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Wi-Fi 5 vs Wi-Fi 6: What are the differences? main image Wi-Fi 5 vs Wi-Fi 6: What are the differences? image

Wi-Fi 5

vs Wi-Fi 6:

What are the differences?

published 22 April 2021 | DeviceDeal blog

Learn about the differences between Wi-Fi 5 and 6.

What is Wi-Fi 6?

The term Wi-Fi 6 refers to the latest generation of Wi-Fi technologies. Compared to the previous generation, or Wi-Fi 5, it promises to be faster with decreased network congestion. It also improves your devices battery life - a must for mobiles, laptops and tablets.

What does AX1800, AX3200, etc. mean?

You may have seen routers advertised with AX followed by a string of numbers, such as AX5400. Let's break down what these terms mean:

  • AX: This refers to the official name of the Wi-Fi 6 standard, which is called 802.11ax. 
  • 3200 (or other numbers): These numbers reflect the maximum bandwidth of the router in Mbps.

So an AX1800 router simply means it's both Wi-Fi 6 capable and supports speeds of up to 1800Mbps. The same principle applies to AX3200, AX5400 and other routers with the same naming convention.

Just note: these numbers are pretty much just theoretical maximums and refer to both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands operating simultaneously. The thing is, your device can only use one band at a time, so the number is mostly pointless and your actual speeds will be generally lower.

Benefits of Wi-Fi 6?

There are numerous benefits that Wi-Fi 6 brings over the previous generation. These include:

Faster speeds up to 9.6Gbps

Wi-Fi 5 may have brought us Gigabit internet speeds, but Wi-Fi 6 takes it a few steps further. It's possible to reach up to 9.6Gbps transfer rates on the latest Wi-Fi generation. For the uninitiated, that's almost 3 times faster than Wi-Fi 5! 

What this means is that multiple people can game, stream and download files without slowing down the entire network. It's particularly great for 4K streaming and downloading large files. 

Just remember that the 9.6Gbps speed is only a theoretical maximum. Actual speeds will depend on your internet connection and network provider.

Less network congestion

Have you ever had to wait for your movie to buffer, or experienced slow internet speeds? You might have run into a little problem called network congestion. Too many devices connected to the same Wi-Fi can compete for bandwidth, slowing down the entire network for everybody.

Wi-Fi 6 is designed to combat this problem. 

It uses what's called Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) modulation. This feature allows "simultaneous low-data-rate transmission from several users" (see: Wikipedia), and allows more clients to share a network channel simultaneously. This not only increases the overall capacity of your network, but can also reduce latency.

More battery life

Wi-Fi 6 can also benefit your devices' battery life. How, you may ask?

Simple: devices using Wi-Fi 6 can better plan their communications - such as when they'll need to communicate, and for how long. This allows your phones, laptops and tablets to turn off their antennas when they're not needed, resulting in less battery drain. 

And the best thing is that this all happens automatically: no set up required.

Should I upgrade?

Ask yourself the following questions before upgrading:

  • Do I have a lot of devices in my home connected to Wi-Fi?

More devices put strain on your Internet connection.
If you have multiple people streaming movies, downloading files and playing games, it might be worth upgrading for the reduced congestion and faster speeds.

  • Do I need the fastest gaming experience?

If you play a lot of online games, you might find reduced lag and latency with Wi-Fi 6 compared to previous generations.

  • Do I use a router provided by my ISP?

Routers supplied by your ISP often aren't fast enough to take full advantage of your Internet or NBN connection. They might also be slow, use outdated hardware or not cover a large enough area.

Upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 router from any reuputable brand like Netgear and TP-Link will solve these issues while future-proofing your network for many years to come.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Wi-Fi 6?
  2. Benefits of Wi-Fi 6?
  3. Should I upgrade?

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