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4 Best PCI-E Wireless Cards for Linux (Reviews) in 2021

Are you trying to get WiFi support on your Linux desktop PC? Looking to get a WiFi PCI-E card to put into it, but unsure where to start? If so, this list is for you! Follow along as we go over the 4 best PCI-E wireless cards to use on Linux!

WiFi on Linux

WiFi on Linux not as straightforward as it is on Windows. With Windows, the manufacturers of the Wireless PCI-E cards include driver disks, which users can use to install the drivers to make the devices work.

On Linux, users have to rely on the hard work of the open-source community. As a result, WiFi cards often are hit or miss, and it can be incredibly frustrating.

Best PCI-E Wireless Cards

In this post, we’ve done our best to curate an excellent selection of WiFi PCI-E cards that will interact with most Linux operating systems with no need to download driver files. However, it should be noted that if you are using a lesser-known Linux operating system, the devices may have issues.

For best results, use Ubuntu Linux, Manjaro Linux, Fedora, or something similar!

1. FebSmart WiFi 6 PCI-E Wireless Network Bluetooth Adapter

The FebSmart WiFi 6 PCI-E Wireless Network Bluetooth Adapter is an impressive, fast wireless PCI adapter designed for Windows 10 and Linux operating systems running kernel 5.1 or newer. It has two antennas that users can use to get better reception. Under the hood, the FebSmart PCI-E WiFi card is running an Intel WiFi 6 AX200 NGW, and it supports the latest IEEE 802.11 WiFi access points.

In terms of speeds, the WiFi card can deliver up to 574 Megabits per second on 2.4 GHz connections. It also supports 5GHz connections with speeds up to 2.4 Gigabits per second. Suffice it to say, it’s speedy, and it’ll deliver all that internet goodness in a snap. Additionally, it comes with built-in Bluetooth, meaning your desktop PC will be able to connect wireless headphones and other devices with ease!

On Linux, the FebSmart WiFi 6 PCI-E Wireless Network Bluetooth Adapter works quite well. As it is running an Intel chipset, we can confirm it works out of the box on most (if not all) Linux operating systems, so long as they are using a Linux kernel version of 5.1 and delivers excellent speeds on both the 2GHz and 5GHz connections. Though, for best results, use the 5Ghz mode as it is the fastest!

Pros

  • It comes with built-in Bluetooth so users do not need to buy a separate Bluetooth dongle to interact with their wireless devices.
  • Supports both 5Ghz and 2Ghz connections.
  • The 5Ghz connection max speed is impressive at almost 3 Gbps!
  • Dual antennas allow for better connections.
  • Works out of the box thanks to the Intel Chipset

Cons

  • May not function on Linux operating systems running a kernel version below 5.1.

2. Ubit Gigabit WiFi Card, Wireless-AC 9260

Ubit Gigabit WiFi Card, Wireless-AC 9260 is a low-profile network adapter designed to be used on Linux, Windows, and other operating systems. It is powered by the Intel 9260 WiFi chip, which is known to be compatible with a wide variety of Linux operating systems (thanks to Intel’s commitment to open-source.)

This WiFi card is incredibly fast and supports both types of WiFi access points (5GHz and 2GHz). On 5GHz networks, users can expect transfer rates at speeds up to 1.7 Gbps and 300 Mbps on 2Ghz networks. It also has two amiable antennas that the user can use to extend the connection range.

Ubit Gigabit WiFi Card, Wireless-AC 9260 isn’t just about WiFi, though. Like many PCI-E WiFi cards, it supports Bluetooth version 5.0. Supporting Bluetooth 5.0 means that not only will you be able to connect to WiFi on your Linux PC, but you’ll be able to use your Bluetooth devices too!

In our testing with the Ubit Gigabit WiFi Card, Wireless-AC 9260, we found that it worked out of the box on a majority of Linux operating systems. As it is Intel, no drivers were required to install. However, obscure Linux operating systems may not support it.

Pros

  • Support for Bluetooth 5 gives users access to Bluetooth in addition to WiFi.
  • Fast speeds for 5Ghz at a rate of 1.7 Gpbs.
  • Dual antennas allow for better connections.

Cons

  • The 2GHz connection is considerably slow, which is a bummer if your router is not 5GHz compliant.

3. OKN WiFi 6 AX200 PCI-E WiFi Card

The OKN WiFi 6 AX200 PCI-E WiFi Card is another excellent dual-band WiFi card for those running Linux. Out of the box, it is supported on a wide variety of Linux operating systems because it’s sporting the Intel AX200 chipset. With Intel on Linux, you can’t go wrong.

Aside from the excellent Linux compatibility, the OKN WiFi 6 AX200 PCI-E WiFi Card has a lot to offer. For starters, it supports both 5Ghz and 2GHz networks at 2.4 Gbps and 574 Mbps respectively. Secondly, it comes with the latest Bluetooth (version 5.0). You’ll be able to use it to connect your favorite wireless Bluetooth devices!

In our testing with the OKN WiFi 6 AX200 PCI-E WiFi Card, we found that it worked out of the box on most mainstream Linux operating systems. However, we did find that as it is based on the Intel AX200 chipset, some OSes not running Linux kernel 5.1 were not compatible.

Pros

  • Dual antennas allow for better connections.
  • Support for Bluetooth 5 lets users connect their favorite wireless devices.
  • Fast speeds on both the 5Ghz and 2GHz connections.
  • Works out of the box, thanks to the Intel Chipset.

Cons

  • Iffy on Linux operating systems not running kernel 5.1 or higher.

4. TP-Link TL-WN881ND N300 PCI-E Wireless WiFi network Adapter card

If you’re a Linux user and you regularly rely on 2GHz WiFI connections, the TP-Link TL-WN881ND N300 PCI-E Wireless WiFi network Adapter card is a great, affordable card to go with. 

It works out of the box on most Linux operating systems and supports 2GHz WiFi connections up to 300 Mbps. While 300 Mbps is pretty slow compared to what can be delivered over 5GHz connections, for the price, it’s still a pretty good card.

While using the TP-Link TL-WN881ND N300 PCI-E Wireless WiFi network Adapter card on Linux, we found that it played well with all mainstream Linux operating systems and was able to achieve connections of up to 300 Mpbs with no issue.

Pros

  • Incredibly inexpensive, perfect for those that need WiFi but are on a budget.
  • It has two antennas on the rear to aid with reception.

Cons

  • It cannot interact with 5GHz connections.

Conclusion

In this list, we went over 4 excellent PCI-E wireless cards that have excellent Linux compatibility. If you’ve been trying to get WiFi on your Linux desktop PC but aren’t sure what to buy, hopefully, this list has helped you make an informed decision.

There are dozens of WiFi PCI-E cards with Linux support out there that we didn’t cover in this list. What WiFi PCI-E card do you use? Tell us in the comment section below!

2 Comments

  1. I’ve tried the first three cards and they do NOT work with Ubuntu 20.04. I have well over a week buying and returning the first three. I haven’t tried the 4th one but it probably won’t work either Canonical really screwed the pooch on 20.04

  2. Great article Derrik. I am looking to buy TP-Link TL-WN881ND N300 to use that with Ubuntu 20 (Linux Kernel 5.4). On the official page it says this supports till Linux Kernel 4.3. Will this work on the latest kernel versions such as 5.4 ?

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