What Is A PCI-E WiFi Adapter?
My research began with finding out which types of PCI-E WiFi adapters are available. I was not 100% certain. Let’s say you have a spare PCI slot on your desktop computer. You can purchase a wireless adapter with at least one antenna to communicate directly with your WiFi router.
If you decide to go this route, it will require opening your computer and installing the PCI-E WiFi card. This worked for me because I have years of experience with computers, but it might be scary for you.
It’s pretty simple to do. You can ask a computer shop or friend familiar with computers to help you if you don’t feel like doing it.
- Strong network connection
- Built-in antennas
- USB port not required
- Installation is required
- Not a portable device
Requirements For Wifi Cards: Slot And PCIe Lane
A PCIe WiFi Card requires only one PCIe lane. It therefore only needs the smallest x1 slot.
To understand why a PCIe WiFi requires only an x1 slot, it is necessary to know what PCIe lanes and throughput rates are.
A WiFi 6 card (802.11AX) has a maximum transfer rate of 2.4 Gbps at a 5 GHz frequency. This is approximately 300 MB/s.
A single PCIe lane that conforms to PCIe 3.0 can transfer at a speed of 985 Mb/s. This is three times faster than the maximum transfer rate for the WiFi 6 card, so that a single x1 slot will suffice.
There is a lot to be aware of when you refer to Gbps or GB/s. The former is Gigabits per Second, while the latter is Gigabytes per Second.
You will need to insert the PCIe WiFi Card into a PCIe slot on your motherboard in order to use it. An x1 space should suffice to provide the bandwidth required, as mentioned previously.
If you don’t have an x1 slot available, the card can be plugged into any larger PCIe slots. The card’s performance will not be improved by being placed in an x4 slot with 4 PCIe lanes.
It is more difficult to install a PCIe card than a USB WiFi card. First, open your computer case. Next, you’ll need to locate an empty slot on your PCIe card and then plug it incorrectly.
To ensure that your card doesn’t fall out of the case when it is upright, you will need to tighten its retainer screw.
Be sure to ground yourself before you attempt this. This will help to eliminate any electrostatic charges which could cause damage to your system.
The majority of newer cards can be used immediately if they are not already. If they aren’t, most cards will come with a Driver CD or a manual that includes a link to the website from which you can download drivers.
The speed at which you receive speeds and the rated speeds will vary depending on your card model, as well as the physical settings of your system. The distance between the device and obstructions, as well as signal strength, will affect the speed.
You can compare WiFi modems by using the throughput rate or maximum transfer rate of the device. The latest PCIe WiFi 6 cards average 2.4 Gbps (300 MB/s max transfer speed at 5 GHz frequency) and 574 Mbps (5.75 MB/s on 2.4 GHz Frequency).
You can rest assured that most of the latest devices work at 5 GHz frequency and use faster 2.4 Gbps speeds.
What Is A USB WiFi Adapter?
This USB device provides connectivity to your WiFi router. Although not all USB adapters include an external antenna, many do. You can also use a USB wireless adapter with the many USB slots that most desktop computers have.
A USB wireless adapter’s best feature is its ability to be used by anyone to establish a connection to the Internet quickly and easily. It doesn’t require you to install anything or take off the cover of your computer.
Plug the USB WiFi adapter into a spare USB slot on your computer. You are now good to go. I tested a variety of USB wireless adapters, and all were very simple to plug in and use.
You may now be asking yourself, “Why to bother considering a PCI E WiFi adapter when the USB solution is so easy to install and set up?”. I thought the same thing, but both types of WiFi adapters have their advantages and disadvantages.
- Plug and Play
- It is easy to set up
- Long-term hot usages
- USB port required
- No built-in antennas
- Less powerful than the PCIe cards
USB WiFi is much more accessible to set up than PCIe WiFi cards. There is no need for any special equipment. You can plug your device in using the free USB port provided by your computer. After the drivers have been installed correctly, you are ready to go.
Many factors affect the performance of a USB WiFi card adapter, including where it is plugged in. However, most USB WiFi cards still comply with older WiFi 5 and 802.11ac protocols.
