If you use a notebook that came out in the last 5 years, Bluetooth is usually built in from the factory. If you prefer the good old PC, you might have to upgrade to Bluetooth. There are two main ways to do this, which are more or less useful depending on your needs :
- You install a WLAN/Bluetooth combo card in the PCI slot (you have to go inside your PC to do this)
- You go the convenient route and retrofit Bluetooth with a dongle – which is a small USB stick that you just plug into the jack
This article should help you to find out how to upgrade Bluetooth on your PC.
The advantages of a Bluetooth-enabled PC
Bluetooth on the computer – especially on the Dekstop PC – may be something some have never used before. However, once you discover the possibilities this feature offers you, you won’t want to miss it anymore. I myself use bluetooth on PC mainly for:
- Connecting to the Bluetooth speaker: a Bluetooth speaker has long since replaced wired PC speakers in my house. In addition to the fantastic sound quality, the tubes are portable. This makes it easy to take the speaker to the kitchen for a quick trip. Or use out of the house at all.
- Data transfer from the phone: depending on the Bluetooth version, the transfer rate can be slow. Photos and documents can be sent wirelessly from the cell phone to the computer and back in a very short time, starting with Bluetooth 3. This saves plugging in and unplugging from the PC.
- Peripheral devices: did you know that you can use z.B. Can connect an ordinary PS3 controller to the computer via Bluetooth? This gives the controller, which is now getting on in years, the opportunity to regain its former top form when gaming on the computer. Also a Bluetooth headset can be paired with the PC and used as headphones.
Do I have to upgrade Bluetooth at all?
If you are not sure, if your machine doesn’t support Bluetooth by default, you should check this first
- Open the device manager – the fastest way to do this is via the start menu> Execute> "devmgmt.enter "msc" and confirm
- Appears an entry under "Bluetooth" (the list is sorted alphabetically) and contains also an entry like "[manufacturer name] Bluetooth Controller" ? If yes, Bluetooth is already on board
Under Mac OS X:
- You have the Bluetooth menu displayed in the task bar (by default at the top of the screen) on Bluetooth-enabled Macs. The icon for this is the well known Bluetooth icon
Retrofitting Bluetooth with a USB dongle
Have you ever connected a USB stick to a PC?? Then you can also upgrade Bluetooth with a USB dongle. The things are tiny, some even so much that they barely stick out of the USB port. This is especially important for notebooks and if you want to leave the dongle permanently installed – this way no damage can happen if you touch something with the dongle sticking out.
When the dongle makes more sense to make your PC Bluetooth capable?
- If you are not technically experienced – the installation of the drivers usually runs automatically. All you have to do is to plug the dongle into a port.
- If your PC is already WLAN capable – if it isn’t (and you need WLAN), it’s more practical to install a combination card that adds Bluetooth and WLAN
- If you want to upgrade Bluetooth on your notebook – all other options are impractical or not feasible due to lack of available hardware
Which dongle should it be?
In short, a user who has no special requirements can hardly go wrong when buying a Bluetooth dongle. That’s why I don’t want to go into an extensive Bluetooth dongle test for every single device. Instead, I’ll list some devices that perform certain functions better than the other available options. Bluetooth dongles are usually available for around 10 Euro – you can check the respective price on Amazon by clicking on the pictures.
Particularly compact Bluetooth dongle
The Whitelabel Nano is one of the most compact Bluetooth dongles. This is, as already mentioned, especially important for notebooks, where an outstanding piece of hardware becomes a source of danger during transport. The risk of damage is minimized by a dongle as small as possible. On top of that it also looks much more elegant if there is no USB stick sticking out of the side of the notebook.
Bluetooth dongle for Linux devices
Linux users know the problem that hardware does not always work properly and certainly not out-of-the-box under their operating system. This dongle from Speedlink may not be the nicest or most compact, but it works at least under Ubuntu 14.04. out of the box. This is also documented in the Ubuntu Wiki.
Bluetooth dongle with 100m range
Class 1 Bluetooth devices manage a transmission range of up to 100 meters! To do this, it is essential to note that both the sender and the receiver fall into this category. With the GMYLE Nano Dongle ugr ensures that your computer is able to communicate with class 1 devices beyond the usual distance of 10m. Of course you can only use the 100m range if there are no disturbing objects between transmitter and receiver – but even then class 1 achieves much better results than the standard 10m range.
Retrofit Bluetooth with a PCI card
A motherboard – the white oblong slots are PCI slots
Do you dare to open your PC to upgrade Bluetooth, there is besides the dongle the possibility to install a Bluetooth card. In reality, this is also much less complicated than it sounds – the whole installation procedure is identical to the installation of a graphics card and essentially takes place in three steps:
- Open the side cover of the PC (u.U. you have to unscrew it)
- If available, remove the sheet metal cover of the respective PCI slot
- Carefully insert the card into the slot and guide it out of the opening created in step 2
- Screw the PC
- Possibly. Install the necessary drivers
As mentioned, this is only sensible and economical for standalone PCs, not for notebooks. A big advantage over the dongles is that practically all available cards are also WLAN cards, which is also often not on board with stand PCs. In addition, the PCI cards have a much better range compared to dongles – not least because of the built-in antennas.
The Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I WLAN and Bluetooth card – click on the picture to check the price on Amazon
Basically, it’s only important to make sure that the card is compatible with your system and that you still have a PCI slot free (best to have a look at it).
There should also be enough space inside the case: in a standard tower there is always enough room for a small PCI card. If you have a mini-PC at home, however, it could be a bit tighter.
Since the individual cards do not differ significantly in their function, you should only make sure to buy one with the current Bluetooth version. Strictly speaking, the latest version is 5.0 – which, however, was released only a few days before the publication of this article and is not yet available on the market. Bluetooth 4.2 is the common modern standard that you z.B. you’ll find on the Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I. This will keep you good for the next few years and compatible with all major Bluetooth standards. If Bluetooth 5 compatibility is important to you, on the other hand, you’ll have to be patient a bit longer.
About the author
On my travels, I prefer to do without as many cables as possible – hence my enthusiasm for wireless gadgets !