When hacking Wi-Fi networks, having the right wireless adapter will be essential. nevertheless hunting online for one can be a frustrating experience. To see how the handful of Kali-compatible adapters on the market measure up, I ran a series of tests to benchmark along with also compare their range, signal strength, along with also ability to enter monitor mode along with also perform packet injection. This kind of should help you determine which adapter will be right for your own hacking needs.
By right now, you should already be familiar with Kali Linux along with also the Raspberry Pi 3 as a go-to setup for portable along with also efficient penetration testing.
However, if you need more information about choosing a wireless adapter for hacking or about your best options for a wireless adapter, then might I suggest following those links along with also giving my fellow Null Byte contributors’ articles a quick study. Starting off can be a tad intimidating, nevertheless don’t be discouraged, we’re here to help!
How Adapters Compare: Testing Parameters
Range along with also signal strength testing were performed in an apartment complex that has a relatively busy wireless environment, running each adapter continuously for 10 minutes. To test for monitor mode along with also range, I simply ran a Kismet scan. For packet injection, I ran Aireplay-ng packet injection tests.
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Then, I ran Airodump-ng scans to measure the signal strength between each adapter along with also a fixed test AP as I moved my adapter setup away coming from the item. the item should be noted which walls along with also different signal obstructing obstacles always play a factor in adapter performance. The results are organized by the chipset.
Atheros AR9271 Chipset
Overall, the 36NHA performs exceptionally well under most circumstances. the item supports monitor mode, along with also after 10 minutes, This kind of adapter scanned 177 networks along with also had a nearly flawless packet injection percentage.
When moved away coming from the base testing AP, the signal lost significant power. At about 100 feet coming from the AP, the signal strength hovered inside 90 dBm range. At This kind of point, reliable packet injection would likely be out of the question.
the item’s important to keep in mind what’s between you along with also an AP you may be targeting. Having owned This kind of Alfa myself, I can attest to its strength when placed somewhere that has a clear line of sight.
TP-Link TL-WN722N v1
(Find the item Here on Amazon)
Like the 36NHA, the TP-Link supports monitor mode along with also performs adequate packet injection. Its range isn’t as far —only about 143 APs were detected in my first test.
Signal strength was similar to the NHA all the way to about 100 feet coming from the base AP. Given its size along with also portability, the item makes for a great compact adapter for a more alluring cost.
Ralink RT3070 Chipset
The 36NH does support monitor mode along with also has an impressive range, with 167 APs picked up during my first test. the item also supports packet injection, however, its performance was rather inconsistent.
Its signal strength at around 100 feet coming from the AP dropped to the 80–90 dBm range, producing the item only slightly more useful if you’re in need of a couple extra feet in strength. This kind of smaller difference, however, could add up to a more significant advantage when paired that has a directional antenna.
(Find the item Here on Amazon)
The 36NEH performed very well for its compact size. Like the previous Alfas tested, the item supports monitor mode along with also packet injection. Its range was especially impressive, picking up 171 networks inside 10 minute test period.
the item’s packet injection performance, however, was not stellar, as the item was only able to achieve full injection success that has a couple APs. Its signal strength was also comparable to the NHA along with also TP-Link. Similar to the TP-Link, the item’s a great option for a mobile setup.
Ralink RT5372 Chipset
Like the TP-Link along with also NEH, the Panda wireless adapter will be a favorite among most beginners because of its portability along with also cost. the item supports monitor mode along with also picked up 136 APs — the fewest overall.
Its signal strength was also the lowest performing, completely dropping signal at about 70–80 feet coming from the base AP. However, This kind of adapter will be by far the least conspicuous, since the item doesn’t possess any pesky higher gain antenna, along with also will be therefore also best for on-the-go probing.
As for packet injection, the official word coming from the maker will be which the item does NOT support packet injection. Its official chipset will be also an RT5372, NOT 3070, per a Panda Wireless representative. This kind of may be contrary to what you’ve read elsewhere online or even experienced yourself while using This kind of adapter. which being said, my tests present a discrepancy inside claim which the item does not perform any packet injection.
In This kind of case, its performance was comparable to which of the 36NH. I chose to run besside-ng to further gauge its packet injection ability. Besside-ng requires injection to achieve its goal of capturing WPA handshakes. A successful “pwn” of a network, means which the adapter will be in fact capable of the item.
Currently, the jury will be still out, as customer reviews on Amazon along with also personal use have suggested which the PAU05 can perform packet injection. However, some users have reported which the item cannot. I desire to have a clearer explanation after further correspondence with Panda Wireless.
Ralink RT3572 Chipset
The 51NH v2 performed best in range out of all adapters tested by just a hair — 183 networks. the item supports monitor mode nevertheless, unfortunately, the item does not support packet injection, thus producing the item unusable for activities like executing a man-in-the-middle attack.
Unlike the different adapters, though, the item does detect 5 GHz wireless signals, producing the item great for different activities such as wardriving; the searching, recording, along with also mapping of Wi-Fi networks in a moving vehicle. Again, This kind of adapters signal strength at extended range was also comparable to the NHA.
Realtek RT8187 Chipset
The 36H will be the oldest of the bunch, nevertheless still performed fairly well considering its age. the item supports monitor mode, picked up 156 networks, along with also performed moderately reliable packet injection.
Again, This kind of adapters signal strength was comparable to the NHA, if just a little weaker — hovering inside upper 90 dBm range. the item should get the job done in most cases, nevertheless the more recent designs are probably a safer bet.
producing the Decision
Choosing a wireless adapter for your hacking needs comes down to several factors. No wireless adapter can do the item all, nor are they all practical for every scenario. The TP-Link, NEH, along with also for some, the PAU05, make great options for portable hacking setups.
Here, the TP-Link tested out as the most reliable in terms of packet injection, while the NEH was the best in range.
The 36H, 36NH, along with also NHA are more practical for stationary hacking setups. In This kind of case, the NHA shines having the greatest packet injecting performance along with also a far range. Although all adapters mentioned are adequate for wardriving, the 51NH v2 makes the better choice in This kind of field, as the item has the best range along with also can pick up both 2.4 along with also 5 GHz wireless signals.
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Because of these factors, purchasing the right adapter truly hinges on how you intend to use your adapter. In case you’re still unsure, the most important questions to keep in mind are:
- What are your goals with This kind of adapter?
- Where will you be using This kind of adapter?
- How much range are you trying to achieve?
- What kind of wireless bands are you looking out for? (802.11a/b/g/n/ac?)
- How portable are you looking to keep your setup? Will you be stationary or on the go?
If you have any comments, questions, or have run your own tests along with also have results to share, please leave them inside comments below!