Are USB network adapters generally poor performing?

Hey all,

My work laptop which has an Intel WiFi Link 5300 AGN connects to my wireless router usually around 100% but varies at times between 80-100%. On this connection my speed tests come in at around 3mbs; and wired at 15mbs (is that normal?).

Anyways, I just picked up a WUSB600N (Cisco-Linksys Dual-Band Wireless-N USB Network Adapter) for my desktop. While I still download at or around 3mbs, I'm only getting a connection at 30% and occasionally around 10%. I then put the adapter on my laptop and disabled the internal NIC. In the same spot as my desktop, same signal, 30%. When I started walking around my house, it went up quite a bit. I even went right next to my router and the highest it got up to was 90%.

I guess I'm just debating whether or not I should return this? Is this expected/normal for USB adapters? I have to assume these USB adapters don't provide nearly as good of a range as say an internal NIC with antennas? I went the USB route for convenience and portability ... but I'm not sure if it's worth the price of admission ($65) if this is the best it's gonna get. I'm just trying to better understand if this is perhaps an issue with this particular device (all drivers are updated), or if this is the general output of these USB adapters. If the latter, would highly appreciate some recommendations on good internal NIC's to put in my desktop.

Thank you
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More about network adapters generally poor performing
  1. I prefer to use PCMCIA in laptops and PCI in desktops because the reception seems more consistent. USB wireless adapters have a reputation for overheating and failing.
  2. Good to know; however, I found that the NETGEAR N600 is actually quite good. I was able to get a solid 85% connection in the same spot where the linksys was 30%. Let's hope it holds out though as it wasn't cheap ...

  3. Some of the Netgear wireless g USBs were apparently real room heaters, though I've had no problems with the two I own.
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