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The technology known as WiFi—short for wireless fidelity— is a wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide ultra-fast network communication to various devices such as PCs, laptops, smartphones, gaming consoles, and printers.
Much like a radio tunes into a radio station signal over the airwaves, your device will pick up an unseen signal that connects it to the internet.
Antennas—the subject of this article—are needed to pick up/strengthen these signals.
Comparison of the Best WiFi Antennas
Our Top Pick
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What Makes a WiFi Antenna Worth Buying?
USB type, signal type, and decibel isotropic (dBi) rating are essential considerations for the reader to bear in mind while reading this review, so we will briefly review each factor.
- Many different kinds of devices—antennas included—need to be connected somehow.
- USB, short for Universal Serial Bus, is the standard designed for these connections.
- Generally, USB refers to the types of connectors and cables used to connect these various external device types to computers.
- Signal strength is measured in decibel milliwatts (dBm), usually indicated with negative values.
- Slow internet could be due to a bad WiFi signal caused by:
- Distance from the router.
- Thick walls blocking the signal.
- Whether you have a 2.4 or 5Ghz connection.
Note: The 2.4Ghz signal extends further than a 5Ghz, but the latter has more options to bypass interference problems.
- Distance from the router.
- The nearer you are to the router, the better.
- The WiFi symbol is usually made up of a dot followed by four or five curved lines. The more lines that are filled, the stronger the connection.
- If the internet on your device seems slow, try rebooting your router. Should the problem persist, WiFi could be the cause.
- Walk around with your device, keeping note of the symbol lines filled. Pay attention to when these lines increase or decrease.
- Please keep track of how far you are from the router and the number of walls that are between you and it.
- Having a strong WiFi signal is essential for enabling faster internet usage.
Maximum range is always achieved through the use of strong receivers and transmitters and a clear line of sight between them.
The dBi rating lets you know how far a signal will travel. The higher the dBi, the further a signal will travel. An antenna manipulates a signal to act in a certain way. These antennas come in two different types.
- Directional antennas refer to signal coverage in a particular direction.
- A router or WiFi hotspot, for example, could be the target set for the directional antenna to aim at.
- The user must be dead on with the signal's aim for the best quality and strength.
- Be aware of the width of the reception cone picked up by your antenna—imagine the “cone” that spreads out from a flashlight when in use.
- The best way of doing this is to judge by its dBi rating—the higher it is, the narrower the reception cone will be.
- Knowing these data points will help you to determine the best antenna for your needs.
- Just bear in mind that a high dBi rating covers more distance, but in a specific direction. Remember the flashlight analogy.
- Omni-directional antennas are most used to create hotspots by transmitting a signal in all directions over a large area. Think about how an egg you're about to fry spreads in a pan, spreading vertically as well as horizontally.
- They also receive signals from all directions when the transmitting location is nearby or unknown.
- An omnidirectional WiFi antenna's radiation cone spreads out over 360 degrees in every direction, so it need not be pointed.
- Each antenna has its gain rating or dBi number that coincides with its performance.
- A higher rating will mean that the signal covers a larger area.
- Bearing the above in mind and also your own specific needs, you can decide which antenna is best for you.
Review of the Best WiFi Antennas
The market is crammed with all types of WiFi Antennas. The review that follows is designed to assist you in finding the best one/s to suit your needs.
Frequency Range: 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz
Gain: 8 dBi @ 2.4GHz 10dBi @ 5GHz
Connector: RP-SMA Plug (Male)
Dimensions: 167.3 x 66 x 18mm
V.S.W.R: 2.0:1 Max
This product also works for 3DR Solo Drones, DJI Phantom 3 Drones, and Yuneec Typhoon H ST16 controllers to highlight a few of the many other models and routers suited to it. It provides a high dBi gain, so it covers more distance. It’s also suitable for aiming at WiFi hotspots.
It’s limited to indoor use and, being directional, can be rotated a maximum of 180 degrees.
The Alfa APA-M25 is smallish and compact, has an RP-SMA connector, a high dBi gain, covers more distance, and works with many other models and routers.
Gadgets World FBA_ALFA-ARSN 19M
Weight: 5.6 ounces
Dimensions: 15.28 x 3.46 x 0.79 inches
An antenna that will markedly increase the strength and range of your WiFi signal. Because it’s omnidirectional, there’s no need to aim the antenna; it sends and receives WiFi in any direction.
