I want to hook up my tower PC to my wireless network

I’m pretty computer savvy.

I have a Dell PC tower(not wireless) and I have a Linksys wireless router hooked up and used successfully by my daughter with her laptop.

My question is–do I have to buy a wireless card for my PC to make it connect wirelessly or can I buy a little doohicky that I can plug into a USB slot on the back of my tower(much like the little doohicky that came with my wireless mouse) and connect that way? If that is possible, are their reasons for doing it one way over the other?

Google “USB Wireless Adapter” for much useful info.

A USB wifi adaptor will work fine.

If your router has Ethernet ports, I’d just run an Ethernet cable from the PC to the router and be done with it. Wifi has a habit of being a frustratingly broken technology.

Whatever USB dongle you get make sure it has sufficient length to be put fairly high up on the wall to get out from behind the metal PC case and other equipment that would attenuate or block the WIFI signal. I do not suggest the in the PC PCI wifi cards with little ducky antennas coming off the card.

if you are close enough for a cable use it.

usb wireless adapter will work.

if you are far away through walls then maybe use a cable or a wireless card with a better antenna than a usb adapter.

Either an internal card or a USB dongle should be fine. USB 2.0 is fast enough to handle the fastest wireless speeds, so that isn’t really an issue. Both internal and USB adapters are made by different manufacturers with chipsets and drivers of varying quality, so either one could end up being troublesome as likely as the other. As long as your PC has room to hold an internal card, and available USB ports, then I would just start with the cheapest that doesn’t have terrible reviews. I’d tend to go for a USB one, because it’s easier, and a bit more versatile. If reception on the floor, behind your desk, is poor, then with a USB adapter, you can use an extension cable and move the adapter to a better location.

Responses of “I got a Netgear and it sucked/was great” are pretty worthless, because the company whose brand is on it didn’t make the chipset, and often change chipsets even within product lines. Sucked/great reviews are only worthwhile for a specific revision withing a specific product line. That might then be expanded to other adapters which use the same chipset.

If you are running Windows 7, then every adapter being sold new should have drivers. If you are running any other OS, then you might have to do some research to find which adapters will work with your OS.

So, in summary, unless there is a reason to get one or the other (no internal slots, your computer has flaky USB), buy whichever is cheapest and has the wireless you need—802.11n or 802.11g.

We have two tower PC’s in the home, one directly connected with network cable, the other running wireless because there is no clean easy way to run cable to it. Both work find but the one on the wireless network occasionally loses its signal and has to be re-set.

If you run wireless, be aware of the fact that if many of your neighbors do too, you may end up sharing wireless channels and that can get to be problematic if there are a lot of them competing for the channel space. I use a program to analyze channel allocations and re-set the channel to one that is unoccupied if there are other users piling onto the channel I am using.

If you have the capability for an Ethernet cable, by all means use it. More reliable, probably faster, easier to configure, less worry about security, cheaper. That’s a pretty broad statement with many exceptions, but I’d use cable if at all possible.

This would be my first option, too, although if the router and the computer are at opposite ends of the house it could be a problem. Then again, if the router and the computer are a long way away from one another, you might also have problems with your wireless connection.

I was facing this same problem with my intenet-connected TV and Blu-Ray player. Both of them come with wireless, but they are downstairs and at the opposite end of the house from my upstairs wireless router. The house isn’t that big, but i was still having trouble with the wireless, especially on the Blu-Ray player, with dropouts and slow connections.

I solved my problem with a powerline adapter kit. Basically, it allows you to use the electrical wires in your house to run a wired network connection from one part of the house to another. You plug one device into an outlet near your router, and one into an outlet near your computer (or, in my case, TV/Blu-Ray), and then run short ethernet cables from each adapter to the equipment. It works a treat, and avoids the hassles of wireless, as well as the hassle and unsightliness of trailing a long ethernet cable from one end of the house to the other.

I got my kit on special for about $40. It’s only a 200Mbps kit, but that’s plenty for my needs. The only reason to want a faster connection is if you’re using the link to transfer lots of files from one computer to another over your home network. For that sort of thing, 200Mbps can be painfully slow. I just use it to stream stuff from the internet (Netflix, MLB, etc.), and also to stream movie files from my computer. 200Mbps is more than enough for that; even a 10GB hi-def movie file doesn’t transfer at more than about 12Mbps.

One issue with powerline adapaters is that, according to some reviews, their effectiveness can vary from one house to another, depending on how new or old your wiring is, and how your electricity wires are configured. We’re in a pretty new place (<10 years old), and we’ve had no troubles.

My brother uses a USB dongle. One thing, though: be sure to have the USB dongle on the side nearest the router as the metal case is a very effective screen!

If you happen to have a USB extender cable laying around, you could use that to put the USB wifi adapter in a better location.

I have a MSI PC60G Wi-Fi card installed in my desktop. I think I purchased it for around 20 dollars.

It is very reliable. I’ve been using it for last year or more. The connection is also very reliable. The connection is even solid when gaming online. Concerns about signal with wifi, in my opinion, are generally unfounded. I don’t have a fancy router - I only have the router my ISP gave me - and the connection is solid via wifi even when gaming (when every millisecond of lag counts).

I’ve been using one of these Netgear Wireless-G PCI cards for years between my computer in the living room and the router in the office (about 30 feet, same level) with zero problems. It’s the most stable connection in my house. It’s just as stable as the USB-type I had been using prior.