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TOPIC: The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+

The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #1

  • WeirdG
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I recently purchased a Raspberry Pi B+, and I'm using the Blackberry Playbook Wall Charger (ACC39343301) with it. My main usage is to run OpenELEC on it so I can stream content from my NAS. I have the RPi connected to a TV in my bedroom, which has no ethernet ports. My only option for streaming video content to the RPi is via my wireless router. The router I use is an Asus RT-N66U, which is hardwired to my NAS and it's located on my main floor. My bedroom is on the second floor, and the RPi will be situated on the opposite side of the house from the router. I'm running OpenELEC v4.2.1 on the RPi.

My requirements for the RPi:
- Stream content wirelessly
- Local content will mostly be 720p/1080p MKVs
- Must run OpenELEC
- Adding a hub isn't an option
- Wireless adapter must be able to work without an additional power source

The USB wireless adapters I tested and how I ranked them.

Edimax EW-7811UTC - Dual Band AC600 (150 Mbps/433 Mbps) (WINNER)
- Uses RTL8821AU.
- RPi detected it out of the box.
- 720p/1080p movies streamed perfectly from my NAS.
- Streaming over the Internet was excellent.
- Connected using the 5Ghz band.
- Signal strength was 80-85%.
- Tested with OpenELEC Beta - Raspberry Pi ARM Version:4.95.1.
- $19.99 on Newegg.ca

D-Link Wireless AC Dual-Band Nano USB Adapter (DWA-171 rev A1) - Dual Band AC600 (150 Mbps/433 Mbps) (2ND PLACE)
- Uses RTL8821AU.
- RPi detected it out of the box.
- 720p/1080p movies streamed perfectly from my NAS.
- Streaming over the Internet was excellent.
- Connected using the 5Ghz band.
- Signal strength was 75-80%.
- Tested with OpenELEC Beta - Raspberry Pi ARM Version:4.95.1.
- $39.99 on BestBuy.ca

Netgear AC600 WiFi USB Mini Adapter (A6100) - Dual Band AC600 (150 Mbps/433 Mbps) (3RD PLACE)
- Uses RTL8821AU.
- RPi detected it out of the box.
- 720p/1080p movies streamed perfectly from my NAS.
- Streaming over the Internet was excellent.
- Connected using the 5Ghz band.
- Signal strength was 70-75%.
- Tested with OpenELEC Beta - Raspberry Pi ARM Version:4.95.1.
- $39.99 on BestBuy.ca

TP-Link TL-WN823N - 300 Mbps (4TH PLACE)
- Uses RTL8192CU.
- RPi detected it out of the box.
- 720p/1080p movies streamed perfectly from my NAS.
- Streaming over the Internet was excellent.
- Signal strength was 100%.
- Tested with OpenELEC Beta - Raspberry Pi ARM Version:4.95.1.
- $19.87 on Amazon.ca

Edimax EW-7722UTn v2 - 300 Mbps (5th PLACE)
- Uses RTL8192CU
- RPi detected it out of the box.
- 720p movies streamed perfectly from my NAS.
- 1080p movies had the odd glitch when streaming from my NAS. Works flawlessy 95% of the time.
- Streaming over the Internet was excellent.
- Signal strength was 100%.
- Tested with OpenELEC Stable - Raspberry Pi ARM Version:4.2.1.
- $16.60 on Amazon.ca

IOGear GWU625 - 300 Mbps (6TH PLACE)
- Uses RTL8191SU
- RPi detected it out of the box.
- 720p movies streamed nearly perfect from my NAS. Just the odd glitch.
- 1080p movies were watchable, but glitches would occur every now and then. More noticeable when you fast forward/rewind or skip chapters.
- Streaming over the Internet was decent. Just took a little longer to load addons and videos.
- Signal strength was 100%.
- Tested with OpenELEC Stable - Raspberry Pi ARM Version:4.2.1.
- $23.08 on Amazon.ca

Edimax EW-7811Un - 150 Mbps (7TH PLACE)
- Uses RTL8188CUS
- RPi detected it out of the box.
- 720p movies streamed nearly perfect from my NAS. Just the odd glitch.
- 1080p movies were not watchable. Too many glitches, especially during action scenes (i.e. when Bane sets off the bombs throughout Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises)
- Streaming over the Internet was slow. Took long to load addons and videos.
- Signal strength was 100%.
- Tested with OpenELEC Stable - Raspberry Pi ARM Version:4.2.1.
- $14.99 on Amazon.ca (I actually got it from Newegg.ca for $10 during a Shell Shocker sale).

