The Complete Guide to a USB Ethernet Adapter

Are you getting maximum speed and stability out of your internet connection? Most modern laptops and tablets offer a WiFi connection as a standard feature, but did you know that most wireless connections only deliver limited download speeds based on your router?

Getting a USB Ethernet adapter not only could increase your internet speed but it could also make your connection more stable. Read on to discover why.

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What Is a USB Ethernet Adapter?

Once you know about Ethernet connections, you may be wondering why we ever moved away from them. Connecting to the internet over Ethernet can give you the best stability, and the fastest download speeds your internet provider offers.

But most devices these days lack an Ethernet port, such as Apple M1 MacBook, Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360, etc. So how do you fix this issue without opening up your computer and installing expensive hardware?l

A USB Ethernet Adapter (also known as an Ethernet network adapter) is a small dongle that connects to a USB port on your device, allowing you to plug in an ethernet cable. The Ethernet cable is then plugged into your router or modem, forming a solid, hard-wired connection between your computer and your internet service.

Why Use an Ethernet Adapter in the First Place?

There’s plenty of reasons to hard-wire your computer to the internet: gaming, streaming, video chat, and even old computer hardware will see benefits when switching to a USB Ethernet adapter from WiFi.

Stability Is King

Today’s wireless networks have one secret drawback that no one ever tells you about: it’s not very stable in busy locations! You can see how congested your area is by opening up your WiFi and looking at the list of available networks.

For every WiFi network on the list, the stability of all WiFi goes down, making everyone miserable. Neighboring networks are one of the leading causes of issues with wireless connections. 

In contrast, using a USB Ethernet adapter means you will only be competing with other people on your personal network. Greg’s internet surfing next door will no longer interfere with your late-night gaming sessions!

Online video games also benefit from reducing latency and removing interruptions that happen with wireless connections. Game streaming services like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce will look better when hard-wired to your router or modem.

Related article: 10 Gadgets You Should Invest In For Enhanced Mobile Gaming Experience


Boost Your Transfer Speeds

Having a direct connection from your device to the computer means less time spent downloading and uploading files. Also, you don’t have to worry about packet loss from WiFi slowing down your internet speeds. 

Video streaming will also benefit. Services like Netflix, Hulu, or Twitch will give higher resolutions and bufferless when you have a faster, more stable internet connection.

Even video-chat services will see benefits from Ethernet network adapters. A wired connection means your Zoom and Slack calls will be less blurry, and your co-workers will never have to watch your freeze-frame dance again!

Your Local Area Network (LAN) gaming also gets a boost by being directly connected to the router, which is great for hardcore gamers. Wireless users will have a marginally higher ping that puts them at a disadvantage when playing against you.

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An Alternative

Finally, if your computer doesn’t already have an ethernet port or your laptop WiFi is broken, a USB ethernet adapter is a cheap and effective alternative to taking your device in for repairs.

Laptops and desktops with broken WiFi adapters may require replacing the entire motherboard of the device. This method is time-consuming and costly compared to getting a USB ethernet adapter.

Mobile phones, tablets, and other hand-held devices with broken WiFi may require you to wipe the device’s memory and send it in, only to get a different replacement device.

Getting a USB ethernet adapter will let you keep your device and any important information that you may have stored on it.

UGREEN USB ethernet adapter on MacBook

4 Things to Know Before Buying a USB Network Adapter

Modern Ethernet network adapters come in different shapes, sizes, and speeds these days.  You’ll want to consider all the available options, including compatibility, extra ports, size, and speed.

Compatibility: The Right Adapter for the Right Port

One of the first things you need to consider when buying a network adapter is what you’ll be plugging it into. Newer Apple laptops only come with USB-C ports, and USB TV sticks tend only to have Micro USB connections. 

Here’s a list of the most common ports used by your devices:

  • USB-A (2.0, 3.0): Large rectangular shape that is the most used port for desktops and laptops
  • USB-C: Rectangular-oval shape used by newer computers, laptops, Chromebooks, and iPads
  • USB-Micro: Shaped like a “D”, this port is seen on phones and TV sticks like the Amazon Firestick 2 & 3, TiVo, Android TV Mi, Chromecast 1 & 2, Chromecast Ultra, and more.

