What Does “Built-In WiFi” Mean?

What Does Built-In Wi-Fi Mean

For those who are just looking to set up their first wireless networks, there are lots of terms that can complicate issues.

One of these terms is ‘built-in’ wifi. To put it simply, it means that your device has wireless capability built into to the device.

For a more in-depth discussion, please read on.

So, What Is This ‘Built-in’ Wi-Fi?


Before we can answer the question, it is probably best to clearly define what wifi is and what it is used for.

Wifi is basically a way that devices can connect to either, without wires, using radio waves. It is considered much more convenient than a wired connection because it is easy to add new devices to a wifi network without having to trail wires around your house.

Photo Credit: Christiaan Colen

Also, in an age where many devices are portable, wifi allows users to be anywhere in the network and still be connected. This can allow you to use one device in multiple locations in your home.

Most devices nowadays access the internet using wifi. In fact, most hotels, cafes, restaurants, offices, and many homes will have wifi networks.

These networks, especially those found around a home, often work by having one router that connects to a modem. The router sends out a wifi signal and allows other devices in the vicinity to access the wireless network and therefore, the internet.

The only requirement is that these devices need to also be wireless compatible. This is where ‘built-in’ wifi comes in.

What Is ‘Built-in’ Wifi?

Built-in wifi simply means that the device you are looking at comes with wifi connectivity. You won’t have to buy any extra adapters to access a wifi network as the device already comes with a way of connecting to a wifi network.

Nowadays, pretty much all laptops, smartphones, and tablets come with ‘built-in’ wifi. However, if you are using an older computer (or your built-in wifi has broken), you can buy a USB adapter to give your computer wireless connectivity. Or use PCI-E.

As well as this, some device such as smart TVs and games consoles came with wifi capability that would only work when paired with a separate USB adapter. These devices are known as wifi ready devices.

Alternatively, if you are using a device that doesn’t have a USB port but does have an Ethernet port, you could connect an access point to the device with an Ethernet cable to give a device wifi capabilities.

Wireless Standards

When looking at a product with built-in wifi, or even when looking to buy an adapter it is important to know which wireless standard the device uses.

Nowadays, the most common standards are 802.11n and 802.11ac, with 802.11ac being the most recent of the two. Because it is the most recent, 802.11ac offers the fastest speeds over your network. This can help improve the speed of things such as file transfers over your network.

It is also worth knowing that while these standards are backwards compatible, if you choose to use a 802.11n adapter with a 802.11ac router. You will be limited to the speeds provided by the slower 802.11n adapter.

Hopefully this article has cleared up what exactly ‘built-in’ wifi is. If you have any more questions, please ask in the comments section below.

8 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. If I have a wifi router connected to my tablet, then I wouldn’t have to get a PW word for WIFI at McDonalds, or other places, right?

  2. If I have a wifi router connected to my tablet, then I wouldn’t have to get a PW word for WIFI at McDonalds, or other places, right?

  3. Can a wifi enabled tv share the data on my phone with mobile hot spot or tethering?

    1. I what sony bravia how I connect my router to it, it also have built in wifi.

      1. Do I need wifi at my home to use this device

    2. McDonalds has free wifi as does Starbucks and many others, you do not need a password

  4. Just bought a new FIre HD10 tablet but have to wi-fi connect with library, Mcdonalds, or other public internet. I read where I can put a SIM card in it to have it built in like my cell phone. You do not mention this. Is that accurate? Not sure. Why don’t they just install it in the factory on the tablet, like they do phones? Also, what security protection do you recommend or do you go there?

  5. Do I need wifi at my home to use this device


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