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The Ultimate Guide to Bluetooth Dongles for PCs in 2024

Bluetooth has become an essential technology for connecting wireless devices to our computers. While many modern PCs come with built-in Bluetooth, some older models or custom-built desktops may lack this convenient feature. That‘s where Bluetooth dongles come in – these handy adapters plug into your computer‘s USB port and enable you to connect Bluetooth peripherals like keyboards, mice, headphones, and game controllers.

But with so many Bluetooth dongles on the market, how do you choose the best one for your needs? In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll break down everything you need to know about Bluetooth dongles for PCs. We‘ll explain the different versions of Bluetooth, the key factors to consider when shopping for a dongle, and roundup our top picks in various categories. As a bonus, we‘ll also show you how to connect AirPods to a PS4 without a dongle.

Understanding Bluetooth Versions

Before we dive into the best Bluetooth dongles, it‘s important to understand the different versions of Bluetooth and how they impact performance. Here‘s a quick overview:

  • Bluetooth 5.0: Released in 2016, Bluetooth 5.0 offers faster speeds, longer range, and improved broadcasting compared to previous versions. It‘s the most common Bluetooth version in devices today.

  • Bluetooth 5.1: An update to Bluetooth 5.0 that added direction finding capabilities, allowing devices to determine the direction of a Bluetooth signal.

  • Bluetooth 5.2: Introduced in 2020, Bluetooth 5.2 brings enhanced audio quality and lower power consumption. It‘s still fairly new and not as widely adopted yet.

  • Bluetooth 5.3: The latest version of Bluetooth announced in mid-2023. It focuses on reducing power draw and latency while improving encryption and enabling better functionality across homes and vehicles.

For the best performance, we recommend choosing a Bluetooth dongle that supports at least Bluetooth 5.0. Earlier versions like Bluetooth 4.0 are slower, have shorter range, and may not be compatible with the latest devices and peripherals.

Key Factors to Consider

So what makes a great Bluetooth dongle? Here are the main aspects you‘ll want to evaluate:

  1. Range – How far away can the dongle maintain a stable connection with your Bluetooth devices? Most Bluetooth 5.0 dongles have a range of around 30-40 feet, but some long-range models can reach up to several hundred feet. Consider where you‘ll be using your Bluetooth peripherals and choose a dongle with adequate range.

  2. Compatibility – Make sure the Bluetooth dongle is compatible with your PC‘s operating system (Windows, macOS, Linux, etc.) as well as the devices you plan to connect. Some dongles are designed for specific use cases like audio or gaming.

  3. Size – Bluetooth dongles come in different form factors, from tiny designs that barely protrude from your USB port to larger models with external antennas. Think about portability and whether the dongle will obstruct nearby ports.

  4. Price – Basic Bluetooth 5.0 dongles can cost as little as $10-$15, while more advanced models with longer range or additional features can run up to $40 or more. Stick to your budget but don‘t cheap out on a lower-quality dongle if you need reliable performance.

Best Bluetooth Dongles for PCs

With those factors in mind, let‘s take a look at some of the top Bluetooth dongles for PCs:

  1. Best Overall: ASUS USB-BT500 – This compact dongle supports Bluetooth 5.0 and offers an impressive range of up to 65 feet. It‘s compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux, making it a great all-around pick for under $20.

  2. Best for Portability: Avantree DG45 – Measuring just 0.7 x 0.5 x 0.2 inches, the Avantree DG45 is one of the smallest Bluetooth dongles you can buy. But don‘t let its tiny size fool you – it still packs Bluetooth 5.0, a 33-foot range, and support for up to 7 simultaneous connections.

  3. Best Long-Range: Techkey Long Range Bluetooth Dongle – Need to connect Bluetooth devices from far away? The Techkey offers an incredible 300+ foot range thanks to its external antenna and Bluetooth 5.3 support. It‘s ideal for large homes, offices, or outdoor use.

  4. Best for Audio: Creative BT-W3 – Aimed at audiophiles, the BT-W3 features aptX HD and Low Latency audio codecs for high-quality, lag-free wireless sound. It has a built-in microphone for voice calls and an LED indicator to show which device is active.

  5. Best for Gaming: ASUS BT500 Micro-USB Bluetooth 5.0 Adapter – Specially designed for gaming, this dongle has a dedicated mode that optimizes performance with Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch controllers. The adapter is also compatible with Windows PCs, but note that it requires a free USB port and a micro-USB cable (included).

  6. Best Budget: TP-Link UB400 Nano – You don‘t have to spend a lot to get a reliable Bluetooth dongle. The TP-Link UB400 Nano sells for around $10 and offers Bluetooth 4.0, a plug-and-play design, and a 2-year warranty. It‘s not the most advanced option but it gets the job done for basic needs.

