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I recently purchased a desktop computer and it did not come with a wireless network card. I am currently using the Belkin Wireless G USB Adapter and it is a very sub par product.

It has very slow response times and download speeds with just basic browsing and downloads podcasts through iTunes.

Does anyone have a better suggestion for a wireless adapter? Should I go with another USB adapter or one that connects directly into the motherboard?

I am current using Windows Vista 64 bit Home Premium.

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closed as off-topic by Olli, Tog, Heptite, random Feb 12 at 22:14

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you're looking for an adapter, not an antenna. adapters will include an antenna; some will have replacable antennas. but the thingy that provides the wireless connectivity is the adapter, and without an adapter an antenna doesn't do you much good. –  quack quixote Oct 20 '09 at 16:34
    
@ ~quack2 - Fixed question based on your comment –  Michael Kniskern Oct 20 '09 at 16:37

4 Answers 4

It's worth asking the question: do you really need wireless?

Most modern motherboards come with ethernet (wired networking) built-in, so you should already have access to that. It may seem inconvenient to run a long wire, but wired networking is immune to RF interference and other issues that can plague wireless setups, and it's typically faster than wireless. If your desktop will mostly stay in the same place, it's worthwhile to go with a wired solution.

But let's assume you really want wireless, whatever the reasoning. The question now falls to: what kind? PCI or USB?

Consider your usage. If this is to be a permanent part of the PC, either because no wired connection is available or because the PC is frequently moved, get a PCI adapter. (Make sure that your system has a free PCI slot!) But go for a USB model if this PC normally uses a wired connection but every once in a while gets moved and needs wireless.

Now, the Belkin adapter you linked in the question has an internal antenna, which makes it nice and small, but limits the adapter's range and power. Unless size is a big factor, look for something with an external antenna -- preferably a replacable one, so that you can swap out for a high-gain antenna if the need arises. Here's an example USB model and PCI model that use replacable antennas. (Note: I'm not recommending these products, just using them to illustrate the feature.)

Finally, consider what other wireless devices you'll be connecting to. Make sure the standards match -- don't buy an 802.11a adapter if your router is 802.11g (and vice-versa).

My personal recommendation is to stay away from Belkin products. Beyond that, someone else will have to chime in with a specific recommendation. Good hunting!

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I need to go wireless due to the location of my wireless router modem. If I want to use a wired connection, I would need to installed CAT5 connections in my house or move the wireless router and modem. I just moved the wireless router and modem to improve performance during online gaming...;D –  Michael Kniskern Oct 20 '09 at 17:54
    
just get a long cable and some duct tape... :) –  quack quixote Oct 20 '09 at 18:03
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Yeah, the wife will love that set up.... –  Michael Kniskern Oct 20 '09 at 19:56
    
@Mich I'm about the same way. I like being able to use my laptop from the couch without having to worry about cables. With Wireless-N now, I'd say that going wireless won't matter to anyone unless they do a lot of transferring across LAN or have really bad EMI in their area. And for most people they will be working as fast as their internet, which is definitely slower than their wireless speed. –  Earlz Aug 17 '10 at 15:51

Invest in high quality AP and adapters. I don't want to push a specific product, but consider a well reviewed adapter of any type. A USB device with a nice high-gain desktop antenae can outperform a run of the mill internal card. I'm a fan of Intel networking adapters and Broadcom based devices. More important than manufacturer is concensus of reviews from others.

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Your best bet is to install a card via a PCI slot on your motherboard. USB adapters are great when you are in a pinch, but for constant every day use you really should consider a PCI card.

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Can you suggest a particular PCI slot antenna you prefer? –  Michael Kniskern Oct 20 '09 at 16:30
    
@Michael Kniskern: Best buy a PCI adapter of the same make as your router, just in case. –  harrymc Jun 7 '10 at 12:56
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I went ahead and purchased D-Link DWA-552 Xtreme Wireless-N PCI Desktop Adapter.

Product Home Page

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