When I built my very first gaming PC I turned it on and logged into Windows, but I couldn’t do anything because I didn’t have a WiFi connection. My brother bought a PC at the same time and could instantly use it with WiFi with no problem. That’s when I asked myself; do you need a WiFi card for your gaming PC?
If you are not using an ethernet cable on your gaming PC, then you will need to use a WiFi card to connect to the internet. Many gaming motherboards come with a WiFi card pre-installed, but if yours doesn’t then you will need a Wifi card for your gaming PC to function on the internet.
WiFi cards can be very helpful, but there are a few things you need to consider before purchasing one so you don’t end up with one that doesn’t work well.
Why Do You Need a Wifi Card?
If you are using a gaming PC it is most likely that you need to access your Wifi in order to download the games you want to play, and in most cases, you will also need Wifi to play those games as well.
This is one reason for needing a Wifi card.
In a perfect world, you can use your ethernet cable to connect your computer to your router so that you can get wired internet access, and you won’t need a Wifi card.
However, most people including myself aren’t close enough to their router to connect an ethernet cable or don’t have a long enough ethernet cable that reaches their gaming PC.
So the next best option we have to resort to is a Wifi Card or dongle.
Wifi cards and dongles are the only way to access the internet if you don’t have a wired ethernet cable to connect you to your router, so it is very important to have one.
Every electronic device that connects to the internet is most likely using a Wifi card in some shape or form.
Your phone is using one, a laptop, tablet, iPad, etc. All of these devices have and need a Wifi card to function, including your gaming computer.
There are many motherboards that come with Wifi cards pre-installed on them, but a lot of the time these Wifi cards aren’t very good or the motherboard costs an extra $100 – $200 just to get access to Wifi.
Many times you will also see that some motherboards don’t come with Wifi cards at all, and if you are looking at buying one of these motherboards then you will also have to factor in that you need a Wifi card if you want to access the internet. (unless you can use an ethernet cable of course.)
Do Pre-Built Computers Come With Wi-Fi?
If you are looking into pre-built computers you might be wondering if these come with a Wifi card pre-installed, or if you have to buy one yourself.
The answer to this is; that it depends.
It depends because some pre-built gaming computers will come with a Wifi pre-installed and some will come without any Wifi card installed on them.
This all comes down to the manufacturer and if they want to add a Wi-Fi card or not.
In most cases, because the computer is either pre-built or being built for you it will already have a Wi-fi card installed, whether they used one that the motherboard came with or they bought a third-party one before they shipped it to you.
A pre-built computer should have everything you need to be functional right when you get it, so I would see no reason why the manufacturers wouldn’t install a Wifi card, to begin with, but you should always look at the specs and clarify that your computer will be able to use the Wifi before you purchase it.
Are built-In Wifi Cards on The Motherboard Any Good?
When you purchase a motherboard there is a chance that a Wifi card is included. Unless it is a high-budget motherboard the Wifi card that comes with the motherboard usually isn’t very fast and if you are seeing low Wifi speeds it is probably because your Wifi card doesn’t have a good connection rather than your Wifi just straight up being very slow.
Most of the Wifi cards that come with motherboards are usually single antenna Wifi cards which can make your connection speeds slow down because the Wifi single has to send and receive from the same antenna bottlenecking the speeds that it should get.
It can also just be because it has a poor connection to your router because of where it is placed.
If you have a compact Wifi card, that is stuck inside of your case it will have a problem reaching your router’s range if you are not close to it.
If you are having issues with your connection here is an article I wrote about Why Your Wifi Adapter Is Slow and How To Fix It.
What to take away from this is that Wifi cards that come pre-installed on the motherboard are usually very slow, but some might be good. If you happen to purchase one of these motherboards, you should use it for a few months, and if you have a poor connection I would recommend looking for a higher-quality third-party Wifi card.
That way you can get a better connection and faster speeds for whatever you use your computer for, whether that is competitive gaming, work meetings, web surfing, etc. All of these activities will perform better if you have a better Wifi connection.
Do You Need a WiFI Card For Ethernet?
If you are one of the lucky people who are close enough to your router to hook an ethernet cable then you are in luck.
If you are able to connect an ethernet cable from your computer to your router you do not need a Wifi card.
A Wifi card is meant for people who are not able to connect their ethernet cable to their router. The ethernet cable will give you faster internet speeds than a Wifi card and does not need one to function.
Wifi cards allow access to the wireless internet meaning it connects to your router with a certain frequency, then your router gives you internet access through another frequency.
With an ethernet cable, you skip the first part. By plugging an ethernet cable into your computer, it directly connects to your router instantly giving you access to the internet.
Therefore, you do not need to have a Wifi card if you have an ethernet cable.
Will WiFi Affect FPS?
Having a good or bad Wifi connection will not affect your FPS, but will affect your ping, which is the connection to the server on the game you are playing on.
If you have slow internet you might experience something similar to your FPS dropping, but it’s really just you connecting to the server very slowly making your game stutter.
You can have over 500 FPS in a game, but still, experience lag and poor performance due to your connection to the internet. The effects might sometimes be similar to playing games with low FPS, but it is not.
This is why it is very important to have good Wifi because you can have the best computer in the world, but if you can’t connect to the game fast enough you won’t be able to experience the full potential of your computer.
If you are experiencing a really bad connection when you are playing video games consider buying a Wifi card or dongle.
I have actually written an article about Wifi Cards and Wifi Dongles.
This article will give you an idea about what Wifi card or dongle to buy depending on your situation.
Is Ethernet Better Than WiFi For Gaming?
Having an Ethernet connection is way better than Wifi, especially for gaming. You will get much faster speeds with an ethernet connection than using a Wifi connection.
The reason for this is because the ethernet cable connects directly to the router, then your router connects to the internet, which connects to the game server you are on.
If you have a Wifi card or dongle, they will first have to connect to the router the same way the router connects to the internet which is much slower than connecting directly with a wired connection which is what the ethernet cable does.
If you are playing competitive games you should really try to have an ethernet connection because that will give you an advantage over anyone using a Wifi card to connect to the internet.
When competitive gamers play they almost always have an ethernet cable connected from their computer to their router because they know it will give them a good connection and if they use a Wifi card they know they will be putting their self at a disadvantage because they will have a higher ping which means everything they will do will take longer to register to the games server.