How to Connect AirPods to PS4 Without a Dongle

Now that we‘ve covered the best Bluetooth dongles, let‘s address a common question: How can you connect AirPods (or other Bluetooth headphones) to a PS4 without a dongle?

Unfortunately, the PS4 doesn‘t support Bluetooth audio devices directly. Sony wants you to buy their own wireless headsets that use a USB receiver. However, there are still a couple ways to use AirPods with your PS4:

  1. Connect via the PlayStation Remote Play App

One workaround is to install the PlayStation Remote Play app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. This app lets you stream your PS4‘s screen to your phone or tablet. Here‘s how to set it up:

  • Make sure your PS4 and mobile device are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • On your PS4, go to Settings > Remote Play Connection Settings > Enable Remote Play.
  • Download and install the PS Remote Play app on your mobile device.
  • Open the app and sign in with your PlayStation Network account.
  • The app will search for your PS4 on the network. Once found, select your PS4 to connect.
  • Tap the Start button to begin playing remotely.

Now, connect your AirPods to your mobile device like normal. The game audio will stream from your PS4 to your phone/tablet, then play through the AirPods. You can use your phone‘s built-in mic for voice chat.

Keep in mind that this method relies on your network speed/stability and may introduce some audio lag. But it‘s a good option if you already have AirPods and don‘t want to buy another headset.

  1. Use a Bluetooth Transmitter

Another solution is to purchase a Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into your PS4‘s USB port and 3.5mm audio jack. These devices basically add Bluetooth audio output to your console. Some popular options are the Avantree Leaf, 1Mii B06 Plus, and Twelve South AirFly Pro.

Setting up a Bluetooth transmitter is straightforward:

  • Plug the transmitter‘s USB connector into your PS4‘s USB port for power.
  • Connect the transmitter‘s 3.5mm plug to your PS4 controller‘s headphone jack. This is where the PS4 normally outputs all audio.
  • Put the transmitter and your AirPods into pairing mode. Wait a few seconds for them to pair.
  • Once paired, all of your PS4‘s audio should play through the AirPods. You can use the inline mic on the transmitter‘s 3.5mm cable for voice chat.

This method has less audio lag than Remote Play, but you still have to deal with a wire between your controller and the Bluetooth transmitter. And if your AirPods don‘t have a built-in microphone, you‘ll need to use the mic on the transmitter‘s cable, which might not have great quality.

Troubleshooting Bluetooth Issues

Even with a good Bluetooth dongle, you may occasionally run into connection problems. Here are some tips for troubleshooting common issues:

  • Make sure your Bluetooth device and dongle are close to each other and not obstructed by walls or other objects that could interfere with the signal.
  • If you‘re having trouble pairing a device, try restarting both the device and your PC. Also, make sure your device is in pairing mode.
  • If you‘re experiencing audio stuttering or dropouts, try moving the dongle to a different USB port, ideally one that‘s not shared with other devices. Also, make sure your Bluetooth device‘s battery is charged.
  • Keep your Bluetooth dongle and devices updated with the latest firmware/drivers from the manufacturer‘s website. Outdated software can cause compatibility issues.
  • If you‘re still having problems, try uninstalling and reinstalling your Bluetooth dongle‘s drivers in Windows Device Manager.

The Future of Bluetooth

Bluetooth has come a long way since its inception in the late 1990s. With each new version, we‘ve seen improvements in speed, range, power efficiency, and features. As Bluetooth 5.3 rolls out, we can expect even better performance and functionality from Bluetooth devices.

Some experts predict that future Bluetooth versions will focus on enhancing the technology for specific use cases. For example, we may see optimizations for smart home devices, wearables, or virtual/augmented reality applications. There‘s also ongoing work to make Bluetooth more secure and energy-efficient.

Regardless of what the future holds, one thing is clear: Bluetooth will continue to be a vital technology for connecting wireless devices to our PCs and other electronics. And as long as there are computers without built-in Bluetooth, dongles will remain a convenient and affordable solution.


Bluetooth dongles may seem like a simple accessory, but they can greatly expand the functionality of your PC. By adding Bluetooth support, you open up a world of wireless possibilities, from productivity peripherals to audio devices to gaming controllers.

When shopping for a Bluetooth dongle, remember to consider factors like version, range, compatibility, size, and price. And if you‘re looking to use AirPods with a PS4, you have options like Remote Play or a Bluetooth transmitter.

With the right dongle and a bit of know-how, you can enjoy the convenience and freedom of Bluetooth on any PC. Happy wireless computing!