Having Wi-Fi naturally means your PC is more portable which can be a huge benefit depending on your circumstance, for example, you like to move your PC to different rooms in the house. Built in Wi-Fi is just an added benefit as all motherboards come with at least one ethernet cable for wired connectivity, however, Wi-Fi traditionally isn’t as fast as a wired connection.
In this post, we’re going to go over exactly what onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is, what type of motherboards come with it natively installed, and how you can install it onto your motherboard if you don’t have it natively. If you really want a motherboard with built-in W-Fi, then the high-end models and many Mini ITX motherboards come with this feature built-in.
Answer: Unfortunately, not all motherboards come with built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, and you’ll find this is more common with the older generation of motherboards. The reason a lot of motherboards do not have native Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is because Ethernet was the main choice with a lot of PCs due to its speed, and the nature of PCs is more stationary rather than portable.
What Is Onboard WIFI & Bluetooth?
Onboard or built in Wi-Fi & Bluetooth means your motherboard comes with a Wi-Fi adapter installed onto the board, this adapter allows you to connect directly to your home connection without an ethernet cable. Also, built in Wi-Fi means you don’t have to purchase a separate Wi-Fi adapter which serves as a benefit.
Your router sends out radio signals you typically see as a wireless access point when looking for a wireless connection. Usually your router will send out two radio frequencies 2.4GHz, and 5GHz, for your phone, laptop, and your wireless capable PC to connect to. The thing with ethernet connection, they transmit their data through a cable which is far more efficient than transferring via Wi-Fi, they can handle speeds up to 10Gbps.
Onboard Wi-Fi can be a really good investment, especially if the motherboard comes with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. Wi-Fi 6 allows for higher speeds compared to its predecessor, Wi-Fi 5, on paper, Wi-Fi 6 can reach speeds up to 9.6 gbps and Wi-Fi 5 reaches speeds up to 3.5 gbps. Wi-Fi 6 theoretically allows for speeds nearly as fast as ethernet, so this can be a great option for gamers.
What Motherboards Come With WIFI & Bluetooth?
If you’re interested in a motherboard that supports built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, then you’ll be glad to know that a lot of motherboards are now implementing this connectivity natively. However, some cheap and inexpensive motherboards are more likely to not come with this functionality, also we don’t recommend cheap motherboards as they lack safety features such as Dual-BIOS and usually die quicker.
A lot of the high-end gaming motherboards come with built in Wi-Fi, and they usually come at a premium price, but you can still find affordable options which allow for onboard Wi-Fi. If you’re an AMD user, then the MSI MPG B550 GAMING EDGE WIFI is a great option for you. If you happen to favor Intel, then the MSI MPG Z490 GAMING EDGE WIFI could do the job. Just ensure your processor is compatible with these motherboards before purchase.
Built in Wi-Fi is also a great option if you’re not looking to use up PCI-E slots for a dedicated Wi-Fi card. This is important as Mini-ITX motherboards don’t come with a lot of PCI-E slots, and these PCI-E slots are usually allocated to more important components such as the graphics card. Also, onboard Wi-Fi uses PCIE lanes natively, so you’ll find that a motherboard with native Wi-Fi is lacking features compared to its non Wi-Fi counterpart.
Does The Motherboard Form Factor Matter?
Back in the day, if you wanted an ATX motherboard with native Wi-Fi, then you’d have a hard time finding them, but now that has changed with ATX motherboards implementing it more often, usually with the high-end models. You’ll also notice that Mini-ITX motherboards come with native Wi-Fi more often, this is due to the lack of upgradability. Larger motherboards have enough expansion slots to implement Wi-Fi whereas Mini-ITX motherboards don’t.
So if you’re going to build a Mini-ITX PC, then you don’t need to worry as much as someone building a full ATX build. Mini-ITX motherboards with native Wi-Fi are actually fairly affordable too, so that’s a huge benefit. This will almost always come at the cost of upgradability, due to less expansion slots.
PCI-E or Wi-Fi cards can be seen as superior to onboard Wi-Fi due to the upgradability it offers. Onboard Wi-Fi cannot be upgraded, so if it happens to malfunction, then you’re going to be stuck with ethernet. If you have onboard Wi-Fi, and would like to upgrade the Wi-Fi capabilities, then your only option would be to upgrade the entire motherboard which isn’t cost effective. In terms of performance, if they are of the same generation, the performance should be relatively similar.
How Can I Install Wi-Fi Onto My Motherboard?
Even if you don’t have Wi-Fi connection, having it can be a huge benefit as more things are moving towards wireless connectivity. Just having Wi-Fi built in automatically makes your PC capable of moving anywhere in the world without requiring you to connect to ethernet, and portability happens to be extremely important to many people.
So, to install Wi-Fi into your motherboard, you’ll need to purchase a PCI-E wireless networking card which instals directly into the motherboard’s PCIE slots. This is a pretty easy task to complete, just make sure you read the instructions before installing as not all wireless cards are the same.
To install the Wi-Fi card, you’re required to turn off the computer, and find an open PCI-E slot. Your Wi-Fi card will be installed into one of these just like your graphics card, just don’t forget to remove the metal plates. Ensure the Wi-Fi card is properly inserted, you don’t want loose PCI-E equipment as loose connections can cause a lot of problems. Once installed and screwed in, connect the antennas, close the case and your Wi-Fi card should automatically install any drivers it needs.
Wi-Fi Vs Ethernet For Gaming?
If you happen to have both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, you’ll probably wonder which type of connectivity is best for gaming. Internet connection and especially a stable one is extremely important for gaming and can play a critical role in helping you game effectively. In terms of speed and stability, Ethernet will win as it gives you less lag and reliability when gaming, this is why all the pro gamers use ethernet.
If you’re playing a single player or non competitive game, then wondering whether Wi-Fi or Ethernet is better is kind of irrelevant because the effects of latency plays no effect on how good you play the game, However, if you play games such as World Of Warcraft, League Of Legends, and CSGO, then having a stable internet connection is extremely important has it can give you an upper edge in most scenarios.
As Wi-Fi connectivity improves over time, you may see more competitive gamers be indifferent between Wi-Fi and ethernet, but for now, Ethernet will win. This is not to say that playing competitive games on Wi-Fi is impossible, gaming on Wi-Fi is definitely possible. You can be largely successful at it, it’s just that it’s much harder to maintain a good internet connection with Wi-Fi than it is with Ethernet.
In conclusion, not all motherboards come with built in Wi-Fi connectivity, but this is largely changing as components are becoming more advanced. ATX motherboards are now largely implementing Wi-Fi connectivity and you can find that it’s common among the high-end models. But Mini-ITX will almost always come with Wi-Fi connectivity as they lack the PCI-E upgradability an ATX board has.
If your PC does not have built in Wi-Fi, then this isn’t an issue depending on the motherboard you’re using. If you have an ATX motherboard without built in Wi-Fi, then you can install a PCI-E wireless expansion card to give you this capability. And the benefits of PCI-E expansion cards are evident as you’re able to upgrade them unlike built in Wi-Fi connectivity.