It’s been nearly two years since Wi-Fi 6 technology first came out. Nowadays, you will find a lot of different routers available in the marketplace that leverage this technology. Previously, limited routers were using Wi-Fi 6. That’s since changed and more and more router and client devices are readily available allowing consumers to take advantage of some of the benefits that Wi-Fi 6 can deliver. It brings much faster throughput speeds, improved battery life, and reduced bandwidth congestion compared to older Wi-Fi 5 technology. However, there are plenty of factors that you need to consider before investing in a Wi-Fi 6 router right now.
What Is It?
Wi-Fi 6 is a new technological standard that is entering the marketplace. It’s quickly replacing Wi-Fi 5 technology and offers numerous improvements. While that’s great and all, what exactly is it? Wi-Fi 6 routers are those that deploy the latest in wireless technology. The technology is meant to enhance overall performance by offering greater throughput speeds compared to previous router technology. The routers are capable of getting near 10Gbps compared to a max throughput speed of around 3.5Gbps for Wi-Fi 5 routers.
Along with this, Wi-Fi 6 looks to get rid of a lot of the network congestion that plagued Wi-Fi 5 routers. It also looks to improve client capacity allowing more clients to connect simultaneously. It even offers power reduction capabilities. For instance, Wi-Fi 6 uses Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access or “OFDMA” modulation. This is something that allows up to 30 different clients to connect and share a channel simultaneously. This can improve the efficiency of the router by enhancing the capacity while subsequently reducing latency. OFDMA effectively assigns time intervals to the different connected clients which help them parse out the different available network channels more efficiently. For instance, if someone connected to the router starts to stream a 4K movie and another device is using social media, OFDMA will allow the router to assign channels to the various devices based on whichever needs it the most.
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Wi-Fi 6 also has the advantage of using Target Wake Time (TWT). This is a feature that allows devices to determine when they are going to wake up and start sending and receiving data. This can effectively improve the battery life of the devices. This could be true for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets and even for smart technology like wireless doorbells and cameras. This brand new standard also helps to leverage previously unused frequencies to minimize congestion and provide faster 2.4GHz speeds. They typically also have good Quality of Service management features built into the routers for improved performance across the network.
Along with this, Wi-Fi 6 delivers 8-stream uplink and downlink Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output or “MU-MIMO.” This allows devices to stream data simultaneously instead of sequentially which keeps all of the devices using more bandwidth at once for improved streaming, gaming, downloads, and other tasks that require consistent bandwidth. The client devices will need to be MU-MIMO enabled for them to take advantage of this built-in technology. Any Wi-Fi 5 MU-MIMO routers ended up getting maxed out at only (4) streams.
Is It Time To Upgrade?
For most, the answer would be a resounding, “yes.” It’s hard to say if it’s worth it for everyone because not everyone has the same needs. If you currently have a router that is over three years old, it’s likely time to make the upgrade. You’ll find there are plenty of devices out nowadays that support Wi-Fi 6 wireless technology. Whether you have a laptop, tablet, mobile device, or computer – you can benefit from the advantages of Wi-Fi 6 routers. Some of the best laptops and notebooks like the Dell XPS 15 OLED and even the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 both support Wi-Fi 6 technology. The same goes for a lot of the newer mobile phones and tablets like the highly sought-after iPhone 13.
Even if you don’t have all Wi-Fi 6-enabled devices and you are still operating on 802.11ac technology, you could still make the upgrade to future-proof your network. The prices of these routers are dropping quickly including stand-alone routers and mesh networks. A mesh network could be a massive upgrade for those with larger homes with more coverage required. The TP-Link Deco X20 is one of the best and most affordable Wi-Fi 6 mesh networks out there. It’s under $200 and it delivers excellent performance for the money. For those that are willing to spend extra, the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) is easily one of the best-performing options for the money.
If you are currently satisfied with your existing Wi-Fi 6 router, you could add an extender to boost your wireless coverage for a fraction of the price of a mesh network.