If you have a desktop computer that does not have WiFi built into the motherboard then you will need to purchase an additional card to connect with a wireless router.
So what is the best wireless PCI card for your situation?
The truth is that there are many different PCI express wireless card products available and it can be overwhelming for you to choose the right one. Well, we have taken time and ended up with the top 10 best PCI wireless card models for you to choose from.
In this best wireless PCI card review, we will discuss the features, benefits, pros and cons of each card. Here are our top 10 best Wireless PCI cards:
1. Asus PCE-AC88 AC3100 Review
This is our best wireless PCI card. If you are looking for a high-quality wireless adapter with excellent signal strength and stability then this is the one to go for. This dual-band PCI wireless card will support speeds of more than 3 Gigabits and it is very fast.
The Asus PCE-AC88 AC3100 has four antennae that are all capable of transmitting and receiving wireless signals. A magnetized external antennae base allows you to place it in the best location. You connect the base to the PCI card using 4 R-SMA type cables.
If you need to replace any of the antennae, you can do this easily as they are all detachable. This is not a cheap PCI express wireless card, but you certainly get what you pay for. We found the card easy to install, found it ideal for gaming and were impressed by the strength of the WiFi signal.
The Asus PCE-AC88 AC3100 is designed to work with desktop computers running Windows 7 or higher. This lightweight PCI card weighs just 4.5 ounces, and the dimensions are 8.3 inches by 10.9 inches by 2.2 inches. This is a seriously good wireless PCI card and was easily the best in our test.
2. TP Link AC1300 Review
We consider this to be the second best wireless PCI card available because of its performance and value for money. This is a very fast PCI wireless card, and it has impressive upload speeds and download speeds with a seamless operation. We detected no latency issues with either video streaming or gaming applications.
A great thing about the TP Link AC1300 is that it is backwardly compatible with older WiFi standards such as 802.11 a, b, g and n. We found the range of this dual-band PCI card to be really good and when we placed our desktop far away from the wireless router we were still able to connect successfully.
For the money the TP Link AC1300 does have a very strong signal and range. We liked the build quality of this card, how easy it was to install and the overall durability of the product, and also impressed with the performance of this PCI card when using gaming applications.
You can use this wireless adaptor on either the 2.4 Ghz or 5 Ghz bands. It is an efficient card which has a high-performance heat sink that dissipates heat from the card very efficiently. The two antennas work very well, and you can use this adaptor on Windows XP computers and higher.
3. Rosewill AC1300 Review
This is another less expensive adaptor that we think is the third best wireless PCI card. Don’t be put off by the lower price and the fact that it is not from Asus or TP Link. You are getting a great wireless card for your money here that performs well and will suit most situations.
The Rosewill AC1300 delivers very high speeds. It has an 802.11ac chipset for the fastest and most modern wireless setups. This card is also backward compatible with the older 802.11 wireless standards b, g and n. Unlike other wireless PCI cards there is no danger of overheating thanks to the aluminum sink that effectively dissipates heat.
Despite its relatively low price this PCI wireless adaptor utilizes beamforming technology which you will find in the more expensive wireless adaptors. We found that it was able to detect the wireless router immediately and the signals were strong and reliable.
We liked the Rosewill AC1300 and in particular the ease in which the card installs. All you have to do is to install the card into a free PCIe slot and then run the provided software. If you are not hung up on brand names, then this is one of the best PCI wireless cards available.
4. TP Link Archer T9E AC1900 Review
This is another high-quality offering from TP Link and deserves its place in our top 10 best wireless PCI card list. We found this PCI wireless adaptor to be good when we were streaming 4K video and when using games of high definition. It can achieve speeds of 1900 Megabits per second which justifies the price.
You get 3 external antennae with the TP Link Archer T9E AC1900 and this is good because it means that your desktop computer can be some distance away from the wireless router and you will still get a strong signal. With its beam form technology, the WiFi signal is focused on your computer instead of it being dispersed all around.
Sometimes high-performance dual-band PCI cards like this suffer from overheating but this is not the case with this model. There is a very efficient heat sink which disperses heat quickly. This helps to prolong the life of the card components so this adaptor will last for a long time even under continuous use.
This is an easy wireless adaptor to install and the build quality and overall durability of the product is good. It will work with both Mac and Windows computers (Windows 7 and higher) and you will get 1300 Megabits per second performance with the 5 GHz band and 600 Megabits per second with the 2.4 GHz GGHz Gz band.
5. Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I Review
If you want Bluetooth connectivity with your dual-band PCI wireless card then this is a very good option. Although it is not one of the fastest wireless adaptors the performance levels are still pretty good and it deserves to be in our best PCI wireless card list. At 5 GHz you will get up to 867 Megabits per second and on 2.4 GHz up to 433 Megabits per second.
We were impressed with the power of the external antenna on the Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I. The signal strength was good and so was the range. You can easily mount the external antenna thanks to the magnetic base. Any pairing using Bluetooth is handled well by the antenna too.
It is fairly easy to install and set up this PCI wireless adaptor. You will need to insert it into a free PCIe slot and if you want to use the Bluetooth feature then there is a USB connection for this using the supplied cable. In our tests, we found that the Bluetooth connectivity was strong and worked well with all devices.
6. Asus PCE-A56 Review
If you are not concerned about having the very fastest dual-band PCI wireless card then this is a great option that is easy on your budget. For the money we consider this to be one of the best PCI wireless card products available. You can always trust the name Asus for great build quality and performance.
The Asus PCE-A56 is a dual-band card that will operate on both 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz. There were no incompatibility issues in our tests as this card just works with everything. The range of this card was impressive in all directions and we found it more than adequate for gaming applications.
You can use this PCI wireless adaptor on Windows operating systems from XP upwards. The card has the 802.11ac next-generation chipset on board and we found the connections impressively fast up to around 867 Megabits per second.
We found it easy to install the Asus PCE-A56. Right from the beginning, the WiFi signal was strong and when we used gaming applications the results were impressive.
7. TP Link Archer C1200 Review
If you want a dual-band PCI wireless card that is very fast but will not cost you a fortune then this offering from TP-Link is well worth a look. In our tests, we were able to get around 900 Megabits per second from this wireless adaptor.
The TP Link Archer C1200 has three antennas which performed well both in terms of signal strength and signal range. We were able to pick up the signal from the wireless router some distance away from our desktop computer.
This is a very good wireless adaptor for video streaming and high-intensity gaming applications. The download and upload speeds were good and we were able to maintain a reliable signal throughout our tests. It has backward compatibility with the old a, b, g and n standards and will work with Windows XP machines and higher.
It was easy to install and setup the adaptor. The overall build quality of the card also impressed us and felt that it would be durable and last a long time.
8. Rosewill N900 Review
This is another budget dual band PCI wireless card that deserves its place in our best wireless PCI card review. Rosewill has been establishing a good reputation recently in this market and this model is a good example of this. Again it is not the fastest adaptor available but you cannot expect this at the price point.
We did experience a few issues installing and setting up the Rosewill N900. After a few computer setting changes and moving the antenna around a bit we suddenly got a good signal at a number of different ranges. We were actually amazed at the range of this adaptor as it seemed to pick up the router signal no matter how far the desktop was away from it.
The range and signal strength are all due to the quality of the three antenna. This adaptor performed pretty well on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. It works with Windows XP and higher. We also liked the fact that there are a number of different security settings with this wireless adaptor which provide a further layer of protection for your wireless network.
9. TP Link N150 Review
If you like the idea of a quality dual band PCI wireless card from TP Link that will not break the bank then this could be a very good choice for you. For people that are looking for wireless adapters capable of extremely high speeds then this is not the model for you. But if you want a reliable wireless card with speeds up to 150 Megabits per second then this is it.
The TP Link N150 is a simple PCI express wireless card that does a good job. Once we had setup the adaptor in our desktop we were able to use it for a long time without any interruptions. It worked pretty well for gaming and for streaming video too. We were able to install this adaptor in a computer running Windows XP without any problems.
As this is a wireless adaptor from TP Link we expected the build quality to be good and it is. For the price it is a very durable wireless PCI card that will meet most people’s needs. It is certainly good value for money. One thing that we did notice is that this PCI card runs very hot which is a bit of a concern.
You will agree with us about the build quality of this wireless adaptor. It was very easy for the installation and setup this card as well. Yes this is a basic card but the TP Link N150 is one of the best wireless PCI cards around if you are not looking for the highest performance levels.
10. Asus PCE-N15 Review
This is another good example of a quality dual-band PCI wireless card from a well-known manufacturer, Asus, at a budget price. This is not the fastest card in our best PCI wireless card list by any means but you will get speeds of up to 300 Megabits per second. The price is certainly more affordable than some of the higher-end Asus cards.
