Best M.2 WiFi Cards – Your 2021 Guide to the Best Options

Austin
| Last Updated: March 25, 2021

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Whether you’ve transitioned to work-from-home over the past year, or you’re using your internet connection for an important school assignment, we are all in need of top-speed connectivity.

And the best solution to ensuring you have access to high internet speed at all times?

An M.2 WiFi card! This article will discuss your best options for an M.2 WiFi card.

Our Top Picks for M.2 WiFi Cards

  • Bluetooth 5.2 technology
  • Rate of 2.4 Gbps
  • Windows 10/Linux
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  • Intel smart connect
  • Easy to setup
  • With PCIe card
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  • Best for the Money
  • Affordable price point
  • 867mbps transfer rate
View Latest Price →

Comparison of the Best M.2 WiFi Cards

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Doubles the transfer speed with Bluetooth 5.2 technology
  • Offers a superb transfer rate of 2.4 Gbps
  • Works with Windows 10 and Linux operating systems
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  • Featuring a user friendly Intel smart connect technology
  • Extremely easy to setup with no fancy tools
  • Coming with a PCIe card for powerful connection
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  • Best for the Money
  • Highlighted by an affordable price point
  • With a data transfer rate of 867 Mbps
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best M.2 Wifi Card Desktop
  • Offering a superb security of WPA3
  • Highlighted by a Bluetooth 5.0 technology
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  • An incredibly fast performance working at 5 GHz
  • Great capacity supporting multiple device connections
  • Easy to install with plug and play design
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Factors to Consider Before Buying an M.2 WiFi Card

Purchasing an M.2 WiFi card is not a “one size fits all” situation. Let’s take a closer look at what you should consider when deciding to invest in an M.2 WiFi card.

Download and Upload Speed

An M.2 WiFi card is an accessory that helps your device establish a wireless internet connection by establishing a connection with your modem or router to catch internet signals. This is greatly beneficial for computers that do not have built-in WiFi.

However, an M.2 WiFi card is also highly beneficial for increased upload and download speed. While you will find the average upload speed to be a minimum of 70 Mbps (megabits per second) and the average download speed to be 6 Mbps, the best M.2 WiFi cards will boast much higher speeds.

Compatibility With Your Device

As mentioned, WiFi cards are not a one size fits all product. Due to varying specs, a WiFi card that works on one device may not work on another. Before purchasing a WiFi card, it’s important to check your existing device’s specs and compare them to the M.2 WiFi card specs. This information should be readily available on both products.

Photo credit: M2wificards.com

WiFi Pins

You’ll notice that the pins featured on M.2 WiFi cards will differ. By accessing your network card’s pin slot, you can ensure that your WiFi card of choice will be able to perform to the best of its ability and that you will get the most out of your purchase.

Bluetooth Compatibility

It’s true that almost every M.2 WiFi card will have the ability to connect via Bluetooth. However, it never hurts to check and make sure that this feature is included. The Bluetooth feature will let you connect your other devices such as smartphones and tablets to the WiFi network without the need for an additional WiFi card and unnecessary wires. It’s also important to check that your M.2 WiFi card's Bluetooth feature is of the latest technology.

Matching Your Budget

M.2 WiFi cards vary by budget, with the more expensive options generally including more advanced features. If you’re looking to purchase a budget M.2 WiFi card for an inexpensive laptop that doesn’t have built-in WiFi compatibility, there are various options available that will not break the bank. Budget solutions do not have to mean that you’re sacrificing quality for your internet connectivity.

Review of the Best M.2 WiFi Cards

Looking for a quick breakdown of the best M.2 WiFi cards on the market? You’ve come to the right place! Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of the best M.2 WiFi cards out there.

Best Overall:
OKN M2-AX200

OKN WiFi 6 AX200 802.11ax WiFi Card 2400Mbps 5GHz and 574Mbps 2.4GHz Wireless Module for Laptop Desktop with Bluetooth 5.1, Windows 10 64bit and Linux, M.2/NGFF 2230

PROS

  • Great value
  • Supports WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1
  • Extremely fast transfer speeds of up to 2.4 Gbps
  • Easily download and update driver with QR scanning code
  • Target Wake Time (TWT) technology reduces power consumption for laptops

CONS

  • Only supports Windows and Linux
  • Does not include an antenna (must buy your own)

Specs

Speed: This Wi-Fi 6 AX200 adapter is designed to support the upcoming 11ax standard and supports 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 technology, delivering data rates of up to 2.4Gbps

Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.1 provides 4x Range over Bluetooth 4.2, doubling the transmit speed for faster transmissions and reducing the overall power

Device: Compatible with any Laptop or Desktop with standard NGFF M.2 Key A or Key E slot

Compatibility: This AX200 module fully supports the latest Microsoft Windows 10 64bit OS, as well as Linux

Review

When searching for the best overall M.2 WiFi card, it’s clear to see why the OKN M2-AX200 stands out above the rest. This product is a fantastic example of a budget-friendly option that contains all the top quality features that you could ask for in an M.2 WiFi card. This model by OKN delivers superior transfer speeds, as well as supporting the best in Bluetooth technology.

