Things To Consider Before Buying A PCI Wifi Card

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Many are moving towards a wireless society, a powerful system that can supercharge productivity and facilitate information sharing. After all, every minute you spend working or conducting your business counts. And having untethered access to virtually unlimited resources allows you to get the job done much quicker without the restraints of a wired setup.

While laptops and smart devices have wifi cards by default, sadly, that’s not the case for most desktop computers. They would need an external USB wifi adapter or an internal wifi card to get wireless connectivity. Hence, if you’re a tech enthusiast who doesn’t want to fall behind in a fast-paced environment, you should consider a new PCI wifi card for your system.

PCI wifi cards are a faster means of providing power and data links to the PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) bus. Even if some PCs have onboard wifi, they can be slower considering their antennas are encased in the computer. With PCI wifi cards, their antennas are often connected externally. However, there are several factors you need to pay attention to regarding their wireless connection.

So before you get a new one for your PC, here are things you have to look into about PCI wifi cards.

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Speed, bandwidth and wireless standards

Speed varies among PCI wifi cards; it is the primary reason you will need them in the first place, especially when upgrading your PC’s onboard wifi. You can determine the data speed through its bandwidth which is directly proportional to one another such that the higher the bandwidth, the faster the theoretical maximum speed is. Typically, PCI wifi cards can provide speeds from 300Mbps to 2Gbps.

When buying a PCI wifi card, you would want to check out how much speed it is capable of in two types of connectivity: Wifi and Bluetooth.

You are going to look at many types of wireless standards that are founded on 802.11. Some of the most common ones are 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac, making a fast connection possible. When you opt for 802.11ac, you can reach a lightning speed of 1300Mbps. But it also means you will need to dig into a deep pocket because it will cost you much more than choosing one with 802.11g, which can only accommodate up to 54Mbps.

There have been more advanced iterations since, replacing 802.11ac with the latest standard, 802.11ax. Branded as Wifi 6, it allows speeds of up to 10Gbps and possesses other enhanced features like better security, reliability, and energy efficiency. Hence, Wifi-6 has now become the de-facto wireless technology. While this latest version is very impressive, you won’t get the fastest speeds all the time because it will still depend on your internet service and the number of other online devices sharing your bandwidth.

For Bluetooth, your PCI wifi card should be able to support the 5.2 version, which was introduced in 2020. It has a speed of up to 2 Mbps and comprises multiple yet stabler connections through Isochronous Channels (ISOC). With this feature, you can transmit time-sensitive data and allow synchronized rendering of data streams in multiple receivers with the same transmission quality. There’s an LE Power Control (LEPC) wherein you can manage power transmission between two Bluetooth-connected devices while ensuring they are within optimal signal ranges. There’s nothing to worry about lower Bluetooth versions since it is backwards compatible, although you will lose the updated features in the process. Remember, though, that you can only reap the benefits of your card’s maximum speed when every device in your network chain supports the same type of technology. In other words, if you’re using a Wifi 6-supported card, all your related hardware is designed for the Wifi 6 environment as well.

Antenna quality and signal range

The antenna strengthens and stabilizes your wireless signal; hence it is an important consideration when choosing a PCI wifi card. It comes in pairs that operate as two signal reference points, thus offering antenna diversity.

A minimum coverage of 1700 square feet for home use is highly recommended; twice as big when used in an office setting. Otherwise, your wireless connectivity is pointless. Meanwhile, the quantity does not matter as the quality of the antenna, although both are crucial in determining wireless range.

Several things affect the antenna quality of PCI wifi cards. The tube size indicates how much data it can receive at a time. Gain is also an important component because it dictates your antenna’s signal amplification. Measured in decibels, the higher it is, the better it will enable your antenna to strengthen weak signals, typically ranging from 2 to 7 decibels. It is best to have a tiltable antenna since it allows you to reposition it where it receives the signal the strongest. You can also go for PCI wifi cards with detachable antennas for this purpose.

Chipset

When buying PCI wifi cards, the type of chipset is another thing to look at. A chipset serves as a computer motherboard’s traffic controller and communication center. It also determines expansion options and the ability to adjust your system’s speed and performance through overclocking.

The Intel AX210 chipset compliments Wifi 6 technology that supports dual-stream wifi in a 6GHz environment and Bluetooth 5.2. It can deliver peak data rates up to three times higher and improves capacity in dense environments compared to Wifi 5. The AX210 module will automatically optimize wifi settings according to your computer’s geographic location. Ultimately, it dramatically improves connectivity and wireless experience.

Size/ form factor

PCI wifi cards come in different sizes; hence, the one you will buy should fit your computer’s PCI slot. There are three internal slots for notebook and laptop computers: traditional mini PCI slot, half-height, and full height. Some desktop types support these mini sizes; besides, the size is more of an issue for more compact CPU cases such as laptops. In any case, you need to measure your PCI port’s clearance before buying a wifi card.

 

Top PCI Wifi Cards in 2022

  1. Gigabyte Wifi 6E GC-WBAX210

  • Product
  • Features
  • Photos

GIGABYTE WiFi 6E GC-WBAX210 (2x2 802.11ax/ Tri-Band WiFi/ Bluetooth 5.2/ PCIe Expansion...

