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Best Wireless Adapters For Kali Linux in 2020 (Supports Packet Injection) 

Today you will learn which wireless adapters work with Kali Linux and which to use when penetrating wireless networks.

When it comes to wifi hacking, you can't just use any wireless USB adapter. You need a special type of USB network adapter that supports packet injection and monitor mode. 

I will explain more in detail what both terms mean and why they are important down below.

The adapters you see me review here are the most commonly used and recommended by folks on various online hacking communities and via the Kali Linux forums

Throughout this review, you may see me use these terms which all mean the same thing: wireless adapter, network adapter, wifi adapter, wifi dongles. I am referring to the small device you plug in via USB to give your computer wireless internet connection.

For those who just want me to cut to the chase, here are the best wireless adapters for Kali Linux:

The Best Wireless Adapters For Kali Linux (2020)

Rank

Adapter

Chipset

Packet Injection

Buy

#1

ALFA AWUS036NHA

Atheros AR9271

#2

ALFA AWUS036NH

Ralink RT3070

#3

TP-LINK TL-WN722N (v1)

Atheros AR9271

#4

ALFA AWUS036NEH
(not tested)

Ralink RT3070

#5

ALFA AWUS036ACH
(not tested)

Realtek RTL8812AU

Last update: July 31, 2020

Continue reading to learn more about my experience with each adapter.

Chipsets That Support Packet Injection

In wifi hacking, packet injection is often use to force a handshake by de-authenticating client(s) from their wifi network. 

The problem is: not all wireless adapters support packet injection.

Every manufacturer uses a chipset on their network adapter and currently, only the following chipsets are known to be capable of injecting packets. Chipsets that are equipped with packet injection can also go into monitor mode.

The chipsets that are known to support packet injection and monitor mode:

  • Atheros AR9271
  • Ralink RT3070
  • Ralink RT3572
  • Ralink RT5370N
  • Realtek RTL8812AU

NOTE: There are many adapters that support monitor mode but NOT packet injection. Again, make sure your adapter uses one of the chipsets listed above. In addition, some manufacturers are known to change the chipset on the newer versions of their product. 

Packet injection and Monitor Mode Explained

To put simply, monitor mode is what you use to "sniff" or capture (encrypted) data transmitted by wireless routers and devices nearby. While packet injection is what you use to transmit data to those networks. 

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 which devices are active 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 intercept or manipulate any activity from within any network.

How To Identify Wireless Adapter Chipset

If you have an adapter but you're not sure what chipset it uses. Try checking on google first, simply enter "adapter name chipset" on Google and see what comes up. If that doesn't work, here are some ways to find out using Kali Linux commands.

NOTE: You need to have Kali Linux installed and running to perform this test.

If you don't have Kali Linux installed, the easiest way to get it up and running is by creating a Kali Linux bootable USB drive

Method 1

Enter the command "airmon-ng" to display the status of your network interfaces. 

It should show you the name of the chipset used by your wireless adapter.

To install airmon-ng, type "sudo apt-get install aircrack-ng"

sudo airmon-ng
airmon-ng show wifi adapter chipset name

Method 2

Another way to identify the chipset is by using the "lsusb" command.

The command will display information about your USB ports and the devices connected to them, including the name of the chipset used by your USB network adapter.

lsusb
kali lsusb command display wifi adapter chipset

Best Wireless Adapters Compatible With Kali Linux

ALFA AWUS036NHA

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

alfa-awus036nha wifi adapter
alfa awus036nha unboxing wireless usb adapter

My Review

5.0

The AWUS036NHA is the best wifi adapter to use for packet injection and wardriving. It has exceptional range and can successfully de-authenticate clients from afar.

During my wardriving sessions, I found that AWUS036NHA was able to detect more networks within the vicinity in comparison to Alfa AWUS036NH. 

I also noticed that using a shorter usb cable than the one provided allowed me to reach more access points and increase the success rate of injections. 

The only downside from my experience is that it gets hot real fast.

