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What's Better? usb wifi or pci-e wifi cards?

So, first and foremost it's been a while since I have been here so I hope y'all been doing ok.

That aside, I was wondering what is better?


Wifi usb v. Wifi PCI-E


My initial thoughts on this are that I assumed that first and foremost PCI-E wifi cards are better because they are connected directly to the PCI-E bus and thus reducing communication overhead, and it's a hoop less in transporting TCP/UDP streams to my system.  USB is great for quick convenience and can do the same thing but I find them to be... "decent"  At least for the one I have it's an ARCHER (TP Link) AC 600. (USB)

Other than what I had laid out here, are there other objective benefits to have a PCI-E wifi card over a USB wifi dongle?


EDIT:  Ok, I want to clarify what I mean by "a hoop less in transporting TCP/UDP streams to my system".

What I mean is after transport, instead of the data going through the usb bus, then to the controller, then to pcie to the cpu.  A direct path in otherwords.  My bad!

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unless you're near saturating the bandwidth of USB/PCIE, i wouldnt worry about the overhead


that said, i own several USB wifi dongles (of different models and makers) and almost every single one of them would overheat under sustained transfers (20mbps ish) and stop working until you unplug them

never owned a PCIE one so no comment

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In my experience, PCI-E cards.


I've used both, and have a USB Wi-Fi dongle just in case the Ethernet or wi-fi in one of my 6 computers goes tits up. The USB dongle won't have the signal strength or antenna articulation/relocation that the PCI-E cards do, and being able to use an antenna extension to relocate them off the back of the PC is great for things like port access and minimizing signal degradation. 

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1 minute ago, Moonzy said:

unless you're near saturating the bandwidth of USB/PCIE, i wouldnt worry about the overhead


that said, i own several USB wifi dongles (of different models and makers) and almost every single one of them would overheat under sustained transfers (20mbps ish) and stop working until you unplug them

never owned a PCIE one so no comment

In that case I think pcie would be best because not only would there be gaming involved for my rig but also I plan (because atm I am broke as a joke and trying to save up to move out of my grandparents' place) to at some point have a dedicated backhaul wifi router (not linksys but legit getting a beefy board with a xeon and a crap ton of memory) so that it can serve multiple clients but also handle security, routing, and to some extent media sharing*

* = whether it be hosting it locally or routing the media from a media server to a client device with traffic rules in place to allow more bandwidth to be allocated or modify existing bandwidth to fit a movie stream (as an example) alongside a game's server connection (two high priority lanes if you will).

Though, this brings up my concerns with my initial choice of hardware in which I wanted to use pfsense as the firewall but also as the main access point and router for my network.   Not sure how pfsense's performance bodes in regards to wifi networking and I know unifi is the bee's knees in the wifi world but there are three requisites to this:

1.)  Must be reliable (I.e., 0 crashes, 1 crash acceptable but no more than 1 if any, no bugs and no dropouts**)
2.) Low latency (Like pci-e wifi cards directly connected to the pci-e bus instead of using unify poe aps that are connected to pfsense)

3.) Must be cost-effective. (Which one's worth the money and what the inital cost is)

** = dropouts as in the wifi networking disappearing completely off the face of the earth, packet loss is expected but I don't want the controller to be like, "Aight, I'm heading out." and just shutoff or disable itself for no reason.        I'm facing a problem like this on my Linksys WRTACM3200 (Flashed with openwrt 18.06.5 with kernel version 4.14.151. as of today) where on the 2.4Ghz radio it would just drop 2.4Ghz on the ap side but not the client mode for the other interface; using it as a mini-wifi backhaul repeater. Anyway, I would try to restart the radio. Nothing. so, a full reboot is required.  Not sure why it does that but it does.  Though to be fair at least it's not as bad as the netgear wn2500rp... god that thing crashes a lot and refuses to route anything until you do a hard reset, I decided to give that thing away to anybody needing a budget device for networking. <insert shrug with smile here>


also I do apologize if this reply is WAY too big.

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depends on the dongle a lot of dongles are so small and overheat, but can be a quick and sometimes easy solution.

PCIE cards can be better and get included strenghts like antennas, but can have more issues with compatibility (updating firmware etc) while less of a need for USB dongle software. sadly the PCIE card could take up more space than it needs... also if your motherboard has space for it, some smaller ITX MBs with big GPUs might be in the way.


also see if there is PCIE 3.0 or 4.0 issues between gen for PCIE, that you often get more stuff too like bluetooth. (just get the newest and best model that seem to work and about price).

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