.
  • Can be replaced very easy, fast and without any cost, if you get a faulty device.


  • Possible problems with the wireless signal at bigger distances with obstructions.
  • A configuration utility is confusing.
  • Possible interaction problem with ZoneAlarm.
  • You could get the defective product, but it is very easy to replace it.

ALFA Network 1000mW AWUS036H High Power Wireless G 802.11g WiFi USB Adapter with 5 dBi Antenna


  • Larger and powerful device.
  • Works with very weak WiFi signals.
  • Significantly increases the WiFi signal.


  • Large.
  • Possible problems with installation for beginners.
  • Poor installation instructions.
  • Be gentle with the USB connecter, so you don’t break it.
  • Installation problems with Windows 8.
  • Customer support.

USB Wireless Network Adapter – Conclusion

Wireless USB network adapters are great product, because they are very flexible. They can enable WiFi access on different kind of devices: laptops, desktops, smartphones, smart TVs, game consoles, Blue ray players, tablets. If you decide to buy the USB wireless network adapter, my advice is to choose the devices I mentioned in this article.

What is your experience with the WiFi USB adapters? Leave a comment.

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