The Best Wi-Fi Cards for PCs and Laptops in 2021

If you want a quick and easy way to enable wireless connectivity on your computer you can either get a USB Wi-Fi adapter or a Wi-Fi card. Both solutions are relatively simple to install, although the latter one requires users to open their PC case. But, that’s not so complex of operation as it may seem as. The thing is, the market is crowded with all kinds of Wi-Fi cards. Finding the best Wi-Fi card can be a drag so why don’t you check out this list instead?

We have the best Wi-Fi cards for PC right here. Below, you’ll find best Wi-Fi 6 cards, cards that feature fast speeds and long ranges (perfect to combine with a long-range Wi-Fi router), as well as both PCIe and M.2 Wi-Fi cards. And once you finish reading the list, check out our Wi-Fi card buying guide. It has lots of helpful info regarding Wi-Fi cards. And now, let’s check the best PCIe Wi-Fi cards and the best M.2 Wi-Fi cards you can find right now.

tp-link archer tx50e
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 6
  • Dual-Band: Yes
  • Max Bandwidth: Up To 2402Mbps (5Ghz); Up To 574Mbps (2.4Ghz)
  • OS Compatibility: Windows 10 Only
CHECK PRICES

The Archer TX50E from TP-Link is an excellent Wi-Fi card that connects to your PC via the PCIe interface. The card features Wi-Fi 6 as well as Bluetooth 5.0 support along with two high-gain external antennas. The combination between the latest wireless protocol and external antennas allows the TX50E to reach very fast speeds and to have more than a solid range.

The card can reach, in theory, up to 2402 Mbps over the 5GHz band and up to 574Mbps over the 2.4GHz band. These speeds are very high and even if the real-time performance is slower you’ll definitely be able to reach the ceiling of your internet plan. And thanks to MU-MIMO and Wi-Fi 6-exclusive feature called OFDMA, you can expect next to zero lag and great performance when streaming videos and playing games.

This makes the TX50E a great choice for online gamers and users who need a good range in case their modem, or modem router combo, is far away from their PC. This Wi-Fi card also supports the WPA3 security protocol for increased safety when online (every Wi-Fi 6 card should support WPA3). Overall, the TX50E is a great budget solution for users looking for a PCI Wi-Fi card with Wi-Fi 6 support and external antennas.

Pros:
  • Excellent Specs For The Price
  • Wi-Fi 6 And Bluetooth 5 Support
Cons:
  • No Antenna Base Included In The Selling Package
  • Supports Only Windows 10

ASUS PCE-AX3000 WiFi 6

The Best Wi-Fi Card For Gaming

asus pce-ax3000 wifi 6
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 6
  • Dual-Band: Yes
  • Max Bandwidth: Up To 2402Mbps (5Ghz); Up To 574Mbps (2.4Ghz) – Up to 1000Mbps (5GHz) and 330Mbps (2.4Ghz) In Tests
  • OS Compatibility: Windows 10 And Linux
CHECK PRICES

If you happen to own a Wi-Fi 6 router and are a hardcore gamer enjoying competitive online titles, the AX58BT PCE-AX3000 from ASUS is the way to go. This PCIe Wi-Fi card has everything you need in a wireless card. Dual-band, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 support that comes with tech such as OFDMA to reduce lag. Two external antennas that can be mounted either directly to the card or onto the antenna base, which can be placed anywhere to improve the signal quality. And finally, this Wi-Fi card has seriously fast performance.

This card can achieve about 330Mbps over the 2.4GHz frequency and almost 1Gbps over the 5GHz band. Add excellent range thanks to high gain antennas and the mobile antenna base and you’ve got yourself a powerful Wi-Fi 6 card that should be perfect for gamers. Not only that, but this card is the best desktop Wi-Fi card thanks to its fantastic performance, excellent range, and Wi-Fi 6 support. Just remember that, in order to use Wi-Fi 6 specific features, you need to own a Wi-Fi 6 router.

