If you have been keeping up, then you may be aware that PCIe WiFi cards are now a must have for desktop owners. This is because of the high speed offered by these devices, the amazing range they come with as well as the super easy installation process. In this buying guide, we will explore ten of the best PCIe WiFi cards on the market that offer lightning fast speeds, come with dual band capabilities which means that you never need to worry about interference as well as an excellent range which means your PC does not have to be forced to be used in one particular part of the room anymore. Which of these PCIe WiFi cards is the best? We will go through each PCIe WiFi card, bringing the key features present and this will help you make a judgment as to which PCIe WiFi card will best suit your needs. In addition, we will include details about which PCIe WiFi card is best for those on a tight budget.
Alternatively, just skip to the best PCIe Wi-Fi card on Amazon.
Table of Contents
Best PCIe Wi-Fi Cards Comparison Table
List of the 10 Best PCIe Wi-Fi Cards
This is a PCIe Wi-Fi card from the manufacturer, ASUS. As you probably know, ASUS is a computer electronics manufacturing giant. This manufacturer is well known for producing high quality devices that are quite popular among gamers due to their speed, efficiency and reliability. This device is a dual band device and comes with an external magnetic base with 4 external antennae. Dual band means that it works in both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands which means that it is less susceptible to interference as it can has a wide variety of frequencies to choose from and can easily choose the frequency with the least amount of interference. The external magnetic base and flexible antennae allow for you to maximize coverage. In addition, you can attach the individual antennae directly to the PCIe card for compact installation.
This device is efficient. It comes with a custom heat sink that effectively dissipates heat for improved stability and reliability. This means that you do not need to worry about installing additional fans to deal with potential overheating. It has R-SMA antennae connectors which makes it compatible with a wide variety of aftermarket antennae. It has Nitro Quadrature Amplitude Modulation which provides speeds that are up to 60% faster than other cards. This device has a few drawbacks. It is a bit expensive. In addition, a few customers complained about the device has compatibility issues with Windows 10. Due to all these factors, we have chosen this as the best PCIe Wi-Fi card.
This is a PCIe Wi-Fi card from the manufacturer, TP-Link. This manufacturer is well known for making high quality networking equipment. This device is of a very high quality. It operates at a lightning fast speed. This allows for you to upgrade your Wi-Fi card to 1200Mbps speeds. This means that you can stream movies, play games and download a wide host of material without you needing to worry about slow speed or latency issues. It comes with two external detachable antennae. These utilize the latest wireless technology to provide stable connections and boost coverage. It comes with beam forming technology. This technology smartly focuses Wi-Fi signals towards connected devices for stable connections and a boosted range.
This device is very easy to install and setup. It has a heat sink that helps to dissipate the thermal energy generated by the adapter. This means that you do not need to worry about having to install additional fans to deal with the heat. It has a low profile bracket which makes it easy to install in mini-tower computers. The manufacturer claims that the device comes with a “drop dead simple” software installation software provided on the CD that comes with the device. It supports both the 5 and 2.4 GHz bands. It uses Wi-Fi 5, which is commonly known as 802.11ac. It comes with a 2 year warranty. This device has a few drawbacks. A few customers complained about the tech support. In addition, a few customers complained about the product not working properly when set to the 5GHz band. Due to all of these factors, we have chosen this as the best PCIe Wi-Fi Card. Due to all these factors, we have chosen this as the best budget PCIe Wi-Fi card.
This is a PCIe Wi-Fi Card from the manufacturer, Gigabyte. This is a well reputable brand and it produces computer peripherals that are quite popular amongst gamers. This device comes with a host of features. It is very easy to setup and install. The design of the Wi-Fi card makes it easy to install and setup. It is a plug and play device. As long as you are using Windows 10, all you need to do is to plug it in and you are good to go. It comes with Wi-Fi 5. This Wi-Fi technology is not the most advanced, but it offers rock solid performance. It is adequate for most applications that do not include extreme gaming. It has an antennae base that is magnetic. This makes it easy to stick it to any metal part of your computer case.
