While most motherboards feature built-in Wi-Fi, they often provide poor connections and lesser speeds. With traditional Ethernet cables, you will experience distortion or loss of signal strength, which isn’t favorable.
One of the best ways to improve connectivity, coverage range, and speeds is to opt for a PCIe wi-fi card. PCIe Wi-Fi adaptors are much like your average wireless routers, except they operate inside desktop computers rather than standard routers.
They aren’t just there to extend the range of your network; they also provide more robust wireless connectivity. In most cases, wireless adapters allow convenience and efficiency, whether at home or in a business network environment.
With the right adaptor in place, you can continue to boost the quality of your network to ensure that users don’t suffer from slow downloads, streaming, or video buffering issues.
Here we’ll take a look at the best PCIe Wi-Fi card that you can buy, and we’ll compare their specifications and features.
Table of Contents
Top 7 Best PCIe Wi-Fi Cards
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|Asus PCE-AC88 AC3100
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|TP-Link AC1200 (Archer T4E)
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|ASUS PCE-AC68 AC1900
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|TP-LINK AC1900 (Archer T9E)
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|TP-Link AC1300 (Archer T6E)
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1. ASUS PCE-AC88 AC3100
- Standard: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Frequencies: 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz
- 5GHz Speed: 2167 Mbps
- 2.4GHz Speed: 1000 Mbps
- Number of Antennas: 4
If your system lacks superfast wifi connectivity, the Asus PCIe AC3100 adapter is an ideal option. The Asus PCIe is what we call an all-in-one PCIe adapter. It does not just come with a wireless adapter card but also includes a relatively powerful external antenna set.
Thanks to its dual-band antennas that provide top-notch coverage, you can enjoy a faster wi-fi speed of up to 2100Mbps along with an additional 1000 Mbps. While it boasts a slightly higher price tag, It is worth the investment. Additionally, you can attach the adapter’s antennas to each PCIe card slot individually for better performance.
This adapter features R-SMA antenna connectors, enabling you to connect it with almost any antenna available out there. The Asus PCIe also comes with an MU-MIMO functionality that supports four high bandwidth connections.
As for its build and design, the Asus PCIe adapter looks similar to any other PCIe wireless card, though it boasts bright red paint and is covered in heatsinks. Like any other wifi card, the AC3100 will heat up under heavy usage. However, its custom heatsink helps in dissipating heat effectively for improved reliability and stability.
Also, the Asus AC3100 is compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 10 and requires 64-bit versions, so if your system is running on a 32-bit version, it won’t work. Finally, this equipment can withstand a maximum temperature of 105°F, so it will not be favorable to use this adapter beyond the peak temperature.
It also features a 1-year warranty and a low-profile bracket, which helps install the card in mini form factor cases.
2. TP-Link AC1200 (Archer T4E)
- Standard: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Frequencies: 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz
- 5GHz Speed: 867 Mbps
- 2.4GHz Speed: 300 Mbps
- Number of Antennas: 2
If you are searching for a budget wifi adapter for gaming, the TP-Link AC1200 is an excellent choice. Good performance, long-range coverage, and affordable price are what people look for when looking for the best network card, and that is exactly what the AC1200 offers.
It offers an excellent connective speed of 1200 Mbps. The 2.4GHz band lets you send emails or browse the web smoothly, and the 5Ghz band is perfect for HD streaming, gaming, or other bandwidth-intensive applications.
Thanks to its beamforming technology, the TP-Link AC1200 can provide excellent coverage. In addition, this technology smartly focuses on wireless fidelity signals towards paired devices to ensures a boosted range and stable connections.
Under heavy operations, the TP-Link, like any other wireless adapter, will heat up. However, you need to note that by keeping the adapter cool, you will improve its stability and the lifespan of the equipment.
