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How Do I Choose the Best Laptop Network Adapter?

Installing a network adapter inside a laptop is a complicated process.
A wireless network adapter.
A network adapter.
Article Details
  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2014
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Choosing the best laptop network adapter depends a great deal on what exactly you need from an adapter and how much experience you have with installing new hardware into a laptop. In general, it is usually a good idea to avoid installing or removing any hardware into or from a laptop unless you are experienced with laptop modification. For the most part, you should try to use devices that connect externally, usually through a universal serial bus (USB) port. You should then determine whether you need a laptop network adapter for a wired or wireless network, and once you know this you can easily find a good adapter in whatever price range you desire.

While you can purchase and install a laptop network adapter inside of your laptop, this is usually a fairly complicated process. Unless you have extensive experience working with laptops, it is generally inadvisable to make alterations inside the case. Even if you have experience working on desktop computers, you may want to avoid trying to make hardware installations on a laptop, since doing so may void any warranties on your laptop. This means the best option for most people will be an external laptop network adapter, and knowing what type of adapter you need will make choosing the best one for you easier.

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In general, there are two basic types of laptop network adapter devices: those for use with a wired network and those intended for wireless networking. Either type will typically connect to a USB port on a laptop, so be sure you have an available port. Many laptop users will use a separate mouse that is often connected to the USB port on a computer, and printers or external display devices may also use USB ports on your laptop.

A laptop network adapter that is intended for wired use will simply be an Ethernet connector that can be plugged into a USB slot on your laptop. It is worth noting that many laptops come with an Ethernet port and you should be sure that you do not already have such a port before buying an adapter. A wireless network adapter for a laptop will usually connect to a USB port and allow the computer to connect to a wireless network.

Many new laptops are built with an internal wireless adapter, and you should be sure you do not already have wireless connectivity before purchasing a wireless laptop network adapter. You should look for product reviews on Internet technology sites and find an adapter that is well reviewed by professionals and customers as well. This type of device will usually be fairly inexpensive, though high-end wireless USB adapters can be more expensive, but often provide higher performance.

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