Getting your PC online should be simple, but a Wi-Fi connection is impossible without the proper gear. While a desktop computer can connect to Wi-Fi, if it lacks a Wi-Fi card, you must add Wi-Fi support to the PC.
Here’s all you need to know about connecting a PC to Wi-Fi and turning a desktop computer into a wireless device if it isn’t already.
How to Connect Computer Your to Wi-Fi
Is it possible to connect a desktop PC to Wi-Fi? Yes, with the proper gear. If you can’t connect your PC to your local network via Ethernet cable, Wi-Fi is an option. While slower than Ethernet, Wi-Fi is rapidly improving and is enough for video streaming, online gaming, and downloads.
You may connect to a local wireless network if your computer has the necessary wireless networking gear installed.
How to Connect Windows to Wi-Fi
To connect a Windows desktop to Wi-Fi:
- WINDOWS + A or click the Notification area
- Click Network
- Enable Wi-Fi
- Allow time for the nearest networks to be polled and listed.
- Choose the network to which you want to join.
- When prompted, enter your password.
Your connection should be complete immediately. Make careful you only connect to secure networks. If this is not feasible, or if you are unsure about the network’s security, a VPN is advised.
Connect Linux PC to Wi-Fi
To connect a Linux desktop to a Wi-Fi network:
- In the panel, look for the Wi-Fi symbol.
- Select your network by right-clicking.
- When prompted, enter your password.
This is also possible in the terminal. Begin by looking up the SSID (network name) of the network to which you want to connect:
sudo iwlist wlan0 scan
Next, open wpa_supplicant.conf.
sudo nano /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
Edit the file to add the SSID and associated PASSWORD.
To save and quit, use CTRL+X, then Y to confirm. The wireless network should be found shortly after, and the machine should be connected.
If you’re having trouble connecting to your wireless network, discover how to increase your router’s Wi-Fi signal.
Do you have a Mac? Check out our guide to resolving Wi-Fi issues on macOS.
No Wi-Fi? How to Add a Wireless Adapter to Your PC
If you still can’t connect to any wireless network, make sure your device drivers are up to current. Run a routine system update and then examine the results. Hardware that does not have drivers will be highlighted.
What if your desktop PC lacks the necessary hardware? If a cabled (Ethernet) connection is not available, a wireless adapter for your desktop PC is required. There are three alternatives here:
- Connect a USB Wi-Fi dongle
- Install a Wi-Fi card
- Use a motherboard with built-in Wi-Fi.
Below we’ll look at all three of these options in turn.
1. Connect a USB Wi-Fi Dongle
A USB Wi-Fi adapter for desktop computers is the simplest method to connect your computer to a wireless network.
These inexpensive dongles are compact and simple to use. Simply plug the dongle into a USB port on your computer, install the drivers, and reboot. The dongle should discover local wireless networks once the PC is back up and running. To connect to the network of your choosing, just follow the steps above.
There are several USB Wi-Fi dongles available. The TP-Link USB WiFi Adapter is a fantastic place to start.
2. How to Install a Wi-Fi Card in a PC
Do you lack USB ports or want a more permanent solution? While you may connect a USB hub to your PC, you might want to install a wireless networking card. This entails turning off your computer, opening the case, locating the relevant slot, purchasing a compatible card, and inserting it. On today’s motherboards, two kinds of internal Wi-Fi cards may be installed: PCI and m.2.
Aside from USB, the most popular approach to add wireless networking to a desktop PC is via the use of a PCI-e (PCI Express, an improvement of the original PCI interface) card. This is a rectangular printed circuit board (PCB) with an antenna that is normally removable. There are many PCI-e versions in use, although most Wi-Fi cards utilize PCI-e x1. This is the smallest PCI-e port available.
How to Install a PCI-e Wi-Fi Card
Open the casing to find the slot for a PCI-e card that will provide Wi-Fi to your desktop. A PCI-e x1 card slot should appear as follows:
Do you need a PCI-e Wi-Fi card? The TP-Link AC1200 is an excellent choice.
To insert a suitable card:
- Remove the expansion port plate from the case’s rear.
- Insert the card, making that the notch is aligned with the PCI-e slot on the motherboard.
- Screw the PCI-e Wi-Fi card to the casing to keep it secure.
- Replace the PC case lid after attaching the antenna.
- Install the device drivers after restarting your computer.
Modern motherboards have a Wi-Fi M.2 slot (as well as one for additional storage). If your computer’s motherboard includes an M.2 slot, it’s likely that a Wi-Fi card is already installed, which may or may not be malfunctioning.
How to Install an M.2 Wi-Fi Card
Make sure you don’t mix up an M.2 slot with a MiniPCI, MiniPCI Express, or mSATA slot. All of them have previously been used for Wi-Fi card interfaces, but M.2 is the current standard.
M.2 cards are easy to set up. Inside the slot is a spring-loaded mechanism, and the card is secured by a screw hole on the motherboard. Simply:
Are you looking for an M.2 motherboard Wi-Fi card? Take a look at the OKN WiFi 6 AX200.
- Insert the card securely at a 45-degree angle.
- Move the card closer to the motherboard.
- Secure the card with a screw
- Connect the antenna (if included)
- Replace the cover on your PC
- Install the drivers after restarting the machine.
Switching to a motherboard with on-board wireless networking is the last option for adding Wi-Fi to your PC. However, this is an extreme method that requires you to disassemble your complete PC and locate a matching motherboard. Other hardware, such as the CPU, RAM, and perhaps the GPU, will almost always need to be updated as well.
Related: How to Install an M.2 SSD Card
3. Use a Motherboard With On-board Wi-Fi
Overall, this is a costly solution—-installing a USB, PCI, or M.2 Wi-Fi card is significantly simpler.
You should now have all of the information you need to connect your computer to a Wi-Fi network. A USB dongle is the most practical way for instantly connecting to the internet, but you may prefer the more permanent choice of an integrated PCI-e or M.2 card.
Now You Can Connect Your PC to Wi-Fi
Whatever option you choose, once wireless networking is enabled on your desktop, you will be able to connect to any local network with ease. Still having problems? Consider where you’ve placed your Wi-Fi router.
Whatever the solution, you’ll also be able to easily connect to any local network once wireless networking is added to your desktop. Still running into issues? Consider how you’ve positioned your Wi-Fi router.
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