This device makes it unnecessary to have a Bluetooth dongle. This is because it supports Bluetooth 4.2. This means that you can stream your high quality music from your PC to your high quality pair of headphones. It comes with an excellent range. It works quite flawlessly and most customers praised it for its reliability. This product has a few drawbacks. The Bluetooth feature will use a USB 2 header on the motherboard. In addition, a few customers had challenges using it with the 5GHz frequency band.
This is a PCIe Wi-Fi Card from the manufacturer, EDUP. This device comes with a host of features. It uses the latest Wi-Fi technology. It supports Wi-Fi 6, as well as the OFDMA and AX MU-MIMO technologies. This allows for the card to deliver higher peak rates than other PCIe Wi-Fi cards. It can provide data rates up to 4x greater than the average data rates expected from an average Wi-Fi card. It supports both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. This allows for you to enjoy your videos, games and downloads without any speed issues. The Wi-Fi card comes with beam forming technology which maximizes coverage. It comes with high two high gain antennae that help to focus signal strength towards your devices.
This device comes with wide compatibility. It supports the Bluetooth 5.0 technology. This allows you to connect a wide host of devices to it with great ease. It is compatible with the Windows 10 operating system. It comes with the drivers needed to install and set it up with great speed and ease. The manufacturer offers a one year warranty as well as a 45 day hassle free return policy. This device has a few drawbacks. A few users complained about intermittent Wi-Fi performance. In addition, a few users complained that the drivers can be a bit troublesome to use.
This is an affordable PCIe Wi-Fi card from the manufacturer, fenvi. This device comes with a host of features. It comes in the M.2 2230 form factor. This makes it easy to connect with most modern computers as they have these slots. It supports both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This allows for you to select the band that offers the best performance to you. It supports Multi User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) which is a protocol that allows for you to experience very fast speeds. It comes with two external antennae that provide the widest coverage possible. It has a low profile mounting bracket. It comes with support for a wide variety of operating systems which include, but are not restricted to Google Chrome OS, Windows 10, Linux and more.
This device also has several additional features. It has the latest version of Bluetooth – Bluetooth 5.0. This protocol uses less energy than its predecessors. It supports the latest version of Wi-Fi which is commonly referred to as Wi-Fi 6. It uses transmit beam forming. This improves the power of the signal transmitted. It comes with the Target Wake Time feature that makes it consume less power than other traditional PCIe Wi-Fi Cards. This device has a few drawbacks. This product is only compatible with motherboards with an M.2 Wi-Fi port. In addition, a few customers complained about the design of the card which makes it a bit challenging to fit into the M.2 port.
This is a PCIe Wi-Fi card from TP-Link. This is an adaptor that works just like any other TP-Link devices. It is highly reliable and will definitely impress you with its performance. This device comes with a host of features. It can use either the 2.4 or the 5GHz frequency band. This makes it very easy for you to choose the band that is less congested and suits your needs. It supports high speeds. The manufacturer claims that the device supports speeds of up to 450 Mbps. This allows for you to carry out bandwidth intensive tasks such as HD video streaming as well as basic gaming. It is very easy to install and setup. The manufacturer includes a resource CD as well as a quick installation guide. These are there to help you install and setup the PCIe Wi-Fi card with great ease.
The device is also made with security in mind. It supports 64/128 WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK (TKIP/AES). This allows for your data to be relatively safe from unwanted intruders. The device offers seamless compatibility with other 802.11a/b/g/n products. It comes with 3 external antennae. This allows for you to choose the best position that offers the best wireless signal coverage. It is compatible with a wide host of computer operating systems. These include: Windows XP, Vista, 7, and Windows 8. This device has a few drawbacks. It is rather expensive. In addition, it does not come with Bluetooth.
This is another Wi-Fi card from ASUS. This is a durable, high quality device that comes with a wide host of features. It is very easy to install and setup. If you are using the Windows 10 operating system, you will find it very easy to install. All you have to do is to plug it into your motherboard and you should be able to use it immediately. It comes with a heat sink. This heat sink is well designed and makes the Wi-Fi card look slick. This means that if you have a transparent CPU case, it will definitely make the interior look good. It uses Wi-Fi 5 which is a tried and tested protocol. It comes with two external antennae. These allow for you to get maximum coverage. In addition, you can use the extensible stand that will allow you to put the antennae in the position where you get the best coverage.
