If you are not a fan of cabling or just want to have a wireless capability on your PC and your motherboard doesn’t support it, you need a Wi-Fi card. These devices are usually not too expensive and are available in a variety of options. However, that little bit complicates the whole process of finding the best PCIe Wi-Fi card, because too many options usually lead to confusion.
Nevertheless, a little bit of guidance, combined with our advice, should make everything much easier and help you find the best fit.
How to Choose the Best PCIe Wi-Fi Card
When talking about Wi-Fi cards, there are a few distinctive characteristics you should pay your attention to and they include:
Data transfer speed and bandwidth
The most important aspects of any Wi-Fi card are its supported data transfer speed and bandwidth. Some cards support mediocre speeds of around 300Mbps in only 2.4GHz band, while others support for both 2100Mbps in 5GHz band and 1000Mbps on 2.4GHz band, or in total 3100Mbps.
Of course, for the majority of users, dual-band card with a combined speed of up to 1300Mbps is more than enough, while 3000Mbps rate is an overkill unless you are a die-hard gamer or streamer.
Number of Antennas
Although it might seem unimportant, the number of antennas is actually pretty important for the proper signal reception. More antennas provide better wireless connection because they can be positioned in more directions, and as a result, offer better signal coverage.
The last thing you need with your PC or any of its components is that it heats up too much. Therefore, be sure that the Wi-Fi cards heatsink provides good heat management before the purchase.
Fact is that the majority of Wi-Fi cards support multiple operating systems. Nevertheless, they never support every version of a certain OS. For instance, maybe they do support Windows 7 and 10, but not the Vista or XP.
For that reason, do your homework and don’t end up with a card that just can’t work in your ecosystem.
8 Best Wi-Fi Cards
ASUS PCE-AC88 AC3100
One of the Fastest Wi-Fi Cards Available
If you are looking for the super-fast Wi-Fi card, with amazing reception, ASUS PCE-AC88 AC3100 is the card for you. Although it is expensive, its excellent 2100Mbps speed in 5GHz band and 1000Mbps on 2.4GHz band surpasses all the competition. In other words, you are not only getting the best performance possible, but also a future-proof product, which partially explains its high price tag.
ASUS PCE-AC88 AC3100 comes with a one-year warranty, it supports Windows 7 and 10 (unfortunately, only their 64-bit versions) and more importantly, it is equipped with a custom heatsink that proves to be very efficient in heat dissipation.
Along with that, this card is fitted with four R-SMA antennas that have a magnetic base, which allows for their high-flexibility, and MU-MIMO functionality, which supports for up to four high bandwidth connections.
Overall, if you want the best PCIe Wi-Fi card available, ASUS PCE-AC88 AC3100 should undoubtedly be your first option.
- Super-fast speeds
- Long-range reception
- Highly efficient heatsink
- Trouble drivers
TP-Link AC1300 PCIe Wireless Wi-Fi PCIe Card (Archer T6E)
An Affordable, Highly Efficient Wireless PCIe Card
Good performance, followed by long-range signal and affordable price, is the first thing that should come to your mind when you think about TP-Link AC1300 PCIe Wireless Wi-Fi PCIe Card (Archer T6E).
This adapter, with its 867Mbps speed in 5GHz band and 400Mbps speed in 2.4GHz band is highly suitable for both gaming and 4K video streaming, while its two external antennas are responsible for a great, long-range reception that makes it ideal for large homes, or offices.
Moreover, TP-Link AC1300 PCIe Wireless Wi-Fi PCIe Card (Archer T6E) is equipped with an efficient heatsink that will keep your device cool, but more importantly, it supports QAM technology (16 QAM, 64 QAM and 256 QAM) that boosts speeds and allows for data transfer prioritization.
This card comes with Windows support, but unfortunately, it isn’t compatible with Linux systems. It is easy to install and offers a modest two-year warranty, which is rather acceptable considering its price.
Altogether, TP-Link AC1300 PCIe Wireless Wifi PCIe Card (Archer T6E) is one of the best Wi-Fi cards for gaming available and one hell of a deal considering its great value for the money.
- Long-range reception
- TurboQAM that boost speeds
- A quality heatsink
- Not compatible with Linux
A Good Performance and Practicality in One
If you are in a pursuit for a Wi-Fi PCIe card that will deliver both decent speeds and lag-free performance, which will allow for a good gaming experience, Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I should be high on your list.
This card comes fitted with two detachable antennas, that are attached by a cable that allows for their easier positioning, while the base of the antennas is made from a magnet and therefore, provides quick mounting.
Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I is a dual-band card with speeds of up to 875Mbps in 5GHz range and of up to 433Mbps in 2.4GHz range, which is more than enough for a trouble-free gaming or movie watching. Moreover, this card comes with Bluetooth 4.2 connection that allows for its easy pairing with the compatible devices. However, its usage demands for a USB connection between the card and the motherboard, which might be a problem for many.
Nevertheless, its long-range reception provides an opportunity for usage in various spaces and locations, while its solid performance undoubtedly makes it one of the best Wi-Fi cards on the market and an overall great purchase for a whole range of users.
- A quality Bluetooth capability
- 800Mbps speeds
- Powerful antenna
- Uses a USB port
Fenvi PCIe Wi-Fi Card AX200
A Super-fast Wi-Fi PCIe Card, Ideal for Gaming Fans
Fenvi PCIe Wi-Fi Card AX200 is a one-of-a-kind device, which offers amazingly fast speeds and allows for a trouble-free gaming spectacle in the comfort of your home. This is, without a doubt, one of the best Wi-Fi cards for gaming. It offers latency-free performance, with staggering speeds of up to 2400Mbps in 5GHz range and a bit more modest 574Mbps speeds in 2.4GHz range. In other words, everything you need is to connect it to a gaming router and the fun can begin.
