How to Connect your Desktop Computer to Wi-Fi?
Need to connect your desktop personal computer (PC) to a WiFi network? In most cases, connecting your PC to the internet is simple, but without the proper hardware, establishing Wi-Fi connectivity can be challenging. Most modern computers come with adequate hardware to connect to Wi-Fi, but if your PC doesn’t have the appropriate hardware installed, you’ll need to add the capability for Wi-Fi connections.
Below, we provide several ways to connect a desktop computer to Wi-Fi and look at ways WiFi connections can be established by installing different hardware to make your PC wireless.
Connecting your Desktop PC to Wi-Fi
Can you connect a desktop PC to WiFi? Yes – provided your PC has the right hardware components. Although slower than a wired connection (Ethernet), WiFi is a viable alternative if you cannot connect your PC to the internet via an ethernet connection.
If your desktop PC doesn’t have a WiFi card installed, you’ll need to add WiFi support to the computer.
Before we explain how to do this, here are some steps to determine if your PC has a WiFi card and, if so, how to establish a wireless connection.
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Steps to Connect your Computer to Wi-Fi (Windows)
To connect your Windows computer to WiFi, follow these steps:
Step 1: Set Up Your Wireless Router
You need to get a wireless router to create your own wireless connection and link to it. Based on the router type you select, the setup procedure differs. However, you must always consult the handbook for your router for information on how to set up and configure it.
Step 2: Check If Your Computer Has Wireless Adapter
If you want to access a WiFi network, check sure that your computer has a wireless connection adapter. A wireless adaptor is usually found on a laptop or tablet but not a desktop PC. To be certain, consider the following:
- Open the Run box by pressing Win+R. Then, to launch Device Manager, type “devmgmt.msc” and press Enter
- To extend this section, double-click Network adapters
- Look for any network adapter with the words “Wi-Fi,” “wireless,” “WLAN,” or “802.11” in its description in the list of network interfaces. If you see one, it signifies your computer has a wireless internet adapter
- If your computer does not have a wireless network adapter, you may have to purchase a USB WiFi adaptor
Step 3: Connect Your Computer to Your Wireless Network
The procedure for joining is straightforward:
- Press WINDOWS + A or click the Notification box
- Select Network
- Turn on Wi-Fi
- Wait for the polling and listing of neighboring networks to complete
- When prompted, provide the password for the network you want to connect to
Your link should be ready at this point. Make sure you’re only connecting to secure networks. If this isn’t possible or you are unsure about the network’s security, you should use a VPN.
Still unable to connect to WiFi?
If you’re still unable to connect to Wi-Fi, double-check that your desktop computer has the latest device drivers.
This can be accomplished by executing a routine system update and viewing the results. Any hardware component that needs its drivers updating will be shown.
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How to Install a Wireless Adapter in your Computer
If your desktop PC lacks the necessary components and a wired (Ethernet) connection isn’t viable, your alternative is to use a wireless adapter for your desktop computer to connect to the internet. Here, you have three choices:
- Replace your motherboard with one with onboard Wi-Fi
- Fit a Wi-Fi card
- Connect a USB Wi-Fi Card
Let’s take a look at each of these three options in detail:
1. Use a Motherboard with Onboard Wi-Fi
Replacing your motherboard with one with onboard wireless connectivity isn’t the easiest option for connecting your desktop to WiFi.
This approach requires you to disassemble your PC, carefully remove any components, and remove and install a suitable motherboard.
Additional hardware, such as the CPU, RAM, and potentially the GPU, will almost always need to be updated, and the entire system must be reconfigured to recognize the new components.
Replacing a motherboard is not a simple option. It is costly, requires a degree of technical dexterity, and is ideally conducted by a Certified PC Technician.
A USB, PCI, or M.2 Wi-Fi card is significantly easier to set up. We’ll look at these options next.
2. Installing a Wi-Fi Card in your PC
Installing a wireless network card is an alternative solution for connecting your PC to WiFi. While this still requires some technical know-how, beginners can do it, provided the instructions are followed carefully.
Installing a WiFi card involves turning off your computer, opening the casing, locating the relevant expansion slot, and installing a compatible Wi-Fi card.
PCI and m.2 are the two types of internal Wi-Fi cards available:
Installing a PCI-e Wi-Fi Card
A PCI-e (short for PCI Express) card is the most popular means to add Wi-Fi technology to a desktop PC, apart from USB.
PCI-e cards are printed circuit boards (PCB) with removable antennae. PCI-e has several variants, the most prevalent is PCI-e x1. This is the tiniest PCI-e port available.
You will need to open your PC’s casing to find the PCI-e slot for adding Wi-Fi capability to your computer.
To insert an appropriate card, follow these steps:
- Detach the expansion port cover plate on the back of your computer case
- Carefully lining up the notch with the PCI-e slot on the motherboard, insert the card
- Once firmly inserted, screw the PCI-e Wi-Fi card into the case to secure it
- Connect the antenna and replace the cover on the PC case
- Start your PC and install the device drivers
Do you require a PCI-e Wi-Fi card? The TP-Link AC1200 PCIe WiFi Card is an excellent choice.
How To Install an M.2 Wi-Fi Card?
Newer motherboards have a Wi-Fi M.2 slot (plus one for additional storage). If your desktop motherboard includes an M.2 slot, it’s likely that a Wi-Fi card is already installed, which, if you’re struggling to connect your PC to WiFi, could be faulty.
An M.2 slot is the current standard and should not be confused with previous generation WiFi card ports (MiniPCI, MiniPCI Express, or mSATA).
M.2 cards are easy to set up. The slot has a spring-loaded system, and you may fasten the card using a bolt-hole in the motherboard. Merely:
- Firmly insert the card at a 45-degree angle
- Gently press downward toward the motherboard
- Use the screw to secure the card
- Connect the antenna (if included)
- Replace your computer’s cover
- Turn on your computer and install the necessary drivers
3. Connect a USB Wi-Fi Dongle
The final option is the easiest and the least costly for connecting your desktop computer to WiFi. If your computer has a USB port, a USB Wi-Fi adapter will enable your desktop to connect to a wireless network.
USB Wi-Fi adapters are inexpensive, compact, and easy to install. Simply insert the USB Wi-Fi adapter into any available USB port on your computer. Most are automatically recognized by the operating system. However, drivers can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website. Once set up, all that is required is to restart the desktop PC.
Once your PC is rebooted, the USB Wi-Fi adapter should discover local wi-fi networks. To access your chosen network, enter your credentials.
There are several USB Wi-Fi dongles on the market. A decent place to start is with the TP-Link USB WiFi Adapter.
The easiest way to Connect your PC to Wi-Fi
The three options outlined above will provide the information you need to connect your PC to a wireless network.
A USB adaptor is the quickest and easiest way to connect your desktop computer to WiFi.
You can opt for an internal PCI-e or M.2 card for a more permanent solution.
Once you’ve selected one of the solutions, you’ll easily connect to any local wireless network. If you’re still experiencing issues, you may want to reposition your Wi-Fi router.