If your desktop was connected to the modem directly, you would have to power down the cable modem and the desktop, disconnect the desktop from the modem, connect the router to the modem using the WAN (Internet) port and an ethernet cable (should have been supplied with the router). The desktop can then be connected to the router using one of the LAN ports (there are usually 4 in a group). Power on the modem, wait a few minutes, then power on the router...wait a few minutes, then power up the desktop. You should then be able to login to the router from the desktop using steps provided by the router manufacturer. This is usually by browsing to http://192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 using Internet explorer (or your preferred browser)...
There are several Sticky posts at the top of this board that give excellent instructions on how you can first set up wireless security on your router, and then connect your laptop to your new wireless network.
The short answer to your question is 'No, you do not need a USB adapter if you are going to hardwire the desktop top the router'
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