Tenda W522U - 300 Mbps (8TH PLACE)
- Uses RT3572
- RPi detected it out of the box.
- Everything I tried to stream was laggy.
- Connection didn't seem stable.
- I suspect additional power was required by the adapter.
- Signal strength was around 50%.
- Tested with OpenELEC Stable - Raspberry Pi ARM Version:4.2.1.
- $28.99 on BestBuy.ca

EDUP EP-MS8512 - 300 Mbps (LAST)
- Uses RT8191SU
- RPi detected it out of the box.
- This thing was brutal
- I couldn't get it to stream anything properly.
- Streaming over the Internet was terrible.
- Connection didn't seem stable.
- I suspect additional power was required by the adapter, since there's an antenna.
- Signal strength was poor.
- Tested with OpenELEC Stable - Raspberry Pi ARM Version:4.2.1.
- $5 on eBay.ca

I also had a Belkin N300 Micro Wireless USB adapter (F7D2102TT), but I didn't bother to test it after I found the TL-WN823N worked better. I don't have a lot of faith in Belkin products. The Edimax EW-7811UTC turned out to be the best $20 range adapter I test. Great performance for the money. If you need range and don't care about 1080p playback, the TP-Link TL-WN823N is another great choice too.
Last Edit: 2 years 2 weeks ago by WeirdG.
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #2

  • klojum
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Quite handy, this listing of yours. :-)

There is only a small problem that USB wifi dongles tend to not work in every OpenELEC build, due to the lack of driver quality in Linux OS'es.
Could you do some testing with the latest OE 5.0 beta 1 as well with the top 3 dongles?

In general, if you can use UTP cabled network, that will have the preference at all times. Wifi and 720p/1080p movies are usually not best friends, especially when the video bitrate goes up and up and up...
Running Kodi Krypton on Intel Ivy Bridge GPUs
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #3

  • psysfaction
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Thank you very much for this handy list.
Do you know if the TP-Link TL-WN823N support the option to create a wifi hotspot when I connect the pi via ethernet?
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #4

  • WeirdG
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klojum wrote:
Quite handy, this listing of yours. :-)

There is only a small problem that USB wifi dongles tend to not work in every OpenELEC build, due to the lack of driver quality in Linux OS'es.
Could you do some testing with the latest OE 5.0 beta 1 as well with the top 3 dongles?

In general, if you can use UTP cabled network, that will have the preference at all times. Wifi and 720p/1080p movies are usually not best friends, especially when the video bitrate goes up and up and up...

I upgraded to the OE 4.95.1 beta. The performance is almost similar to v4.2.1 when I use the TL-WN823N adapter. The first movie I tested with was the 1080p MKV of The Dark Knight Rises.


I think I encountered one glitch throughout the playback of the movie. When I rewinded and went through the same spot in the movie again, everything was fine. Might've been a one off, when the glitch occurred the first time.

The second movie I tested with was the 1080p MKV of The Game (Criterion Edition).


I think I went about 10 minutes glitch free, and then they started to occur more frequently. I'm about halfway through the movie, and I've probably encountered about 20 glitches. They seem to occur randomly.
psysfaction wrote:
Thank you very much for this handy list.
Do you know if the TP-Link TL-WN823N support the option to create a wifi hotspot when I connect the pi via ethernet?
I have no idea, as that's not my intended use.

