I'm looking to purchase a wifi card to help me learn about wifi network penetration testing and other associated issues but I was wondering if there were any features of a wifi card I should look out to get the best in terms of ability. Or is there no real difference between the different models. The most important feature I can think of is sensitivity which is essential when it comes to picking up weak wifi signals from a distance.

There seem to be a lot of generic wifi PCI-E cards out there and most claim Windows compatibility but I use Kali Linux (the successor to Backtrack Linux) and so needs something that works with that with the minimum hassle.

If it makes any difference I run Kali Linux as a virtual machine under VMWare Workstation 10 on Windows 8.1 x86_64.

4 Answers 4


If you want to penetest a wifi. The wifi card would need to support monitor mode. However vmware uses it's own usb drivers so you might want to install kali to your hard drive or run it off a cd/usb. If you want to pick up weak signal's you need a card with high watt's and a good antenna www.alfa.com.tw has some high power wifi cards at a reasonable price.

  • Ah, thank you. That is exactly the information I was looking for.
    – Cromulent
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 7:07

There are plenty of wireless cards to choose from in this area. The best in my opinion is the trusty old alfa AWUS036H with the rtl8187 chip-set. This card has been my favorite for a long time and is still going strong after years of persistent use. The alfa is also 'plug and play' for pretty much all Linux distros and has good drivers for windows with only one exception being the mac in which it has trouble with drivers etc. I would also say the alfa AWUS036NHA but there doesn't seem to be much need for band 'N' networks at the moment as many people are still on 'G' or have devices on this. Another thing you may want too look for if you are after strong signals from afar is an antenna like a yagi as this will add a lot of gain. It is as easy as plugging the card in firing up monitor mode then scanning the air waves :) hope this helps

  • Thanks for the suggestion of the AWUS036H. I spent some time looking around Amazon and came across a newer model which supported the N standard and had 2000mW power. Hopefully it will be just as good as the original. From what I have read in the reviews section it is meant to be extremely good at picking up Wifi networks from a long distance. I might not need a Yagi antenna with this piece of kit (although I'll bear it in mind).
    – Cromulent
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 13:14

Consider checking the Aircrack wiki if in doubt.

It's also a good idea to Google + kali/backtrack to see if anyone has had any problems with a card you are considering. Be sure to check the date though. Someone saying it didn't work in 2005 is not helpful.

Also look for one with a removable antenna. They usually come with 2-3 inch ones, but if you can unscrew it then you can replace it with a much stronger one at little expense.


Good old AWUS036H. Not only it's still one of the best of its class, every single pentesting software has been tested on (if not built with) it.

  • 1
    Haha i remember the day she come. It was love at first sight xD.
    – Sighbah
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 17:27

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