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Which AC1900 USB wifi adapter to buy ?

Discussion in 'Wireless Buying Advice' started by Klink0x, Jun 18, 2018.

?
  1. Asus USB AC-68

    1 vote(s)
    100.0%
  2. Netgear Nighthawk A7000

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. TP-LINK Archer T9UH

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. D-Link DWA-192

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Klink0x

    Klink0x New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2018
    Messages:
    4
    My home is currently connected in such a manner : External Internet -> ISP Router -> Netgear Orbi.

    I have recently purchased a new PC and the wifi module it comes with - an Intel AC 3168 isn't a great wifi card.

    I am planning to disable the internal AC 3168 and use a AC 1900 USB wifi adapter instead for faster connectivity.

    What I have narrowed down so far in terms of AC 1900 USB 3.0 wifi adapters are :
    • Asus USB AC-68
    • Netgear Nighthawk A7000
    • TP-LINK Archer T9UH
    • D-Link DWA-192
    All 4 of them uses the same Realtek RTL8814AU chipset, so I guess the difference boils down to the drivers and some proprietary improvements ? Not sure if the age of an adapter matters, but the oldest adapter is D-Link DWA-192. Newest kid on the block would be the Netgear A7000.

    Is there an outstanding/recommended one among the 4 ?
     
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  3. Internet Man

    Internet Man Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2017
    Messages:
    206
    I'd prefer an adapter with larger external antennas that uses a USB cable so that you can easily move the adapter to the spot with the best signal. Some of the models you've listed have a cradle or can be located away from your computer but they all have fairly small antennas.

    Consider the TRENDnet TEW-809UB or the ALFA Network AWUS1900. Both have four external RP-SMA 5 dBi antennas and are plugged in via USB 3.0 cable for easy movement. They're typically more expensive ($70-$80) than the cheapest on your list ($55.55). The TRENDnet TEW-809UB is only $55 at newegg right now after the 30% off coupon (615MQTYS30) so I'd get that.
     
  4. Klink0x

    Klink0x New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2018
    Messages:
    4
    Hmm, although all 4 wifi adapters use the same chipset, both the Asus & Netgear uses a 3x4:3 configuration while TP-Link & D-Link uses a 4x4:3 configuration. I wonder why, given that the chipset supports 4x4.

    Ah thanks for the tip on the TRENDnet and Alfa wifi adapters. The larger antennas look a little intimidating on the desk though :p
     
  5. Internet Man

    Internet Man Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2017
    Messages:
    206
    Since the chipset only supports three spatial streams, the fourth tx/rx chains would only serve to improve reception slightly. Implementing the fourth tx/rx chain(s) costs the manufacturer money so some must have decided that the improvement in reception wasn't worth the cost increase.

    A phase offset in the signal for each tx/rx chain is important and this is usually achieved by having the antennas located away from each other. In small devices, like these adapters, it can be difficult to get the antennas far enough away from each other such that the extra tx/rx chains actually provide some benefit.

    Stick it under the desk! If a non-intimidating form-factor is a deciding factor then the D-Link DWA-192 seems to win in that category.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
    Klink0x likes this.
  6. umarmung

    umarmung Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2018
    Messages:
    143
    I had to do a similar survey/research early this year.

    I wouldn't get the TP-Link. It has the worst reviews, looks like a rushed to market job after the Asus and common reports of it getting ridiculously hot.

    The rest are probably fine. You may have a nightmare with bundled drivers or performance with such drivers if you have latest versions of Windows 10 (that's probably where most of the bad reviews for the exact same chipset come from). Best thing to do is download the latest drivers directly from the Realtek site itself. Often they are much leaner too with no unnecessary utility fluff.

    The Trendnet TEW-809UB could be the best performer out of all those RTL8814AU adapters, especially for 2.4GHz, due to its antennas. However, due to its multiple long, screwed antennas it is likely the least portable.

    If you can find it, the COMFAST CF-917AC is almost always the cheapest of all those adapters, has the full 4x4:3 configuration (instead of 3x4:3 like the Asus and Netgear or 3x3 for Edimax), and has very good performance.

    The Asus USB-AC68 can be tricky to use at the back of busy PC port areas without its USB 3.0 cradle extension since the adapter is so thick and has foldable antennas. However, similar could be said for most of the adapters due to thickness.

    Summary:
    - performance: Trendnet TEW-809UB
    - portability: Edimax EW-7833UAC (marketed as AC1750)
    - budget: COMFAST CF-917AC
    - avoid: TP-LINK Archer T9UH

    I have no specific information on the Netgear A7000 or D-Link DWA-192 "death star".

    For me, the Asus USB-AC68 was a good balance of performance and portability. It is powerful enough to use as a desktop adapter while also portable enough to quickly foldup for travel without unscrewing and finding space for multiple long antennas. It is also very good for WiFi stability and latency testing, though that may be less a feature of any specific adapter than the impressive RTL8814AU chipset.

    One comparison review from Tweak Town a year ago against a Netgear R7000 router (3x3) actually gave a slight 5GHz throughput edge to the Asus: https://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/8035/asus-usb-ac68-ac1900-wireless-adapter-review/index.html

    Multiple reviews show the Asus is no slouch, even compared to PCIe cards:
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
    Klink0x likes this.
  7. Klink0x

    Klink0x New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2018
    Messages:
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    Thanks for the detailed information, umarmung. I'll probably go for the Asus AC-68. I was strongly considering giving the Netgear A7000 a go, but it isn't available locally in my country, hence the shipping cost increased the total cost.
     
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