Plus, installing the driver is an absolute breeze. While some drivers are notoriously known for being difficult to download, OKN makes it easy. Simply scan a QR code on the box of your card and receive a download link for the correct drivers. Unfortunately, his M.2 WiFi card is not compatible with all because it’s Windows and Linux only.

Bottom Line

The OKN M2-AX200 gets on our list due to its superior speed, budget-friendly price, and latest technology. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your Bluetooth connectivity, improve your WiFi network transfer speeds or simply require a reliable connection, the OKN M2-AX200 is for you.

Runner-up:
Intel 7260.HMW

Intel 7260.HMW Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 Network Adapter PCI Express Half Mini Card 802.11 b/a/g/n/ac

PROS

  • Affordable price
  • Compatible with Bluetooth 4.0
  • Connects up to 16 devices to router
  • Contains 2×2 WiFi plus for broader coverage
  • High-speed data transfer speed of up to 867 Mbps
  • Easily download the correct drivers with a scannable QR code

CONS

  • Security
  • Unstable connection
  • Not the latest Bluetooth technology
  • Must have a mini PCI-E interface to use

Specs

Speed: Delivers fast WiFi speeds of up to 867 Mbps

Bluetooth: Features dual-mode Bluetooth 4.0

Device: Can be used in laptops, desktop computers, small consoles, all-in-ones, advertising machines, and other common equipment

Compatibility: Supported operating systems include Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 and Linux, but does not support XP

Review

This highly affordable and high-quality M.2 WiFi card gives you a super-fast speed of 867 Mbps and long-range connectivity. The Intel 7260.HMW has been boasted of being the best for gaming and video streaming without worrying about buffering. 

This M.2 WiFi card contains 2x2 WiFi, meaning it has two transmitting and two receiving radio chains. The result? A faster speed than faster than the previous generation of Wi-Fi technologies. It is worth noting that some customers have experienced security vulnerability with the Intel 7260.HMW and an unstable connection.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the budget-friendly Intel 7260.HMW is a truly worthwhile purchase. With its powerful WiFi performance, larger capacity, Intel wireless display, and Intel Smart Connect technology, the Intel 7260.HMW is our runner-up for the best overall M.2 WiFi cards out there.

Intel Dual Band Wireless-Ac 8265 w/Bluetooth 8265.NGWMG

PROS

  • Good value for price
  • 3 status-reporting LEDs
  • Compatible with Bluetooth 4.3
  • Connects up to 16 devices to router
  • Fast data transfer speeds of up to 867 Mbps
  • Contains MU-MIMO point of entry for enhanced network security

CONS

  • No antenna
  • Is not Mac OS friendly
  • Does not have a beamforming feature
  • Does not support the latest Bluetooth technology

Specs

Speed: High-speed data transfer speed of up to 867 Mbps

Bluetooth: Dual-mode Bluetooth 4.2

Device: This product is the recommended wireless solution for 7th Generation Intel Core processors but is compatible with any Laptop or Desktop with standard NGFF M.2 Key A or Key E slot

Compatibility: Windows 10, 64-bit, Windows 8.1, 64-bit, Windows 7, 32-bit, Windows 7, 64-bit, Linux

Review

The Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 supports both Bluetooth 4.2 and 2x2 11ac Wi-Fi, delivering a superior speed of up to 867Mbps. The downlink MU-MIMO feature allows an Access Point to transmit data simultaneously to multiple users, plus improving the overall downlink network capacity by up to 3x2. 

These advanced features make the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 the best value for money on this list. It’s important to note that this adapter does not have a beamforming feature. A beamforming feature is often preferred for a faster and more reliable connection.

Bottom Line

The Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 is a powerful choice for any device with a standard M.2 card slot. Dramatically reshapes your connected experience anywhere you go, you’ll find that this budget-friendly card is better than many more expensive cards. Even though this adapter does not have a beamforming feature, users have enjoyed its smooth and lag-free experience.