This will allow you to achieve speeds up to 867Mbps (108 Mb/s for the 5GHz band) and 400Mbps (50 Mb/s for the 2.4GHz band)
PCI Vs USB Wireless Adapter Comparison
For demanding internet users, WiFi PCIe cards are preferred. They offer high speeds, stability, and greater bandwidth. The card fits inside the PCIe slot on the motherboard, which provides more stability.
The PCIe WiFi cards perform better than older cards due to their conformance to the WiFi 6 protocol. They can transfer data at a maximum speed of 2.4 Gbps.
USB WiFi cards work at WiFi 5 speeds. They can transfer data at speeds up to 867 Mbps.
Also, the USB version has a significant impact on the speed of the USB WiFi Card. You should ensure that you purchase a USB 3.0 WiFi card and not a 2.0 one.
This video compares a WiFi 6 card to a WiFi dongle on performance.
It is easy to set up USB WiFi cards. These cards do not require knowledge of PCIe slots or lanes and do not require skill in opening the PC case.
USB WiFi cards can also be carried and used on desktops as well as laptops.
You will need a PCIe expansion slot and a PCIe lane to install a PCIe WiFi card.
If your computer has 16 PCIe lanes and an installed graphics card designed to use all 16 PCIe lanes, your PCIe WiFi card won’t work. A primary computer typically has 20 PCIe lanes, fortunately.
You will also need to ensure that your PCIe slot remains open and blocked by any expansion cards. Sometimes, larger graphics cards can block smaller PCIe expansion slots.
This is not usually an issue if you have a USB card. Many computers have many USB slots. To increase the number of USB slots that you have, you can purchase a cheap USB hub. However, this may slow down the speed and ping rate.
Ping Time/ Latency
A USB 3.0 network card is as fast as a PCIe card in terms of ping times.
The distance to the WiFi router, the USB version, and whether you’re using a desktop or laptop are all factors that affect the ping.
An Ethernet cable connection will give you the best ping rate.
Although you may find bargains on PCIe WiFi cards, they are usually more expensive than USB adapters.
USB Vs PCI Wireless Adapter: Which Is Better?
You can now make an informed decision about which wireless solution is best for you.
If you are using a desktop computer and don’t intend to move the wireless card around and place the antennas correctly (preferably so that the Wi-Fi signal doesn’t need to travel through the case), a PCIe card will likely provide better performance.
A USB wireless adapter has its advantages. It is small and easy to set up, transfer between computers, and transfer data at very high speeds. You may be able to move your router around to achieve better results, as it is likely that it is not in the optimal location for maximum speed.
How To Choose A Wireless Network Adapter
You might be deciding on which format to buy. There are many makes and models to choose from, as well as varying prices. Here are some guidelines.
Dual-band capability is highly recommended for both adapters. It is essential to have the ability to choose between 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz transmission speeds for the best reception. Although slower than 2.4GHz, it is more powerful and can penetrate walls and other obstacles better.
Most PCI-e adapters have dual-band capabilities, but not all USB adapters. For example, the TP-Link N300 (UK) is 802.11n-capable, very affordable, and single-band. As you can see, dual-band capability is often prominently displayed in titles.
- TP-Link N900 Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter (TLWDN4200)
Three antennas will give you more power if you choose to use a network card. For example, the AC1900 (UK) from TP-Link has three antennas. It can transmit 1,300 Mbps over 5.0 GHz Wi-Fi (although your internet connection may not be that fast).
- TP-Link Archer AC1900 Wireless WiFi PCIe Network Adapter card
You don’t need dual-band capabilities or more antennas. Your best option is to find a reliable company that can provide a wireless solution for your router. An AC router will have better speeds if it has an AC-capable wireless adapter.
While there will be people who prefer PCI wireless adapters over those who prefer USB, ultimately, the best wireless adapter is the one you feel most at home with. USB is easy and convenient to use.
PCI is manual to install and, although they work well on desktops (and are great for those who travel frequently or use multiple computers), they can be cumbersome. Again, it will come down to your preferences and needs.
Rezence hopes you found this article useful. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.