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There has been several Wireless N Dual Band routers/APs out in the market for quite some time now, and there are several Wireless N Dual Band USB adapters out there. But as for PCI/PCI-X card adapters, there seems to be only one (the Linksys WMP600N). Why is that? I find it very strange. Is it because the USB adapters are easier to install, and can be used on multiple computers? But if so, why isn't it the same case with single band (2.4 Ghz) wireless N adapters? Because for these ones there as many PCI card adapters as there are USB adapters. Also, can the USB adapters, despite the lack of external antenna, offer the same level of performance as a card with external antennas?

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And even the Linksys WMP600N is not available in some countries like Australia. –  Mikel Dec 22 '10 at 20:18
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5 Answers

Probably because the trend is moving towards laptops instead of desktops in general.

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In my opinion, if I have a desktop I would like that to be connecting to the network via a network cable, not WiFi. I know a lot of other people who feel the same. This is because WiFi benefits people who move about the house a lot more than people at a Desktop. And usually if they are at a Desktop then they have a phone etc near them. So having their ADSL/Cable router near the desktop isn't unheard of.

This would go some way to explain why isn't such a demand for PCI Network Cards. Unless your in an environment where Desktops are far and away from a network connection (and if they were, these would probably be replaced with Laptops), there would be no need for a PCI Wireless Card.

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There are still a lot of use cases for WiFi for desktops. If you live in a flatshare (common in London), or in a big family with many computers, or simply have a desktop away from the router in a big house, it's convenient to have WiFi. Plus there is still the issue that for single band Wireless-N, there are PCI(x) cards from all major brands. –  daiphoenix Jan 29 '11 at 21:42
    
@daiphoenix True, but those people in those situations usually plum for laptops instead of PC's, but I get your point :) –  mickburkejnr Jan 31 '11 at 9:16
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Also, can the USB adapters, despite the lack of external antenna, offer the same level of performance as a card with external antennas?

no.

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Because USB works on desktop machines too, and there's no need to worry about PCI vs. PCI Express.

Also, some USB adapters do support external antennas, just not the consumer-grade stuff.

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Desktops typically have 2 - 4 PCIe slots, whereas most have 6+ USB slots. Since a Wireless network adapter is such a small footprint, it's a waste to use a whole PCIe slot for one. The USB format offers the antenna and the hardware in one compact footprint and is a much better use of real estate.

If a manufacturer has to decide between one or the other, it will choose the one that's the least expensive to produce and has the widest appeal. Considering the real-estate position stated above and the fact that laptops can also benefit from the USB versions, it's a bit of a no-brainer from an economic standpoint.

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