Best M.2 Wifi Card Desktop:
Intel AX200.NGWG.NV

Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) Desktop Kit (AX200.NGWG.NV)

PROS

  • Super-fast transfer speeds up to 2400 Mbps
  • Support for WiFi 6 with 75% reduced latency
  • Offers WiFi Miracast to stream and share media with friends
  • Bluetooth 5.0 offers 4x5 range over Bluetooth 4.2 using the same Tx power
  • Kit includes everything you need to upgrade to WiFi 6
  • Uses performance-optimized worldwide regulatory compliance SKU to detect location and automatically optimizes WiFi settings to maximize performance by geography

CONS

  • Full compatibility only with Intel systems
  • Windows 10 64-Bit only (not Mac or Linux compatible)

Specs

Speed: Offers a maximum speed of 2402 Mbps

Bluetooth: Compatible with Bluetooth 5

Device: Your PC will need an open M.2 slot (key E for Wi-Fi) on your motherboard to use this product and is supported by Intel Core 8th, 9th and 10th generation processors

Compatibility: Windows 10 64-Bit only

Review

Of course, WiFi adapters are not just for your portable devices, with desktops just as often requiring connectivity solutions. Intel's desktop kit provides everything you need to upgrade your device to WiFi 6, including mounting brackets and the necessary antennas. The outstanding performance and high transfer speeds of up to 2400 Mbps make this desktop kit an excellent pick for those looking to upgrade their workstations or gaming computers.

The downside is that this product is only compatible with Windows 10 64-bit desktop computers. Customers have found the Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) Desktop Kit to be easy to install and enjoy the improved security features.

Bottom Line

The Intel AX200.NGWG.NV is our pick for the best M.2 WiFi card for your desktop. This product offers improved technology and antennas, which is great for gamers, delivering up to 75% improvements in WiFi latency. With its top-notch performance, Bluetooth 5.0 compatibility, and transfer speeds of up to 2400, this desktop kit from Intel is definitely a winner - as long as your desktop is Windows 10, 64-bit compatible.

Editor's Pick:
Intel 7265.NGWWB.W

Intel 7265 IEEE 802.11ac Bluetooth 4.0 - Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Combo Adapter M.2 2230, 1216

PROS

  • Antenna included
  • Bluetooth 4.2 connection
  • Lightweight at only 1.6oz
  • High data transfer speed
  • Easy conversion from NGFF to USB
  • Better performance at further distances
  • Lower power consumption for longer battery life
  • Improved reliability for fewer dropped connections

CONS

  • Not compatible with Mac OS
  • Only offers full compatibility with Intel systems

Specs

Speed: High-speed data transfer speed of up to 867 Mbps

Bluetooth: Dual-mode Bluetooth 4.2

Device: Compatible with any Laptop or Desktop with standard NGFF M.2 Key A or Key E slot

Compatibility: Windows 10, 32-bit, Windows 10, 64-bit, Windows 8.1, 32-bit, Windows 8.1, 64-bit, Windows 8, 32-bit, Windows 8, 64-bit, Windows 7, 32-bit, Windows 7, 64-bit, Linux

Review

Our editor’s pick for the best M.2 WiFi card is the Intel 7265.NGWWB.W. If you’re looking for high-speed connections of up to 867 Mbps and the ability to support WiFi and Bluetooth connections simultaneously, this product is for you. One of the great things about this adapter is the fact that it comes with a mini-card for more connectivity options, with its easy NGFF to USB conversion.

One thing that this adapter includes that many others do not is an antenna, allowing for stronger connectivity. The Intel 7265.NGWWB.W is compatible with several versions of Windows, as well as Linus. However, it may not be compatible with non-Intel boards and processors.

Bottom Line

One of the things we love about the Intel 7265.NGWWB.W is its ability to maintain network connectivity with very low power consumption to enable updates with its Microsoft InstantGo Support. This adapter delivers up to 3x faster Wi-Fi speeds than 802.11n, with up to three times more bandwidth per stream for more users and devices to enjoy.

What is M.2 and Which Devices Use M.2 Slots?

If you haven’t previously used an M.2 WiFi card, you may still require clarification on what this product is and whether or not you need one. As mentioned above, an M.2 WiFi card is an accessory that helps your device establish a wireless internet connection by inserting the adapter into your device’s M.2 card slot.

The M.2 WiFi card then works to establish a connection with your modem or router to catch internet signals. This is greatly beneficial for laptops and desktops containing M.2 slots that do not have built-in WiFi and/or wish to establish an ultra-high-speed connection that they may be lacking.

