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8 Best PCIe Wireless Cards for 2023 [Hands

Mar 29, 2023

The good news: adding Wi-Fi support is easy, no matter how old your PC is. All you need is a Wi-Fi expansion card and some hardware know-how to get started.

The great news: we took on the daunting task of testing the most popular products online to answer the question "what is the best PCIe WiFi card" in 2022 – so you don't have to!

Continue reading to discover the eight best PCIe wireless cards available right now.

In our opinion, PC users should prioritize Ethernet cables because they instantly transfer data via light signals. On the other hand, Wi-Fi transmits data packets using radio waves which are highly susceptible to distortion, congestion, and other obstacles.

Establishing a direct connection between your PC and the internet router is not always feasible. In such cases, we use a PCIe Wi-Fi wireless card to get the job done.

Yes, the latest Wi-Fi cards boast features such as tri-band Wi-Fi radios, over 3,000 Mbps peak bandwidth, Bluetooth functionality, and support the latest 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E bands. Meanwhile, older Wi-Fi cards rely on single or dual Wi-Fi bands, max out at 1,800 Mbps peak bandwidth (sometimes lower), lack Wi-Fi 6 support, etc.

The purpose of this blog post was to discover the best Wi-Fi wireless cards available right now. And while that may sound like a straightforward task, endless Wi-Fi cards are floating online; there's not enough time to test every product.

After setting up a testing methodology, we took to social media platforms—most notably Reddit—to compile user opinions and narrow the list to 20 Wi-Fi wireless cards. Then, each product was put through different scenarios until 8 Wi-Fi wireless cards came out on top.

We performed three types of tests for this blog:

TP-Link Archer TX3000E is our top pick – and for good reasons! It's a feature-packed Wi-Fi card with dual-band Wi-Fi 6, a peak bandwidth of 2,976 Mbps, an Intel chipset, Bluetooth 5.2 support, a 160 MHz channel, and advanced WPA3 security.

The product comes with a nice aluminum heatsink and gold-plated contact pins. For connectivity, there's a separate antenna base with two multi-directional antennas. The overall dimensions are 95.2 x 120.8 x 21.5 mm, making it a compact piece of machinery that's easy to install.

As for bandwidth allocation, 2,402 Mbps is reserved for the 5GHz Wi-Fi 6 band, with Wi-Fi 5 trailing at 1,733 MHz – the 2.4 GHz band maxes out at 574 Mbps. Performance numbers were impressive during the short-range test, with peak speeds of 972 Mbps. The average download speed was 114.44 MBPs, and it took 3 minutes and 36 seconds to download Skyrim – Special Edition.

Things remained good at long range with a peak download speed of 475 Mbps and no ping or packet loss issues. Overall, the TP-Link Archer TX3000E ranks as a top-of-the-line Wi-Fi card.

Gigabyte produces quality PC hardware in the custom desktop space, including PCIe Wi-Fi cards. Among their catalog of Wi-Fi cards, the GC-WBAX210 managed to make it into our top 8 PCIe wireless card list.

Powered by Intel's latest Wi-Fi 6E capable AX210 tri-band wireless module (and covered by a heatsink), the peak bandwidth of this card is 2,400 Mbps with 1024 QAM and 160MHz channels. Outstanding features include Bluetooth 5.2 standard support and a separate AORUS high-performance 2Tx2R antenna.

The testing phase revealed a peak download speed of 965 Mbps at short range. The standard download test took 3 minutes and 35 seconds to download Skyrim – Special Edition from GOG servers with an average speed of 114.8 Mbps (963 Mbps).

As for the long-range tests, the GC-WBAX210 continued to impress us by reaching peak speeds of 472 Mbps. The speeds were fantastic, and connectivity was consistent, which led to an enjoyable gaming experience.

You can't go wrong with Gigabyte GC-WBAX210, especially if you prioritize Wi-Fi 6 functionality.

TP-Link's Archer TXE72E is the fastest performer on this list thanks to tri-band, Wi-Fi 6E functionality (with a peak bandwidth of 5,378 Mbps), 6GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, the latest Intel Wi-Fi 6E chipset, and WPA3 advanced security.

In terms of connectivity, it has integrated dual antennas at the back. We feel the card would have benefited from a different, more extensive antenna base, but that's about the only complaint. Going by the dimensions (55 × 36 × 11.5 mm), it's a compact piece of hardware that's easy to install on most devices.

Regarding bandwidth allocation, both 5GHz and 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E bands have a maximum bandwidth of 2,402 Mbps. Meanwhile, the slower—albeit longer-ranged—2.4GHz band peaks at 574 Mbps. And finally, the 5GHz Wi-Fi 5 band has a bandwidth of up to 1,732 Mbps. Of course, users will need a Wi-Fi 6 or 6E capable router to make the most out of this Wi-Fi card.

