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Although some people may still see gaming as a relatively niche hobby, it is one that is increasingly popular with computer users of all demographics. With so many different genres, gameplay options, interactive stories, or relatable characters, games appeal to a broad audience today in ways that they never have before.

Additionally, graphics and other specs for various games are things that developers are improving upon all the time. One reason for gaming’s popularity is in how well it works for both competitive and cooperative play. Thanks to the internet, people can play matches with each other from different points across the whole globe.

To do this, however, each individual needs a good internet connection with relatively fast, stable speeds. One of the ways that gamers can get this kind of connection is through the use of a Wi-Fi adapter. These adapters come in many forms, and they allow computer game enthusiasts to have decent online connection stats without the need for cables that would go directly into the router or modem of your home Wi-Fi network.

We will discuss whether Wi-Fi adapters are good for gaming specifically, how an adapter might affect the ping you get, and what you might be able to do to fix issues related to high ping counts. Furthermore, we will talk about the possibility of a Wi-Fi adapter overheating, and what you might be able to do in order to mitigate this risk.

Depositphotos_189723426_S Silver laptop with USB modem plugged in with an antenna, on a white board table

Are Wi-Fi Adapters Reliable for Gaming?

Some Wi-Fi adapters can be reliable for gaming purposes. However, whether this is true of the Wi-Fi adapter you use can depend on several factors. The make and model that you have can help you determine its quality.

Even so, it is also true that there may be some factors that impact the performance of your Wi-Fi adapter that are out of your control entirely, and we will go over some of these.

Before we get into different Wi-Fi adapters, we should discuss one other aspect of gaming from the point of view of the community. Many serious gamers prefer a wired connection for things like gaming.

Part of this is because a wired connection tends to give users the best, most consistent speeds for their games. When you’re playing online games that rely on the internet for enjoyment, this is an important part of the equation.

Indeed, even some games that do not always use the internet for every aspect of their story or gameplay may still require players to stay connected to the developer’s servers in order to access any content. Therefore, any interruptions to the connection could stop whole gaming sessions.

Having said that, many gamers simply do not have the option to use a wired connection. Their internet setup may exist in such a way that they cannot run an ethernet wire from their computers to their other devices.

Similarly, they may wish to game in a part of the house or other area that would make it difficult to use a cable connection. Whatever the case, this demographic needs a reliable way to keep gaming, but that means understanding the different types of Wi-Fi adapters out there.

In general, there are three main types of adapters from which you can choose:

1. You can get a wireless ethernet adapter for gaming. This type of adapter will plug right into an ethernet port, as the name suggests, and it will offer wireless internet connectivity for gaming devices.

Although this is an option for computer game enthusiasts, this form factor is one that might better suit console gamers.

2. If you don’t have a computer with its own adapter, you can try a USB Wi-Fi one. These plug into the appropriate ports on your computer, and they can give you a wireless connection where you otherwise had none.

3. Cards that go right into your computer’s PCIe slot give it an internal adapter that it can use to interface with your home network equipment and get online.

Typically, these cards offer a broader range for capturing the Wi-Fi signal and more powerful throughput than their counterparts. However, if your computer does not have one already, you may need some technical knowledge in order to put one inside it properly.

Does a Wi-Fi Adapter Affect Ping?

Yes and no. Before we get into how an adapter affects ping, we should talk for a moment about what we mean when we refer to something like this. Generally, ping is a measurement of latency. We use the term to talk about the total trip of an internet signal.

The total trip for a signal goes from the server to your computer or other connected devices. In between these two points, that signal goes through various other checkpoints. At any of these stops, there can be signal interference that causes latency, or some kind of lag between the data process going to your device and back out again.

As you might imagine, a high ping can be a real problem in serious gaming sessions. If your ping is too high, you might have a lot of latency. When this happens, there will be problems with online games that you play. Typically, you will see this in a serious delay between the actions you want to take on your end, and finally seeing the character or other game component completing those actions in the game.

Additionally, your game may freeze for several seconds before you find that several actions between other characters took place while your connection and hardware could not process them. The scenes could change abruptly, and you could find yourself stuck in unfamiliar situations. For all of these reasons and more, it is important to reduce the ping in online gaming as much as you can.

That said, whether a Wi-Fi adapter will have any impact on your ping rate depends on where the bottleneck in the connection occurs. You have some control over the switches through which your connection runs, and this control mainly extends to your computer and Wi-Fi equipment.

However, you don’t have control over every point through which your connection goes. If there is a problem between your computer and its connection to your router, you may be able to do something about this issue yourself. If there is a problem somewhere else down the line, though, a different kind of adapter is not likely to be much help to you.

How Do I Fix High Ping With a Wireless Adapter?

There might be a few ways that you can lower the ping you are getting, but it is important to remember that your internet connection, your home Wi-Fi setup, and similar factors can influence the ping rate.

It may not be possible to get an extremely low rate that is close to zero, but there are a few things we can try:

1. If you find that the problem is between your computer and the router, try a better card with a better antenna. If you are using a USB adapter, perhaps try switching to a card, if that is possible.

2. Try to reset the router itself before you do anything else. It could be that there is some setting that is interfering with the connection. You can also reset the network adapter while you’re doing this step.

3. Hardware placement is one of the keys to a good signal. Your router should be in the same room in which you game. If it isn’t, and you can’t move it, you may need to get a stronger one. This is because doors or walls can block the signals that your computer needs. If nothing else, you can try keeping the door open to see if ping levels improve.

4. You can also experiment by trying different channels across both 2.4 and 5 GHz channels to see if you can improve the signals you are getting.

Depositphotos_119140748_S Usb wireless network adapter

Can a Wi-Fi Adapter Overheat?

Yes, it is possible for adapters of this type to overheat. This is the case with almost all electronics with which you might be familiar, and the reasoning is similar for each one.

Electronics require electricity, and these devices produce energy when they power up and see some use. This energy needs to dissipate somewhere, and it does so by converting to light, sound, or heat. With most electronics, this conversion and dissipation happens as heat.

If the properties of the dissipation are poor for a particular device or accessory, the item can overheat. Many electronics have safeguards that developers put in them in order to help the items release their heat safely.

What Can I Do About an Overheating Wi-Fi Adapter?

If you are dealing with an internal card that is an adapter, you can check to see if it has a cooling unit.

Many manufacturers know that some types of cards get hot, and they might add a sink or other heat dissipation options to them as a way to keep things cool.

As with central processors or graphics processors, a heatsink is supposed to draw excess warmth away from the accessory itself.

Alternatively, just having a Wi-Fi adapter that is external could provide it with enough cooler air in the surrounding area to keep it from overheating too much.


Wi-Fi adapters can be good enough to allow you to game online without issues, but you need to invest in a good brand at a decent price. You may wish to look for ones that developers design specifically for gaming.

Some form factors also tend to work better than others, but your system, hardware, and home Wi-Fi setup may limit your options as to which ones you can use.

If you have problems with high ping rates, you may be able to solve them if you identify the source. Finally, there are a few things you can do to keep your adapter from getting too hot, as well.