Best Wireless Adapters Compatible With Kali Linux (2017 Review)

best wireless adapters compatible with kali linux 2017 review

Last updated: July 25 2017

Today I'll be reviewing the best wireless adapters compatible with Kali Linux, and which one you should buy for effective wifi hacking.

Before I begin, there's something you should know:

Don't buy a usb wifi adapter before reading this review, as not all adapters are compatible with Kali Linux. More specifically, only a select few are capable of packet injection and monitor mode.

Both modes are required if you want to hack wireless networks or engage in wardriving.

Unlike many articles on the web, I won't just be showing you a list of adapters to choose from.

I narrowed down your choices by actually buying and reviewing the top 3, best performing wifi adapters for Kali Linux, and I'll be sharing my experiences with each one here.

So by the end of this post, you should know which adapter you should purchase.

After doing a lot of reading via Kali Linux forums, and according to this poll by wirelesshack (and from various sources and reviews online):

wirelesshack favorite kali linux usb dongles

In 2017, the best performing wireless adapters for Kali Linux are:

Rank

Adapter

Product

Chipset

Injection Score

Buy

#1

TP-LINK TL-WN722N

tplink wn722n wifi adapter

Atheros AR9271

#2

ALFA AWUS036NHA

Alfa AWUS036NHA Network Adapter

Atheros AR9271

#3

ALFA AWUS036NH

Alfa AWUS036NH Network Adapter

Ralink RT3070

Keep on reading to read my reviews about each one.

Chipsets Compatible With Kali Linux

Before you buy, check the chipset!

The chipset is important as it will determine if the adapter supports packet injection or monitor mode.

It needs to use one of the following chipsets listed below. These are the only ones currently known to support both modes required for wireless hacking.

  • Atheros AR9271
  • Ralink RT3070
  • Ralink RT3572

Packet injection vs Monitor Mode

To put simply, monitor mode is used to capture air traffic and packet injection is used to transmit data to a network/devices.

What is Monitor Mode?
For listening/capturing.

Monitor mode allows you to capture data sent and received by wireless devices/networks nearby.

Without it, you can't see who's connected and what's happening in a network.

What is Packet Injection?
For transmitting/attacking.

Packet injection allows you to craft and inject or send data to wireless devices/networks nearby.

Without it, you can't control or manipulate what's happening in a network.

If your adapter supports packet injection, it should also support monitor mode. But some adapters will support monitor mode but not packet injection. All adapters listed in this review support both.

How To Identify WiFi Adapter Chipset

If you have an adapter but you're not sure what chipset it uses, here's how to find out on Linux:

NOTE: You need to have aircrack-ng installed on Kali Linux or Ubuntu.​

  1. Install aircrack-ng suite
  2. Run airmon-ng
sudo apt-get install aircrack-ng​
airmon-ng

The result:

airmon-ng atheros chipset network card

PRO TIP: You can also use the "lsusb" command which shows you information about your USB ports and the devices connect to them, as well as the chipset used by a network adapter.

lsusb linux command check usb

Best Wireless Adapters Compatible With Kali Linux

ALFA AWUS036NHA (Atheros AR9271)

Specifications


Chipset
Atheros AR9271

Wireless Type
IEEE 802.11b/g/n

Frequency
2.4GHz

Data Rate
150Mbps

Interface
Mini-USB 2.0

Antenna
Removable 5dBi antenna (RP-SMA connector)

OS Support
Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Linux

Security
64/128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, TKIP, AES


My Review: ALFA AWUS036NHA

Alfa Awus036nha wireless usb adapter

The AWUS036NHA is the best ALFA network adapter for packet injection. Coupled with its exceptional range, it can successfully de-authenticate clients from afar.

I found that, by using a shorter cable, it's able to reach more access points and increase the success rate of injections.

I found that, by using a shorter cable, it's able to reach more access points and increase the success rate of injections.

On occasion, when left on for long periods (24hrs+), it will randomly stop working.

  • Excellent at packet injection
  • Superior range and AP detection
  • Good signal strength

INJECTION SCORE

SCAN / RANGE SCORE

TP-LINK TL-WN722N V1 (Atheros AR9271)

Specifications


Chipset
Atheros AR9271 (v1)
RealTek 8188 (v2)

Wireless Type
IEEE 802.11b/g/n

Frequency
2.4GHz

Data Rate
150Mbps

Interface
USB 2.0

Antenna
4dBi removable omni directional antenna

OS Support
Windows 2K, XP, Vista, Windows 7, Linux

Security
64/128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, TKIP, AES, WPS


My Review: TP-LINK TL-WN722N

tplink wn722n wifi adapter
tplink wn722n usb raspberry pi

UPDATE (2017): Before buying the TPLINK TL-WN722N, ask the seller for the version and/or chipset of the adapter. The newer WN722N (V2) does NOT support packet injection or monitor mode.

The TP-LINK TL-WN722N is the #1 best adapter for Kali Linux. It outperforms all other adapters in terms of packet injection quality and success rate.

Its range is average; however, I was able to boost it by swapping the antenna with an Alfa antenna.