It comes with a heatsink that helps dissipate heat produced by the adapter to a great extent, ensuring improved stability and extended lifespan. In addition, while it does not come with 4-external antennas like the Asus AC3100, the TP-Link AC1200 does feature two external antennas that use smart wireless technology to boost coverage and improve stability.
The TP-Link AC1200 follows advanced security standards to make sure your data remains safe from intruders. Also, it is compatible with Windows XP/7/8/8.5/10. Aside from the standard brackets, it also comes with a low-profile bracket for mini-tower PC cases. It also boasts a two-year warranty along with a 24/7 technical support team that you can reach out to should you have any queries.
3. ASUS PCE-AC68 AC1900
If you have decided to remove the network cables and go full-wireless, the Asus PCCE AC1900 is one such device that is worth considering. The AC1900 supports almost any modern wireless standard, including the IEEE 802.11 ac and 802.11n.
Thanks to the 802.11ac chipset, you can enjoy a throughput of up to 1.3 Gbps. In addition, it features a modern external magnetized antenna stand that offers you great flexibility to adjust antenna placement for better signal reception quality.
As the AC1900 integrates Broadcom TurboQAM hardware, this range extender offers the connectivity speed benefits of modern 802.11 ac wireless fidelity to 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz networks. At 1.3Gbps and 600Mbps, respectively, the AC68 turns into a powerful PCIe wireless adapter, offering speeds that generic wireless adapters cannot compete with.
The signal strength varies depending on your location, and as such, the PCE AC19000 can smartly detect wireless router locations. In addition, it can shape data transmissions by using a high-powered beam design and three external antennas, assuring a fast, stable connection.
The three external antennas are also detachable, which means you can place them remotely using bundled extension cables. It also features a magnetized base to attach to all surfaces, giving you more placement options. Thanks to its mobile antennas, the AC1900 provides more flexibility in picking locations with better signal reception.
The Asus AC1900 boasts a powerful 2-way transmission along with a signal-boosting high-power design. As such, the AC68 offers enhanced two-way transmissions and extends Wifi coverage and range by 150% compared to generic wireless devices.
It also comes with a modern aluminum heatsink that helps keep the device cool, ensuring enhanced stability and lifespan. These add up to make the Asus AC1900 one of the fastest wireless adaptors out there.
4. TP-LINK AC1900 (Archer T9E)
The Archer T9E AC1900 is another excellent device by TP-Link, which is why it made it on our shortlist. While the Archer T9E is a simpler version, it is still quite powerful.
It uses beamforming technology for more reliable and more stable connections. It is also capable of providing wide signal coverage with a bandwidth of 1900Mbps. Measuring 4.5” x 4.8x 0.8” inches, the Archer T9e is quite small and compact like any other PCIe card.
You will also find three adjustable antennas at the edge of the card, and you can even adjust the antennas to about 90°. That said, it might be a bit tricky for the antennas to work effectively as they are attached to the device.
Also, like the Asus AC3100, this wireless networking card sports an aluminum heatsink. While you might not notice it easily because of the dark paint that blends it in, it is still just as effective when it comes to dissipating heat from your components. This makes this networking card an ideal choice for UHD streams, online gaming, 4k content, and so forth.
And as mentioned earlier, by keeping the components of the card cool, you get to enjoy enhanced stability and also extend its lifespan. In addition, the AC1900 is compatible with Windows 8.1,8,7, and XP and either operating system can support both the 64-bit and 34-bit versions.
The Archer AC1900 comes with a 2-year warranty, and in case you have any queries, you can seek assistance from their support team, which is available 24/7. Like most PCIe adapters in this list, the AC1900 also features its own mini mounting bracket.
5. TP-Link AC1300 (Archer T6E)
Thinking of upgrading your system’s wireless speed for a buttery-smooth online gaming experience? The Archer T6E is the answer.
Using this PCIe Wi-Fi card, you will be able to upgrade your wireless network speed to about 1300Mbps. Also, on the 5GHZ network, the card has a speed limit of 867 Mbps, while the 2.4GHz has a threshold of about 400 Mbps.