Pros:
  • Blazing Fast Performance
  • Wi-Fi 6 And Bluetooth 5 Support
  • Antenna Base Allows For Greater Range
  • Excellent Choice For Gaming (If You Own A Wi-Fi 6 Router)
Cons:
  • More Expensive Than Competition

Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I

Solid Wi-Fi Card For Users On A Budget

gigabyte gc-wb867d-i
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 5
  • Dual-Band: Yes
  • Max Bandwidth: Up To 768Mbps
  • OS Compatibility: Windows 7, 8.1, 10
CHECK PRICES

The GC-WB867D-I from Gigabyte is an excellent Wi-Fi card that’s quite affordable. Its only major downside is that it doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6. If you own a Wi-Fi 6 router, there are Wi-Fi 6 choices out there that cost the same. But if you don’t care about Wi-Fi 6, this card’s excellent. First of all, it features an external antenna base with a long cable allowing you to move the antenna around to get the best possible signal quality.

Once you find the best place to put the antenna base you can enjoy using this card that can reach speeds up to 867Mbps. Not the best around but according to user reviews, the advertised performance can be reached in real use scenarios, if you have fast enough internet plan. There are no advanced features such as MU-MIMO or OFDMA so we wouldn’t recommend this card to hardcore gamers. But if you need a reliable card with solid performance and a portable antenna base, this card’s a great choice.

Pros:
  • Excellent Range
  • Solid Performance For The Price
  • Portable Antenna Base
Cons:
  • Doesn’t Support Wi-Fi 6
  • Competitors Offer Wi-Fi 6 Support At The Same Price

Ubit AX200

Excellent Budget Wi-Fi PCIe Card With Wi-Fi 6 Support

ubit ax200
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 6
  • Dual-Band: Yes
  • Max Bandwidth: Up To 2402Mbps (5Ghz); Up To 574Mbps (2.4Ghz)
  • OS Compatibility: Windows 10, Linux, Chrome OS
CHECK PRICES

The AX200 from Ubit is another Wi-Fi 6 PCIe card with fast speeds and an affordable price. This card offers full Wi-Fi 6 support including Wi-Fi 6 exclusive features such as OFDMA or TWT. The two antennas that come with this card can only be mounted directly on the card.

Since there’s no antenna base you won’t be able to tweak the position of the antennas to get a better signal. This is why we cannot recommend this card to hardcore gamers. In order to get the best gaming experience, they have to be able to move the antenna around and they cannot do this with this card.

But everyone else should definitely check out this card. It has excellent performance that’s advertised as up to 2402 Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 574Mbps over the 2.4Ghz band. User reviews mention that the card can top out gigabit internet plans, with speed reaching around 900Mbps.

This is an excellent result, in line with more expensive Wi-Fi 6 cards. On top of its excellent performance, the AX200 also comes with Bluetooth 5.1 support, which brings a number of updates over Bluetooth 5.0. Overall, this is another great budget Wi-Fi card that can reach very fast speeds thanks to its Wi-Fi 6 support.

Pros:
  • Great Performance For The Price
  • Bluetooth 5.1 Support
Cons:
  • There’s No Portable Antenna Base In The Package

Rosewill RNX-AC1900PCEv2

Solid Wi-Fi 5 PCIe Card

rosewill rnx-ac1900pcev2
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 6
  • Dual-Band: Yes
  • Max Bandwidth: Up To 2402Mbps (5Ghz); Up To 574Mbps (2.4Ghz)
  • OS Compatibility: Windows 10, 8, 7, XP
CHECK PRICES

The Rosewill RNX-AC1900PCEv2 is a solid Wi-Fi card that doesn’t offer Wi-Fi 6 support. Its advertised connection speed is up to 600Mbps over the 2.4GHz band and up to 1300Mbps over the 5GHz band. User reviews report speeds of up to 400Mbps.

If you want to get this card, we recommend checking out other cards on this list first. The thing is, many reviews mention instability on Windows 10, especially after an OS update, which are pretty often on Windows 10. They also mention below par customer support that often leads users to replace this card.

