External Or Internal Wifi Card: Differences And Which One To Choose

External Or Internal Wifi Card: Differences And Which One To Choose

In a world where connectivity is everything in many areas, one of the most important issues that almost any user can face is the confrontation between an external and internal Wifi card. In the end, the final experience can be very different. Unfortunately, I can anticipate one thing: there is a better or worse. At least not forcefully.

As usual, in this type of topic, it all depends on what we are looking for as users, our budget, or our conditions, for example. Therefore, although in this topic I will explain everything you need to know to choose between one or the other, it is difficult for me to offer you a definitive answer. This must go in yourselves, but in the end, each one is a world.

There are such dissuasive elements, such as, for example, portability, switching between peripherals, compatibility, etc. All these are factors that you must take into account when choosing between one option or another. Of course, I understand that this topic is much more complex than you might expect off the bat. That is why, below, and step by step, I am going to explain everything that you must take into account when choosing.

External Or Internal Wifi Card: What Is An External Card?

When we talk about an external Wifi card, it is necessary to understand that this concept is quite generic. After all, we are talking about —instead— a Wifi adapter that generally works via USB. Sometimes it is called a Wifi dongle. Therefore, it is very likely that you have heard of this type of Wifi card before without knowing what they were.

Knowing this in broad strokes, we can define the external Wifi card as a device foreign to a computer that connects —appreciate redundancy— externally to add wireless connection capabilities to a computer and device without an internal Wifi adapter. That is, it is a section that adds (or enhances) connection capacity to a specific device.

As I have already mentioned, they are connected via USB, and through these, you can gain access to wireless networks, whether domestic, business, public, etc. Of course, to connect to these, access data is still required, so they are only a receiver. We must consider this since. Otherwise, we could think they are helpful for what they are not.

What Is It For, And Types

Taking this into account, we can affirm that external Wifi cards are especially useful when the internal Wifi card of a computer does not exist, does not work, is not compatible with certain networks, requires a greater range, and/or does not meet our needs. Generally, it is especially useful on older computers whose motherboards do not have this function and cannot be connected by cable to the Internet due to various circumstances.

In the same way, we must take into account that there are different types of external Wifi cards. For example, some are designed to increase connection speed, range, or stability, while others just add the ability to connect wirelessly to a nearby network. Within all this, we must understand that there are also different types depending on the Wifi standard they use. Indeed, there are different types of Wifi. Are:

Wi-Fi TypeBandTheoretical Maximum Speed
802.11a5GHz54MB per second
802.11b2.4GHz11MB per second
802.11g2.4Ghz54MB per second
802.11n (Wi-Fi 4)2.4GHz and 5GHz600MB per second
802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)5GHz1.3 GB per second
802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)2.4 and 5GHz10 GB per second

Generally, the ideal is to purchase an external Wifi card that works with the same type. If we don’t know what it is, in principle, they are all valid, but the speed will change. Of course, in some cases, there may be incompatibilities, so it is better to make sure beforehand to avoid unexpected setbacks.


Wireless connectivity: The main function of an external Wifi card is to provide wireless connectivity to devices that do not have it or to improve existing connectivity. They can support Wifi standards, such as 802.11n, 802.11ac, or 802.11ax (Wifi 6).

Transfer speed: External Wifi cards may offer different transfer speeds. They determine how fast they can transmit and receive data. Newer and more advanced versions tend to offer higher speeds.

Antennae: Some models come with adjustable external antennas to improve signal quality and range. More antennas generally mean better reception and more stable performance.

USB port: These cards connect through a USB port on your computer or other device. They can use USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 ports. Some more advanced models can take advantage of the speed and efficiency of USB 3.0 for faster data transfer.

Compatibility: They must be compatible with the operating system of your device. Most external Wifi cards are compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux, but it’s always a good idea to check compatibility before buying.

Security: They must support standard security protocols, such as WEP, WPA, WPA2, and WPA3, to ensure your WiFi connection is secure.

Ease of use: Many models are plug-and-play, meaning they install automatically when connected to the USB port and don’t require a complicated setup.

Software and Drivers: Some models may come with additional software or drivers that allow for greater customization and control over the Wifi connection and its features.

Scope: Some external Wifi cards are specifically designed to improve the range of the Wifi signal, which can be helpful if you are far from the router or if there are obstacles affecting signal quality.

Dual-band compatibility: Some external WiFi cards support 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands, which can provide more connection options and avoid congestion in dense wireless networks.

Design and Portability: They come in different sizes and shapes. Some are compact and portable, useful for those who need to carry them around or use them in various places.

External Or Internal Wifi Card: What Is An Internal Card?

If we have explained that an external Wifi card is connected “from outside” to the computer, it is logical to infer that an internal one is incorporated. Thus, an internal Wifi card, also known as an internal wireless adapter, is an electronic component inside a device. Generally, at least in computers, it is usually part of the motherboard, but it is present in other devices.

Thus, the internal Wifi card can be part of the components of a computer, a mobile phone, or a tablet, for example. Its primary function is to establish a stable connection to a wireless network, such as Wifi itself. This card is built into the device’s motherboard or frame and enables the device to communicate with Wifi access points and routers to access the Internet and other online resources.

Internal Wifi cards are essential for modern wireless connectivity. They are designed to work similarly to external Wifi cards but without the need to connect via a USB port or external connection. Internal Wifi cards are often compliant with established Wifi standards, such as 802.11n, 802.11ac, or 802.11ax (Wifi 6), allowing for faster connection speeds and greater signal stability.

