An old desktop computer to be recycled as a media center and thus transform a FullHD TV into a smart TV. A PC that is a little too far from the home (or office) router but still needs a non-wired Internet connection. These are some of the reasons that may lead you to look for a way to add Wi-Fi connectivity to a desktop computer you have at home or in the office. The solutions can be many: from the expansion card to be mounted in the PCI slots of the motherboard to the desktop antennas, to be connected to the computer.
The most comfortable and “painless” solution to add Wi-Fi to the PC, however, is another: a USB stick. In this way, in fact, there will be no need to disassemble the computer (not even partially), nor will you have to check the compatibility between the motherboard and the expansion card. All you have to do is find the Wi-Fi dongle that best suits your needs and buy it. The expenditure is also limited after all. But above all this will allow you to surf wirelessly even from a desktop computer.
Before proceeding with the purchase, however, it will be necessary to check some characteristics of the new device, in order to avoid finding yourself with a peripheral that is not very useful for your purposes. Choosing a Wi-Fi stick, in fact, is simple when you know the most important specifications. Those that will determine the connection speed and the protection of the data exchanged within the network, so to speak. Let’s see in detail which are the most important characteristics to consider when choosing a best WiFi Dongle that provides the seamless internet browsing experience at home and office regardless the number of devices being connected.
Like all other USB peripherals, even the Wi-Fi sticks have gradually adapted to the communication standards of the most widespread and used computer connector. Today, most wireless adapters are compatible, at least, with the USB 2.0 standard, which guarantees a theoretical maximum speed of 480 megabits per second (equivalent to 60 megabytes / s). At the same time, Wi-Fi sticks compatible with the latest USB 3.0 standard are becoming more and more common, characterized by a data transfer speed more than tenfold: 5 gigabits per second (just over 600 megabytes / s) guarantee bandwidth enough to exchange even large files in just a few seconds.
In this case, however, the choice will depend on the computer you have available. If you have an old device without USB 3.0 ports, it will be useless to spend extra money on a Wi-Fi stick of this type. The maximum speed, in fact, will in any case be limited to that foreseen by the USB standard existing on the computer in use.
Another determining factor for the data transfer speed is the Wi-Fi class of the dongle you are about to buy. All the adapters available on the market (or almost) are compatible with the IEEE 802.11n WiFi standard, while the number of wireless dongles that meet the dictates of the IEEE 802.11ac standard is growing (obviously, both the solutions described are backwards compatible with the other versions. older and less performing than the IEEE 802.11 standard). In the first case, the theoretical maximum speed will be 450 megabits per second, while in the second the gigabit threshold is exceeded, reaching 1.3 gigabits per second. Both IEEE 802.11n and IEEE 802.11ac compatible USB sticks guarantee support for dual band, thus allowing you to choose between the band of the electromagnetic spectrum attested to 2.4 gigahertz and that attested to 5 gigahertz.
In this case, the decisive factor is represented by the Wi-Fi router you own: if you have a model that is a few years old and not too performing, it is useless to look for wireless adapters compatible with 802.11ac technology: the maximum connection speed, in fact, it will still be the one allowed by the router.
On this front there is little to discuss. All devices on the market now offer the protection guaranteed by the WPA2-AES security standard which, thanks to advanced encryption algorithms, guarantees browsing protected from man in the middle attack attempts.
Staying on the subject of security, the WPS technology (acronym for Wi-Fi Protected Setup) ensures that the router and the Wi-Fi key can connect to each other in a totally secure way, without the need to enter passwords or other access credentials. Thanks to this technology, in fact, two wireless network devices can communicate with each other independently, exchanging all the information necessary to create the connection. If the chosen USB stick and the router support WPS, then, it will be enough to press a button (and wait a few seconds) to be able to start surfing wirelessly even from the desktop.
If wireless network performance and performance are your primary concern, make sure both your router and Wi-Fi dongle support Beamforming technology. Thanks to this standard, available only for dual band network devices, the router is able to orient the signal in a particular direction, so as to strengthen it in the area where the devices to be connected are located. This means better reception and higher data transfer rates between computer and router.
If you intend to connect your desktop PC to the Wi-Fi network, a USB stick may be the most painless solution. Mentioned above are the features to look out for.