The 8 Best Wireless Adapters
This wiki has been updated 9 times since it was first published in December of 2018. Few things leave a player as helpless and frustrated as deadly lag during online gaming sessions. While it's certainly no fun being automatically logged out while you're trying to amass kills or experience, it's something every gamer has gone through before. The right adapter will ensure strong and consistent Wi-Fi access, no matter how many devices are using your router. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 08, 2020:
To be clear, there are two main types of adapters, internal and external ones. Internal ones are, generally, PCIe 1X cards, although those are actually usually made of of, essentially, an M.2 wireless networking card made by Intel, preinstalled in an M.2-to-PCIe adapter. If that sounds confusing, don't worry, all it means is you'll need to open up your PC case and install it in one of the smallest horizontal PCIe slots on the motherboard, near the back of the case.
If you're really dedicated to gaming, you should also consider a Wi-Fi 6 router, as that will help you minimize lag. If you do decide to go that route, the TP-Link Archer TX3000E and Cudy WE3000 are hard to beat. Alternatively, if you have an especially crowded network to deal with and are okay with waiting on a new router, consider the OKN AX210. It's actually able to utilize the relatively new 6-gigahertz band, so once the high-end gaming routers with Wi-Fi 6E support hit the market, you'll be ready to take advantage of the best ones.
If you already have a high-quality Wi-Fi 5 router, the Asus AC88 remains a good but expensive choice. In fact, it's one of the best options if your home network has a ton of devices connected to it, thanks to its 4X4 MU-MIMO connectivity that can manage multiple simultaneous inputs and outputs.
If you want to avoid opening your PC case, or there are just aren't any more PCIe slots in it, there are some good USB adapters worth considering. They might add a little latency, but there's a chance it will be negligible. The TP-Link Archer T3U Plus is a good balance of a compact form factor and advanced technology, but the EDUP Mini might be a little more convenient, as long as you don't need a super-long range.
As of this writing, there are no USB adapters available that support Wi-Fi 6.
December 19, 2018:
First off, Windows 10's obnoxiously frequent updates don't always play nicely with wireless drivers. In fact, you may have to track down and custom-install the latest drivers from the actual chipset's manufacturer, NOT the manufacturer of the device itself. To do this, go to said OEM manufacturer's page, download the software, and install using Windows's "Have disk..." prompts. With that said, dedicated gamers will prefer the Gigabyte or Asus add-in cards, which use the PCIe bus to eliminate the few milliseconds of lag that's inherent in USB communication. The BrosTrend is incredibly versatile, switching between desktop and portable use at a moment's notice. The OurLink shows great promise as a small-form-factor option. the Edimax is the most compact we found with a good reputation, and this particular editor has used that very same chipset for many months now on Windows 10 with zero issues. The Archer T6E is a great PCIe model for those who don't want to spend too much, while the Netgear and Archer T4U are good choices for laptop users.