One of the interesting things about the Asus PCE-N15 is that it will work on Linux computers as well as most Windows-based machines. We got the card working without a problem on a Windows XP computer and it will also work with Mac computers as well.
This PCI wireless adaptor worked surprisingly well for both video streaming and gaming applications. It has two antennas which you can easily adjust to improve signal strength and range. We did find the range a bit limited though and we achieved the best results when the desktop was fairly close to the wireless router. At the low price, it was never going to be top of our list, but it is still a good product.
Things to Consider before choosing the best wireless PCI card: Buyers Guide
It is not difficult to find the best wireless PCI card for your computer, but you do need to consider some things. You need to have an idea about what you are looking for so that you end up with the most suitable PCI express wireless card.
How many Antennas?
All wireless PCI cards will have at least one antenna. Some have external antenna arrangements that plug into the main card using special cables supplied with the card. So how many antennas do you need?
The bottom line is that usually more antennas are better. With more antennas, you will be able to carry more data. Each one of the antennas connected to your dual-band PCI wireless card is really its own network. Every single antenna will carry its own level of data.
Quality of the Antennas
It is not just a matter of the number of antennas that you have when trying to choose the best PCI wireless card. You need to look at the quality of the antennas as well. Pay attention to the size of the tubes. The size determines the data-carrying capacity and the range.
A stock antenna will not be that impressive but with some wireless adapters, you can replace these with higher quality antennas. It is important that you can move the antennas around easily as this is important to find the optimum signal levels.
The Speed of the Card
Think about how fast you want your PCI express wireless card to be. This is not a calculation to perform in isolation because you need to consider the entire network. Most of the best PCI wireless cards available these days will have a reasonable speed even at the lower end of the pricing scale.
If you know that you are going to need the fastest possible PCI wireless adaptor then look out for this when you are comparing the different products available, you are going to pay more for fast PCI adaptors so be prepared for this.
What Operating System?
Most of the modern dual-band PCI wireless cards will work with computers running Windows 7 or higher. But what if you have a Mac or Linux machine or an older Windows operating system?
You need to check the specifications from the manufacturers. In the descriptions of most wireless PCI adapters, you will see what operating systems are supported. If you don’t check for this then you can end up disappointed if the card doesn’t work.
Cooling of the PCI Card
The best wireless PCI cards work very hard, and if they do not have the right heat dissipation components then they can very quickly overheat and stop working. Always check to see whether there is a heat sink included with any PCI wireless card you are considering.
Will the PCI Card fit?
This might seem strange but some people own computer desktops that have a small form factor. There may be a problem with installing certain PCI wireless adaptors into smaller machine cases so always check the dimensions of the card before you purchase it.
Can I use a PCI Wireless Card for gaming applications?
Yes, you can. It is better to choose the best wireless PCI card then go for a USB wireless adaptor. The PCI card will be faster and more reliable and is likely to have a better range, which are all important considerations for gaming.
What Speed of PCI Wireless Card should I get?
Check out the speed capability of your wireless router and match your PCI card to it. If your PCI wireless card is faster, then don’t worry as you can always upgrade your wireless router at a later date. You can never have too much speed.
What is the best PCI Wireless Card for my old Wireless Router?
If you have an old wireless router, then you need to check which wireless standard it operates with. Some of the modern PCI wireless adaptors are backward compatible with the old standards. It is best to get a modern card as you can then easily update your wireless router without having to change your PCI card.
We hope that you have found this best wireless PCI card review informative and helpful. We aim to provide you with all of the information that you need to make the right purchase decision.
We highly recommend the Asus PCE-AC88 AC3100 dual-band PCI wireless card. It has the perfect combination of speed, range, connectivity and overall performance. With the external antenna base containing 4 quality antennas you will never go wrong. It is very high quality and made by Asus which is a name you can trust.
If you want to spend a bit less on your PCI express wireless card then you would do well to consider the TP Link AC1300 card. This is a good all-round high-quality performer made by a reputable manufacturer in TP Link.
The Rosewill company is gaining a good reputation in the PCI wireless card market and their Rosewill AC1300 is a very good option that will not break the bank. This card has a lot of good reviews from customers on Amazon and you shouldn’t dismiss it because it is not an Asus or TP Link product.
Thank you for reading our best wireless PCI card review. If you follow the advice in this guide, then you will have the best chance of choosing the right wireless adapter for your computer and your requirements.