This article explains two options by which you can connect your desktop to wifi router on your home network. The benefits of option 1 vs option 2 is explored. The different devices which can be used for the connection and the method to setup is explained.
A FAQ section is also included at the end of the page which would help you to better understand the option you need to select for your purchase.
Desktops do not have inbuilt wifi cards as with laptops or tablets. Desktops only have inbuilt network cards . The desktop has to be installed and setup with an additional device which would make it possible to connect to the wifi network.
For connecting a desktop to a Wifi network at home, there are two types of devices. The different devices and their details and benefits are highlighted below:
Options to connect desktop to Wifi
How to connect desktop to Wi-Fi using USB wifi adapter
USB wifi adapters are adapters which can be connected to the desktop or your laptop. These adapters connect to the USB slot on the desktop. The adapter is configured with an IP address as a normal network adapter. USB wifi adapters come with or without antenna.
USB adapters with the antenna are more powerful compared with the latter since these have external antenna while the former has antenna inbuilt.
If the desktop is placed in such a way there is no space for antenna, (For example, in a rack or a shelf with limited space) then a USB wifi adapter without antenna is recommended. Although it may serve the purpose, it would not be as powerful as the one with the external antenna.
How to connect desktop to Wi-Fi using PCI wifi adapter
PCI wifi adapters are like normal network cards which come along with the desktop. They connect to the mother board of the desktop on the respective PCI slot. These adapters have also external antenna. They are very powerful as compared with USB wifi adapters.
PCI wifi card vs USB Wifi card
USB adapters are plug n play, whereas PCI adapters once connected to the motherboard is fixed. USB adapters are recommended if you have USB slots which can be made available on the desktop. If you want to share the adapters with multiple systems on your network where only occasional wifi connectivity is required on one system, then it makes sense to buy a USB adapter which can then be connected to a different PC at ease.
If you are looking for a permanent solution, then the PCI wifi card would be a better choice. But ensure that your PC has a PCI slot available on it before you purchase. The PCI card is also recommended in scenarios where a server on the network has to be connected using Wifi. In this case, the best solution would be the PCI wifi card.
Which type of Wifi card should you buy
Once you have decided on the type of card (USB or PCI), then you need to select the card which would be ideal for your network and the speed you need. Wifi networks operate in different frequency ranges like 2.4 ghz and 5 ghz. Wireless routers can work with multiple bands.
The type of card you purchase should support the wifi router band on your network. For example , there is no point in buying a wifi card which supports 5 ghz when your router supports only 2.4 ghz. Its always recommended to buy a wifi card which supports all bands since it can adapt easily to any wifi upgrade of your network.
Wifi cards also have pre-defined speed. Again , it is recommended to buy a wifi card with top speed, so that it can adjust to any wifi speed on the network.
How to setup a wifi card on the desktop
Connect the USB or PCI adapter to the desktop.
Go to the network setting of the adapter and configure the IP address as dynamic or static. If the desktop is a server on the network or a PC which is accessed frequently by users on the network, it is recommended to set it up with a static IP address. If it is used by an end user , then a dynamic IP address option is recommended.
Configure the wifi network on the adapter along with the appropriate security protocols for the network like WPA, WEP, etc.
Connect the adapter to the Wifi network. The adapter should connect to the network and you should be able to access the resources on the network.
1. I have two wifi networks at my premises. Can I use multiple wifi adapters ?
Yes, you can. You can connect multiple adapters to your desktop and can connect each of the adapter to the required wifi network.
2. I have two networks. One is Wifi and other is LAN. If I buy a wifi adapter will I be able to communicate with both networks simultaneously ?
Yes. You need to ensure that both the networks use different IP networks in which case this would be possible.
3. My wifi router supports only 2.4 Ghz. If I buy a wifi adapter which supports 2.4Ghz & 5 Ghz will it work?
Yes. It would work. But only the 2.4 Ghz band on the adapter can be used. The 5 Ghz would work only a wifi router which supports 5 Ghz.
4. Will a Wifi card be faster than my traditional network card ?
Wifi has evolved over the years. Currently we have wifi cards which supports gigabit speeds. But it should be remembered that wifi is a shared medium. If your wifi is capable of providing gigabit speeds, this would be shared among all the users.
When a traditional gigabit network card is used, the switch port to which the card is connected would support dedicated gigabit speed (provided the switch is a gigabit switch). So wired connections would always be faster than wireless connections.