& Free shipping
Last update was on: August 9, 2022 11:01 am

Product Highlights

Gigabyte’s GC-WBAX210 is one of the best PCI wifi cards for as long as you have the wireless router to match its enhanced features. It works with an Intel AX210 module and utilizes a tri-band of 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz. The AORUS-branded card frees your wireless connection from interference using the 6GHz band. With its Wifi 6 compatibility and powerful antenna, it is a great option for a high-performance gaming PC since it nearly matches the quality of using ethernet ports. Although it supports speeds of more than 2 Gbps, it can be too much for home use but is good for future-proofing nonetheless. Ultimately, this PCI wifi card will deliver the best value and quality at an affordable cost.

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Features:

  • Built-in Intel Wifi 6E protocol and AX210 chipset
  • Dual-stream wifi in multiple bands
  • 11.acR2 and 802.11ax compliant
  • Wireless connection speeds of up to 2400Mbps
  • Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity
  • PCIe x1 interface
  • MU-MIMO technology
  • AORUS 2Tx2R antenna
  • Comes with a user’s manual

What we like

  • dedicated 6 GHz band that provides low latency
  • reasonable price for its robust features
  • fast connection speeds if matched to the right ISP and router
  • great wireless option for gaming
  • tiltable external antenna for best possible signal

What we don’t like

  • not compatible with Chrome OS

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews on the GC-WBAX210 have been generally positive. Many users find that this PCI wifi card works perfectly with GNU/ Linux OS version 5.10 and above, has very stable Bluetooth connections, and the installation is hassle-free. Others did not observe any difference from a wired connection, which means their wireless connection was just as good.

 

  1. Tp-Link Archer TX3000E

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TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 PCIe WiFi Card (Archer TX3000E), Up to 2400Mbps,...

& Free shipping
Last update was on: August 9, 2022 11:01 am
$53.99 $59.99

Product Highlights

The next best thing to GC-WBAX210, the TP-Link Archer TX3000E, also uses the Wifi 6 protocol to ensure your continuous wireless connectivity. It boasts lower latency with the help of its OFDMA, reducing lag up to 75%, which makes for smoother gameplay and immersive VR. The dual-band capability provides the maximum 2.4Gbps in 5GHz and 574Mbps for the 2.4GHz band. When it comes to wireless range, the two multi-directional antennas which sit on a magnetic base will cover a wider area. You can perform the driver installation through their website or their enclosed CD in case your computer still has a CD drive. And like most PCI wifi cards with updated wireless technologies, the TX3000E is backwards compatible. The nice exterior with a red heat sink is a welcome bonus, making it a solid product overall.

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Features:

  • Wifi 6 standard
  • OFDMA and MU-MIMO technology
  • Maximum 2.4Gbps speed on 5GHz
  • 1024-QAM and 160 MHz bandwidth
  • Two multi-directional antennas
  • Bluetooth 5.0 technology
  • Windows 10 OS
  • Advanced WPA3 encryption
  • Specialized heatsink and crafted gold plating
  • Comes with a low profile bracket, Bluetooth header cable, magnetic antenna base, installation guide, and resource CD

What we like

  • excellent speed
  • best for VR gaming
  • heat dissipation
  • eye-catching design
  • fits most desktop and small-factor PCs
  • plug and play usability for wireless and Bluetooth
  • no-installation magnetic antenna base

What we don’t like

  • quite a bulky size
  • requires USB 2.0 slot

Customer Reviews

Users appreciate the TX3000E’s lightning speeds and excellent signal strength, especially its Bluetooth connectivity. One of them placed it beside a router and found that it grabs all the speed there is, making it a decent hotspot adapter. The PCI wifi card kit is easy to assemble, with the driver pretty much installing itself after connecting it as a new device to the network. However, there is a customer who saw a slight drop of up to 2 milliseconds; hence, not much different from other average PCI wifi cards as far as latency is concerned.

 

  1. Cudy AX5400

  • Product
  • Features
  • Photos

Cudy AX5400 WiFi 6E PCIe Card, Bluetooth 5.2 PCIe Adapter, AX210 Inside,...

& Free shipping
Last update was on: August 9, 2022 11:01 am

Product Highlights

The Cudy AX5400 is an awesome piece of wireless hardware. Similar to the TX3000E, it comes complete with accessories such as a low profile bracket, and a Bluetooth header cable, among others.

However, the inclusive CD is deemed useless since current systems no longer accommodate it. Nonetheless, you can expect to enjoy the fastest speeds based on its default Intel AX210 chipset that comes with a tri-band and Wifi 6e, offering a great value for its price.

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Features

  • Intel AX210 Wifi 6E card
  • Tri-band wireless adapter
  • Bluetooth 5.2 technology
  • Two external high-gain antennas
  • Maximum speed of 2402Mbps
  • WPA3 Advanced Security
  • OFDMA and MU-MIMO technology
  • Windows 10/11 compatibility
  • Comes with a low profile bracket, Bluetooth header cable, magnetic antenna base, installation guide, and resource CD

What we like

  • wider network coverage
  • consistent connection for multiple devices
  • easy-to-follow installation guide
  • affordable price

What we don’t like

  • not compatible with non-Windows OS
  • requires a 9-pin USB slot to enable Bluetooth

Customer Reviews

This PCI wifi card is also popular among buyers due to its upgraded features and quick wifi speeds. Most users find it has minimal in-game ping and lag, making for uninterrupted sessions. Although the USB slot requirement on the motherboard can be a bit of a hassle, installation using the provided CD is flawless without experiencing sound synchronization issues. It also made for a better range and ultra-fast wifi.

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