On top of all that, this card sells at a higher price than other Wi-Fi cards with Wi-Fi 6 support. Overall, this is a solid Wi-Fi card but the high price, below par customer service, and instability on Windows 10 make it tough to recommend it.

Pros:
  • Solid Performance
  • Four External Antennas
Cons:
  • Too Expensive For What It Offers
  • Low Customer Support Quality
  • No Wi-Fi 6 Support
  • Unstable When Used On Windows 10

Intel Network AX200.NGWG.NV

The Best M.2 Wi-Fi Card

intel network ax200.ngwg.nv
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 6
  • Dual-Band: Yes
  • Max Bandwidth: Up To 2402Mbps
  • OS Compatibility: Windows 10, Linux, Chrome OS
CHECK PRICES

The AX200 Wi-Fi chip from Intel can be installed into any laptop or desktop PC with a dedicated M.2 slot for a Wi-Fi card. It features the A+E M.2 key and should fit into any M.2 slot dedicated for a Wi-Fi card. These slots can be found on some desktop motherboards as well as in most modern laptops.

Now, this card supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connection, which is great for the price. The downside is that if you plan on installing it on a desktop PC get ready to find and install some external antennas, which shouldn’t be too hard. Once you install the AX200, get ready for fast performance. This card can reach 1Gbps if you have fast enough internet plan, which is awesome for the price.

And since external Wi-Fi antennas can be found at very low prices you can build a very fast Wi-Fi chip + antenna combo for cheap. Still, if you own a desktop PC we would rather recommend a regular, PCIe Wi-Fi card. There are excellent cards on this list with Wi-Fi 6 support, great performance and range, and low price. But if you own a laptop, this card is a no brainer recommendation. It’s very fast, it sports an extremely affordable price, and it should fit inside most modern laptops.

Pros:
  • Very Affordable
  • Excellent Performance
  • Supports Wi-Fi 6
  • Can Fit Most Modern Laptops
Cons:
  • Installation On A Desktop PC Can Be Tricky

Intel 9260.NGWG.NV

Excellent M.2 Wi-Fi Card For Those On A Tight Budget

intel 9260 ngwg nv
  • Wi-Fi Support: Up To Wi-Fi 5
  • Dual-Band: Yes
  • Max Bandwidth: Up To 1730Mbps
  • OS Compatibility: Windows 10, Linux, Chrome OS
CHECK PRICES

The Intel 9260NGW is an extremely affordable M.2 Wi-Fi card that can fit most modern laptops and desktop PCs with motherboards that have E or A M.2 slot. This card only supports Wi-Fi 5 protocol but at least it offers full Bluetooth 5.1 support. The advertised speed is 1730Mbps, which is pretty good for an M.2 Wi-Fi 5 card aimed at laptops. User reviews report speeds that reach 500Mbps, which is great and should be enough for most users.

We recommend this card for everyone who’s not happy with the preinstalled Wi-Fi card in their laptop (of course, if they’re able to install it on their laptop), for those who need Wi-Fi connectivity on their desktop PC and have dedicated M.2 Wi-Fi card slot on their motherboard, and for users that had their original Wi-Fi card malfunctioned.

Pros:
  • Very Affordable
  • Supports Bluetooth 5.1
  • Great Performance For The Price
Cons:
  • M.2 Cards With Wi-Fi 6 Support Are Just A Couple Of Bucks More Expensive

How To Choose A Wi-Fi Card

Picking the right Wi-Fi card isn’t that complicated. Just check whether your router supports Wi-Fi 6 and then look either for a card that supports Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6 includes some cool tech that should decrease lag and latency so we recommend a Wi-Fi 6 card and router for all gamers playing over a wireless connection. And no, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a Wi-Fi 6 router since even some sub-$100 routers support Wi-Fi 6.