However, although it offers great speeds, they are not always consistent, especially in the case of large downloads, which can present an issue for many. Nevertheless, these speed dropdowns are not regular and don’t drastically affect the overall performance, however, they do exist and should be acknowledged.
This card offers great compatibility and support for Chrome OS, Linux and Windows (even XP) and is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 that allows for its easy connecting with the compatible devices, such as headsets, keyboards, or mobile devices. Also, it supports MU-MIMO technology and Beamforming, while, thanks to the OFDM modulation, it provides lag-free performance, as mentioned earlier.
Fenvi PCIe Wi-Fi Card AX200 comes with a one-year warranty, it is equipped with two detachable cable antennas and overall presents one of the best Wi-Fi cards available. This card isn’t perfect; however, if you are willing to accept its drawbacks, you can be sure it will repay you on a large scale.
- Detachable antennas
- Great speed
- Difficult setup
- Speeds aren’t always consistent
ASUS PCE-AC56 PCI Wireless Express Adapter
A Decent-Performing Wi-Fi Card for Users Who Respect Great Reliability
ASUS PCE-AC56 PCI Wireless Express Adapter is a card that offers decent performance, but more importantly, a highly reliable one, which put it at top of the class in that department. This card offers dual-band operations and supports speeds of up to 876Mbps in 5GHz range and 400Mbps in 2.4GHz range. Also, it supports various modulation technologies such as OFDM, CCK, DQPSK, DBPSK, 64 QAM and 16 QAM that drastically improve its performance and allow for data transfer prioritization.
Thanks to its external antenna, discovering the perfect position where you can reach the strongest signal is easy and simple, which in a combination with its long-range reception makes it ideal for large spaces.
ASUS PCE-AC56 PCI Wireless Express Adapter allows for easy installation and is compatible with Windows (even XP), but unfortunately, it doesn’t support Linux. It is equipped with a quality heatsink that provides good heat management and overall represents a good wireless solution, with numerous features.
In other words, if you are into a reliable connection and decent FPS rates, ASUS PCE-AC56 is a great deal and among the best PCIe Wi-Fi cards available.
- Data transfer prioritization
- A long-range reception
- It doesn’t support Linux
A Very Fast Wi-Fi Card, Ideal for Highly Demanding Gamers and Streamers
If you are into fast-performing Wi-Fi cards but are not willing to spend a small fortune on one of them, the perfect solution for you is Rosewill RNX-AC1900PCEv2. This is a card that offers a reasonable price, solid reception range, and more importantly, great speeds (1300Mbps on 5GHz range and 600Mbps in 2.4GHz range), which makes it perfect for gaming or HD video streaming.
The device itself is fitted with four detachable, omnidirectional antennas that are responsible for its solid performance, while its good compatibility makes it highly suitable for any sort of Windows-based system. However, be aware that on Windows 10, there might be issues with the driver that can crash with larger operating system updates and can’t be fixed without a driver update, which on the other hand you might wait on for some time, because of the not-that-prompt Rosewill software department.
In other words, if you own a PC with a Windows 7, 8, or even XP, this card is a great deal, but if you are among the Windows 10 users, better skip this one and go for something else.
- Fast performance
- Easy to install
- Issues with the driver on Windows 10
A Great Deal for the Money
FebSmart (FS-AC85BT) is a device that, before anything else, offers a great value for the user. It has dual-band Wi-Fi that supports speeds of 876Mbps in 5GHz range and 300Mbps in 2.4GHz range, supports Linux, Windows 7, 8 and 10 and offers numerous features for enhanced performance such as Beamforming, 2X2 MU-MIMO, etc.
Along with that, it is equipped with Bluetooth 4.1 for easy pairing with compatible devices and custom heatsink, which does a great job of keeping the card cool.
The adapter itself is easy to install and generally represents a good option for multiple uses, such as internet surfing or audio transmission, but also more complex tasks such as online gaming or 4K streaming.
All in all, although its performance won’t amaze anyone, FebSmart (FS-AC85BT)’s affordability in combination with great features and compatibility make it one of the best Wi-Fi cards for PC and overall great value for the money.
- Solid performance
- Great set of features
- Issues with the driver on 32-bit Windows 7
TP-LINK TL-WN881ND Wireless N300 PCI Express Adapter
Simplicity at its Best
Sometimes, good usability followed by a low price is all that a customer needs, and TP-LINK TL-WN881ND Wi-Fi card was made for that reason, in the first place.
This adapter doesn’t offer staggering features or excellent speeds. It supports the modest 300Mbps speed in only one (2.4-2.48GHz) range and offers a limited number of functions, such as support for 2T2R MIMO and numerous modulation technologies that, among others, include 16-QAM, 64-QAM, CCK, OFDM, etc.
As mentioned, its performance isn’t spectacular; however, it is still better than that of most USB Wi-Fi adapters, which, considering its extremely low price, makes it a highly attractive option for every not-too-demanding user.
TP-LINK TL-WN881ND offers great compatibility and support for various Windows versions, including XP, but also Linux, which makes it suitable for a wide range of users.
Altogether, although this card isn’t among the best PCIe Wi-Fi cards according to its performance, its great usability, followed by great compatibility and low price is what makes this device so great and one of the better deals on the market right now.
- Good compatibility
- Easy installation
- Below-average performance
If you have decided to make your life better by using a PCIe Wi-Fi card, this guide should be enough for you to start searching for the right one. We are sure that you can find your new companion on this list, so just keep your needs in mind and you can’t go wrong! Happy shopping!