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Shop for a Netgear 802.11ac Wireless USB Adapter

If you're in the market for a new wireless USB adapter, Netgear has a number of 802.11ac adapters to choose from. Whether you need to replace a failed wireless card or to upgrade to the latest wireless protocol, getting a USB adapter can be a suitable option. Before choosing a wireless USB adapter, consider the following.

What does the 802.11ac code mean?

Wireless communication technology is based on the IEEE's 802.11 standard. The letters that follow "802.11" indicate the connection protocols that have been released. You'll find that some wireless adapters will support several of these protocols. This is because they need to use a version that matches your wireless router. For example, if your router only uses the 802.11g protocol but you buy an adapter that uses only 802.11ac, it won't be able to establish a connection with the router because the two protocols aren't compatible. Generally speaking, each iteration of the 802.11 wireless standard has brought improvements in both signal range and data transfer rates. Below is a list some of the 802.11 protocols in order from oldest to latest.

  • 802.11a/b
  • 802.11g
  • 802.11n
  • 802.11ac
What is the difference between UsSB 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0?

UsSB connectors and ports have gone through three major iterations, but all of them are backward compatible, meaning that you can plug a UsSB 3.0 device into a UsSB 1.1 port. The difference between them is the amount of power each supplies and the data transfer rates they support. UsSB 1.1 and UsSB 2.0 both supply up to 500 mA of power, while UsSB 3.0 allows up to 900 mA of power. A USB 1.1 port can transfer up to 1.5 Mbps, a USB 2.0 port transfers 12 Mbps, and USB 3.0 ports can transfer as much as 5 Gbps.

What types of Netgear 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapters are available?

A few different types of USB wireless adapters have been produced over the years:

  • Dual-band USB adapters: Dual band refers to the 802.11ac protocol, which is often referred to as a dual-band connection. These adapters range from small devices that plug into a laptop to larger models with a folding antenna.
  • Wireless-N adapters: Wireless-N adapters use the 802.11n protocol. They are usually small devices that plug into a USB port and lack a separate antenna.
  • High-gain USB adapters: High-gain adapters are designed with a folding antenna to give them better signal reception and transmission.
  • Nighthawk USB adapters: This model is a tabletop adapter that stands upright on a base with a large folding antenna. It plugs into a nearby computer with a USB cord.