Next, check user and professional reviews to see the performance and if the card’s fast enough for your internet plan. Remember that M.2 cards’ performance is relative since it depends on the antennas found in different laptop models and different external antennas on desktop PCs. Then, read our USB Wi-Fi adapter buying guide. It’s filled with helpful data for everyone looking for a Wi-Fi card (just skip the USB-specific stuff). And finally, read on about specific things to look out for when buying a PCIe or M.2 Wi-Fi card below.

M.2 Wi-Fi Cards Require A Dedicated M.2 Slot, Except In One Case

Unlike PCIe Wi-Fi cards, which are reserved for desktop computers, M.2 Wi-Fi cards can be installed both on desktop and laptop computers. But, they require a dedicated M.2 slot to install into. They usually use E key M.2 slots. These can be found on some newer desktop motherboards as well as on most newer laptop models.

You should have a dedicated Wi-Fi M.2 slot listed on the specs page of your motherboard. And, in case of a laptop, you can check whether your Wi-Fi card is using an M.2 slot or it is soldered onto the board. If it uses a dedicated Wi-Fi M.2 slot, you’re good to go.

Another way to make an M.2 Wi-Fi card to work on a desktop is to hook it up to an M.2 to PCIe adapter made specifically for M.2 Wi-Fi cards. This adapter should work with every Intel M.2 Wi-Fi card. This way you can use an M.2 card on a desktop PC that doesn’t have an M.2 slot for a Wi-Fi card.

If Installing An M.2 Card On A Desktop PC Make Sure To Hook It To An External Antenna

If you plan on getting an M.2 card for your desktop PC, make sure to also get an external antenna. M.2 cards on a laptop use its built-in antennas but on the desktop, they will have a very poor range without an antenna.

Luckily, the installation process is painless. First of all, find an external antenna, there are lots of models there and most are quite cheap. Next, follow this tutorial video on how to equip an M.2 card with an antenna. BTW, you should have holes for the antenna connectors on the rear panel armor in case your motherboard has a dedicated Wi-Fi card M.2 slot so don’t worry about that detail.

You Can Install PCIe Wi-Fi Cards On Any PCIe Slot

Since the PCIe ports are modular you don’t have to put the PCIe Wi-Fi card in an x1 PCIe slot. You can use any available PCIe slot on your motherboard. The only one we don’t recommend using is the primary X16 slot reserved for the graphics card.

If You Have Issues With Signal Strength Get A Card With A Portable Antenna Base

A portable antenna base allows users to move it around their desk in order to get a better signal. If your router is across the room of your PC, or if another room, you might have issues with signal strength. It may be blocked by your case or some other object. With a portable antenna base, you can move the antenna away from the case and get a stronger and more reliable Wi-Fi signal.

PCIe Wi-Fi Cards Offer Faster Performance Than USB Cards

In order for your USB port to be faster than an x1 PCIe 3.0 slot (used in PCIe Wi-Fi cards) it has to support the latest, USB 3.2 Gen 2 spec, and those aren’t that common. And if you own an X570 or B500 motherboard, you have PCIe 4.0 PCIe ports there, which are twice as fast as PCIe ports. So, in most cases, PCIe Wi-Fi cards can support faster speeds, in theory, than USB Wi-FI adapters. If you need the best speed, get a PCIe Wi-Fi card.

On the other hand, USB Wi-Fi adapters can also be a better choice, in some cases. For instance, if you have both a desktop and laptop with a broken Wi-Fi chip or two laptops or any other combination that includes multiple computers that need access to a wireless network, getting a USB Wi-Fi adapter is a better choice. You can simply remove it and hook it to another device, swapping it between devices in a second. You can’t do that with PCIe and M.2 Wi-Fi Cards.

About The Author

Goran Damnjanovic

Goran studied psychology but video games and PC hardware were much more interesting. On top of that he likes writing so he decided to become a writer. And it was the right choice. Other than games and hardware, Goran is interested in basketball, Sci-Fi literature, and music.

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Elmo
Elmo
2 months ago

Hi will the Intel Network AX200.NGWG.NV work on an AMD laptop?

XbitLabs Team
Editor
2 months ago
Reply to  Elmo

Hi Elmo. It works with AMD CPUs.