This quality-built antenna makes for a direct replacement of the one that comes standard with your VOIP device, router, access point, or PCI card. It’s more potent than the less powerful booster antennas made by other major manufacturers.
Very easy to install, you’ll immediately experience that significant jump in signal range and strength.
Not very heavy and also designed not to take up too much space, the Gadgets World FBA_ALFA-ARSN 19M will give that much sought-after signal boost with a 360-degree signal range.
Best for the Money:
Dimensions: 4.02 x 3.78 x 0.87 inches
Weight: 0.353 ounces
Replacing your WiFi antenna with this Alfa antenna will significantly increase the range of your WiFi signal. This quality panel antenna is a suitable replacement for the factory standard of your PCI card, router, access point, or VOIP device.
Being omnidirectional, it’s able to send and receive WiFi in all directions. Installation is simple—twist off the factory antenna and replace it with your new one—and you'll instantly experience a more fantastic range.
While this antenna works with many other models and routers, please note that any increase in signal strength depends mainly on the router or adaptor itself. Though it can assist, it can’t transmit or receive the power for which that device is not equipped.
Except for the final paragraph in the review just above—the possibility of no, or minor, increase in signal strength—this antenna will substantially increase the range of compatible devices.
Best WiFi Antenna for PC:
Dimensions: 1.25 x 2.25 x 13 inches
Weight: 12 ounces
Base Diameter: 4.25 inches
This is a long-range WiFi antenna that extends and strengthens your WiFi reception. It can connect to a hotspot up to a half-mile away. Using strong suction cups, it quickly and easily attaches to any surface.
This antenna comes with a removable stand, a 10-foot USB cable, and an easy-to-use software CD compatible with Mac and Windows. You can enjoy your wireless internet anywhere in the house, in the backyard, or even within a fair distance from a WiFi hotspot.
Once again, the pros far outweigh the cons with this antenna, so it’s considered another valuable item to have as part of your electronic setup.
Best Long Range WiFi Antenna:
Nineplus Wireless WiFi Adapter AC1200
Dimensions: 2.6 x 0.82 x 0.39 inches
Weight: 1.76 ounces
90% of customer reviews on this product come out rated three stars or better—out of a possible five stars—with five stars scoring an impressive 69%. Together with the pros listed above, this fact speaks for itself regarding the usefulness of this antenna.
WiFi signals are received on two separate bands. You can get a maximum 867Mbps wireless speed on 5GHz WiFi band or 300Mbps on 2.4GHz WiFi. Should you only have surfing the web in mind, you can connect to the 2.4G band for a better and more stable signal.
With dual 5 dBi antennas, the 2.4GHz and 5 GHz WiFi bands, good signal strength, and the other positives noted, this antenna is considered a handy item to own.
Best Outdoor WiFi Antenna:
Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 4.25 inches
Weight: 12 ounces
BearExtender Outdoor has combined a high gain 10dBi directional antenna with a high power internal WiFi amplifier. It provides accessible, strong WiFi for boats and RVs.
It has a specially designed case that has been pre-treated with an anti-UV and anti-corrosion protective coating for outdoor use. It's also IP65 certified water and dust resistant, ensuring that the internal components stay dry, even in the worst weather.
BearExtender Outdoor uses proprietary receiving technology with 1000mW max RF output power for maximum WiFi range.
Its built-in 10dBi panel directional antenna concentrates reception in one direction for optimum results. The overall range varies based on the environment. Placement higher up can improve outcomes.
The antenna comes with three versatile mounting options and an integrated 16-foot premium shielded USB cable
Equipped with a long-range 2.4 GHz USB WiFi booster, a built-in 10dBi directional antenna, three mounting options, and the 16-foot USB cable mentioned above, this is considered an excellent item to buy.
Best USB WiFi Antenna:
ASUS USB-AC68 AC1900
Dimensions: 1.18 x 0.69 x 4.52 inches
Weight: 1.55 ounces
Asus USB-AC68 AC1900 comes with dual three-position external antennas and dual internal ones. It also provides powerful Dual-Band AC1900 WiFi to laptops and desktops and can boost WiFi speeds by up to 300% compared with previous Gen N900 adapters.
The USB 3.0 cradle maximizes desktop coverage, and the foldable antennas give good portability for laptops. This item also features a powerful 3x4 MIMO design and ASUS AiRadar beamforming.
