Best USB Wi-fi Adapter for Gaming

best usb wi-fi adapter for gaming

Finding the best USB Wi-Fi adapter for gaming wasn’t easy, but we did it anyway. We rounded up five great options at five different price ranges.

Depending on your budget/needs, you’ll be leaving with the best one for you by the time we’re done. But, enough of that.

Let’s jump in and take a look at what these guys have to offer!

Finding The Best USB Wi-Fi Adapter For Gaming: Breakdown

Details Our Rating
#1Asus Dual-Band Wireless-AC1300

Asus Dual-Band Wireless-AC1300

  • interface: USB 3.0
  • protocol: 802.11AC/N/G/B/A
  • antennas: 1
4.5/5
#2Linksys Dual-Band Wireless-N USB Adapter

Linksys Dual-Band Wireless-N USB Adapter

  • interface: USB 2.0
  • protocol: 802.11G/B/A
  • antennas: 3x3 MIMO (Internal)
4.25/5
#3Linksys Wireless Mini USB Adapter

Linksys Wireless Mini USB Adapter

  • interface: USB 2.0
  • protocol: 802.11AC/N
  • antennas: 1 (Internal)
4/5
#4TP-Link N300 Wireless Adapter

TP-Link N300 Wireless Adapter

  • interface: USB 2.0
  • protocol: 802.11N/ G/B
  • antennas: 2
3.75/5
#5Rosewill Wireless Adapter

Rosewill Wireless Adapter

  • interface: USB 2.0
  • protocol: 802.11N/G/B
  • antennas: 1
3/5
#1

Asus Dual-Band Wireless-AC1300

Last but not least is our winner, the Asus Dual-Band Wireless-AC1300. We’ll just call it the Wireless AC-1300 from here on out.

First and foremost, the AC-1300 finally supports USB 3.0! This means that it will have minimal latency between you and your games, allowing the best possible wireless gaming experience.

Secondly, this one supports Wireless AC. Wireless AC (802.11ac), alongside USB 3.0, means that it can achieve up to a whopping 1300 Mbps speed, making full utilization of all but the best consumer Internet connections.

In addition to the features on offer in its internals, the antenna is noticeably larger on this one than in other models. With proper installation and adjustment, this should theoretically result in much better range than what’s offered by the other options on this list.

If you’re serious about gaming on Wi-Fi and want to minimize all the problems that come with it, this is your best bet.

#2

Linksys Dual-Band Wireless-N USB Adapter

The Dual-Band Wireless-N adapter from Linksys is another interesting one. While it still doesn’t have USB 3.0 and drops the Wireless AC from the previous entrant, it’s quite a bit more interesting thanks to two new features.

The first of which being its internal antenna array. This is the largest of the plug-it-and-forget-it options because of that, using a 3x3 MIMO antenna array to offer amazing wireless performance despite no visible antenna.

In addition to the MIMO array within the adapter, it also supports proper Dual-Band Wi-Fi and WPS connections. With a max speed of up to 450 Mbps, this is one of the most powerful USB Wi-Fi adapters you can get.

#3

Linksys Wireless Mini USB Adapter

The Linksys Wireless Mini is the tiniest option on this list. Once you plug it into your laptop or desktop, you couldn’t be blamed for forgetting its there due to how small it is.

Interestingly, the Wireless Mini is the first option on this list to offer wireless AC. While we’ll dive into the specifics of the various standards later, that means the throughput on this one should be stronger than any of the ones preceding it.

The only issue is its size. Due to how small this one is, it has an internal antenna that won’t be quite as powerful as the full-fledged antennas in other adapters on this list.

Additionally, despite the jump up to Wireless AC, this adapter still doesn’t support USB 3.0. Because of that and its lack of a proper antenna, the previous criticisms we made about latency still apply to this one, too.

