Can you add WiFi to a motherboard that doesn’t have WiFi?

Do you have an older motherboard but want to add WiFi without buying a new one? The sudden and continued shift away from wired internet connectivity has made wireless much more important, even in the world of PCs.

But without onboard WiFi or a WiFI adapter card installed on your machine, adding this function can seem like an expensive and difficult task.

Fortunately, there are methods to overcome this hurdle. Within this article, we will demonstrate how to enhance your motherboard with WiFi connectivity, employing either internal cards or external USB adapters.

We’ll go over what hardware is needed and what type of setup works best for each situation so that you can make an informed decision about how to upgrade your PC’s internet capabilities.

Quick Answer: Yes, you can add WiFi to a motherboard that does not have it built-in. There are multiple options available such as installing an internal WiFi card or using an external USB adapter.

Requirements for Adding WiFi

Before we get into the specifics of adding WiFi to your motherboard, let’s first go over what hardware you will need in order to do so. Depending on your setup and preference, you will need one or more of the following:

PCIe WiFi Cards:

  • PCIe WiFi cards are a popular and effective solution for adding WiFi to a motherboard. These cards fit into an available PCIe slot on your motherboard, providing a direct and reliable connection.
  • When selecting a PCIe WiFi card, consider factors such as WiFi standards (802.11ac or 802.11ax for modern standards), maximum data transfer rates, and whether the card supports dual-band connectivity (2.4GHz and 5GHz).

USB WiFi Adapters:

  • USB WiFi adapters are a more straightforward option that doesn’t require opening your computer case. They are plugged into an available USB port, offering a convenient solution for users who want a quick and easy upgrade.
  • However, USB adapters may have limitations in terms of signal strength and stability compared to PCIe cards, making them more suitable for casual users with basic connectivity needs.

Preparing Your System:

  • Safety First: Before starting the installation process, ensure that you take proper safety precautions. Turn off your computer, disconnect it from the power source, and ground yourself to prevent static electricity damage.
  • Identifying PCIe Slots: If you opt for a PCIe WiFi card, identify an available PCIe slot on your motherboard. Most motherboards have multiple PCIe slots, but it’s crucial to choose one that matches the specifications of your WiFi card (e.g., PCIe x1, PCIe x4, or PCIe x16).

Installation Process:

  • PCIe WiFi Card Installation: Gently insert the PCIe WiFi card into the selected PCIe slot on your motherboard. Ensure that it is securely seated, and secure it in place using the screw provided with your motherboard. Connect any external antennas that came with the WiFi card to ensure optimal signal reception.
  • USB WiFi Adapter Installation: Plug the USB WiFi adapter into an available USB port on your computer. Make sure to choose a port that allows the adapter to sit comfortably without obstructing other USB devices or facing interference.

Driver Installation:

  • CD/DVD Included with WiFi Card: Most WiFi cards come with a driver CD or DVD. Insert the disc into your computer and follow the on-screen instructions to install the necessary drivers. If your system doesn’t have an optical drive, you can download the drivers from the manufacturer’s website.
  • Download Drivers Online: If you don’t have a driver CD or prefer the most up-to-date drivers, visit the manufacturer’s website to download the latest drivers for your WiFi card. Transfer the downloaded files to your computer using a USB drive or other external storage if needed.

Configuration and Testing:

  • Accessing WiFi Settings: Once the drivers are installed, access your computer’s WiFi settings to configure the connection. This typically involves entering your WiFi network’s SSID (name) and password.
  • Testing the Connection: Test your newly added WiFi connection by connecting to your network. Check for a stable connection and ensure that you can browse the internet without any issues.

Troubleshooting Tips:

  • Driver Issues: If you encounter connectivity problems, ensure that you have the latest drivers installed. Check the manufacturer’s website regularly for updates.
  • Signal Strength: If your WiFi signal is weak, consider repositioning the external antennas or using high-gain antennas to improve signal strength.
  • Interference: Identify and eliminate potential sources of interference, such as other electronic devices or physical obstructions between your computer and the WiFi router.


Adding WiFi to a motherboard that does not have it built-in is possible and relatively straightforward.

Whether you opt for an internal PCIe card or external USB adapter, make sure to consider your specific needs and hardware specifications before making a decision.

With the right hardware and proper installation, you can enjoy wireless internet connectivity on your older motherboard without having to invest in a new one.

So go ahead and upgrade your PC’s internet capabilities, and enjoy the convenience of WiFi connectivity.

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