This device is fast. It is able to provide up to 867Mbps. This allows you to run bandwidth intensive applications. These include streaming, gaming and downloads. It was designed with security in mind. It supports the following: 64-bit WEP, 128-bit WEP, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPS support. It supports Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and Windows 10. This device has a few drawbacks. It does not support Bluetooth. In addition, it comes with a blue LED that a few people found really annoying.
This is a PCIe Wi-Fi card from the manufacturer, TP-Link. The manufacturer is well-known for making really good networking equipment. This device comes with a host of features. It has two powerful signal-boost, high-gain antennae. These antennae greatly increase the range of the card. This allows for you to have a very smooth experience without any distance limitations. It comes with standard and low profile brackets. This makes it very easy to setup and install especially if you have a mini tower computer. It supports both the 2.4GHz spectrum as well as the 5GHz frequency spectrum and it supports OFDMA and MU-MIMO. This allows for it to have an ultra-low latency. This means that if you have applications such as gaming as well as video conferencing, you will enjoy the performance that this device has to offer.
This device comes with additional features. It comes with the latest security protocols. It is equipped with WPA3. This protocol has been developed to overcome the limitations present in WPA2. This ensures that your information is well protected from hackers. It comes with Bluetooth 5.0. This allows for you to connect your game controllers, keyboards, game controllers and more. It has gold plating on every contact to prevent oxidation. In addition, it comes with a heat sink to ensure that the card provides you with maximum performance. This device comes with a 2 year warranty as well as free 24/7 technical support. This device has a few drawbacks. A few customers complained that the drivers made for the device do not work very well. In addition, the 5GHz band seems to be a bit difficult to use.
This is a Rosewill dual band wireless Wi-Fi adapter. This device has a wide variety of features. It supports Wi-Fi 5. This is the protocol that is commonly referred to as 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. It is rather fast and will be able to meet most of your needs. These include streaming high quality videos, downloading large files as well as video conferencing. It comes with beam forming technology. This allows it to gain maximum coverage as well as to focus the Wi-Fi signals to ensure that there is maximum performance. It comes with advanced security. It supports WPA and WPA2. These are protocols that are well known for their robust performance. It comes with a heat sink which makes it rather unnecessary to install an additional fan to deal with the increased heat dissipation. In addition, the heat sink looks rather stylish and will make the interior of your computer look good – a feature that is quite handy if you have a glass case.
This device has wide compatibility. It supports both 2.4 GHz as well as 5GHz. This means that you do not need to worry which frequency your home router uses. In addition, this means that you can shift to the less congested frequency. This will allow you to choose the best frequency that suits your unique needs. It comes with 4 external antennae. This allows you to position them in such a way that you get the best signal coverage. It is compatible with Windows 8.1 as well as Windows 10. This device has a few drawbacks. A few customers complained that the customer support is not very responsive. In addition, a few customers complained that the performance is rather inconsistent.
This is a PCIe Wi-Fi card from the manufacturer, D-Link. This card comes with a host of features. It is very easy to setup and install. The manufacturer created a software package called the Quick Adapter Setup Wizard. This Wizard will guide you step-by-step through the installation process. This means that you do not need to get a computer technician to get the card up and running. It is fast. The manufacturer claims that the device delivers up to 14x faster speeds than 802.11g devices. This makes it ideal for applications such as internet phone calling, HD video streaming as well as file sharing. It comes with a long range. The manufacturer claims that when compared with the 802.11g protocol, this card is able to provide a range that is 6x greater. This means that you do not need to worry about any range limitations.
This device was also created with security in mind. It supports most of the popular wireless security protocols. These include WEP, WPA, and WPA2. It comes with three external antennae. This allows for you to move them until you get to the position that works best for you. It works with both 2.4 and 5GHz frequency bands. This allows for you to choose the frequency band that works best for you. This device has a few drawbacks. The drivers that come with the device are not of good quality. Consumers found downloading drivers through windows update as a better option than using the drivers that are in the installation disc that comes with the device. In addition, fitting the card into the PCIe slot may be a bit challenging.
