We purchased the The 5 Best Laptop Computer GPS so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full products reviews.
While dedicated GPS systems are convenient, turning your laptop into a GPS platform has numerous advantages. For starters, it means your GPS device isn’t tethered, allowing you to take it anywhere you need directions or positional data. That means it’s just as useful on camping trips as it is on road trips, and it can help you navigate almost anywhere. Furthermore, the best laptop computer GPS add-ons are frequently much less expensive than a dedicated GPS system, so you can save some money in the process.
If you’re looking for a great machine to connect one of these devices to, check out our roundup of the best laptops on the market, or keep reading for the best laptop computer GPS systems.
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Best Overall: Garmin 18x USB GPS Navigator
Garmin (Check latest price on Amazon) is a well-known brand in GPS navigation, and this USB device lives up to that reputation. This small puck is a WAAS Enabled Sensitivity GPS receiver designed for use in personal cars, fleet vehicles, and electronics applications that require a GPS receiver. It has 12 parallel channels and an integrated magnetic base, and it outputs data in the NMEA 0183 format, which is industry standard. Because it has a low latency, it’s ideal for vehicle applications that need to be refreshed while on the go. The device’s industry-standard 10-foot accuracy ensures that you won’t be too far off the mark when using it, and it works with most industry software.
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Best Rugged: Stratux Vk-162 Remote Mount USB GPS
The Stratux Vk-162 remote mount USB GPS hardware (Check latest price on Amazon) is an affordable option for laptop owners, with a signal acquisition time of 32 seconds. The included seven-foot cord pairs well with the magnetic hardware base, which can be safely attached to any magnetic surface. The Stratux can be easily moved around a room to find the best signal thanks to the cord. The receiver is weatherproof and dustproof, with an IPX6 rating for protection against the elements. The Stratux adds the ability to work with a variety of open-source software and is compatible with all current versions of Windows computers, making it safe for outside work. It’s ready to sync with OpenCPN and Google’s suite of GPS-ready software.
Best Magnetized: GlobalSat USB GPS Receiver
For years, this GPS (Check latest price on Amazon) patch antenna has served drivers and laptop owners. The device is powered by a highly sensitive chipset that can deliver superior performance in the city or out in the country. Simply connect the USB to your Windows or Mac computer to take advantage of SiRF Client Generated Extended Ephemeris (CGEE) technology, which can predict satellite location up to three days ahead of time and automatically updates every 15 seconds. The device has a magnet that can stick to the top of your car and can withstand both freezing and extremely hot temperatures, so you don’t have to be concerned about exposure to the elements.
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Best Sensitivity: GlobalSat USB GPS Receiver
This compact micro USB with built-in LNA and GPS antenna (Check latest price on Amazon) allows you to take GPS with you wherever you go. This laptop GPS device is about the size of a small thumb drive and supports industry standards NMEA 0183 and SBAS. It works with Mac, Windows, and Android operating systems and is compatible with all NMEA navigation software, allowing you to choose the best app or program for your GPS needs.
Even at low signal levels, the high sensitivity MediaTek GPS chipset has an extremely fast time to first fix, making it ideal for remote areas. The device’s status is indicated by a handy GPS LED, which is also useful in areas where reception is spotty.
Best for Searches: VFAN USB GPS Receiver
The VFAN USB GPS receiver (Check latest price on Amazon), which is powered by an Ublox 7 chipset, is a good choice for laptop users who want to start location-based searches. Activating the GPS signal on a Windows computer requires downloading UBlox’s UCenter software, which configures the 56-channel VFAN receiver to acquire and continuously re-acquire GPS signals. The VFAN’s water-resistance rating of IPX4 extends to its 6.5-foot cable, which also has an IPX4 rating. The VFAN’s magnetic base keeps it firmly in place on magnetic surfaces, allowing it to establish and maintain a GPS signal while connecting to software like OpenCPN, Google Earth Pro, and Google Maps. Beyond laptops, the VFAN doubles as an ideal GPS receiver for cars and marine navigation, thanks to the attached USB connectivity.
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Best Start Time: VANWEI VK-162 USB GPS
This low-cost USB GPS solution (Check latest price on Amazon) combines an industry-standard GPS Antenna with a KDS.5PPM high-precision TCXO. The RTC chip and pF capacitor are optimized for faster start times in low-signal environments, while the 1-5 Hz position update rate is ideal for map making and car navigation. While receiving WAAS/EGNOS signals without software, the device stores the most recent satellite information. NWEA0183 data can be used with compatible applications like Google Maps, making it a versatile and cost-effective solution for fleet vehicles.