Who makes the best 802.11ac Wi-Fi client USB adapter?

D-Link DWA-182 review: A solid performer at all distances

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At a Glance
  • D-Link DWA-182 Wireless AC1200 Dual Band USB Adapter

Who makes the best 802.11ac Wi-Fi client USB adapter?

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In our latest roundup of 802.11ac client adapters, D-Link’s DWA-182 didn’t take any first- or second-place finishes, and it finished in third place overall. The adapter measures about 3 inches long, not including its USB interface, but D-Link provides a USB cradle that gives you some flexibility in positioning.


The ‘C’ rev of the D-Link DWA-182 has a USB 3.0 interface, but the USB 2.0 interface on the model reviewed here didn’t present a performance bottleneck. (Click to zoom.)

D-Link switched to a USB 3.0 interface with hardware revision C1. I had an older version that uses a USB 2.0 interface, but I don’t think it makes a big difference. The adapter itself isn’t hinged, so your only orientation choices are horizontal or vertical. My benchmark numbers came from using the adapter in the cradle.

802.11ac Wi-Fi adapters

The D-Link DWA-182 placed third in most tests, including when the client was in my home office, 65 feet from the router. (Click to zoom.) 

The adapter has a WPS button, which makes it easier to connect the client to the router. The antennas are inside the device. D-Link offers a simple utility for establishing a connection to your wireless router: The utility reports the status of your connection, notes which channel it’s using, and shows a graphical representation of the signal strength.

A $50 street price means the D-Link DWA-182 is $20 cheaper than the top-performing Asus USB-AC56, but that also makes it $10 more expensive than the fourth-place Buffalo AirStation WI-U2-866D adapter.

Note: This review is part of a roundup of six 802.11ac Wi-Fi client USB adapters. For more, read the introduction to the roundup.

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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.


    • Compact size
    • USB cradle


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