You love your laptop, but its WiFi network adapter is on the fritz. You could try to get it repaired or plunk down at least a few hundred bucks for a new computer. There’s also an easy, inexpensive option that will get you back on the network in no time: Use a USB-based WiFi adapter.
Plugable’s new USB-WIFINT offers draft 802.11n wireless connectivity in an incredibly small package.
At just 0.25 inches long by 0.5 inches wide when plugged into a USB port, the USB-WIFINT is barely noticeable. With such a low profile, you don’t have to worry about the adapter snapping off from an accidental nudge. In fact, you won’t even need to unplug it before you stuff your laptop PC your backpack or totebag.
The USB-WIFINT uses the Realtek RTL8188CUS chipset. We chose this chipset as it has a very wide range of support including Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems. One exception of note is OS X 10.9 “Mavericks” for which there is no driver yet available, and unfortunately no ETA for when this might be ready.
The one drawback of such a small form factor is that the USB-WIFINT has a small antenna, which limits the performance and range of the adapter. In most real-world application, actual transfer speeds will be 35mb/sec or less. While the device is 802.11n compliant, with a theoretical top speed of 150 Mbps if you are in the same room as the router with a direct line of sight, real-world usage shows that link speeds of around 74 Mbps are more common as most users will be in a different room or on a different floor from the router.
Distance from the WiFi hotspot (router or access point) and ambient 2.4GHz radio interference from other wireless devices will cause the connection quality to vary. For optimal performance, we recommend the USB-WIFINT for customers who plan to use the adapter in the same room as the hotspot.
As noted, the adapter supports the 802.11n draft WiFi specification for data transmission in the 2.4Ghz band, but it is compatible with the older 802.11b and g specifications. It also supports the common WiFi security protocols (64/128 bit WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK and Wi-Fi Protected Setup).
The USB-WIFINT supporting Linux combined with its small size and low power consumption of less than 250mA make it the perfect companion for the Raspberry Pi, or for other scenarios where low power consumption is more important than reception such as Android development.
The adapter works in USB 2.0 and 1.1 ports, though you’ll get faster throughput in a USB 2.0 port. USB 3.0 ports are not recommended as it may interfere with nearby 2.4GHz devices. A red LED inside the unit will flash intermittently to indicate active data transfer.
If the USB-WIFINT is right for you, there’s an important step you must take before plugging it in to your computer: Download and install the latest drivers first.
We recommend installing the very latest drivers, available at:
Have any questions? Just comment below or email email@example.com. We’re happy to help!