Photo credit: Qteros.com

Another reason why M.2 WiFi cards are such a valuable accessory is their ability to connect to other devices via Bluetooth. While typically only desktop and laptop computers possess an M.2 slot, Bluetooth compatible devices such as tablets and smartphones should be able to access the same WiFi signal via Bluetooth.

Those who regularly stream video and use their internet for gaming will also largely benefit from an M.2 WiFi card, as the higher upload and download speeds that result from using an adapter will greatly reduce your chances of lagging and buffering when enjoying your favorite media. 

Advantages of Investing in a Quality M.2 WiFi Card

So, what are the major “wins” of investing in a quality M.2 WiFi card, and do you need one? The main and major benefit of investing in an M.2 WiFi card? The ability to connect to the internet in the first place! While the vast majority of current desktop and laptop models will have the ability to connect to WiFi built into them, older models still exist that do not possess this ability.

Therefore, as long as your device contains an M.2 slot, you’ll be able to quickly and easily access a WiFi connection with your router. With a quality M.2 WiFi card, you’ll also enjoy a faster internet connection and better upload/download speeds, and a reduction in failed links, despite whether or not your device has the ability to connect to WiFi on its own.

An M.2 WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) card also can significantly lower your power consumption. Although this particular type of M.2 WiFi card may not provide the most optimal speed rates compared to other devices, they do reduce the consumption of your power significantly.

Photo credit: Tonymacx86.com

M.2 Comparisons

When searching for an M.2 WiFi card, odds are you’ve come across multiple different solutions to your internet connectivity needs. What’s the difference between these different adapters, and how do you know which one you should purchase? Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of adapters:

Mini PCIe WiFi Card vs M.2 WiFi Card

The mini PCIe or the mPCIe card is largely used in industrial settings and IT gateways and routers. This type of adaptor is particularly popular amongst wireless vendors and integrates well with LTE Advanced Pro technology. Mini PCIe cards are designed for internal use, plugging directly into the motherboard.

Compact computers with ultra-small motherboards may be able to benefit from this type of card, as space is limited - assuming they possess a Mini PCIe card slot. M.2 WiFi cards are generally the more popular choice for laptops and desktops, with these types of devices typically containing an M.2 card slot. M.2 WiFi cards are a much newer device than the mPCIe models, accommodating a much higher 5G data transfer rate.

M.2 WiFi Card vs USB 3.0

While an M.2 WiFi card requires an M.2 slot to operate, a USB wireless network adapter simply needs a USB port to connect. This is the major advantage of a USB port, as this type of connection makes installation incredibly easy and virtually foolproof.

USB 3.0 is also significantly faster and has a higher efficiency power management compared to the more common USB 2.0. Of course, you must ensure that your device contains a USB 3.0 port to use this device.

Photo credit: Linustechtips.com

Top Brands in the M.2 WiFi Card Space

Certain popular brands dominate the M.2 WiFi card space, which you will certainly recognize due to their popularity in the world of laptops and desktop computers. Let’s take a look at which brands are known for their top-performing M.2 WiFi cards.

Intel

Intel’s M.2 WiFi cards have been noted multiple times in this review alone - and for a good reason! Intel was founded in the late 1960s by semiconductor pioneers Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. Intel was originally called NM Electronics but was changed to Intel after its founders purchased the rights to the name, which is short for Integrated Electronics. 

Intel introduced the first microprocessor, the Intel 4004, in the early 1970s, with the help of Ted Hoff. Intel has made a name for itself in the field of wireless Bluetooth products and provides the industry’s most advanced connectivity technologies. Intel is known for its top-notch speed and WiFi capabilities, as well as its power-saving features, saving you money in the long run.

Photo credit: Cnx-software.com

TP-Link

TP-Link has been in existence since 1996. Founded by brothers Zhao Jianjun and Zhao Jiaxing, TP-Link expanded internationally from China in 2005. TP-Link has been ranked as the number one provider of Wi-Fi devices and now serves billions of customers worldwide, with products available in more than 170 countries.

TP-Link products are known for their great value, as well as their history of stability and performance. This brand focuses on all individuals' current networking needs, constantly upgrading their products to meet changing demands. TP-Link’s M.2 WiFi cards also commonly come with antennas, eliminating the need to make a separate purchase.

Price Points of M.2 WiFi Cards

This article has provided options for the best M.2 WiFi cards that will not break the bank, which is also high quality and provide valuable features. However, what is the difference between a budget-friendly M.2 WiFi card and a more expensive option, if any? There are two primary price points that you will see in your search for M.2 WiFi cards, as outlined below:

$20 - $45

The vast majority of M.2 WiFi cards that you will find when scrolling through Amazon will be in the range of $20-$30. This includes brands like Intel, OKN, YOUBO, and Wise Tiger. M.2 WiFi cards in this price range will generally provide budget-friendly products that still deliver super-fast speeds, Bluetooth, and a reliable connection.

