This is the BEST Wireless Adapter you can Get for $26! Oh, it’s a Router Too
Am I the only one around here that’s thought, “I wonder if they make a wireless adapter that goes to ethernet, instead of USB or PCI?” I’ve attempted to search out wireless ethernet adapter before, but the wild goose chase that ensued was not very encouraging. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you how I finally found the solution I use for my wireless needs in my home today. What I can tell you though, is if I ever have to choose between gaming over wireless or trying to run a long ethernet cable through tight spaces, I’ll always go with a wireless router to use as my adapter.
We’ve all probably experienced the crappy USB wireless adapter that keeps dropping our connection. That option only seems to work in the best of circumstances, which leads to many builders upgrading to a PCIe adapter. Those tend to work more consistently, but if the room is far from the router, the placement of antennas toward the back, bottom of the case isn’t ideal. Range extenders can be extremely finicky to set up and if a gamer has tried all three options without success, that’s when the ethernet cable gets run through the attic or the crawl space. (Or down the hall!) You might try the mesh network, but my experience with that was it added a lot of latency to the connection. The simple fact is that routers are typically made to run off of quite a bit more power than any adapter, which usually means your adapter is the weak link in your wireless connection.
Here’s where we begin looking at Trendnet wireless routers as a viable option for a wireless adapter. They may not be the greatest performing routers (albeit far from the worst), but relegate them to the simple task of an adapter and they’re pretty great. The best news about this is you don’t have to do a fancy DD-WRT flash to use the feature. Many of their routers have it built right into the user interface, as seen above. In the Client Bridge mode, the router quits broadcasting a signal. It merely connects to whatever wireless network you already have in your house and bridges that network connection through the ethernet ports in the back. You can merely use the ethernet port on your motherboard to plug into the Trendnet directly, which also saves the need for installing additional adapter drivers on your gaming system. Because the Trendnet is a much more powerful device than even a PCIe adapter, I’ve yet to have a dropped wireless connection in the months of using this setup and at most, I’ve seen 2ms ping added to my latency when compared to a standard wired connection, many times having latency that’s identical to a wired connection.
Update: The TEW-812DRU does require a flash to DD-WRT in order to use the client bridge feature. If you want to use the built in firmware, you’ll need to upgrade to the TEW-818DRU for a bit more instead.
Of course, how crazy do you have to be to spend funds on an entire router to relegate it to simple adapter use? Well, if you’re shopping with Trendnet, quite sane actually. Trendnet already has pretty cheap wireless routers when comparing to the competition. However, I recently discovered their TRENDnet-Direct store on Amazon. If you click on the “Used & new” link on a Trendnet Amazon product page, it will bring you to the list of all of the sellers offering the router you picked. That’s when you’ll see the option to pick up a practically new, manufacturer refurbished version of the router you selected. Still wondering about that $26 adapter? The TEW-812DRU is just that price there and if you’re lucky, you’ll get away with not having to pay tax or shipping. (I didn’t) The AC1750 is just as good as an AC1900 since both ratings connect at 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz AC band. If your router is good enough and you don’t have a lot of obstructions, it’s pretty easy to get a connection close to that max speed, but remember that real world performance will be around 1/3 to 1/2 of that, which is a pretty normal thing for wireless connections in general (personal experience).
If you’ve tried to shop for AC1900 adapters, you may have noticed that they can get extremely pricey. It’s not hard at all to pay 2-4 times as much as what a refurbished Trendnet router will cost, yet the performance will struggle to be as stable as what Trendnet can offer. The best news is you can probably go back to using features that depend on your ethernet port, i.e. wake on LAN, but I’d need some help verifying that from anyone else who tries these setups. The greatest news is if you like competitive online games, this wireless connection is within a hair’s breadth of being as good as a wired connection and you’ll probably never tell the difference. Check out the links below if your interested in picking up one of these.
(And if this piece sounds way to much like an infomercial, I apologize. This is completely me sharing something I’m excited about, nothing more than that. =D)