TP-Link's Archer TXE72E blitz through the short-range test with peak download speeds of 983 Mbps (on a Dell Aurora R10). Similarly, it took 3 minutes and 32 seconds to download Skyrim – Special Edition from with an average speed of 116.35 MB/sec (976 Mbps).

The download speed dipped to just 458 Mbps on the ITX HTPC at long range. Here, the Wi-Fi card switched to the slower 5GHz Wi-Fi 6 band because the integrated antennas—while reasonably capable—don't have good long-range coverage. Plus, a 6GHz signal can't travel as far as 5GHz.

All in all, TP-Link Archer TXE72E is an excellent Wi-Fi card. The speeds are fantastic at low to medium ranges, and the gaming experience turned out to be better than expected.

Gamers who want a capable gaming Wi-Fi card should consider the Asus PCE-AC88. It's a Dual-band 4×4 AC3100 Wi-Fi 5 card with four external antennas and peak speeds of 2,100 Mbps.

Accessories include a 4×4 adapter with support for PCE-AC88 and NitroQAM (1024-QAM) wireless technologies. Asus claims that PCE-AC88's 4×4 adapters can be up to 60% faster than 3×3 adapters, ensuring smooth streaming and low latencies– 60% faster speeds is a bold claim!

To determine the accuracy of these claims, we paid particular attention to the gaming aspect, and sure enough, the card performed far better than its rivals. For example, there was a 15-20ms reduction in ping, on average, as compared to other Wi-Fi cards on this list. Also, there were no packet loss issues.

At short-range, the Asus PCE-AC88 hit speeds of 966 Mbps – A strong showing considering this Wi-Fi card is limited to Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) only. Equally impressive were the average download speeds. For instance, it took us just 3 minutes 36 seconds to download Skyrim – Special Edition at 114.68 MB/sec (962 Mbps).

Asus PCE-AC88 also turned out to be one of the more capable Wi-Fi cards in our long-range test, with our custom-made mini-ITX HTPC machine achieving a peak download speed of 478 Mbps.

While the card lacks the raw bandwidth as the other Wi-Fi cards in this test, it makes up for its range and consistency. Overall, the Asus PCE-AC88 is the best gaming Wi-Fi card you can buy.

Asus PCE-AX1800 is a great all-around Wi-Fi card that's light on the pocket and offers a decent set of features for the price. Buyers can expect Wi-Fi 6 standard (802.11ax) functionality, Bluetooth 5.2, WPA3 network security, and support for MU-MIMO and OFDMA wireless technologies.

This card adheres to a minimalistic design – understandable given the price point. Positioned at the back are standard dual-integrated antennas and an Intel modem chip in the middle. Sadly, there are no heatsinks to keep the device cool.

In terms of performance, the Asus PCE-AX1800 doesn't disappoint. The peak bandwidth is 1,775 Mbps, 1,201 Mbps of which is reserved for the 5GHz Wi-Fi band. The rest goes to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 6 band. Compared to other entrants on this list, the Asus PCE-AX1800 fits in the middle of the pack regarding peak bandwidth allocation.

The card's performance is up to par; at short range, it managed a peak download speed of 936 Mbps. Not class-leading but respectable. Consequently, it took 3 minutes and 48 seconds to fully download Skyrim – Special Edition from with an average speed of 108.6 MB/sec (911 Mbps). Longer ranges saw satisfactory peak download speeds of 425 Mbps.

To test out the Bluetooth 5.2 functionality, we hooked up an assortment of Bluetooth 5.2 compatible devices—including a Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless headset—and the results exceeded expectations. In addition, the Asus PCE-AX1800 works great as a Bluetooth 5.2 adapter and offers a stutter-free and enjoyable gaming experience.

If you have a slower internet connection and a limited budget, you probably should go for TP-Link's Archer T2E.

It's a cheap Wi-Fi card, so performance isn't its strong suit (a peak bandwidth of just 600 Mbps). Out of the available 600 Mbps, only 433 Mbps is available to the 5GHz Wi-Fi 5 band (802.11ac), with the slower 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) trailing behind at just 200 Mbps.

What we liked about the TP-Link Archer T2E, however, is its size—or lack thereof. Measuring at 120.8 × 78.5 × 21.5 mm, the device is tiny, meaning you can stuff it in even the smallest of (Small Form Factor) OEM PCs.

In the short-range test, it managed a peak download speed of just 386 Mbps, less than half of most Wi-Fi cards in this test. At long range, the performance tanked to just 229 Mbps. In the end, it took 9 minutes and 18 seconds to download Skyrim SE with an average download speed of 44.35 MB/sec (372 Mbps).