Boasting a combined data rate of up to 1900Mbps, your desktop or laptop will easily be able to handle bandwidth-intensive tasks.
Light and compact, the Asus USB-AC68 AC1900 boosts WiFi speeds considerably. Its desktop cradle makes it easy to place, and the foldable external antennas render it easily portable with laptops.
Best High Gain WiFi Antenna:
Alfa 9dBi ALFAARSN19
Dimensions: 14.57 x 4.13 x 0.47 inches
Weight: 0.32 ounces
This Alfa antenna will significantly increase the strength and range of your WiFi signal. The quality-built omnidirectional antenna can be a direct replacement for the antenna that came standard with your router, access point, PCI card, or VOIP device.
Because it’s omnidirectional, it can send and receive WiFi in all directions. This Alfa antenna is more potent than the less powerful booster antennas offered by other manufacturers. It’s simple to install. Remove the factory antenna and replace it with your Alfa booster antenna, and you'll note an immediate improvement in range.
Another Alfa product that will boost your router's range by as much as four times. With the RP-SMA male connector, this antenna is designed to fit—and be compatible with—many other items and devices.
Best External WiFi Antenna:
Alfa Long-Range AC1200
Dimensions: 5.51 x 5.51 x 2.36 inches
Weight: 9.1 ounces
This strong, dual-band and long-range WiFi adapter delivers quick wireless speeds for even the most demanding users. The solution for any office or home in need of dependable connectivity, it’s small, lightweight, and displays more capabilities than any wireless card built into your laptop or PC.
The USB 3.0 interface provides an easy connection to any compatible device (there are many) and brings you all that’s needed for streaming, downloading, and gaming. Given the high-performance 802.11ac AC1200 chipset, this product provides support for the most demanding internet activity.
Two 5dBi dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) antennas beat all performance criteria for wireless cards and other network connectivity solutions. They are removable, which adds flexibility for possible future upgrading. Supported standards include 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac, providing you with comfort in knowing that your privacy is protected.
Drawing a high percentage of excellent customer reviews and being reasonably compact, this device looks pretty inconspicuous in your workspace and is easy to pack for travel.
It’s also easy to connect using the USB 3.0 cable and was made with the foresight to accommodate possible future upgrades.
Best PS4 WiFi Antenna:
Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 1.58 ounces
6dBi RP-SMA Antenna Length: 7.7 inches
IPEX Cable Length: 13.8 inches
This package comes with two 6dBi 2.4GHz 5GHz dual-band WiFi RP-SMA antennas and two 13.8 inch U.fl / IPEX to RP-SMA antenna WiFi wireless WAN pigtail cables. It serves as a high-quality WiFi antenna for your router.
It practically doubles your WiFi speed and, once again, is a product that’s highly rated by customers who have purchased it. A word of warning, though, is that if you use it to modify any console, do it with care; you may accidentally damage the console's inner workings and violate the terms of the warranty.
Rated the best choice for computer networking antennas by Amazon, Highfine's product comes with two 6dBi 2.4GHz 5GHz dual-band WiFi RP-SMA antennas. It’s compatible with various products such as routers and consoles.
How Do WiFi Antennas Work?
A short introduction is that all of the electronic components that make up a wireless network are based on one of the 802.11 standards set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the WiFi Alliance. This was a committee created in 1997 and brought about WiFi.
Much in the same way that radio can tune into a radio station signal over the airwaves, your device will pick up a signal that connects it to the internet through thin air. In short, a WiFi signal is a high-frequency radio signal.
Using WiFi, people worldwide can communicate with each other using services like Skype, WhatsApp, and email. One can also use it to transfer information and files between devices at a very high speed.
These devices need to be connected through antennas; much like how your television won’t work correctly without an antenna. WiFi employs RF or radio waves in the frequency range of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, and antennas are designed to transmit or receive these waves.
Types of WiFi Antennas
So far in this article, we have mentioned two types of WiFi antennas. They can be broken down into three types: omnidirectional, semi-directional, and highly directional.
Omnidirectional antennas radiate radio frequency (RF) in all directions. They are commonly found in the office or home environments, usually small, and often unseen as they are sometimes built into a network's router or access point.
Picture the “fried egg” analogy given earlier, but in three dimensions; or a whale emitting sound in the ocean—it goes up, down, and all around.