Best PCIe Wi-Fi Card Brands
The best PCIe Wi-Fi Card brands are Asus, TP-Link and Gigabyte. Asus is well known for making premium gaming computer accessories and hardware. Their device that we reviewed works very fast and performs up to 60 percent faster than other cards. TP-Link is a manufacturing giant in the computer networking market. Their devices that we reviewed are reliable and perform quite well. Gigabyte is another reputable brand in the computer accessory and hardware market. Their device that we reviewed is easy to use, comes with Bluetooth and is very reliable.
Best PCIe Wi-Fi Card
ASUS PCE-AC88 AC3100 4×4 802.11AC PCIe Adapter
This is the best PCIe Wi-Fi Card. It comes with a host of features. It has a custom heat sink that looks quite gorgeous, it is 60 percent faster than most Wi-Fi cards in the market and it is a very high quality device.
Here are the key features we liked about the PCIe Wi-Fi card:
- High quality device
- Dual band
- External magnetic base and flexible antennae
- Up to 60% faster than other cards
- Custom heat sink
Best Budget PCIe Wi-Fi Card
TP-Link AC1200 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wi-Fi Card
This is the best budget PCIe Wi-Fi card. This is a PCIe card that comes with a host of features. It has beam forming technology which smartly focuses Wi-Fi towards connected devices. It is easy to install and setup, and it operates at a lightning fast speed.
Here are the key features we liked about the PCIe Wi-Fi card:
- High quality
- 2 year warranty
- Beam forming technology
- Lightning fast speed
- Easy to install and setup
How Much Do PCIe Wi-Fi Cards Cost?
PCIe Wi-Fi cards are not quite expensive to buy. They are usually found in the 20 – 130 USD range.
These are the PCIe Wi-Fi cards that are near the 180 USD mark and they come with advanced features. Such features may include an external, separate magnetic antennae base together with the antennae. In addition the devices in this range usually operate at very high speeds. An example of such a device is the ASUS PCE-AC88 AC3100 4×4 802.11AC PCIe Adapter.
These are the devices in the 30 – 80 USD range. Such devices offer rock solid performance and are adequate for the average consumer’s needs. An example of such a device is the TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 PCIe Wi-Fi Card for PC With Bluetooth 5.0
These are the devices below the 30 dollar mark. Such devices often lack advanced features such as Wi-Fi 6 as well as integrated Bluetooth capabilities. An example of such a device is the TP-Link AC1200 2.4G/5G Dual Band Wi-Fi Card.
Types of PCIe Wi-Fi Cards
The way that we classify the different PCIe versions is by having a look at the number of pins. There are 4 main types which are:
PCI Express 1 – has 18 pins and a length of 25 millimeters
PCI Express 4 – has 39 pins and a length of 39 millimeters
PCI Express 8 – has 49 pins and a length of 56 millimeters
PCI Express 16 – has 82 pins and a length of 89 millimeters
You do not need to worry about the length and pins as all of these devices will fit inside the PCIe slot.
Why Do You Need a PCIe Wi-Fi Card?
The PCIe Wi-Fi card is plugged into a PCIe slot present on the motherboard. This means that it is able to send commands to the CPU and receive commands from the CPU in a very quick and efficient manner. This lowers the time delay that occurs between a data request from a webserver and the webserver returning the request to the computer i.e. the latency. This makes it very suitable for applications in which there is a need for a very low latency such as gaming, streaming high definition video files as well as video conferencing.
Most computers come with a limited number of USB ports. You usually would want to use those USB ports to connect removable devices such as Hard drives, USB microphones and USB headsets. If you have a USB Wi-Fi device, then it will mean that you have one USB port that you cannot use as long as you need to stay connected to your network. To avoid this issue, all you need to do is to get yourself a PCIe Wi-Fi card which will give you the freedom to use whichever port you would like to use.