TP-Link Archer T2E handled itself well in the gaming department (although latencies are slightly above average). Again, the Archer T2E makes this list because it serves as a usable Wi-Fi card at a shallow price.

TP-Link Archer T5E is a compact, budget-friendly, dual-band PCIe Wi-Fi 5 card with a maximum bandwidth of 1,200 Mbps. Also, the card supports Bluetooth 4.2, WPA/WPA2 encryption, and the latest version of Windows 11.

Regarding bandwidth allocation, up to 867 Mbps is available for the 5GHz band and 300 Mbps for the 2.4 GHz. But before making any moves, note that this card only supports Wi-Fi 5 and not the faster Wi-Fi 6 standard.

TP-Link Archer T5E is one of the smallest Wi-Fi cards in our test at 120.8 × 83.2 × 21.5 mm. Moreover, it comes with a low-profile, as well as the standard height brackets.

We achieved a peak download speed of 826 Mbps during the short-range test, which is okay given the price tag. It took us 4 minutes and 14 seconds to download Skyrim – Special Edition with an average speed of 97.27 MB/sec (816 Mbps).

At long range, download speeds remained constant, with the mini ITX HTPC reaching a peak bandwidth of 412 Mbps. Although the performance pales compared to other Wi-Fi cards on this list, this is, after all, a budget-oriented product.

Finally, the gaming experience was flawless. There were no latency or packet loss issues during the gaming test. To sum it up, TP-Link Archer T5E is a solid product that you can fit in almost any PC, thanks to its super compact design and low-profile bracket.

Finding a Linux-compatible Wi-Fi card that doesn't suck can be challenging. Fortunately, the Asus PCE-AC51 solves that problem. Everything was plug-n-play on our Linux test machine (Ubuntu 22.04 LTS ‘Jammy Jellyfish’ with GNOME version 42.0 pre-installed).

Like other budget WiFi cards on this list, the Asus PCE-AC51 has a peak bandwidth of just 733 Mbps. To make matters worse, only 433 Mbps is available to the 5GHz Wi-Fi 5 band (802.11ac), with 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) trailing behind at just 300 Mbps.

At short range, the Asus PCE-AC51 managed just 397 Mbps. However, it took 9 minutes and 8 seconds to download Skyrim – Special Edition with an average download speed of 45.18 MB/sec (379 Mbps).

The download speed in the medium range was 238 Mbps. Based on the numbers, this card is only suitable for Linux machines and users with a slow internet connection.

There are a few things one must consider before choosing a PCIe Wi-Fi card:

These are some PCIe Wireless Card FAQs people ask in 2022:

Wi-Fi cards are better than USB Wi-Fi dongles because of bandwidth and latency. The USB 3.0 standard offers a peak bandwidth of 5 Gbps. Meanwhile, a 1x PCIe 4.0 slot manages speeds of up to 16 Gbps. Also, because PCIe lanes are connected directly to the CPU, users experience lower latencies on average.

Yes. You can connect a Wi-Fi card to any motherboard as long as a spare PCIe slot is available. Even budget motherboards come with at least 3 to 4 PCIe slots, so you can easily connect multiple expansion cards.

Modern Wi-Fi cards use PCIe x1 expansion slots located on the motherboard.

PCI stands for ‘Peripheral Component Interconnect’. Introduced back in 1992, it's seen several revisions since then. The latest version is PCIe, where ‘e’ stands for ‘express’. PCIe is significantly faster than standard PCI; as of 2022, new components are designed for the newer PCIe standard.

Absolutely. A Wi-Fi card can indeed be used for gaming. However, they generally aren't as fast or as reliable as dedicated Ethernet cables. However, at short ranges, the difference between the two is minimal.

In short, no. The only reason premium Wi-Fi cards use heatsinks is to avoid any potential thermal throttling during intense data transfers. With a heatsink, the modem chip in the Wi-Fi card can stay cool and provide more consistent upload/download speeds for more extended periods.

This concludes our eight best PCIe Wi-Fi cards of 2022 review. Armed with this new information, you can now choose a Wi-Fi card that's best suited for your needs!

About Tracy Motz

The good news: The great news: TP-Link Archer TX3000E: Gigabyte GC-WBAX210: TP-Link Archer TXE72E: Asus PCE-AC88: Asus PCE-AX1800: TP-Link Archer T2E: TP-Link Archer T5E: Asus PCE-AC51: Short-range tests: Online gaming tests: Long-range tests: Wi-Fi Card Standard All Bands Main Band Rating Check Price