Semi-directional antennas are designed to direct RF signals in a specific direction. They’re used for short/medium distance communication indoors or out. Here, think about the ”flashlight and cone analogy” used earlier.
The main types of semi-directional antennas are Yagi and Patch/Panel. The latter is generally found indoors and used to radiate signal into the space in front of it. Buildings such as retail stores, warehouses, hospitals, or libraries—which would typically block an omnidirectional antenna's signal—would benefit from these.
A Patch/Panel antenna is generally placed high on a wall, aiming between rows of shelving or down an aisle. Because this antenna has a horizontal beamwidth of 180 degrees or less, there’s plenty of coverage.
Yagi antennas extend over longer distances and are mainly used outdoors. The primary purpose of these is to reach those places that an omnidirectional antenna can’t.
Highly directional antennas are used for long-distance communication. Because these antennas are high gain, they provide a narrow and very focused beamwidth. Picture a spotlight shining in a particular direction.
In this category, you’ll find mainly Parabolic (Dish) and Grid. Dish antennas look similar to TV dish antennas but are often much larger. Grid antennas also vary in size, and they look the same as a grill. They’re designed for outdoor environments with high winds.
WiFi Antenna Effective Ranges
Omnidirectional antennas have effective ranges of 360 degrees, while directional ones have ranges depending on their dBi capabilities. These ranges are also measured in degrees.
Horizontal vs Vertical Polarization in WiFi Antennas
As with a radio system, there’s a transmitter and receiver for WiFi. Antennas are used to radiate an electromagnetic signal between devices using WiFi.
Polarization is the orientation of a signal as it leaves an antenna. While there are many different kinds of polarization, most WiFi antennas are linearly polarized and will have vertical or horizontal polarization.
For WiFi, the standard is vertical, meaning the waves go up and down. The same polarization must be used in the receiver. WiFi was initially designed for use with laptops. The latter's screen is always vertical, so that's how the antenna is usually placed.
Typically vertically polarized antennas have a low angle of radiation, thus enabling a large proportion of their power to be radiated at an angle close to the earth's surface. One reason for using vertical polarisation is that antennas with a single vertical element can radiate equally around them in the horizontal plane.
An excellent example of vertically polarised antennas would be those used in automobiles.
This form of antenna polarisation picks up and radiates horizontally polarised signals, i.e., electromagnetic waves with the electric field in the horizontal plane. An example of this would be how a tablet or smartphone keeps the image on its screen upright, no matter which way it’s held.
Which WiFi Antenna to Use to...
Given the multitude of antennas currently available on the market, here are some pointers to which one will be best applied to a specific situation.
Improve Outdoor WiFi Signal
The best antenna for this would be a 14 dBi omnidirectional antenna. This has a range of up to 0.4 miles and is spread in a 360-degree radius.
Improve Indoor WiFi Signal
The best Indoor antenna here is a choice between Yagi Cantenna Tripod 14dBi or Panel Tripod 14 dBi, both of which are directional and have a range of up to two miles.
Improve Commercial WiFi Signals
There are usually computers, laptops, printers, and smartphones in all directions in an office building, so it's best to use omnidirectional antennas. Ceiling dome antennas can be used to improve the signal in large spaces.
The dome antenna should be installed on the ceiling of the office building. The antenna for this is 9dBi with a range of up to 1,200 feet.
To Improve Long-Range, Point-to-Point WiFi
To bridge an internet connection with another building, two-directional antennas will be required. Which directional antennas you should use will depend on the distance between the buildings.
For example, a Yagi or Panel antenna will work if the buildings are around a mile apart from each other. If the buildings are much further apart, a grid antenna would be the best option.
To Improve All-Around, Long-Range WiFi Signal
A 14dBi omnidirectional antenna will provide an improved all-around WiFi signal of up to 0.4 miles.
Top Brands in the WiFi Antenna Space
There are always different brands competing against each other in the manufacture and distribution of various items such as clothing, motor vehicles, TVs, microwaves, etc.
This is also true of manufacturers of items such as WiFi antennas, and we will name and discuss some that stand out.
Alfa Network Inc.
Alfa was established in 2002 and remains a highly motivated company dedicated to the innovative design and manufacturing of high-performance yet cost-effective products. Their expertise lies within wireless network communications and telecommunications.
They are situated in the United Kingdom, and many of their products are endorsed by Amazon customers.
