Today, we’re going to help you find the best Bluetooth adapter for PC use. We’ve narrowed down the dizzying amount of options on the market to the very best for each price range and use case, varying from “I just need Bluetooth” to “I need the best Bluetooth card there is”.
Just below, we’re going to dive into each of our top picks. If you aren’t sure how to choose the right one for you, scroll further down for the buying guide, where we’ll give you all the information you need to know in order to make an educated buying decision for your needs.
Let’s dive into it!
Best Bluetooth Adapter For PC
#1. TP-Link UB400
Bluetooth Generation: 4.0 | Interface: USB | Wi-Fi Support?: No | Our Estimated Range: Whole Room/Studio Apt
The TP-Link UB400 will be the best Bluetooth adapter for most users, who just want to add Bluetooth functionality to their PC for same-room use with their mice, game controllers, wireless keyboards, and etc. All you need to do is plug it into the back of your Windows PC and you’ll have Bluetooth support up and running- this is a very set-it-and-forget-it approach to Bluetooth.
If you just want something that’s cheap and works well, this is a great choice for you. If you have more discerning needs, keep scrolling to take a look at our other picks.
Verdict: Best Budget USB Bluetooth Adapter For PC
#2. Avantree DG60
Bluetooth Generation: 5 | Interface: USB | Wi-Fi Support?: No | Our Estimated Range: Whole-House
The Avantree DG60 is an audio-only USB Bluetooth adapter, but a fairly good one. It offers superb range and uses aptX Low Latency and Qualcomm aptX-HD audio in order to provide the best possible listening experience you can get with Bluetooth headphones. Since it’s a Bluetooth 5 device, it’s able to broadcast to multiple devices at once, operate at higher speeds than 4.2, and not interfere with 4G LTE signals like Bluetooth 4.0 does.
This is the best USB Bluetooth adapter for PC use, at least if you only use Bluetooth for your headset or speaker.
If you wish to use Bluetooth for input devices like mice and keyboards, this definitely isn’t the adapter for you, since it’s exclusively for sound devices. For same-room use, our previous entry should do you fine. But if you want longer-range use with non-sound Bluetooth devices, you may want to look at the next two entries below this one.
Verdict: Best USB Bluetooth Adapter For PC
Bluetooth Generation: 4.2 | Interface: PCIe | Wi-Fi Support?: Yes, Wi-Fi AC/Wi-Fi 5 | Our Estimated Range: Whole-House
The first of our recommend Bluetooth cards for PC is the ASUS PCE-AC55BT PCIe Adapter. This adapter comes with a dual antenna setup for improved range over previous options, tosses in Wi-Fi AC support as a bonus, and supports 4.2 Bluetooth devices. This offers further improvements over 4.0 devices by reducing interference with 4G LTE signals, and further improving power efficiency.
At the time of writing, this is retailing for just over $30, making it an excellent option that isn’t much more expensive than a single-antenna USB Bluetooth OR Wi-Fi adapter. Both combined for a low price? We think that’s a pretty good deal.
If you want something like this but with the latest, greatest wireless standards, check out the entry below.
Verdict: Best Budget Bluetooth Card For PC
Bluetooth Generation: 5 | Interface: PCIe | Wi-Fi Support?: Yes, Wi-Fi 6 | Our Estimated Range: Whole-House
The TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 AX3000 Wi-Fi Card is our pick for Best Bluetooth Card for PC. In addition to the Wi-Fi 6 being shown off in the product title, you also get superb Bluetooth 5.0 support and a set of dual antennas for increased wireless range.
While it’s certainly the most expensive item on this list, it’s less than $50 at the time of writing, making it an ideal choice for those who want to future-proof their PC’s wireless setup without spending too much extra money. As long as you have a free PCIe slot in your PC and can afford this, we highly recommend it over every other option on this list.
Verdict: Best Bluetooth Card For PC
How To Choose The Best Bluetooth Adapter For You
There are a few different key specifications to take into mind before buying a Bluetooth adapter, but fortunately, they’re all fairly simple to understand. Even if you aren’t super tech-savvy, don’t worry: we wrote this section to help you understand, and make the best choice for your needs.
Bluetooth Generation Differences
Bluetooth is a wireless technology that originally over twenty years ago at the time of writing, and it has had many upgrades over time. These upgraded forms of the technology maintain some form of backwards compatibility with devices using previous versions of Bluetooth, but it’s advised to use matching or newer standards wherever possible for the best result. (ie, a Bluetooth 5 device will work best with a Bluetooth 5 adapter).