Related article: USB C vs A vs B: Which One Do You Need for Your Product?

Extra Ports for All Your Gear

If you have external hardware like a mouse, keyboard, or web camera, you may want to add a few extra USB ports to your computer.  Most ethernet adapters are straightforward and don’t have additional connections.

Some adapters like a USB-C Hub come with additional USB-A ports, TF & SD Cards that let you plug extra devices into your computer, laptop, or Nintendo Switch.

Related Article: Nintendo Switch Not Charging? 9 Easy Tips to Fix It

USB-C Hub for Macbook-2

Smaller Sizes for Portability

If you’re always on the go, an ethernet adapter may be the better choice. Why deal with spotty hotel WiFi when you can plug your laptop into ethernet ports still found at most hotels?

Modern USB Ethernet Adapters are about the same size as a memory stick, allowing you to store them in just about any travel bag or suitcase.

A Need for Speed

Most ethernet adapters have different speeds based on the type of port they plug into, and choosing the right adapter for you depends on what you plan to do with your connection.

Micro USB ethernet adapters offer 10/100Mb/s and up to 480Mb/s when plugged into a Micro USB 2.0 port. These speeds are perfect for streaming in 1080p and 4k video on your TV sticks and tablets.

USB 3.0 ethernet adapters offer 10/100/1000Mb/s transfer speeds when plugged into a USB-A 3.0 port, perfect for 8K streaming, sharing large files, and downloading those 50-gigabyte Call of Duty patches.

Related article: USB 3.1 vs 3.0 vs USB-C: What’s the Difference

1000Mbps Ethernet Adapter

USB-C Ethernet adapters can provide up to 1000Mb/s transfer speed and deliver the same benefits as their older USB 3.0 brethren, but for your newer devices, including the iPad Pro, Chromebooks, and the Microsoft Surface.

Related article: How To Choose The Best USB-C Hub For Your New iPad 2021

It’s important to note that while ethernet adapters can provide you with transfer speeds up to a gigabit, your ethernet speed can also be limited by your connector cable, router, or service provider.

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The Best Types of Ethernet Adapters

Are you ready to purchase a new USB ethernet adapter but don’t know which one to get? Take a look at the list below to help you decide which one is right for your devices.

The Best USB-C Ethernet Adapter for Modern Devices:

The newest desktops and laptops with USB-C ports will enjoy the best connection through a USB-C to Gigabit RJ45 Ethernet Adapter, providing the fastest transfer rates by USB at a price that won’t break the bank.


The Best USB 3.0 Ethernet Adapter for Everyday Use:

Most laptops and computers that still have older USB-A connections will want the USB 3.0 to Gigabit RJ45 Ethernet Adapter, which provides speeds of up to 1000Mb/s in a tiny form factor.

Compatibility is also excellent: this ethernet adapter works right out of the box on Windows 10, 8, and Chrome OS platforms. Mac OS and Linux systems only need to install a driver to be compatible.

The Best Micro USB Ethernet Adapter for Phones and TV Sticks:

Compatibility is a huge challenge for Micro USB adapters; the Micro USB to RJ45 LAN Ethernet Adapter connects to various devices, including Chromecast Ultra 3/2/1 Audio, Amazon Firesticks & Fire TV, Google Home Mini, Raspberry Pi Zero, and most other Micro USB TV sticks. 

You’ll also enjoy available top speeds of up to 480Mb/s, which is perfect for streaming to your TV devices. 

Are You Ready For Stable Internet?

Broken WiFi, unstable Internet, whatever your reason for getting a USB Ethernet adapter, it is important to remember to get the right connection for your devices so you can enjoy a solid internet connection.

Stop being at the mercy of Greg and busy WiFi connections: game, stream, and connect with others using a USB Ethernet Adapter to get stable internet.   Looking to upgrade the rest of your gear? Visit our website and get the best USB ethernet adapters on the market today!

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