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I bought a Dell OptiPlex 7010 from New Egg (link here) and when it arrived I realized it did not seem to have a wifi card built it into. I was told I could just plug in a USB wifi adapter, so I bought this one.

I just plugged that USB wifi adapter into a USB port on my machine and powered it on. After a few minutes, Windows starts, I sign in, but I still see no sign that wireless is available (anywhere) as an option: imgur-hosted screenshots.

I'm wondering why I can't get this Dell Windows 10 machine to see my wifi adapter. Maybe I need to manually install a driver? Maybe something like:

  1. On my laptop (separate machine), download the driver onto a USB drive
  2. Plug the USB drive into this Windows 10 machine, copy it onto the file system
  3. Install the driver

Would that trigger wifi options to start showing in Network settings?

I think what makes me leery here is that I'm not even seeing wifi options in the system tray or Network Settings. Is it possible this distribution/version of Windows 10 doesn't support wifi?! Any ideas as to why I'm not even seeing wifi options in any of those screenshots?

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    To know: 1. Dell Optiplex 7010 has no WiFi 2. The USB WiFi dongle you bought is market as "plug'n'play" but it may need user installed drivers. 3. It's designed to work on USB3.x of which you NONE; it's really unclear whether it can work in USB.2.0 ports but even if it does expect performance way below specifications. In conclusion: You'd be better served with an older WiFi dongle. Oct 18, 2022 at 21:07
  • Thanks @ChanganAuto (+1) however if you read the specs from that OptiPlex link there is an "Additional Ports" section that mentions it has four (4) USB 3.0 ports. Am I reading that wrong? Oct 18, 2022 at 22:09
  • Where exactly are you seeing the additional USB 3.0 ports? I couldn't find it neither on you own link nor at Amazon and at Dell's is practically impossible to obtain detailed specs for such old products (and they may have many variants anyway). USB ports are typically color coded, blue for USB3.x, black for previous versions (exception: a few entry-level laptops with black v3.0 ports), reason why I assume it has USB2.0 only. Oct 18, 2022 at 22:46
  • Hi @ChanganAuto, I took a screenshot and uploaded here to imgur. You'll see this highlighted: "Additional Ports: USB 2.0-6, USB 3.0-4, Serial Port-1, Parallel Ports-Not Installed, Digital Card Reader-Not Installed" Oct 19, 2022 at 0:29
  • Now that you mention it, the top 2 frontal ports seems to have a different logo. Have you tried on those? Oct 19, 2022 at 5:23

2 Answers 2

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First thing is to check your devices (via control panel or run -> devices.msc). Make sure your wifi adapter is installed. If it is not listed disconnect and reconnect it then hit refresh.

If there are other devices not installed those could block the install of your wifi.

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  • Thanks @Danblade (+1) when you say "disconnect and reconnect it then it refresh" could you elaborate a little more? Disconnect what from what? And how?! Thanks again! Oct 19, 2022 at 0:32
  • Disconnect and reconnect the dongle while keeping the device manager open, obviously, and after reconnecting hit refresh on the menu. And again, try other ports. Oct 19, 2022 at 5:25
  • Ahh I was thinking the "it" in "disconnect and reconnect it" was referring to the power cord on the tower. Oct 19, 2022 at 12:17
  • This is USB devices troubleshooting 101. Now I'm not confident you understand what you need to do. So, again, I was wrong about it not having USB3.0 ports - it has 2 in the front and 2 in the rear marked with "SS" (Super Speed). Connect the WiFi dongle to any of those ports and to those ports ONLY. Oct 19, 2022 at 14:11
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There is no special Windows "no-wifi" consumer variant. All versions support Wi-Fi, but obviously they hide the Wi-Fi option when there is no antenna / Wi-Fi hardware. Otherwise a lot of people would spend a lot of time pressing Wi-Fi in settings again and again to no avail.

After installing the correct driver and rebooting you likely see the Wi-Fi option. The Newegg page says "free driver, just plug into computer can be installed automatically". As I read it this means the driver is stored in Windows Update and will get installed automatically to the connected machine when the antenna is plugged in. For this to happen, you got to have an existing internet connection available. Maybe you are able to get the driver package when searching the web for the hardware ID found in device manager.

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  • Thanks @PasWei (+1) - so it sounds like I could connect the Dell OptiPlex to my router via ethernet/CAT5 cable, install a Windows Update, and that the driver might be bundled or packaged in with that update? Thanks again! Oct 18, 2022 at 22:11
  • @hotmeatballsoup Yes, but... You should check your devices first (cf. the other answer) to make sure it's detected. It should appear with an interrogation mark, meaning device detected but not installed, needs drivers... Because if not then it won't work no matter what. And although this answer is mostly correct, Win10, unless it's a very old build, should include some basic driver for your WiFi dongle, that should get you online albeit in less than ideal conditions and then the driver may or may need be updated. (...) Oct 18, 2022 at 22:53
  • (...) Again, even if detected, it won't ever work at its best, far from it, due to the USB2.0 limitations. You may want to add a low profile USB3.0 PCIe card (it should have at least 1 slot available but finding a low profile one nowadays will not be an easy task). Oct 18, 2022 at 22:54

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