What is a WiFi Adapter? - All about WiFi adapter basics

The WiFi Adapter is a ubiquitous network device. Maybe many of us are using the wireless WiFi dongle, but we don't know its existence.

This blog will let you clearly know about WiFi adapters.


What is a WiFi Adapter?

A WiFi Adapter, a type of network adapter, can provide a wireless connection function so that devices such as computers can connect to a network and surf the Internet wirelessly.

Point 1:

A WiFi Adapter is a passive or receiving device. It does not provide a network signal itself but needs to be connected to the network to access the Internet.

Point 2: 

The WiFi Adapter is not a wireless network card/portable WiFi

A portable WiFi is a SIM card that can be inserted into the operator's 4G and 5G networks and then converted into WiFi for use as a WiFi hotspot.

Point 3:

The difference between WiFi Adapter and Network Adapter

Difference ①: Different access methods

Wireless WiFi Adapter: By connecting to WiFi;

Wired Network Adapter: Connect through a network cable.


Difference ②: The speed is different

Wireless WiFi Adapter: Different wireless specifications have different supported rates, ranging from 150Mbps to 3200Mbps;

Wired Network Adapter: Now the standard wired network adapter is gigabit speed.


Difference ③: Stability

Wired WiFi adapters are better instability.

Although a wireless WiFi adapter is less stable than a wired adapter, but it is more convenient to use.

Classification of WiFi Adapter

There are many models of WiFi adapters, and there are different classification methods.


Method 1: Interface: PCI, USB, PCIe, M.2 etc.

① PCI interface: It is currently only used on some old wired network adapters, and can be installed on the PCI slot of a desktop computer; it is rarely seen.

② PCIe interface: PCIe interface, which can be directly plugged into the PCIe interface of the motherboard.

③ M.2 interface: Most of the integrated WiFi adapters built into the laptop are M.2 interfaces.

Note: when using the M.2 interface  WiFi adapter, the laptop needs to be disassembled, and disassembly is risky.

④ USB interface: The USB interface can be divided into USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 interfaces, and the speeds of the two are different.

USB 2.0 only supports up to 480Mbps, and USB 3.0 supports up to 5Gbps.

Therefore, when the specification of the wireless network card exceeds 480Mbps, please insert the USB WiFi adapter into the USB 3.0 interface of the computer to take advantage of the wireless speed.

※Note: USB 3.0 is usually blue; USB 2.0 is usually black or white.

Method 2:Specifications:

There are many specifications of WiFi Adapter, which can be divided into the following according to the supported WiFi protocols:

150M single band, 300M single band, 450M single band.

AC650M dual-band, AC1300M dual-band, AC1900M dual-band, AC3200M dual-band, AX3000 dual band.

※Note: WiFi adapter is a passive device, and the dual-band network card supports 2.4G and 5G, but only one frequency band can work at the same time, which is different from the dual-band router.


Method 3:Antenna shape

Can be divided into built-in antenna and external antenna;

① The built-in antenna means that the antenna is hidden inside the casing. The advantage is that the wifi adapter is small and light; the disadvantage is that the antenna performance is poor;

② An external antenna refers to an antenna with an external one. The antenna has better performance, but the disadvantage is that it takes up more space.


Method 4:Installation location

① Installed on the internal motherboard of the notebook, mainly the built-in network card of the M.2 interface;

② Installed on the PCIe slot of the desktop motherboard;

③ Installed on the USB interface of a laptop or desktop;

④ Some wifi adapters can be plugged into the USB interface of the TV, so that the TV has WiFi function.


Method 5:Driver

It is divided into a free drive version and a non-drive free version.

①Non-driver version: You need to download the driver separately to complete the driver installation of the network card;

② Driver-free version: The wifi adapter has a built-in driver. After inserting it into the computer, the driver will automatically complete the installation.


Additional Features for WiFi Adapter

① softAP function:

The softAP function means that the WiFi adapter can be used as an AP hotspot.

Mainly used in the following scenarios:

The computer is connected to the Internet through a network cable, there is no WiFi network at home, and the mobile phone needs to be connected to the Internet. You can use the softAP of the wireless network card to establish a WiFi hotspot for the mobile phone to use.


②Bluetooth function:

The Bluetooth signal also uses the 2.4G frequency. Therefore, some WiFi adapters are compatible with the Bluetooth function.

Note, however, that the Bluetooth function requires exceptional Bluetooth driver support.


WiFi Adapter Installation & Uninstall


① USB WiFi adapter: The installation of the USB WiFi adapter is the easiest, as long as the WiFi adapter is inserted into the USB interface of the computer; pay attention to select USB 2.0 or 3.0 according to the wireless specification of the WiFi adapter.

② PCIE WiFi adapter: Power off the desktop, disconnect the power supply, disassemble the case, and insert the WiFi adapter into the PCIe slot. It is recommended to use a PCIe X1 slot. X4 and X16 slots are recommended for graphics cards and other devices.

③ M.2 WiFi adapter: Shut down the laptop, disassemble it, find the M.2 interface on the motherboard, pay attention to the M.2 wifi slot, remove the old WiFi adapter, and replace it with a new M.2 network card.

After the WiFi adapter is successfully installed, in the lower right corner of the Windows desktop, you can connect to the network.



If the WiFi adapter is no longer used, it is recommended to uninstall the driver. The uninstall method is the same as uninstalling other software.