What is Wi-Fi 6?

If this is the first you’ve heard of Wi-Fi 6 and all that comes to mind is how did I miss the last five versions? Don’t worry, we’ll explain what Wi-Fi 6 is and why it’s important. Without being too techie, Wi-Fi 6 is the latest generation of Wi-Fi, released in 2019. It’s the newest version of Wi-Fi available, and it’s supposed to be the best.

Now we’ll do our best to answer your questions about Wi-Fi 6, including what’s so special about it, and whether or not you need it.

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What’s unique about Wi-Fi 6?

As we shared earlier, Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax) is the latest version of Wi-Fi, and there’s a few features that prove it. Compared to the previous version of Wi-Fi (known as Wi-Fi 5, or 802.11ac) Wi-Fi 6 is better at supporting multiple devices on the same network.1

Another important aspect is the frequency. Wi-Fi 6 runs on both Wi-Fi frequencies (2.4 GHz and 5 Ghz). You can actually switch a device from one frequency to another if you want faster internet (use 5 GHz) or if you want your connection to reach further (use 2.4 GHz).2

The last most important factor about Wi-Fi 6 is speed. Wi-Fi 6 is as much as 250% faster than Wi-Fi 5.3 That’s a big difference. Wi-Fi 6 has a speed of 9.6 Gbps.4 Compare this to Wi-Fi 5, which has a max speed of 3.5 Gbps.4

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Do I need Wi-Fi 6?

If you have a couple laptops, a phone or two, a smart TV, a tablet, and three other random devices in your house that require Wi-Fi, you’d really enjoy the benefits of Wi-Fi 6.

Every year, it becomes more common for people to have multiple devices in their home. Having lots of devices connected to your internet network can make your internet really slow. If you’re using Wi-Fi 5 and constantly experiencing slow internet, you might want to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6.

However, if your device is older, it might not support Wi-Fi 6 very well. Even though it came out in 2019, it’s still relatively new. Older devices can still connect to Wi-Fi 6; however, the connection won’t be as optimized as it would be with a new device.5

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How do I know which version of Wi-Fi I have?

You can check your Wi-Fi version directly from your laptop or desktop.

How to check your Wi-Fi version on Windows 10

If you’re using Windows 10, then you can check by going to the settings menu. Click on Network and Internet, then go to Wi-Fi. If you select Advanced Options, you should see the exact Wi-Fi version you’re connected to.

How to check your Wi-Fi version on Mac OS or Mac OS X

If you’re using Mac OS or Mac OS X, you can find what version you’re using by going to the Mac menu bar and clicking the Wi-Fi icon. Some devices will show you what version you’re using under the router’s name in this dropdown menu. If you don’t see it here, click Open Network Preferences.

How to check your Wi-Fi version on your phone

If you want to check from your iPhone or other mobile device, open Settings, navigate to Wi-Fi, and tap the info button next to your router name.

How can I get Wi-Fi 6?

If you want Wi-Fi 6, you can get it by updating your router. There’s a lot of new routers now that support Wi-Fi 6, and many of these come from a variety of internet service providers (ISPs). You’ll notice the biggest difference when you pair the new router with devices that support Wi-Fi 6.

Wi-Fi 6 router comparison
Router modelList price*Wireless compatibilityDetails
TP-Link WiFi 6 AX1500 Smart WiFi Router$79.99802.11ax/a/b/g/n/acView on Amazon
ASUS RT-AX3000 Dual Band WiFi Router$179.21802.11ax/n/b/a/acView on Amazon
Linksys Velop Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router$399.99802.11ax/aView on Amazon

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 12/16/19 2:09 PM MST). Full disclaimer.

Sources

  1. TP-Link, “What Is Wi-Fi 6? Also Known As AX Wi-Fi,” March 8, 2019. Accessed November 27, 2020.
  2. CenturyLink, “What’s the Difference Between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi?” Accessed November 27, 2020.
  3. Aaron Forbes, “WiFi 6 vs WiFi 5: What’s the Difference?” June 24, 2020. Accessed November 27, 2020.
  4. Intel, “What Is Wi-Fi 6?” Accessed November 27, 2020.
  5. Lauren Goode, Wired, “Wi-Fi 6 Will Be Here Soon. What Is It?” August 29, 2019. Accessed November 27, 2020.

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