If you’re going to need to send emails, download items and just chat with someone using your computer, network access is a must. If you are buying a new computer then you must be wondering do motherboards come with WiFi or not.
Simply put, desktop computer motherboards do not with with built-in WiFi. However, there most certainly are desktop PC motherboards out there that you can buy with onboard WiFi. Laptop motherboards, on the other hand, almost always have WiFi and Bluetooth installed.
Desktop motherboards will almost always come with at least one built-in Ethernet port for connecting to network devices.
Manufacturers do this because desktops are not meant to be mobile and so it is assumed that wherever you’ll place it you may want to plug it into a cabled network.
While cable networks are important, wireless networks are becoming the norm. But for those who particularly need a WiFi on their motherboard, then fortunately almost all brands and series of motherboards have certain models that come with built-in WiFi.
Also Read: Best Motherboards with WiFi
What is Wi-Fi?
Just like physical connections between computers can make a network, wireless connections can also participate.
Wi-Fi is a technology that makes use of radio waves to provide wireless access to networks and their accompanying resources as well as the internet.
WiFi is generally seen as a critical component in mobile devices like tablets, phones or on laptops. On desktop, they are generally seen as a secondary component.
This is is because desktops are generally meant to stay in one place and hence most prefer Ethernet which provides a much faster and stable connection as compared to WiFi.
However, for those at a distance from their modem, or for those who generally prefer less wire clutter can still opt to go for motherboard with WiFi.
The term Wi-Fi itself is a trademarked phrase that falls under the IEEE 802.11 standard for wireless networking. Many people have the misconception that it stands for Wireless Fidelity, but in actual sense, it’s just a catchy name.
So Do Motherboards Come with WiFi?
Yes and No. An average desktop motherboard, particularly a budget one, does not come with built in WiFi. However, there are myriad of models out there that you can specifically choose that have built in WiFi.
A motherboard with onboard WiFi is one that comes ready to connect to a wireless network without having to install any additional components.
These have the WiFi modem hardwired into the motherboard instead of having it as an expansion slot on the PCIe slot.
The WiFi on these motherboard is located close to the back I/O panel with antennas sticking out from the case.
Form Factor Matters
Certain motherboard form factors are more likely to feature on-board WiFi.
You’re more likely to find this in small form-factor motherboards like the Mini ITX. Mini ITX, for instance, only has a single PCIe X16 slot which is generally occupied by a graphics card.
Hence, since you have very limited expansion capability here, a WiFi Modem is generally a built on board.
On top of that Mini ITX motherboards are also very small and they are generally used in portable compact desktops. Hence the need for WiFi built in.
In short, since certain form factors have fewer expansion slots, it is ideal to have built-in Wi-Fi in a small form-factor board so that the limited expansion slots can be utilized by more demanding expansion cards like for graphics. Otherwise, users who need WIFI would have to choose between one card they need and the wireless adapter.
Larger form factor motherboards do not make use of built-in Wi-Fi because they usually have enough expansion slots for extra peripherals. Instead, the option to get a Wi-Fi card is placed on the table for users who prefer to use Wi-Fi over regular Ethernet.
Ethernet is usually preferred in desktops because it is usually more stable, faster and secure than WIFI when done correctly.
On board WiFi is also generally found on mid-premium motherboards. These motherboards generally offer high quality on board WiFi that promote lag-free experience, faster speeds, and better connectivity at a distance.
Hardcore gamers are generally seen boasting such motherboards.
Advantages of Motherboards with Built-in Wi-Fi
Not all motherboards have an onboard Wi-Fi NIC (Network Interface Card). But, for those that do, users usually get some advantages to make them worthwhile.
WIFI is fast. This may seem contradictory, especially when considering that Ethernet was seen to be the better candidate.
However, with speed in question, for the normal day to day tasks like internet browsing and streaming, it would be difficult to notice the difference between WIFI and Ethernet.
Stark differences usually come to light with more demanding tasks like intensive online gaming.
With built-in Wi-Fi, you can directly access wireless networks. In cases where users don’t have Ethernet wiring in their places, a wireless network can be easier and more beneficial to use as you wouldn’t need to buy any extra components. This also saves you money.
Built-in Wi-Fi can be beneficial in situations where many computers need to communicate over a single LAN (Local Area Network).
Instead of having Ethernet cables cluttering the place or investing in multiple dongles, built-in Wi-Fi desktops can connect without much hassle.
And finally, Onboard WiFi does give you the edge in terms of portability. You can take your portable or tower desktop anywhere you like and not have to worry about finding an Ethernet slot.
Disadvantages of Motherboards with Wi-Fi
If the Wi-Fi adapter is built into the device, you won’t be able to change or upgrade it.
The other disadvantage is, of course, the higher cost. Motherboards with onboard WiFi cost more. If you will end up only using the Ethernet, then you will have wasted your money procuring a motherboard with WiFi.
Plus, a typical PCIe WiFi Expansion card would cost you much cheaper, then getting a motherboard with onboard WiFi.
Options for Users without Onboard Wi-Fi
If your motherboard doesn’t come with integrated Wi-Fi and you want to get in on the wireless internet bandwagon, do not despair. There’s a couple of ways to get Wi-Fi access on a motherboard.
Using a USB Wi-Fi adapter is the easiest because all you’ll need is the adapter and access to a free and hopefully fast USB port.
A good one should have drivers that support most Operating Systems and have no issues during operation. It should also support fast internet speeds whenever available.
The best option, however, is a PCIe Wi-Fi adapter. These devices plug into one of the high-speed PCIe ports on your motherboard and can provide high-speed Wi-Fi access depending on their quality and specifications.
Some have antennas that stick out and provide better and more stable connectivity than the USB Wi-Fi adapters do.
The only issues with PCIe Wi-Fi adapters are their cost, the fact that you’ll have to open up our computer to install them and also, you may just lack the extra slot for this expansion card.
Here we talked comprehensibly about do motherboards come with WiFi. Basically, small form factor motherboards, mid-premium range mobos, as well as those meant for portable computers like laptops, usually include integrated Wi-Fi.
For larger and, particularly budget, motherboards, however, the choice of whether or not you’ll need Wi-Fi comes down to your preference, however, they mostly do not come with Wi-Fi.
You can add WiFi on your board with some minor tweaks and access it. WiFi on a motherboard can be great for connecting to the internet or other devices.
However, generally on stationary desktops, WiFi is generally not seen as a primary component.