Best Wireless 802.11ac Cards For Laptop Computers

802.11ac is the latest and fastest way to connect to a wireless network. It is theoretically capable of speeds in the gigabits per second, a significant step up from the previous Wi-Fi standard, 802.11n.

Top Picks: 3 Best Wireless AC Wireless Card For Your Laptop 

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.11ac can give you a real speed advantage when it comes to connecting to the internet and transferring files across your network.

However, what should you do if you have an older standard installed on your laptop?

If this is the case you could likely benefit from installing an 802.11ac wireless card. Please read on for an in-depth look at 802.11ac wireless cards for laptops.

PCI-E cards for desktops

What Are The Benefits Of Installing A Wireless AC Card?

Installing an 802.11ac wireless card has a number of benefits. When compared to older standards its transfer speeds are much faster and as such will give you benefits when it comes to transferring files and watching online videos.

You may have seen 802.11ac Wi-Fi USB adapters around and while these are undoubtedly a good, easy option, installing a card instead will give you benefits such as freeing up a precious USB spot and also reducing the chance of you losing your adapter.

How to Choose a New Wi-Fi Card

The most important thing to look out for when buying a wireless card for your laptop is whether or not the Wi-Fi card you buy will be compatible with your model of laptop. You will need to check out things such as whether the technology is supported, as well as the size of the Wi-Fi card.

The final thing to check for is that your card has the same number of antennas as your old card. To verify this you can look at the manufacturer’s guidelines for your laptop.

How to Install an 802.11ac Wi-Fi Card into Your Laptop

Installing an 802.11ac card isn’t the easiest thing to do, but at the same time is more than manageable. Having said that, it is worth checking your manufacturer's warranty before you open up your computer and start messing around with its insides.

First, you have to find an adapter that is compatible with your laptop. Much like installing a wireless card on your PC, on a laptop you have to think about things such as the size of the card and if it is compatible.

To install the card, while the specifics will come down to your laptop, the general pattern will look like this.

Installing Card Into Laptop

1. Find a card that is compatible with your laptop.

2. Unplug your laptop and remove the battery.

3. Carefully detach the antennas of your old card. You should also remember how these antennas are attached for when you install your new card.

4. Unscrew the old card and lift it out of its slot.

5. Insert your new card, making sure the contacts are lined up.

6. Screw it in place and attach the antennas in the correct position.

7. Turn your computer back on and install the required drivers for the card.

Remember that these instructions are only a general guidleine. We recommend you check with the manufacturer of your laptop before attempting these steps.

Handy Installation Video

Best 802.11ac Wi-Fi Cards For Your Laptop

Next up is a roundup of some of the best Wi-Fi cards for laptops on the market. They all offer a solid set of features, but the best one for you will depend on your specific situation.

Bplus Intel Network 7260.HMWG Wifi Card
Bplus Intel Network 7260.HMWG Wifi Card
Bplus Intel Network 7260.HMWG Wifi Card amazon button

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  • Solid adapter that works with a large range of laptops
  • Offers good performance on 802.11ac networks and strong connections
  • Internet connection needed to download and install drivers so make sure you have an Ethernet connection when you install the adapter
Intel 3160 Dual Band Wireless AC + Bluetooth Mini PCIe card
Intel 3160 Dual Band Wireless AC + Bluetooth Mini PCIe card
Intel 3160 Dual Band Wireless AC + Bluetooth Mini PCIe card Amazon button

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  • Includes Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
  • Allows a large range of laptops to upgrade to 802.11ac connectivity
  • 1x1 radio system can slow down speed when compared to some other wireless cards
Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 7260NGW Bluetooth 4.0 Wi-Fi Card
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC - 7260NGW
Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 7260NGW Wi-Fi Card amazon button

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  • Dual band 2x2 radio which includes Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
  • Optimized power mode means your laptop can run for longer
  • Generally considered easy to install

In Conclusion

An 802.11ac wireless card is a great way to upgrade the wireless card in your laptop to one with the latest wireless standard. Think of it as a more 'permanent' upgrade than using a USB adapter. 

This should seriously improve your connection (if you currently use .11n or earlier) when connecting to a network that uses the 802.11ac standard.

Once again, when buying a wireless card it is important to check that the card you buy is compatible with your laptop. Also, make sure you are careful when opening up your laptop to install the new wireless card.

If you have any questions about anything mentioned in this review please leave a comment below. Alternatively, if you liked it, then please share on your favorite social media.

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