This PCI Express card adds 802.11a/b/g/n wi-fi connectivity to any modern desktop PC running Windows. It’s a dual-band adapter, meaning it supports connections on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies.
Setup is easy, requiring only a spare PCI-E slot. If you’ve ever installed something like a graphics card or network adapter, it’s simple. If you’ve never taken the side off a PC case before it may be a little intimidating, but it’s far from brain surgery. Drivers for XP/Vista/7 are included on a CD in the box, and Windows 8 recognised the adapter without the disc.
The TL-WDN4800 has three adjustable-angle antennas, which will end up poking out the back of your PC. If you can position the adapter in your top PCI-E slot, it helps keep cables from knocking those antennas around. Their orientation does have quite an impact on signal strength, so a bit of fiddling around and testing will net you the best possible speed.
The TL-WDN4800’s theoretical maximum speed is 450Mbit/s. In our lab environment, we were able to get consistent transfer speeds up to 149Mbit/s over 5GHz, and 114Mbit/s over 2.4GHz networks. Your results will vary depending on distance, the router or device you’re connecting to, and the environment your wireless network is set up in.
Connections proved very stable, with no unexpected lag or dropouts.
If you’re living in a rental that you’re not allowed to re-wire for Ethernet, or you simply can’t be bothered laying cable throughout your walls, this little adapter is a must-have addition to your desktop PC.
This review was originally published in the February 2013 issue of PCWorld.