Most PCIe Wi-Fi cards allow for the range to be extended. This is an advantage as you will not have any range limitations that will force you to place your router in a certain undesirable location or place your computer in a very undesirable position.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing a PCIe Wi-Fi Card
Wireless Network Standard
As you know, Wi-Fi has different standards. These standards were referred to as IEEE 802.11n, g and b. After realizing that most people are not very tech literate, a decision was made to change the engineering-like names to consumer friendly names. The most popular version of Wi-Fi is IEEE 802.11ac, which is now known as Wi-Fi 5. The latest version of Wi-Fi is IEEE 801.11ax, which is now known as Wi-Fi 6. You need to choose which network standard works best for you. If you want to future proof your setup, then go for Wi-Fi 6.
Some PCIe Wi-Fi cards allow for you to select between two bands. These are usually 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. This allows you to choose the band that offers you with the best performance. The 2.4 GHz band is relatively congested as this is the same frequency band used by Bluetooth, Zigbee, Microwaves and Cordless Phones. However, most mobile devices support this range. The 5 GHz band is relatively uncongested and is more reliable, but many mobile devices may not support it. Have a look at your needs and then select which band best suits you.
Before even thinking of purchasing a PCIe Wi-Fi card, do your research to check whether there are drivers that support your PCIe Wi-Fi card. Make sure that the drivers are compatible with your current operating system. This will ensure that you save yourself from many sleepless nights spent looking for the right driver for your computer system.
The security of your system is of utmost importance. It is very easy for an intruder to break into your home Wi-Fi network if it has poor security. Try to see the security that comes with the device and choose the most secure encryption protocol that is present. This will save you from a lot of embarrassment and nightmares.
You need to have a look at the physical design of the PCIe Wi-Fi card that you want to buy. First have a look at the dimensions and make sure that it will be able to fit onto your motherboard with ease. You do not want to end up breaking your motherboard’s fragile components. In addition, you need to check if the product has a heat sink. PCIe Wi-Fi cards do a lot of hard work and generate a lot of heat. As a general rule of the thumb, avoid all PCIe Wi-Fi cards that have no heat sinks.
Some PCIe Wi-Fi cards come with a host of additional features. Such features include integrated Bluetooth, LEDs and more. You need to first assess whether these features are relevant to you. If they are then it could be a good idea to purchase a card which supports all these features.
What is a PCIe Wi-Fi Card?
A PCIe Wi-Fi card is a computer peripheral that is connected to your motherboard via the PCI slots and enables your computer to gain wireless connectivity through the use of the Wi-Fi protocol. This allows you to connect your computer to your home’s Wi-Fi network.
How Do PCIe Wi-Fi Cards Work?
PCIe Cards simply allow your computer to gain Wi-Fi capabilities. They are quite similar to USB Wi-Fi devices but they have the main difference in the interface used to connect to the computer system. PCIe Wi-Fi cards use the PCIe interface. This is an interface that is used to connect high speed components to your computer system. By using this interface, your PCIe Wi-Fi card will be able to perform faster than a USB Wi-Fi device as it communicates with the CPU much quicker than the USB Wi-Fi device. Once the card is put in an available slot, the device is then able to send and receive wireless radio signals using the Wi-Fi protocol. This allows for you to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network with great ease. These devices usually come with the ability to use two bands – the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. You are then given the option to select which band best suits your needs and then the device will automatically select a channel that has the least amount of interference to provide maximum performance.
PCIe Wi-Fi Card FAQs
Can They Work With Any Router?
Yes. The card must be able to work with any sort of router.
Can You Connect Them to Two Networks At Once?
That would sound very intelligent as you would get higher speeds, but no. That is not possible.
Where Do I Connect The Card?
Look for the PCI slot on your motherboard. A quick Google search will help you find it in no time.
Do I Need To Add Another Cooling Fan?
In most cases, no. The heat sink usually does the job pretty well.
Do The Cards Work With Linux?
In most cases, yes. You must check with the manufacturer before purchasing to ensure that the device is indeed compatible with your OS.
In this article, we have explored the top 10 best PCIe Wi-Fi cards. We have given a thorough analysis of each PCIe Wi-Fi card. We also included a comprehensive guide aimed at equipping you with the skills of identifying the best PCIe Wi-Fi card to suit your unique needs. In addition, we included a list of comprehensive FAQs for your convenience.
Check out the best PCIe Wi-Fi card on Amazon.