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Should I buy a motherboard with onboard Wifi or use my cheap USB one?

What’s the difference?

It’s usually for the mobo to have better antennas and for the card to be pci-e instead of usb.

That may be ‘better’ but it would depend on use case.

I’d always go with external wifi of some form. Allows for more flexible Positioning and upgrading when wifi standards change. I consider Wifi on Mainboards a gimmick unless you are building a ITX Hometheatre PC or such.

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To add to both points.

Is it slotted on the board or soldered in. I ask because Intel have the WiFi controller built into the CPU now and you just have a card that breaks it out and is replaceable.

Also for positioning, some motherboards come with an antenna on a wire and base that you can position anywhere around your PC/desk.

Depends on how cheap the USB is. There are good ones, but also a lot of bad ones and as per above they are not really positionable either, where you.plug them in is where it stays.

So that in mind what motherboard is it and what USB WiFi are you thinking about, then antleast they can be compared.

If you’re planning on runnin gnu/linux on it (because you should) I’d consider an external source of wi-fi.

There are some compatibility list you could check.

If you’re planning on simply using windows then don’t.

Jokes aside it seems that a pci card would be better if you get enough pci ports.

There are 4 options:

  1. Integrated
    There are antennas connectors sticking out of the I/O shield when you take the mainboard out of the box.
    image w
  2. Prepared for WiFi
    There is the option to put an M.2 WiFi card on the mainboard and ad the antenna connectors yourself.
    imageimage #
  3. PCIe card
  4. USB

Type Pros Cons
Integrated is “just there”, tidy pc internals might not be upgradeableprice, increase over “base mainboard”
Prepard Upgradeable, tidy, broad choice requires work in a tight spot
PCIe card upgradeable takes PCIe spot away
USB easily upgradeable occupies USB port, not all have external antennas
  • When you have screw terminals for antennas, you can screw a cable to it and sit the antenna elsewhere. That way your PC can still sit in the corner under the desk.
  • I would not limit my choice of mainboard to “only integrated WiFi” unless I want to go ITX and need the PCIe slot for a GPU.
  • You can always buy a better “upgrade” than you can buy stock.

If you need to place the antenna more than a couple feet from the PC then USB has one huge advantage - it communicates digitally. Putting a 6’+ cable on an antenna, particularly if it doesn’t have microwave rated shielding, could have serious signal degradation.

A USB dongle on a 20’ cable is just as good as one plugged directly into a motherboard because it does everything analog at the dongle and sends a digital signal over USB. Considering the mounting options with an extension, it’s much better than being crammed on the back of a case facing away from your wifi access point. Dongles with an RP-SMA connector allow you to upgrade the antenna. Andrew McNeil’s YouTube Channel has tons of info about wifi antenna designs.

Use powerline adapters - they give a much better connection