To ensure that the core components of the device don’t overheat, the Archer AC1300 features a heatsink that helps in dissipating the heat. This boosts the performance and reliability of the device by manifolds. In addition, it has been designed to support high-performance computing like UHD, 4K video streaming, and online gaming.
Thanks to the two external antennas, the AC1300 offers extensive network coverage. Plus, you can easily align the antennas for better coverage. Furthermore, incorporating wireless technology and advanced antennas ensures a wide range of stability and Wifi connection.
The Archer T1300 is also compatible with all Windows operating systems, including Windows XP, 7, 8, 10, and 8.1. But, if you counter any problem regarding this, you can visit the product’s official site and get compatible drivers.
It also supports WPA2/WPA encryption standards, and as such, your connection will remain safe from intruders. This wireless networking device is also an excellent choice for an easy download, upload, or UHD video streaming. It is packed with most of the essential features available in the top network cards.
Plus, it offers a 2-year warranty along with a technical support team that is available 24/7.
6. Asus PCE-AC56 AC1300
The AC56 is one of the best budget PCIe wireless card from Asus, featuring a PCE Express design that allows you to connect the card directly to your motherboard.
This device offers 802.11ac Wifi connectivity with a maximum data transmission speed limit of 1300Mbps. Plus, it can operate efficiently on both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies. Moreover, thanks to the WPS, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK, 128-bit WEP, and 64-bit WEB support, the Asus Express AC56 offers a network connection that is safe and free from intruders.
With the AC56, you can upgrade your system from the traditional Ethernet cables to 802.11ac wifi connectivity with network speeds of up to 867Mbps. Additionally, this device uses Broadcom TurboQAM technology to boost the card’s performance from 300Mbps to 400Mbps with compatible devices.
In addition to that, the Asus AC56 comes with an external magnetized base that offers great flexibility for easy adjustment of antenna placements. This ensures that you get the best reception quality possible.
With the help of its 802.11 ac technology, RF fine-tuning, and high-power amplification, the Asus AC56 can smartly strengthen the signal strength. Consequently, you get to enjoy enhanced stability, increases in dynamic data speed, and extended coverage.
Thanks to its high-gain design, this networking card gains enhanced signal transmission that extends wireless coverage and range by 150% compared to standard client devices. This increased coverage eliminates the possibility of dead zones, thereby offering fast, uninterrupted UHD video streams and lag-free multiplayer gaming in any environment.
Moreover, with its PCI Express design, the Asus AC56 can plug into any motherboard, giving your system an instant wireless connectivity upgrade with access to an internet speed of approximately 1.3Gbps. Since the card connects directly to your system, you no longer have to deal with messy cables cluttering your computing environment. It features a heatsink as well to prevent the core components from overheating.
7. Rosewill RNX-AC1900PCE
The Rosewill AC1900 is yet another excellent PCIe wi-fi card that is worth considering. If you want a wireless card that offers great performance and speed and don’t mind spending an extra dollar more, then this wireless networking card is for you.
It comes with dual-bandwidth support that allows you to experience incredible speeds of about 1300Mbps with the 5GHz frequency, while the 2.4GHZ offers a speed threshold of 600Mbps. This means the Rosewill A1900 will allow you to experience nothing less than a blazing fast Wifi connection for streaming FHD videos, playing online games, faster data transmission, and so forth.
This high-speed wireless connection is made possible because it incorporates the newest IEEE 802.11ac standard. As such, you are sure to enjoy top wireless internet connections on new devices. The AC1900 is also compatible with the previous 802.11n/g/b protocols.
Additionally, you will find that the Rosewill AC1900 features three powerful dual-band removable antennas that use the latest beamforming technology. This helps in forming beams in the router’s direction, which then maximizes the signal’s strength.
Since the antennas function as both transmitters and routers, they help in extending the Wifi coverage.