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

INJECTION SCORE

SCAN / RANGE SCORE

ALFA AWUS036NH

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

alfa-awus036nh wifi adapter
alfa awus036nh wireless usb adapter unboxing

My Review

5.0

The AWUS036NH is more suitable for packet injection because of its high success rate. It has very good range but I find AWUS036NHA is able to detect and capture more networks during my wardriving sessions. 

The AWUS036NH however outperforms the AWUS036NHA in terms of packet injection after having performed a side by side test with both adapters.

The only issue I had with the AWUS036NH was it wasn't able to de-authenticate clients or capture handshakes during my initial test. After researching, I found out a lot of people had that problem and they solved it by installing the drivers for it.

How to install drivers for the Alfa AWUS036NH
apt-get update
apt-get install rtl8812au-dkms
// or
apt-get install realtek-rtl88xxau-dkms
  • Excellent at packet injection
  • Good range and AP detection
  • Excellent signal strength

INJECTION SCORE

SCAN / RANGE SCORE

TP-LINK TL-WN722N (v1)

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

tplink-wn722n wifi adapter
TP-Link TL-WN722N usb wireless adapter unboxing

My Review

5.0

UPDATE (2017): TP-LINK has been selling v2 of this adapter on Amazon which is NOT the same as v1. Make sure you are buying v1 of this adapter otherwise packet injection will NOT work because v2 uses a different chipset.

The TP-LINK TL-WN722N v1 was the best wireless adapter for Kali Linux prior to 2017. Unfortunately, it has been hard to find because TP-LINK has pushed out v2 of the WN722N which does not support packet injection.

The TL-WN722N v1 was my favorite adapter to use for wifi hacking because it was small and effective at de-authenticating clients. While it does have average range, that can be improved by swapping the stock antenna with an Alfa antenna or other high-powered antennas.

People have reported having issues with the TP-LINK TL-WN722N not being recognized when used with VirtualBox. I personally did not have that issue, but here's a video that might help you solve it for those who are.

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

INJECTION SCORE

SCAN / RANGE SCORE

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 11).

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

usb wifi adapters hacking weapons

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    1. CORRECT!!!

      Only Click Here to Purchase TP-Link N150 V1 works

      V2 and V3 do NOT support monitor mode, which are the only versions you can get.
      Therefore the N1 on this list is WRONG and made me waste 16$ and 5hours of messing around trying to make it work.

      1. So basically Pat what ur saying is that because you didnt read the whole article YOU wasted YOUR OWN money and time, nobody else! id10t.

  1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 !

        1. Yes. Yes. Just read the manual if you want to figure out how to do it, or take a class. v1 supports injection, v2 doesn’t, but it certainly supports monitor mode. Every chipset out there that is supported by linux supports monitor mode.

  5. I own a TP Link WN722N v1 by now. Unfortunately I could not get running it on KL 2018.1 latest version. KL does not recognize it. So I am far away of testing it with packet injection and monitor mode what should work properly I read on several blogs.
    Could anybody give a solution to it?

  6. I just returned AWUS036ACH , in exchange for AWUS036NHA.

    As the 36ACH had terrible driver issues, Packet injection worked 1/2 time. I used the drivers in Kali’s repo and airmon-ng / kismet did not work . I then used aircrack’s drivers that they released, had packet injection problems.

    I’m sure in time the 36ACH will be rock solid , until then I will go with 36NHA .

    1. Brandon, you have to add driver to use AWUS036ACH, then it will work flawlessly.

      sudo apt-get update

      sudo apt-get install realtek-rtl88xxau-dkms

  7. Years ago I cracked a wep wifi using the USB D-Link DWA-110, but make sure to install at leat the 4.00.03.0000 driver, it gave me many BSODs, it’s old but at least it worked

  8. Hi, I am currently very interested in the TP-Link Archer T9UH AC1900, but I cannot find much information if it supports injection mode. According to the Tplink website, both revisions (v1 and v2) should support monitor mode in Linux kernels 2.6.18 ~ 4.4.6.

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