I just bought several USB adapters off Amazon to find the best USB adapter for my RPi, and now that I think I've found the best one, I plan to return the others.
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #5

  • WeirdG
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Just updated my list. Picked up two dual band adapters which worked perfectly, but at a hefty price. I tested and added the D-Link DWA-171 and Netgear A6100 adapters. Both worked very similarly, with the D-Link edging out the Netgear adapter due to the signal strength being better. Both adapters are based on the Edimax EW-7811UTC adapter and sell for $40 at my local Best Buy. Since the price tag seemed high to me, I opted to buy the Edimax EW-7811UTC from Newegg for $20. I expect similar performance from the EW-7811UTC, but at half the price. I'll add that to my list after I receive and test it.

BTW, the movie I test with is The Game (Criterion Edition) 1080p MKV, from the screenshot in my previous post.
Last Edit: 2 years 3 weeks ago by WeirdG.
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #6

  • chewitt
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I assume you are confusing wireless chipsets with vendor brand names because I can assure you that D-Link and Netgear devices are not manufactured by or based upon anything from Edimax.
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #7

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chewitt wrote:
I assume you are confusing wireless chipsets with vendor brand names because I can assure you that D-Link and Netgear devices are not manufactured by or based upon anything from Edimax.

Sorry, you're right. Netgear is only using the same USB ID as Edimax. D-Link is completely different. They're only using the same chipsets. I misread the wikis earlier. I was going based on these.

wikidevi.com/wiki/D-Link_DWA-171_rev_A1
wikidevi.com/wiki/Netgear_A6100
wikidevi.com/wiki/Edimax_EW-7811UTC
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #8

  • Daller
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@WeirdG

Can you confirm whether the D-Link dual-band connected to a 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz network?

I live in an extremely 2.4GHz congested area and being able to connect to my 5GHz network is high on my wishlist.

Thanks
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #9

  • WeirdG
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Daller wrote:
@WeirdG

Can you confirm whether the D-Link dual-band connected to a 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz network?

I live in an extremely 2.4GHz congested area and being able to connect to my 5GHz network is high on my wishlist.

Thanks

I was able to connect using the 5Ghz band with both the D-Link and Netgear adapters.
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #10

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WeirdG wrote:
Daller wrote:
@WeirdG

Can you confirm whether the D-Link dual-band connected to a 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz network?

I live in an extremely 2.4GHz congested area and being able to connect to my 5GHz network is high on my wishlist.

Thanks

I was able to connect using the 5Ghz band with both the D-Link and Netgear adapters.

Thanks! :D
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 3 weeks ago #11

  • WeirdG
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Daller wrote:
WeirdG wrote:
Daller wrote:
@WeirdG

Can you confirm whether the D-Link dual-band connected to a 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz network?

I live in an extremely 2.4GHz congested area and being able to connect to my 5GHz network is high on my wishlist.

Thanks

I was able to connect using the 5Ghz band with both the D-Link and Netgear adapters.

Thanks! :D

Just an FYI, I found the Netgear and D-Link adapters to both be expensive in Canada. I suggest getting the Edimax adapter instead, since it should be quite a bit less. In my case, it costs half the price of the other two and uses the same chipset. Based on my experiences testing the Edimax adapters, they seem to be the better built ones. TP-Link is a bit better than Edimax, but they don't make an AC600 adapter using the same chipset.
Last Edit: 2 years 3 weeks ago by WeirdG.
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 2 weeks ago #12

  • WeirdG
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Just tested the Edimax EW-7811UTC adapter and as I expected, it was the best one I tested. It gave me the best signal strength and similar performance to the D-Link and Netgear AC600 adapters. The best part is, it's half the price of the other two adapters. Now I need to return the other adapters... haha.
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 2 weeks ago #13

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Thanks for all your testing work.

Would you mind putting the price you paid for the adapters in your list as well?

Cheers
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 2 weeks ago #14

  • WeirdG
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psysfaction wrote:
Thanks for all your testing work.

Would you mind putting the price you paid for the adapters in your list as well?

Cheers

Done. Also included the stores I purchased from.
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The best wireless USB adapter for Raspberry Pi B+ 2 years 2 weeks ago #15

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Here in Denmark the D-Link DWA-171 and Edimax EW-7811UTC are available for practicably the same price.

I light of this would you still recommend the Edimax over the D-Link? e.g. if price isn't the issue.

Thanks
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