Included in this article are adapters using the Bluetooth 4.0, Bluetooth 4.2, and Bluetooth 5 standards. We will do our best to explain the differences between these three below.
Bluetooth 4.0 offers improved range over previous versions of Bluetooth, but most importantly enables the Low Energy protocol. While Low Energy decreases data transfer rates significantly, it allows the devices to operate while draining much less power, and for most devices, this isn’t an issue.
Compared to 4.0, Bluetooth 4.2 offers further improvements to the Low Energy protocol, raw transfer speeds, and most importantly, doesn’t interfere with 4G LTE signals like 4.0 does. It’s more of an iterative improvement, not a massive leap.
Finally, Bluetooth 5 offers the most significant differences to the 4.0 generation. It accomplishes its improvements is by transmitting data twice as often as previous standards.
Because of this new rate of transfer, transfer speeds are twice as fast as 4.2, even when using Low Energy protocol. For Low Energy specifically, this boosts transfer speeds from 1 Mbps to 2 Mbps. Combined with various audio compression technologies built for Bluetooth, this allows for greater sound quality in the same portable form factors.
Additionally, Bluetooth 5 offers Dual Audio- that is, the ability to broadcast audio to two devices simultaneously. With previous standards, Bluetooth is limited to broadcasting audio to one device at a time.
Ultimately, the point of Bluetooth is to provide low-power wireless networking between a host device (like your PC or phone), and different input/playback devices. For in-home use, the different standards should all serve you quite well, but if you can afford a Bluetooth 5 adapter, we recommend that you get one.
Wi-Fi Generation Differences
Because some of the Bluetooth adapters for PC we’ve listed above also include Wi-Fi capabilities- and we still believe them to be among the best choices for you, even if you’re only looking for Bluetooth- we feel the need to specify the differences between the two tiers of Wi-Fi you’ll notice in these adapters. The adapters listed above only support Wi-Fi AC and Wi-Fi AX, which are two of the latest and fastest Wi-Fi standards- but what are the differences?
With the release of the newest standard, Wi-Fi AX, Wi-Fi generations have been officially rebranded to use a numerical scheme. This makes Wi-Fi AX Wi-Fi 6, and it makes Wi-Fi AC Wi-Fi 5.
Wi-Fi 5, or 802.11ac, is the first Wi-Fi standard to operate exclusively within the 5 GHz range. This offers much higher speeds than previous Wi-Fi standards- up to a theoretical maximum of 1.3 Gigabits per second- as well as lower latency, making it ideal for gaming workloads. However, the switch to 5 GHz also resulted in lost range compared to previous generations, making it less ideal for media consumption and other at-range uses that don’t require low latency.
Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax, is the newest Wi-Fi standard. It further increases speeds over previous standards by offering up to 3.5 Gbps per-stream, with up to four streams possible per-device. (Leading to 14 Gigabits per second, which exceeds the raw speed of a Cat 6 ethernet cable. Not bad!) Unlike Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 is capable of operating in both the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz ranges, and can even operate within the 5 GHz range.
Both of these are high-performance standards, but if you want to future-proof your setup a little bit, we advise going for Wi-Fi 6 where possible.
Want some Wi-Fi but don’t have a free PCIe slot for the fusion Wi-Fi/Bluetooth cards? Check out our article on USB Wi-Fi Adapters!
Antenna or no antenna?
The only reason not to have a discrete antenna at this point is if you don’t have room for one, or you just think it looks ugly.
Technically, all wireless devices have an antenna, even if you can’t see it- they’re just built into the device, rather than protruding in the way we expect traditional, discrete antennas to.
With wireless adapters, though, having a discrete antenna- or even multiple discrete antennae- allows for much higher range and signal quality, including the ability to adjust the antenna to your needs. Especially once Wi-Fi comes into the fray, there is no performance-related reason whatsoever to go without an antenna- so if you plan on going beyond same-room use with your Bluetooth device, we advise getting a proper discrete antenna to go with it!
USB or PCIe?
When it comes to getting a Bluetooth adapter for PC use, you have two big options: a USB adapter, or a PCIe adapter. USB adapters are what you expect- external plug-and-play adapters. PCIe adapters are expansion cards that need to be installed inside an expansion slot inside of your PC.
For Bluetooth purposes alone, USB is just fine, especially if it has an antenna.
But for Bluetooth + Wi-Fi, especially if you want Wi-Fi 6 as well, then PCIe will give you better results than is currently available with USB-only adapters.
And that’s everything! We hope that this article gave you all the information you needed to know in order to choose the best Bluetooth adapter for your needs. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below, and we’ll do our best to help you,