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Is a USB wifi dongle as good as an internal card?

gorcorps

aka Brandon
Jul 18, 2004
30,700
424
126
These days... Is a decent USB wireless-N dongle going to be as good as an internal PCI card? I bought a Linksys AE1200 dongle and have never used N before, so I'm not really sure if that's the way to go.
 

Fun Guy

Golden Member
Oct 25, 1999
1,184
1
81
I'm using a b/g USB 2.0 adapter on 3 machines and it's lickety split, no complaints. Can't really tell the difference between that and wired, actually. :cool:
 

LOL_Wut_Axel

Diamond Member
Mar 26, 2011
4,310
8
81
These days... Is a decent USB wireless-N dongle going to be as good as an internal PCI card? I bought a Linksys AE1200 dongle and have never used N before, so I'm not really sure if that's the way to go.

If you want good range, getting one with an external antenna is a must. Since most only go up to 300mbps, it'll be the same thing minus the fact ping should be a bit higher due to it having to access it from the USB controller instead of the mini PCIe or PCI controller.

I suggest you return what you got and get this along with a 6' USB extension cable. Believe me, the external antenna makes a world of difference. You may also want to know that most of these typically have similar NICs. The one I linked in particular has an Atheros AR5008.
 
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JackMDS

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Oct 25, 1999
29,151
280
126
Technically the USB is inferior.

However in many circumstances it does not matter, and sometimes it might be an advantage.



:cool:
 

imagoon

Diamond Member
Feb 19, 2003
5,199
0
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Sometimes I find that the USB ones get a better signal esp when you plug them in to a USB extension cable so the antenna isn't buried behind a steel box. (IE the case)
 

brotj7

Senior member
Mar 3, 2005
206
0
71
Wouldn't the shared USB bus be limited with multiple devices connected? Getting a signal vs not, I'd say go with the dongle/extension and pull down the signal. But if the antennae craps out with a printer and a mouse being used, i'd say go with the pcie device. Can anyone give an estimate of devices at moderate use before a loss in signal would be seen?
 

imagoon

Diamond Member
Feb 19, 2003
5,199
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Wouldn't the shared USB bus be limited with multiple devices connected? Getting a signal vs not, I'd say go with the dongle/extension and pull down the signal. But if the antennae craps out with a printer and a mouse being used, i'd say go with the pcie device. Can anyone give an estimate of devices at moderate use before a loss in signal would be seen?
I would doubt a mouse would cause an issue. Printer maybe for a second or 2. Doing a robocopy to your USB HDD might cause issues... Most computers have more than one head end though. Typically each group of 2-3 ports on a computer is 2 distinct USB buses. My home computer has 3. 2 sets on the back and one on the 'front / top.' The Dells at work are 2, front and back etc.
 
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wirednuts

Diamond Member
Jan 26, 2007
7,121
1
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for things like basic internet and streaming video, the cheap usb adapters work great.

for things like gaming and heavy downloading/torrenting, pci cards very much are better.

usb adapters tend to overheat, and are usually never as fast as internal cards. you CAN buy some good usb adapters that work as good as any internal, so if you have to use usb for long periods of time i suggest you spend the $50 or so and get a nice one.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,014
6,360
126
Sometimes I find that the USB ones get a better signal esp when you plug them in to a USB extension cable so the antenna isn't buried behind a steel box. (IE the case)
This, 100%.

Get a good high-power USB dongle, and a USB extension cable so that you can aim the antenna (internal or external antenna).

I've had really good luck with the generic RealTek "High Power 802.11G" adaptors sold by Meritline for $10-12. Sadly, they're only G, not N, and most people have moved to N by now. They do have great signal though.

http://www.meritline.com/wireless-mini-usb-2-pen-drive-adapter---p-33917.aspx

Looks like they might not be sold anymore.

http://www.meritline.com/premiertek-pl-150n-wireless-adapter---p-64929.aspx

This one looks like a sucessor, but I am unsure as to which chipset it uses.
 
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Emulex

Diamond Member
Jan 28, 2001
9,759
1
71
the wusb600 is far superior than most built in cards - and far more stable. the newer AE1000 is not as good plus win7 x64 has wusb600 usb drivers built in so you don't need any drivers sp0 or sp1
 

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