What Is It For, And Types

However, it is essential to differentiate between integrated and internal. On the one hand, the integrated ones are usually those that come in mobile devices or tablets, for example. They receive this name because they are inside the SoC itself. It is also relatively common in laptops and many motherboards as part of the chipset. There are different types of integrated, but the general idea is that. Then there are the internal ones, as such, being a series of cards housed within the equipment itself through a slot, such as PCI or PCIe.

Wi-Fi TypeBandTheoretical Maximum Speed
802.11a5GHz54MB per second
802.11b2.4GHz11MB per second
802.11g2.4Ghz54MB per second
802.11n (Wi-Fi 4)2.4GHz and 5GHz600MB per second
802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)5GHz1.3 GB per second
802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)2.4 and 5GHz10 GB per second

With that in mind, choosing between one and the other is important. Usually, the integrated ones are generally more popular and appreciated because it is unnecessary to look for additional compatibility. It’s more and more common (and for a long time, actually) for motherboards to incorporate integrated network cards into their system to ensure that they function correctly. When presenting the types of Wifi, the idea is the same as with the external ones.


WiFi standards: Internal WiFi cards comply with different WiFi standards, such as 802.11n, 802.11ac, and 802.11ax (WiFi 6), which determine the speed and performance of the wireless connection.

Transfer rate: Internal WiFi cards offer transfer speeds ranging from a few megabits per second (Mbps) to several gigabits per second (Gbps), depending on the standard and technology.

Dual Band or Triple Band: Some cards are dual-band, meaning they can operate at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, while others can also be tri-band, adding a 6 GHz frequency on more advanced models.

Security: Internal WiFi cards are compatible with different security protocols, such as WEP, WPA, WPA2, and WPA3, to protect the connection and the data transmitted.

Advanced security features: Some cards may support advanced security features such as 802.1X authentication and intrusion detection.

Integrated Bluetooth: Some internal WiFi cards also include Bluetooth connectivity, allowing the connection of compatible peripheral devices.

Beamforming technology: This technology allows the WiFi card to direct the signal more precisely toward the connected devices, improving the quality and range of the signal.

Drivers and Software: Internal WiFi cards often require drivers and software to function correctly. Some cards may come with additional software to manage and optimize the connection.

Remember that the specific characteristics may vary depending on the manufacturer and model of the internal WiFi card. It is always advisable to research and compare different options before making a decision.

Also Read: Learn How To Browse Chrome More Securely With These Free VPN Extensions

External or Internal WiFi Card: Differences

At this point, and for you to better understand the characteristics of each type of wireless network card, that is, of each Wifi card, I would like to present you with a summary in which to highlight their main differences.

External WiFi Card

The main difference is that it has to be connected from outside, so it will take up one of our USB ports to work. It offers several options, its variability being one of its strong points. That is, they are versatile and, in addition, they can be connected to different devices. At least as long as they are compatible.

Installation: It connects externally to the device through a USB port or other interface. Installation is simple and generally plug-and-play.

Versatile use: It can be easily connected and disconnected from various devices, which allows sharing the Wifi card between different computers.

Portability: It is generally more portable and can easily be carried from one place to another. Ideal for traveling or for devices without built-in Wifi connectivity.

Antenna Flexibility: Some cards come with external antennas that can be adjusted to improve signal quality.

Performance: It may offer a greater variety of speeds and features, depending on the model.
Updates. It can be easily upgraded or replaced to improve connectivity or adapt to new WiFi standards.

Internal Wifi Card

In general, having all our devices with an internal Wifi card is more convenient to avoid having to connect external and separate devices to make it work. If we forget the external Wifi card, we have no connection. In addition, it is one more gadget that we have to carry, this being one of its main drawbacks. The internal always goes with the device.

Integration: It is built into the device, such as a laptop or desktop computer—no additional cables or USB ports are required.

Fixed installation: It is installed during manufacture or may require opening the device to replace it. It requires more technical expertise to change it.

Aesthetics: It contributes to a cleaner and more compact device design by being hidden internally.

Permanence: Once installed, it generally cannot be easily exchanged or shared with other devices.

Performance: It may vary depending on the device and the quality of the integrated Wifi card. Some machines offer high-quality Wifi cards, while others may be more basic.

Updates: It is not as easy to update as an external Wifi card. It may require device replacement or internal modifications.

Compatibility: Ensure the internal Wifi card is compatible with the operating system and the Wifi standards used.

Also Read: How To Protect Your Online Purchases

External Or Internal Wifi Card: Which One Should We Choose?

To be honest, I think it’s better to always go for an internal card, but this is my opinion. In general, I find it much more comfortable and practical since we can forget to connect to one device or another continuously. It is complementary. If we have an internal Wifi card, we can complete it with an external one if, for any reason, it fails or the signal falls short. In general, I think it is more effective.

Likewise, the integrated ones that usually go on a motherboard do not tend to increase the price of the components too much, so we can (almost) say that they are cheaper. All of this makes me think that built-in internal Wifi cards are the best of all, but it’s a pretty subjective thing. As I said at the beginning of the article, it depends on the circumstances, tastes, and needs of each one. Be that as it may, if you want my opinion, I prefer an internal Wifi card and, within these, an integrated one.

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