If you’re looking for the best wireless adapter for gaming then you know that not all wireless adapters are created equal.
The fact is, if you want to get an edge on your competitors you need to tweak and improve your specs as best you can. That includes your wireless adapter if you can’t plug directly into your router via DSL… Of course, how good your wireless router is will play a big part too.
Side note: We’ve not found a wireless adapter that beats or equals a direct connection, but there are a number of top quality adapters that you should be aware of.
Types Of Wireless Adapters
You should be aware that there are a number of different types of wireless adapters. Again, not all of these are created equal, especially for gaming.
- 2 (laptops)
Considering the fact that most people gaming from a laptop probably aren’t going to be looking to get a better wireless adapter, we can proceed to talk simply about PCI-E vs USB for gaming purposes.
First of all, USB is limited to the speed of your USB port. That means USB 1 or 2 is going to be far inferior to USB 3. In fact at this point, if you don’t have a USB 3 port then you may as well just get a PCI-E adapter.
PCI-E, on the other hand, is limited by what your motherboard can handle, and this is in all cases substantially more. Don’t forget that USB ports, no matter what the type, is essentially connecting to the motherboard. The motherboard itself, therefore, is always going to have more power and better data transfer speeds than a component that has a buffer between.
Interestingly as well, using more than one USB port does mean that you can be throttling the data transfer speeds. So if you’re using a USB mouse, keyboard and headset this can further slow things down.
However, USB 3 is substantially faster than USB 2 and this means you can achieve acceptable data transfer speeds in 2017. Going in circles again though, not all USB 3 connections are as good as the next, so to some degree the overall quality of your build is going to effect this.
Bottom-line: If you have the capability, PCI-E is going to be superior to USB. However USB offers convenience and requires no real technical knowledge to get working.
Did you know there are different wi-fi bands? Well, there are, and there are four main ones that you need to know about as a gamer that’s on the market for a new wireless adapter.
AC1900 is probably the most sought after band-type currently. Firstly it’s dual band, and second of all it can offer max speeds of up to 600Mbps on the 2.4 gigahertz band. On the secondary 5.0 gigahertz band it can provide up to 1,300Mbps. If you’re looking for max speed, this band specification is what you want.
This is a little bit of an older band, and not as common anymore. However it is actually a dual-band type, despite misconceptions that assert otherwise. Essentially what you need to know about AC1300 is that it’s not close to as fast as AC1900. For this reason you’ll be more likely to come across an AC1300 if you’re shopping on a budget.
Again, AC1200 is an older standard that’s just slightly slower than the AC1300. It’s another common type that’s found in the cheaper types of wireless adapters and is better off avoided if you’re looking for the absolute best wireless adapter for your gaming needs.
Again the AC900 is slower than the former band – AC1200. What makes this an interesting dual-band type though, is that the speed on both bands is equal regardless of the internet you’re using. This means you get a very stable connection where you’re not going to have to deal with wild fluctuations as you might in the AC1200 or 1300. This band is probably our go-to suggestion for people with slower internet connections, provided they’re going to be using PCI-E.
The Best Wireless Adapters For Gaming:
Based off of our above recommendations, we’re only going to recommend the absolute best wireless adapters for your gaming needs.
This means two AC1900’s have made it on our list, while only a single A900 features for those with slower internet speeds. We’ve not included the AC1300 or AC1200 models in our top three since they’re just not close to being the best, even in the unique situations gamers find themselves in.
1. ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-AC1900 PCI-E Adapter (PCE-AC68)
Make no mistake, this ASUS is the absolute best wireless adapter on the market in 2017 for gaming that we’ve come across.
Our testing proved it to be extremely high speed, with no faults. Despite the fact the dual-band of this and most adapters isn’t perfectly balanced, the speeds are so high regardless that you can’t tell a real difference when speeds do drop.
This is a huge plus for anyone on a network that’s got lots of devices connected, and generally if you’re not wired in and you’re looking for a wireless adapter then this is the case.
The PCI-E card itself looks extremely smart, it doesn’t require additional cables during the installation process which is also a huge plus if you’re installing a PCI-E adapter for the first time.
Make no mistake about it, if you’re not wired in this is the absolute best wireless adapter you can get for gaming in 2017. You get all the benefits of the AC1900 band while also blowing any USB adapter out the water since this adapter is a PCI-E.
One thing to say is that to get the absolute best out of this, you’re going to want a router that supports AC1900 as well. So it’s worth looking into the best routers for gaming as well!
2. ASUS USB-AC68 Dual-Band AC1900
We’ve put this one on the list for those of you that have no desire to install a PCI-E adapter directly to your motherboard. It might be because doing so would void warranty or simply because you don’t have the time or knowledge to do so.
Regardless, in our opinion, this AC1900 band wireless adapter is the best USB adapter for gaming.
You’ll need to have a USB 3 port to use this properly, however, it’s definitely the best option out there for anyone looking to get consistently high speeds from their adapter.
3. TP-Link Wireless Dual Band PCI-E Adapter (TL-WDN4800)
For some reason TP-Link doesn’t get talked about half as much as they should, this is a company that has built and distributed some of the very best routers out there.
Considering that this is an AC900 band, you might wonder why we’ve put it on the list of the best wireless adapters.
It’s because this is incredibly well made, and it’s perfect for gamers with slower internet speeds. In fact across all of our testing this PCI-E Adapter showed now inconsistencies or drops in performance.
Considering that this is more of a budget adapter it’s extremely clever with what it does. That being said we’re not surprised given that TP-Link are a top company. Somehow they’ve managed to make this adapter perform excellently for such a small price.
Basically if you’re looking for the best adapter for your gaming needs, then we’ve helped you whittle it down to these three products.
Depending on what your individual needs are, one of these are going to serve you extremely well. If you’re still not decided, remember what we learned about PCI-E vs USB and the different band frequencies. As we said at the start and as you know all too well, not all wireless adapters are created equal!