#4

TP-Link N300 Wireless Adapter

The TP-Link N300 is our next budget solution and it’s pretty popular for what it has to offer. It almost resembles a miniature router in its own right, thanks to the fact it has a dual antenna array.

This is where its strengths rise: while it requires you to run a cord and isn’t as plug-and-forget, the dual antennas will allow a much wider, stronger wireless signal than other options. This will alleviate network disconnects significantly and should increase your connectivity range as well.

While it still doesn’t support AC or USB 3.0, it’s one of the best budget solutions out there. If you don’t care about the best-of-the-best Wi-Fi performance and just want something that does its job, the N300 will do that for you.

#5

Rosewill Wireless Adapter

First up is the best budget Wi-Fi solution out there: the Rosewill Wireless Adapter. This particular implementation is an 802.11n solution, which means it supports up to 150 Mbps!

In addition to those great speeds, this Rosewill adapter is also tiny, allowing you to plug it into a USB port and forget it exists after first-time installation. Just pop it into your laptop/desktop and you don’t need to think about it anymore.

There are two downsides to buying in this price range, though: the lack of USB 3.0, and the lack of 802.11ac.

USB 3.0 is the latest USB standard, offering far greater bandwidth and far lower latency than USB 2.0. For wireless adapters, this means that devices locked to 2.0 won’t be quite as responsive as they could be.

While this isn’t a game-breaking problem, it could be an issue if you’re serious about your gaming performance.

Gaming On Wi-Fi Versus Ethernet

Before we wrap things up, let’s take a moment to talk about gaming on WI-Fi.

Let’s just get this out of the way first: if you can use an ethernet cable, use it. Ethernet cables are not prone to interference and connectivity issues in the way that Wi-Fi signals are, allowing gamers to minimize latency and maximize speeds.

If, however, ethernet cables are not an option- like if you’re on the go- this is where Wi-Fi comes in. The weaknesses of Wi-Fi still apply, but if you go with the right wireless solution you should be able to mitigate some of these.

If you don’t mind the occasional lag spike or higher ping times, any of the first four options we’ve provided will do the job. If you’re only occasionally playing on Wi-Fi, like when you take your computer to a friend’s house, this should serve you fine.

If, however, you want to minimize any latency issues while still enjoying a wireless connection, buy the Wireless AC-1300. It is by far the best qualified to give you a seamless, wireless gaming experience, for reasons we’ll dive into below.

Selection Criteria

Wireless Standards

Wireless standards determine the speeds that wireless devices can reach. While various standards are on offer in this list, all of the devices support at least one of the following three:

  • 802.11g - Up to 54Mbps throughput
  • 802.11n - Up to 900Mbps throughout
  • 802.11ac - Up to 1300Mbps throughput

This makes 802.11ac, or Wireless AC, the obvious champion. Which makes a ton of sense, considering it’s the newest standard!

Wireless AC isn’t quite a completely-adopted standard yet, but it’s still quite relevant. All of the latest Wi-Fi capable routers and devices are adopting it as the speed of consumer Internet connections increase, allowing wireless devices to use all the bandwidth available to them.

Even if you don’t have a Gigabit Internet connection, an 802.11ac router and adapter will still benefit your gaming experience thanks to significantly lower latency.

The range of AC is also shorter than N, though. You know what they say: everything’s a choice.

USB 2.0 vs 3.0

USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 are a question of latency and little more. The short version is, USB 2.0 is okay and USB 3.0 is good.

Gaming on Wi-Fi, however, will never be “great” as far as latency is considered. Wireless interference is nigh impossible to avoid, and no Wi-Fi connection will ever be as reliable as an ethernet connection.

Getting a USB 3.0/Wireless AC adapter, however, will at least minimize your gaming on Wi-Fi issues.

Making Your Choice

And that’s it!

We’ve gone through all the best options for USB Wi-Fi adapters for gaming. We hope that our analysis of the contenders, in addition to our info section, helped you come to the right purchasing decision.

Which one was that for you?

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