Microtech Computers & Peripherals Ltd
Also based in the UK and established in 1992, the following is a quote from their web page:
"Unlike many of our competitors, we have survived since 1992 due to our excellent customer service record and our unique ability to adapt to the ever-developing IT industry and most importantly, our customer's needs."
Price Points of WiFi Antennas
Everything comes with a price, so we have looked at those of one of the largest distributors in the world, Amazon, and come up with some price ranges and other details.
2 x 8dBi WiFi RP-SMA Male Antenna 2.4GHz 5.8GHz Dual Band +2 x 15CM U.FL/IPEX to RP-SMA Female Pigtail Cable for Mini PCIe Card Wireless Routers, PC Desktop, Repeater, FPV UAV Drone, and PS4 Build
Between $10 and $25
Lightwood Dual WiFi Antenna with RP-SMA Male Connector, 2.4GHz 5GHz Dual Band Antenna Magnetic Base for PCI-E WiFi Network Card USB WiFi Adapter Wireless Router
BrosTrend 1200Mbps Long Range USB WiFi Adapter for PC, Desktop, Laptop of Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP, MAC, 2.4G/ 5GHz, w/ 2 X 5dBi Antennas, USB 3.0 Cradle
Who Should Not Buy a WiFi Antenna?
The way that the world is right now, everybody should buy or, at least, possess a WiFi antenna unless he/she is someplace that no form of communication can reach, like a desert island.
Seriously, a WiFi antenna is probably one of the most important things that you have to be near, given today's reliance on cellular/smartphone technology, computers, etc. Just remember that this is never going to be a “one size fits all” scenario.
You must be aware of your surroundings and have identified whether you need an omnidirectional or directional antenna, the range, indoors or outdoors, where to install, and all other factors before proceeding with your purchases and installation.
The subject of WiFi antennas is vast and needs much research before you shop for what you need. It’s not a ”one size fits all” topic and needs to be carefully thought out before committing yourself to anything.
People Also Ask
Having covered all of the aspects relating to the subject, we have found the following to be frequently asked questions on the best WiFi antennas. We provide answers to these in the most uncomplicated terminology.
Do WiFi Antennas Really Work?
Yes, antennas work and are a necessity for WiFi. To explain, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless internet access.
These antennas are usually external and can be easily seen while others are etched within the device's Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
How Do You Aim a WiFi Antenna?
Some home routers have a single antenna that emits omnidirectional radiations in a single plane. If this antenna is positioned vertically, it’ll emit radiation in a horizontal plane and vice versa.
Many WiFi routers have two antennas attached. Ideally, you should point one of these vertically and the other horizontally. By doing this, there’s a better chance of aligning a device's antenna with at least one of the router's antennas.
Can I Put a Bigger Antenna on My Wireless Router?
With a bigger antenna, your WiFi will extend a lot further.
So, yes, you can put a bigger antenna on your wireless router provided that the mechanisms, i.e., sockets, etc., to fit each are compatible.
In other words, don't try fitting a round peg into a square hole.
How Do I Know if My WiFi Antenna is Working?
There’s no simple way to tell except by removing the antenna and seeing what changes there are to the device's signal. Any changes would indicate a working antenna.
As with any Radio Frequency communications system, your aerial is just as vital as the other parts. A good aerial will give you a good signal.
How Can I Increase the Range of My Router Antenna?
There are several different ways of doing this. Optimize your wireless router position, change your antenna, increase your router's power, remove possible obstacles surrounding your router, and use a second router to extend your network.
Use boosters such as wireless repeaters, choose an ideal channel frequency, or reduce wireless interference from other wireless gadgets such as microwave ovens.
Can I Use a Satellite Dish as a WiFi Antenna?
You can use a satellite dish to make a WiFi antenna. This is both efficient and economical because there’s no signal loss when you use USB cable connections. The result is a far better range and stronger signal strength when connecting to public access points and WiFi hotspots.
How Far Can WiFi Antennas Reach?
Whether your antenna has directional or omnidirectional qualities matters, a directional antenna can reach up to eight miles while your omnidirectional one can go up to one mile.
You should bear in mind that these distances may reduce depending on factors such as obstructions between the antenna and your devices or the type of WiFi equipment you’re using.
Wifi Antenna Reviews
To help you quickly find what you need, we have organized all of our wifi antenna reviews into one place. Feel free to browse around. Thanks for reading!