which is better for a wifi adapter, usb 2.0 or usb 3.0?

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  1. xraiderv1's Avatar
    Posts : 227
    windows 10 home

    which is better for a wifi adapter, usb 2.0 or usb 3.0?

    so I have a problem..I'm moving and getting gig speed internet(fios) and my access point pumps out both 2.4 and 5.0 ghz.

    the problem is simple..my computer dates to 2015 and it cannot even SEE the 5ghz channels on its built in wifi.

    now, here's the meat and potatoes.

    I have 4 usb 3 ports, and 4 usb 2 ports, both of my rear usb 3 ports are in use(blu ray burner and 4tb hdd) and the lone usb 2 port is slated to be used for my new printer.

    which is better for a 5ghz adapter? usb 2 or usb 3?
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  2. Ghot's Avatar
    Posts : 12,203
    Win 10 Home 10.0.19044.1237 (x64) [21H2]


    Unless you made a typo...you've got both USB 3 and USB 2 ports available.

    Even if it is a typo, just test both the USB 3 and USB 2 ports and see which one is faster on 5Ghz.
      My Computer

  3. MisterEd's Avatar
    Posts : 875
    Windows 10 Pro 64-bit v21H1

    I agree with @Ghot. Try both the USB 2 and USB 3 ports to see which which one is faster. With 802.11ac don't expect more than 300-400 Mbps.
      My Computers

  4. xraiderv1's Avatar
    Posts : 227
    windows 10 home
    Thread Starter

    to quite the doctor...I....am an idiot!

    I forgot all about the usb 3 passthroughs on my external hdd!

    so, question becomes, my sister swears by her TP-link wifi adapter...any recommendations fellas?
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  5. daklone's Avatar
    Posts : 33
    Windows 10 x64

    Bear in mind that regardless of the WiFi speed, USB2 can only deliver data to your PC at an absolute maximum of 480Mbps. USB3 on the other hand is capable of 5000Mbps (yep, 10x more!).

    So even if you don't get anywhere near USB3 speeds from your WiFi, it's pretty easy to saturate a USB2 device. Moral of the story - get a USB3 device whenever possible.

    I've used a fair bit of TP-Link stuff and found it perfectly serviceable. Not used a USB3 WiFi adaptor however.
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  6. xraiderv1's Avatar
    Posts : 227
    windows 10 home
    Thread Starter

    ok, I'll be getting a usb3 tp-link wifi stick.

    which one is the best though? bear in mind I have a max budget of $30 for this..
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  7. Try3's Avatar
    Posts : 9,157
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 21H2 Build 19044.1237

    USB2 / USB 3 makes no difference to which frequencies are detected. But your question raises another issue that's worth checking - I suggest you check the access point frequency so you can avoid buying the wrong equipment.

    Is the access point "5.0GHz" or does it just specify "5GHz". If you are not sure, ask somebody else who can detect the access point to use a utility such as NirSoft WiFiInfoView to check its frequency.
    - If it is indeed in the "5.0GHz" group [typically channels 28-36] then any "5GHz" WiFi adapter can work with it.
    - Equipment that merely detects "5GHz" might or might not be able to detect the "5.8GHz" group [typically channels 147-163].
    - Mine, just for example, is at 5.745GHz, channel 149 of the "5.8GHz" group. Not all of my WiFi adapters can see it.

    When I need to be able to work with all of my equipment I have to switch the access point down to 2.4GHz so they can all see it.
    - My previous access point had been "5.0GHz" and all my equipment could work with it so I did not even know that this problem existed. I only found out about the subject when I replaced the access point equipment and couldn't see it.
    - There's nothing wrong with 2.4GHz but everybody uses it so the spectrum can get pretty crowded, which causes slower data transfer. Just by way of example, I am currently monitoring WiFi signals seen by my computer [mine, my neighbours, people walking past, vehicles driving past]. I can see 42 different networks of which 1 is 5.8GHz [mine], 2 are 5.0GHz, 39 are 2.4GHz.

    If I ever have to replace a WiFi adapter now, I check the specs for "dual-band" 2.4GHz & 5GHZ and I also look for an explicit mention of "5.8GHz". I ask the equipment maker if I find that their specs are unclear on the matter.
    - All my "5.8GHz" WiFi adapters are "dual-band" and can detect all 2.4GHz networks & also "5.0GHz" networks.

    Best of luck,
      My Computer

  8. xraiderv1's Avatar
    Posts : 227
    windows 10 home
    Thread Starter

    catalog specifications in the user manual for my ISP supplied equipment Fios Router 2.0 User Guide (verizon.com)
    it supports 5ghz channels.
      My Computer

  9. Posts : 2,096
    Windows 10

    You need to use USB 3 ports. The max potential speed of USB 2 is not enough.

    If you don't have enough USB ports you can buy a PCI-E Card for another USB 3 hub.

    If your built in WiFi is not 5 GHz capable, then you can buy a PCI-E Wireless Card for Dual band (2/4 x 4)
    That assumes you have spare PCI-E slots in your PC.

    Other considerations are the number of channels and the modulations supported. Hard to find the details in specs without some calculations.

    Broadly speaking you would be looking for a 2/4 x 4 WiFi adapter i.e. 2 or 4 channels at 2.4 GHz, and 4 channels at 5 GHz.

    A WiFi adapter with 1 or 2 channels at 5 GHz is not good enough to match up with your Router WAP which is 4 x 4.
      My Computer

  10. xraiderv1's Avatar
    Posts : 227
    windows 10 home
    Thread Starter

    ...perhaps you missed the bit where I mentioned my backup hdd has usb3 passthrough and is itself connected to a usb 3?
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