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Tested: We push six 802.11ac Wi-Fi USB adapters to the limit

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At a Glance

The Asus USB-AC56 delivers top-shelf performance, but it’s also one of the more expensive 802.11ac Wi-Fi USB adapters you’ll encounter.

Price when rated: $70 (street price)

Pros

  • Very high TCP throughput—at least at close range
  • USB 3.0 interface and cradle
  • Internal and external antennas

Cons

  • Only average TCP throughput at longer ranges
  • Bulky and fragile when external antenna is attached
  • Expensive
 Compare

At a Glance

If you don’t mind the absence of a WPS button, Buffalo’s low-priced WI-UW-866D 802.11ac Wi-Fi USB adapter is a very good value.

Price when rated: $40 (street price)

Pros

  • Very good performance at long range
  • Hinged USB interface
  • Compact design
  • Low price

Cons

  • No WPS button
  • No USB cradle
  • Mediocre close-range performance
 Compare

At a Glance

D-Link’s DWA-182 is moderately priced and comes with a USB cradle for placement flexibility. But its overall performance left it in third place in a field of six adapters.

Price when rated: $50 (street price)

Pros

  • Compact size
  • USB cradle

Cons

  • Priced $10 higher than fourth-place finisher, which had better close-range performance
  • No hinge to enable fine-tuning
 Compare

At a Glance

The Linksys WUSB6300 isn’t the fastest performer, it doesn’t have a hinged USB interface, and it doesn’t come with a cradle. And yet it has a nosebleed-inducing price tag of $70.

Price when rated: $70

Pros

  • Compact design

Cons

  • Mediocre performance
  • No USB cradle
  • Unattractive price-to-performance ratio
 Compare
Where to buy

At a Glance

If you need to connect just a single client, such as a laptop or a home-theater PC, to your 802.11ac network, a Wi-Fi client USB adapter is much cheaper than a wireless bridge. Netgear's A6200 is one of the best.

Price when rated: $70
Lowest price: $63.00 via Dell Small Business

Pros

  • Very good long-range performance
  • Excellent industrial design
  • USB cradle

Cons

  • Much slower than the Asus USB-AC56 at close range
 Compare

At a Glance

Trendnet’s TEW-805UB is cheap, but you get the features and performance you pay for.

Price when rated: $40 (street price)

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Compact design

Cons

  • Relatively slow at all distances
  • No USB cradle
 Compare

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