We spent over 40 hours researching and testing network 13 different types of wireless cards and found that wireless transmission speed, number of antennas, and warranty were most important. The TP-Link wireless network card scored high in all categories and is out top pick. This device allows desktop computers to connect to high speed internet easily and to operate at fast speeds as well. It is easy to install and has bundled CD utility as well as three antennas wireless performance and stability was unbeatable. We were able to get smooth and consistent HD video streaming, online games and more.
Owning a wireless network card is essential for connecting to the internet quickly and successfully, but not all cards are alike. There are tons of different wireless cards on the market, and that’s why we’re going to discuss the top rated models so that you can quickly understand what customers benefit from most. These three cards are going to give you the performance that you crave, so that you can easily connect to the internet and get the job done. Then, in our buyer’s guide we’ll discuss what other kinds of wireless cards are on the market, so that you can make the most informed decision possible.
Top 10 Wireless Network Cards
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These top rated wireless internet cards are going to help you to connect to the internet with record speeds and more ease than you ever imagined possible. When you purchase one of these cards you can be sure that you’re getting something that is going to stand the test of time and give you the efficiency that you crave. If you’re still not sure, then this buyer’s guide is meant to assist you in making a sound purchase. Here we’ll talk more about the interesting history of wireless connectivity, and what kinds of network cards are out there.
Wireless Network Card Comparison Chart
Wireless Network Card Buying Guide
What is a Wireless Network Card?
Wireless adapters are also known as wireless cards, and they are small devices that allow your computer to connect to the internet with a wireless signal. Many computers already have a wireless adapter installed, but an external adapter is going to attach to your computer through a USB port. You use a wireless adapter to add connectivity to your PC or when you want to improve the capabilities of your device when there is a sub par adapter that is installed. When you select a network card, you want to consider its speed, connection type, and other features that are going to play into your final decision.
History of Wireless Internet
Wireless internet is older than you may realize. The term Wifi came about in 1999, but the technology actually was invented before this time.
- Radio Signals: Wireless internet came about in the 1800s, believe it or not, when Heinrich Hertz produced radio waves in 1887. By the time 1894 rolled around, those waves were used to send messages that were called telegraphs, and then the telegraph impulse was enhanced so that you could send messages hundreds of miles away without any kind of interruption.
- Data Transmission: Data specialists then discovered that you could send a basic message in new ways. During WWII, the U.S. Army communication officers used radio signals to transmit data from the battle field. This unexpected use of the message sending service lead to the the University of Hawaii to research how to further expand the use of radio signals.
- First Local Area Network: Finally in 1971, the researchers at the University developed a localized network that was operated using radio signals. They called this network ALOHAnet, and it was the first wireless LAN, operating and creating a link between seven different computers.
- 902 Band: In 1985 the FCC opened bands of the wireless spectrum for the use of communication. They named these bands ‘garbage bands’ because they were very cluttered by things like household appliances that required radio waves to function. This then forced Wifi technology to use licensed bands, and they risked interference with other technologies. Researchers realized that wireless internet was only possible if everyone was on the same radio frequency, so a committee was formed by Victor Hayes to create a common internet connection.
- 11 Band: In 1990, the committee for this band developed standards for wireless internet devices. There were then several variants of this that were created, and each one made important upgrades in terms of service capabilities. Use of the technology was expensive, and each successive one was more expensive than the one before it.
Features to Consider
When you choose a wireless adapter, there are several things that you want to keep in mind so that you make the right selection.
- Card Design: There are various card designs that are intended to help you to connect your computer in different ways. You need to understand which devices are compatible with a computer, so that the wireless adapter that you purchase can work with the computer of notebook of your choosing.
- PCI: This kind of card in installed into your computer. This works if the computer has a PCI slot that it can be inserted into. With most PCI cards you will have an external antenna, and this simply slides into the PCI slot as if it were an SD card.
- PCMCIA: This is also called a card bus, and it’s inserted into a slot on your notebook computer that was not purchased with a pre-installed wireless adapter. These kinds of adapters have an external antenna as well, but it’s not as visible. When you install it correctly, it sticks out of your notebook base ever so slightly.
- Mini-PCI: This is also like a card bus, but it is designed to be used with notebook computers. You slide it into the slot on the side of the computer and it sits completely flush against your computer base. There is an internal antenna, so you don’t have to deal with anything protruding out after it is installed. It’s slightly complicated to install this card, so you may need assistance from a tech support team.
- USB Adapters: These kinds of wireless network cards look as though they are flash drives. They plug into your PC or notebook through the USB port, and they’re more portable and easier to install than the other kinds of network keys. It’s also possible to use this kind of card between multiple devices.
- Compact Flash: A compact flash is going to slide into the memory card slot in any mobile device, and it works for pocket PCs as well. This helps these small devices to connect to the internet. They’re extremely small, and they can slide directly into a CF slot in these small devices. You have to install software before wireless internet signals become accessible.
- Ethernet Connection: With older computers, you find that they have an Ethernet connectivity port, and this helps to wire internet into the computer. Ethernet adapters will connect your computer using the Ethernet port, and they allow your device to access the wireless internet signal. These are very popular adapters when you’re using a gaming system, like a Playstation or Xbox.
You’ll find that 802.11 comes in four different speeds, but they all use the same basic technology. You need to understand the differences between the four speeds before you select the right adapter for you. This will use two different antennas to carry a great amount of information over the signs. This kind of thing is also resistant to interference, but there may be some interference with nearby networks. Know what kind of speed you’re looking for before you purchase an adapter.
Always consider security before you purchase. There are three types of security protocol settings for a wireless adapter; WEP, WPA, and WPA2. You need to make sure that the wireless adapter that you select uses the same security protocol as the access point that the signal is going to be received from. If they don’t use the same security protocol then they won’t be able to share information and the signal is not going to work.
You need a wire adapter for your computer’s connectivity to be successful on a wireless network. There are a large number of businesses, hotels, and restaurants that use wireless technology for the services that they provide, and since more people are using mobile devices to use the internet when they’re on the go, it’s even more important to understand the benefits and limitations of various wireless adapters, and what networks they’re compatible with. You must fully understand the device that you’re going to be using before you purchase a network card. If you buy something that is not compatible then you’re not going to get the connection that you seek. When you pay attention to all the information in the buyer’s guide then you’ll be much better equipped to find the right network card for you. Most network cards are fairly similar in price, but once you get something that has enhanced speed you’re probably going to be paying a bit more.
A network card is going to help you to connect to the internet, but there are lots of different kinds out there to choose from. When you’re looking for the right wireless card for your device, you need to begin by understanding your device, so that you get something that is truly compatible. The top rated wireless cards work with most devices, and they’re built from durable materials that are sure to last. They also feature lightweight designs that are easy to take on the go. When you need something that is portable, you can be confident when purchasing one of these top rated cards. But there is a lot out there to choose from, and that’s why our buyer’s guide is here to help you to make the right selection. You’re going to see that when you have a high quality network card, you’re going to be connecting to the internet faster and more efficiently than ever before.