Depending on the brand, you may or may not receive an antenna included in your purchase to help with wider signal coverage. The brand also may or may not include the latest version of Bluetooth and may or may not support your version of Windows. If you do wish to purchase an M.2 WiFi card at this more budget-friendly price, consider our picks above for the best bang for your buck! However, you will be hard-pressed to find an M.2 WiFi card in this price range that supports Mac OS products.

Photo credit: Wifitrends.com

$45+

There are several exceptional options available in this price range for a high-quality M.2 WiFi card. You’ll find brands such as the Plug & Play Hackintosh, Intel, Killer, OKN, and TP-Link in this price range. These brands will generally include the latest and most advanced Bluetooth version, with the less expensive options providing the 4.2 or 5.0 version at the very most.

A M.2 WiFi card in this price range will almost always come with an antenna. You are most likely to find an adapter that is compatible with Mac OS in this price range as well.

Who Should Not Buy an M.2 WiFi Card?

While there are several great reasons to purchase an M.2 WiFi card, this product is not a requirement for everyone. An M.2 WiFi card's primary purpose is to help your device establish a wireless internet connection by bridging the gap between your device and your modem or router to catch internet signals. It is unlikely that a brand new and up-to-date laptop or desktop would not possess the ability to establish a WiFi connection.

An M.2 WiFi card is also not for those who are completely satisfied with their internet speed and are not having issues with establishing a signal when using the internet in a faraway area that is not immediately next to the router.

In the case that you do require assistance with WiFi connectivity and know you could benefit from an M.2 WiFi card, your device may not possess an M.2 WiFi card slot. In this case, a USB connector would be a much better option, as the vast majority of laptop or desktop systems will be built with a USB port.

In this case, it’s important to check whether your computer contains a standard 2.0 USB port or the faster and more efficient 3.0 USB port. While you should be able to find an M.2 WiFi card that is compatible with the majority of operating systems, you may not be able to find one if your device runs on a significantly outdated version of Windows.

Conclusion

If your PC or laptop cannot connect to WiFi and/or needs assistance in establishing a stable internet connection, then we strongly recommend purchasing an M.2 WiFi card. An M.2 WiFi card not only establishes and improves connectivity but can significantly increase your download/upload speed, reduce failed links dramatically, and save power and energy.

Recap - Best M.2 WiFi Cards

Need a reminder of the three best M.2 WiFi cards? Here they are:

  1.  OKN M2-AX200
  2.  Intel 7260.HMW
  3.  Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 8265

People Also Ask

Still, confused about whether or not an M.2 WiFi card is for you or have more questions on the information discussed above? While M.2 WiFi cards are not a product that everyone is initially familiar with, it is certainly worth researching how these valuable accessories can improve your online experience. Let’s take a look at some other common questions that customers have in deciding to purchase an M.2 WiFi card.

Do You Need an Antenna For an M.2 WiFi Card?

Yes, M.2 WiFi cards do require antennas. If you do not wish to purchase an antenna separately, we’d highly recommend investing in a product that includes an antenna (you can still find plenty of budget-friendly options that include an antenna!). Some M.2 WiFi cards have internal antennas as well, which also need to be set up.

Photo credit: Jetsonhacks.com

Is M2 Better Than an SSD?

While SSDs can give your connection speed a significant boost, M.2 WiFi cards are generally preferred for those whose devices contain an M.2 WiFi slot. Your WiFi adapter may not be keyed for SSD use, in which case, you would require a dongle to establish a Wi-Fi connection.

Are M2 WiFi Cards Good?

Yes! M.2 WiFi cards are great if you are using them to establish a WiFi connection, increase your upload/download speed, and reduce your overall amount of broken links, among other benefits. Just be sure that you have chosen a WiFi card that is compatible with your device.

How To Tell If an M.2 WiFi Card Will Work in My Laptop

To tell if an M.2 WiFi card is compatible with your laptop, you will need to check the specs on both your M.2 WiFi card and your laptop. While your laptop may include a standard M.2 card slot, the adapter may not support your operating system.

Austin

When the tech company I worked for restructured and I ended up jobless, I decided to put the wealth of knowledge and management skills to use somewhere new. I’d checked out a few buyer’s guides on the site in the past and reached out to the previous owner. A few months later, here we are. Now, I get to be behind the scenes, helping people find the best tech.