People report having issues with the WN722N on VirtualBox not being recognized. For me, it worked just fine. Also, this thing has a fat ass. It might not fit if your USB slots are close to each other (see image of it on my raspberry pi).

  • Superior at packet injection
  • Good range and AP detection
  • Good signal strength

INJECTION SCORE

SCAN / RANGE SCORE

ALFA AWUS036NH (Ralink RT3070)

Specifications


Chipset
Ralink RT3070

Wireless Type
IEEE 802.11b/g/n

Frequency
2.4GHz

Data Rate
150Mbps

Interface
Mini-USB 2.0

Antenna
Removable 5dBi antenna (RP-SMA connector)

OS Support
Windows 7, 2K, XP, Vista, Linux 2.6, Mac 10.4/5/6

Security
64/128-bit WEP, WPA, WPA2, TKIP, AES


My Review: ALFA AWUS036NH

Alfa AWUS036NH Wifi Adapter

The AWUS036NH (2000mW) is more powerful compared to the other two adapters. It also has the best range and can detect the most access points, making it my go-to adapter for wardriving.

Despite the power, it performed the worse in terms of packet injection. I tested it side by side with the AWUS036NHA (black one), and its range was the only advantage.

Due to the high power usage, it can generate a lot of heat if left on for hours.

  • Good at packet injection
  • Excellent range and AP detection
  • Excellent signal strength

INJECTION SCORE

SCAN / RANGE SCORE

Final Test

As a final test, I wanted to see which adapter can successfully capture handshakes passively (without forcing a client to reconnect). So, I had all three adapters configured to listen in on the same channel and I left them airodump-ing for 24 hours.

The result?

wn722n vs awus036nha

As seen in the image above, the TL-WN722N was able to capture 6 while the AWUS036NHA captured 3.

If you're wondering why the AWUS036NH is not up there, it's because it wasn't able to capture any handshakes.

I'm currently running more tests, I'll keep you guys posted.

Verdict

Overall. The TP-LINK TL-WN722N is my preferred wifi adapter for hacking in Kali Linux.

My second best goes to the ALFA AWUS036NHA (the black one). After having tested both ALFA adapters side by side, it showed me the most results. Today, I only use the AWUS036NH for wardriving sessions.

Did you find this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments below!

What I learned from this test:

1. For effective wifi hacking, use multiple adapters, one specifically for listening and another for attacking.

2. When listening for handshakes, always specify the channel the target is on. If you're using airodump-ng, you can do this by adding "-c" then channel number (eg. airodump-ng wlan0 -c #).

3. Using an ALFA long-range antenna on the TL-WN722N will significantly improve its range and performance.

If you want to see how I'm using these adapters, check out my Instagram where I share quick video tips and tricks for Kali Linux users.

usb wifi adapters hacking weapons
Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 10 comments
james adomian - June 14, 2017

Multiple recent amazon reviews claim TP LINK 22N changed chipset to RealTek

Reply
Totems - June 15, 2017

Indeed the TP link WN722N is version 2. This uses the chipset RealTek8188. I bought 2 of them 4 days ago as on the site it didn’t mention it that is were V2.

Seller now claims that is my fault and refusses to pay me back.
Glad they are cheap wifi sticks

Reply
Ramesh - June 18, 2017

I just got mines today. I bought the tplink from amazon. It has ar9271 chipset and its working awesome. my friend bought his from another site and it turned out to be fake. Careful where u buy it from.

Reply
    Kenneth - June 18, 2017

    Thanks for mentioning this, Ramesh.

    And yes, you’re absolutely right. There has been cases where fake adapters are being sold.

    I would avoid buying your adapters from random websites. Stick to Amazon or Newegg, if you’re in the US.

    I purchased mine from Amazon and I can assure you they’re 100% genuine.

    Reply
Viktor - July 3, 2017

How do I hack wifi and what adapter is best for hacking? Can you help?

Reply
William - July 22, 2017

Excellent info, thankful for this. I use the tp-link myself. I also use the Alfa awus051nh, and a Hawking stick (ralink RT3070)
After reading this, I think I’ll pick up your recommended Alfa for a good range radio, and I have the Alfa 7dbi panel antenna arriving tomorrow. I’m also really eying the AWUS036ACH

Here’s one for you. When using my Alfa awus051nh on a Kali VM, it’s just fine. When using it plugged into a Raspberry Pi 3, it takes a total poop when testing injection. Finding one AP, and failing.

Reply
kunal - July 28, 2017

why tplink wifi adapter is cheaper than alpha awus036nha ? both have same configuration..

Reply
Adrian - November 18, 2017

Hi guys!
I want to buy TPLINK wn722n “VERSION 1” but i can’t find it!
So i have to buy an Alfa, is there an official store?
Thank you !

Reply
Pride Grimm - November 28, 2017

Is it possible for the TP-LINK TL-WN722N to go to monitor mode?

Reply
    Kenneth - November 29, 2017

    Yes, all three adapters reviewed above are capable of monitor mode, including the TL-WN22N.

    Reply

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