Onboard Wifi vs Wifi Card vs Wifi USB [Guide]


Onboard Wifi vs Wifi Card vs Wifi USB — let us compare and find out which is the best option for you.

If you are in the market for a new computer, you might be wondering which type of WiFi adapter your machine should have. There are three main options out there: onboard WiFi, PCIe WiFi card and USB WiFi dongle.

When it comes to a wired ethernet connection, there really is not much choice. You either have one or you do not. Unfortunately, cables can become really difficult to use and you are forced to use other methods such as onboard Wi-Fi, WiFi cards (PCI-e) or WiFi USBs. Here is what you need to know.

Onboard Wifi vs Wifi Card vs Wifi USB

The real question is, how do they differ in terms of their performance? Here we will compare Wi-Fi vs Wi-Fi Card vs Wi-Fi USB both in their characteristics and performance.

Choosing the best type of WiFi for your laptop is one of the most confusing choices you can make. With so many options it can be daunting to find the right one.

When it comes to onboard Wi-Fi and PCIe Wi-Fi cards, though, you will probably have no choice but to use what is built into your computer or comes with it. But that does not mean everything else is a waste.

The real question is, how do they differ in terms of their performance? Here we will compare Wi-Fi vs Wi-Fi Card vs Wi-Fi USB both in their characteristics and performance.

Related: What Processors are Compatible with My Motherboard

What Is Onboard WiFi

More and more people are choosing desktops over laptops. Desktop offer more performance capabilities when it comes to gaming, video editing, and 3D modeling. So, onboard WiFi means that your motherboard has WiFi built into it.

Having onboard WiFi on your motherboard allows you to connect to the internet as soon as you turn on your computer. Commonly found in desktop motherboards, onboard WiFi is especially useful if you are either a gamer, video editor, or 3D modeler.

While most laptops have this, desktops are also beginning to have onboard WiFi as well. When you have a desktop computer with an internal WiFi adapter or module, you will be able to connect to wireless networks without the need for an external adapter.

The desktop motherboard with onboard WiFi is becoming more and more popular as they allow people to use their computers wirelessly in the office and at home.

The first thing you will notice about onboard WiFi motherboard is the professional quality and polished look. The visual attention to detail is combined with exceptional performance capabilities and leading-edge features.

 Onboard WiFi is used by anyone looking to build a desktop PC or upgrade their motherboard. They want the fastest, best internet connection and experience possible.

Why Choose Onboard WiFi?

You are excited because you just received your brand-new computer in the mail, and this thing is going to be a beast for everything you want to do. You tear open the box and take all of the components out and place them on your desk.

With your adrenaline high to put your new machine to work, you found that your new machine cannot connect to the internet without you buying and installing other components. I am sure you will be disappointed.

But a motherboard with onboard WiFi offers convenience, eliminating hassle of having to buy another component before you can connect to the internet.

By purchasing a computer with a motherboard that has onboard WiFi incorporated, it eliminates the cost and hassle of searching for and installing another component.

While a WiFi card or USB adapter works great if you have a computer setup that allows for it, its convenience stops there. On the other hand, built in onboard WiFi fixes any potential issues arising from having no internet in your new computer.

That is why I always encourage people to buy the motherboard with onboard WiFi to save yourself a lot of time and money.

Also, the price of motherboard with onboard WiFi is also budget friendly as you can get it for around $30.

Downside Of Motherboard With Onboard Wifi

Unfortunately, motherboards with onboard WiFi are limited on the market as they are still outnumbered by motherboard with Wifi card.

What Is A Wifi Card

WiFi cards are external devices that are purchased separately and manually installed into a PCIe slot of your motherboard. These accessories contain the latest WiFi technology to keep you connected at the fastest speeds possible, so you can surf and download quickly.

WiFi cards are used for gaming and give you a more immersive experience. If you are using your computer for casual surfing, streaming, office work or a combination of these tasks – WiFi cards will be unnecessary and wasteful.

How To Install Wifi Card

Turn off the computer, disconnect it from the Socket and open the computer case. Then, try to locate the computer’s motherboard and an empty PCIe slot to install your Wifi card.

After locating an empty PCIe slot, remove the metal bracket that aligns with the open PCIe slot on your computer’s back. This will make your Wifi card’s bracket fit through the back of your computer.

Now, insert your new Wifi card gently into the empty PCIe slot. Reconnect the metal bracket on the back of your computer to make your Wifi card secure and stable.

Why Choose Wifi Card

You can easily upgrade it. Since it is removable, replacing or upgrading it anytime will not be an issue. For instance, if a newer generation of Wifi card is released, you can buy it to replace the older one.

