How to Add Wi-Fi to a Desktop Computer

June 20th, 2016 by Mark Daly in Industry News No Comments »

Wi-Fi is becoming more common in desktop computers, but not all desktop computers have it. Add Wi-Fi and you can connect to the Internet wirelessly and host Wi-Fi hotspots for your other devices.

This is a simple, inexpensive process. Buy the right little adapter and you can even take it with you, quickly adding Wi-Fi to any desktop you come across by plugging a tiny device into its USB port.

Why You Might Want to Do This

Are you happy with your desktop computer’s network connection, and you don’t really feel like you want Wi-Fi? That’s fine. But the benefits of Wi-Fi are tough to ignore. With Wi-Fi, you can position your desktop computer anywhere you want in your home or office, as long as there’s a power outlet nearby. You can then connect it to your router without running an Ethernet cable.

Wi-Fi would also allow you to host a Wi-Fi hotspot on your PC, allowing other devices to connect through its Internet connection. Let’s say you have a work computer wired directly to an Ethernet port and there’s no Wi-Fi available. Add Wi-Fi to that computer (all you ahve to do is plug a device into a USB port) and you can then connect your smartphone, tablet, portable game console, and other devices to your computer over Wi-Fi, gaining access to its wired Ethernet connection.

If you’re happy with your current Ethernet connection, there’s no need to throw away the cables and go wireless. Good old Ethernet cables are still useful — they can offer faster speeds and lower latency than Wi-Fi. But Wi-Fi does offer its own benefits.

How to Add Wi-Fi to a Desktop Computer ilicomm Technology Solutions

The Easy Method: A USB-to-Wi-Fi Adapter

Just as you can add Bluetooth to an old computer simply by plugging a little Bluetooth dongle into its USB port, you can add Wi-Fi to a computer without Wi-Fi simply by plugging in a USB-to-Wi-Fi adapter.

Basically, this is just a tiny little dongle that you plug into a USB port. It has a Wi-Fi radio in it, and your computer can use it to connect to Wi-Fi. It doesn’t have to be a tiny dongle, though — larger models with built-in antennas are available.

This is an easy and cheap option. You can purchase a USB-to-Wi-Fi adapter for as little as $10 on Amazon. It’s a simple way ot add Wi-Fi to basically any computer, just by plugging a device into its USB port. You could leave the small little device in a spare USB port and forget it’s there or take it with you so you can always add Wi-Fi to any desktop computer you come across. This is a great way to add Wi-Fi to a Raspberry Pi, too

How to Add Wi-Fi to a Desktop Computer ilicomm Technology Solutions

Install an Internal Wi-Fi Card

There’s also the more traditional method of upgrading your desktop PC’s internals. This will involve opening your desktop computer up and installing a dedicated internal Wi-Fi card in a PCI Express slot, PCI Express Mini slot, or a similar type of slot. Assuming your computer is designed to be easily opened and has a spare slot for an expansion card, this should work well.

If you built your own PC, this is simple. If it’s a pre-built desktop PC that was never designed to be opened or upgraded, you may have a problem.

Dedicated internal Wi-Fi cards can potentailly have better reception than little USB adapters, especially as they can include larger antennas that stick out of the back of your desktop PC.

Expect to pay somewhere between $15 and $35 for one of these on Amazon. Before you purchase one, be sure your computer has a free slot of the appropriate type and that you’re comfortable installing it on your own. Assuming you can get your computer open easily, it should just be a matter of shutting it down, opening it up, screwing the card in, closing the computer back up again, and booting up.

How to Add Wi-Fi to a Desktop Computer ilicomm Technology Solutions

When you’re done, your computer will be able to connect to Wi-Fi just like your average laptop. You may have to install the drivers that came with your Wi-Fi hardware first, though.

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