Wireless network connections for desktop. USB or PCIe??

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Xander Bishop
Joined: 06/27/2011
Posts: 1

I've been going through my head if I should just stay with the USB wireless-n dongle that I have in a USB 2.0 port. or should I go out and a wireless PCIe 1x card for my desktop. What I would like to know is Pros and cons of both and what kind of impact/effect will the PCIe card have on my system (Will it put more load on the CPU, bog down my ram or will it help my gaming/browsing go more quickly and smoother? Anything you can think of.).

As a side thought, the USB wireless does get a bit warm and it's been that way for as long as I've had it, so I know if I get the card I wont have to worry about a possible meltdown if something goes wrong.

Razear's picture
Joined: 12/30/2008
Posts: 1105

A PCI or PCIe adapter will provide more bandwidth which means it will offer better preformance than USB but it won't have the convenience of plug and play.

eire1274's picture
Joined: 09/12/2003
Posts: 1110

PCI or PCIe is potentially faster if you are using fast N, but if you are below 300Mb/s there is no difference. The plus is that PCI / PCIe is locked into the bus cycle, where USB can get issues due to sharing the USB bus with other devices. Though I have had a couple PCI cards lock the PCI bus up... I'll just blame Linksys and cheap manufacturing on that.

Nick McDermott

sherretz's picture
Joined: 07/10/2003
Posts: 100

I have a few people who use the USB dongles exclusively. One even uses it for moderate gaming. Essentially, unless you're doing a lot of file transfer work or have a lot of other USB devices connected, you will be hard pressed to saturate the bandwidth.

Moving to PCIe will do three "major" things for you:
1) Remove the dongle from your desk
2) Provide more headroom for the wireless connection
3) Free up a USB port

So unless one or more of those options is a major factor to you enjoying your compy, I wouldn't worry. I actually told a friend of mine to buy a USB dongle for his recent build because he uses the computer sparingly and the dongle was 10 bucks, versus upwards of $30-50 for a PCIe card.

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Joined: 10/15/2010
Posts: 10

On my desktop, I use a USB dongle. The main issue is that it is bulky and takes up some space but did not cost a lot. It really depends on what you are doing on the computer.

Junkyard Dawg
Junkyard Dawg's picture
Joined: 02/01/2012
Posts: 23

It really depends on what you are using the the wireless adapter for. If you are just web browsing, I think it will be fine. If you are gaming, I suggest using a PCIe adapter. Why, you may ask? Well I know for certain no matter which adapter you go with, you will be fine using the internet. Your internet speeds will never saturate either of the interface speeds or possible bandwidths, no matter which adapter you go with. Sure 300 Mbps or even 450 Mbps will run better on the PCIe adapter, but you can still use the internet fine at 300 Mbps on USB 2.0. Now, if you find yourself gaming with a wireless adapter, which I don't recommend, I'd go with the PCIe adapter. It's faster not only with the possible bandwidths, but doesn't have the issues USB 2.0 has with IRQs. A PCIe device will have preference in a system. It's better for competitive gaming. However, the USB dongle is a lot easier to transfer to another machine. Hope this helps you.

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