You can also use this PCIe card for extended periods and even perform several high-bandwidth operations without worrying about overheating its components. This is because it comes with an aluminum heatsink for the effective dissipation of heat. In addition, as it features an installation CD, you won’t have much issue installing the device.
PCIe WiFi Card Buyers Guide
It is not difficult to find a great PCIe wireless card, but you need to consider some things. First, you need to know what you are looking for so that you end up with the most suitable PCI express wireless network card.
Number of Antennas
All wireless PCI cards will have at least one antenna. In addition, 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 wifi 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 you have when choosing a Wi-Fi adapter. 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 Wi-Fi adapters for your PC, 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 Wi-Fi card to be. This is not a calculation to perform in isolation because you need to consider the entire network. However, most of the PCIe wireless cards available these days will have a reasonable speed even at the lower end of the pricing scale.
If you know that you will need the fastest possible PCI Wi-Fi adapter for your desktop, then lookout for this when comparing the different products available. Naturally, you will pay more for fast PCI adapters prepared for this.
What Operating System?
Most modern dual-band PCI wireless cards will work with computers running Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. 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. For example, in the descriptions of most wireless PCI adapters, you will see what operating systems are supported. If you don’t check for this, you can be disappointed if the card doesn’t work.
Cooling of the PCIe Card
The wireless network cards heat up quickly, and if they do not have the right heat dissipation components, they can stop working. Therefore, always check whether a heat sink is included with any PCI wireless card you are considering.
Size of the Card
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 Wi-Fi adapters into smaller machine cases, so always check the dimensions of the card before you purchase it.
PCIe Wifi Cards: Frequently Asked Questions
✅ What Does a PCIe WiFi Card Do?
A PCIe WiFi card plugs into the PCI express port in your computer. For those of you who are building your computer, finding this port should be accessible. However, it can be a bit nerve-wracking for first-timers.
Once you’ve installed it, the PCIe WiFi card will give you boosted networking power. Generally speaking, they work with two antennas (some have three), enhancing the WiFi signal reception.
✅ Is a PCIe WiFi Card Better Than a USB WiFi Card?
Typically, PCIe WiFi cards are preferred if you want more bandwidth, incredible stability, and insanely fast speeds. USB WiFi cards, on the other hand, are preferred by average users who want decent speeds.
You will pay more for a PCIe WiFi card as far as money goes due to the higher quality results you’ll receive. So, if money is tight, people will say that a USB wifi card is better.
Overall, if money isn’t an issue, you want the best of the best, and you don’t mind the trickier install, PCIe WiFi cards are better.
✅ Can I use a PCI Wireless Card for gaming applications?
Yes, you can. If you want the best laptop wifi card for gaming, then go for a USB wireless adapter. The PCIe card will be faster and more reliable and will likely 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, 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 PCIe Wireless Card for my old Wireless Router?
If you have an old wireless router, 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 changing your PCI card.
Final Words and Recommendation
This brings us to the conclusion of our best PCIe WiFi cards review. If your computer does not feature an in-built Wifi-card, this guide will help you find the right one. That said, if we were to pick a winner, we would go for the Asus PCIe AC3100 Wi-Fi adapter.
The Asus AC3100 comes with all the necessary bells and whistles that make a wireless card powerful. And unlike any of the options above on the list, it features four detachable external antennas, ensuring optimum signal stability and coverage. Plus, it offers impressive speeds of 2000Mbps on the 5 GHz network, while the 2.4GHz network offers 1000Mbps. It also features R-SMA antenna ports that are compatible with several aftermarket antennas.
Suppose you want an all-inclusive PCIe Wifi card that offers impressive top-notch wifi connectivity, optimum performance, and stability and does not have any budget constraints. In that case, the Asus PCIe AC3100 is an excellent choice.
It is worth noting that the other products mentioned above are all great choices. Just keep your requirements and needs in mind, and you will pick the one that is right for you.