Also, Wifi card is affordable as its price range is between $40 and $100.

The Downside Of Wifi Card

The only thing we could say is the downside of this Wifi card is that you have to insert it manually. Just follow the above steps to install it or have an expert do it for you.

What Is A Wifi USB

A WiFi USB adapter is a small and convenient way to connect to the internet wirelessly.

When it comes to WiFi USB adapters, bigger is better. Not only does the larger form factor mean more antennae, but it also usually has higher speeds.

The most expensive WiFi USBs offer up to 600 Mbps on 2.4Ghz connections and 1300 Mbps on 5.0Ghz connections. This is good for online gaming, streaming, or HD video calling (Skype, FaceTime), but it may be too slow for large file downloads.

If you are an online gamer or do other intensive stuff online, you would do better choosing one of the onboard Wifi and Wifi card. This is because the antennae of Wifi USB is usually weak.

If your only option to connect to the internet is Wifi USB, you would do well buying the most expensive one that will provide you with USB 3.0.

Why Choose Wifi USB

You do not need to install anything. You only need to plug the Wi-Fi adapter into the USB slot, connect it and start browsing. Also, you can buy Wifi USB for as low as $10 and Wifi USB are easily accessible.

The Downside Of Wifi USB

Unfortunately, the speed is nothing compared to Wifi card and onboard Wifi because Wifi USBs have smaller antennae. In short, Wifi USB performance is not at par with onboard Wifi and Wifi card. It is also prone to unseating and damage.

Which WiFi Option Is Best For You

If you are looking to choose the best Wifi component, you should either go for onboard Wifi or Wifi card. The only time you should use Wifi USB is when you use different computers with no pre-built Wifi on them.

Also, if you want to choose between onboard Wifi and Wifi card, choose based on your need. If you are building a new computer, you might want to buy a new generation motherboard with onboard Wifi because that is the best.

Also, where you live has a significant impact on which WiFi option is best for you. If you live in an area with many people and buildings, like a big city, WiFi cards are often the best choice. They provide reliable connections that rarely go out and let you cover a broad range without repeatedly trying to reconnect, unlike onboard WiFi.

Frequently Asked Questions – (FAQs)

How To Check Your Internet Speed?

To easily test your internet speed, use testmy.net. It is one of the most accurate ways to monitor the speed of your internet.

What is The Latest Wifi Protocol?

Wifi 6 or the 11Ax is the latest Wifi protocol you can get on the market. Wifi 6 offers improvement on the older version, so it is the latest.

What Is Wifi Frequency Range?

Also known as Frequency Band, Frequency Ranges are the radio wave frequency for transmitting Wifi data.The two frequency ranges include 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz.

While 2.4 GHz offers excellent coverage that penetrates through walls, 5.0 GHz offers higher speeds.

What Is Wifi Quadrature Amplitude Modulation?

Though this topic is very technical, the higher the Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, the faster the data transfer rate.If you have QAM-1024 on Wifi 6, it means 25% higher data rate more than when you are on Wifi 5.

What is Wifi Channel Bandwidth?

Wifi channel bandwidth determines the data rate or connection transfer speed. So, the higher your channel bandwidth, the higher your transfer speed.

What is MU-MIMO?

The meaning of MU-MIMO is Multiple-user, multiple-input, multiple-output. It lets the Wifi router communicate with many devices simultaneously. So, it improves the Wifi connection’s efficiency.

Which Is The Best Motherboard With Onboard Wifi?

If you are after the best motherboard with onboard Wifi, you should try Asus ROG Strix B550-F Gaming motherboard. It offers the latest WiFi technology and amazing features that will satisfy you.

Which Is The Best Wifi Card?

Anyone shopping for the best Wifi card would love to go for TP-Link Wifi 6 AX3000 PCIe Wifi card. It is a blazing Wifi card with the latest Wifi 6 technology.

Which Is The Best WiFi USB?

If Wifi USB is the only option available to you, TP-Link Archer T9UH is your best bet. It comes with WiFi 5 and supports dual band (2,4GHz and 5 GHz). If you are always on the go, this USB adapter will make a perfect companion.


In this article, we have compared onboard Wi-Fi vs Wi-Fi card vs Wi-Fi USB.The three WiFi implementations on the market, Onboard Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi card, and Wi-Fi USB are all great in their own right. While the final say remains with you, each of these implementations has its own perfect applications.

However, onboard Wifi and Wifi cards are the best for blazing internet speed, but if you want to choose Wifi USB, you might want to go for the best and the most expensive one.

Scroll to Top