HomeTechnologyNewsShould I upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E?

Should I upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E?

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Jordan Gloor / Geek Instructors

Upgrading to Wi-Fi 6E without any device that can take advantage of it can be a bad investment. However, preparing your network for faster devices on the way is a good idea, and a Wi-Fi 6E router can reduce network congestion issues, even if no connected device supports it.

Wi-Fi is an ever-evolving technology, so it’s not unusual to see new products regularly hit the market with promises of faster speeds and more stable connections. One such technology that you might have come across recently is Wi-Fi 6E. So what is it and do you need it?

What is Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6E is the evolution of the Wi-Fi 6 standard that was introduced in 2019. Wi-Fi 6 represented the first attempt to standardize wireless networks with a nicer name (802.11ax doesn’t have the same timbre), a move that seems to have stuck and should help you better differentiate wireless standards in the future.

Wi-Fi 6E uses a frequency between 5.925 GHz and 7.125 GHz in the US (this may differ elsewhere due to the way radio frequencies are regulated). The first iterations of Wi-Fi were limited to the 2.4GHz band, then dual-band routers added 5GHz to the spectrum. Wi-Fi 6E finally expands this to the 6 GHz band.

wifi alliance

The technology also increases the number of wide data channels a router can create, with up to eight 160 MHz bands (one on the 5 GHz band, seven on the 6 GHz band) or 14 separate 80 MHz bands, for which is ideal for devices that benefit from a low-latency, high-bandwidth connection.

Although the standard was officially adopted in 2020, many manufacturers only started adding support for the standard to devices in 2022.

What benefits does Wi-Fi 6E have?

Like the 5GHz band before it, distance is not a strong suit when it comes to the 6GHz band. Due to its reliance on the 6GHz band, Wi-Fi 6E has a more limited range than the technology former. Many devices will only work on the 6GHz band while in the same or adjacent room, reverting to 5GHz (or 2.4GHz) when you venture out of range.

The real benefit of Wi-Fi 6E is solving congestion. The technology reduces problems in crowded, high-density environments where there are many competing networks. 6E benefits those who live in large apartment buildings or work in large office buildings. The 6 GHz band has up to 1200 MHz of spectrum and 60 channels, compared to 500 MHz and 25 channels for the 5 GHz band.

Wi-Fi 6E Spectrum and Channel Comparison
broadcom

There are also advantages in terms of speed and latency, as Wi-Fi 6E supports a theoretical maximum speed of 9.6 Gbps. The Netgear RAXE300 router we reviewed in August 2022 promised maximum throughput of 2.4 Gbps. We also reviewed the Linksys Hydra Pro 6E back in October, which claims a top speed of up to 4.8Gbps on the 6GHz band. (Of course, your actual speeds depend on several factors, including the construction of your home and the speeds provided by your ISP).

Not only speed is improved with Wi-Fi 6E, but also latency. Wi-Fi 6E chipsets have a latency of less than 1 millisecond, perfect for Wi-Fi calling, gaming over the wireless network (locally or online), and connecting devices such as augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) headset.

Like Wi-Fi 6 before it, 6E is capable of mesh networking. This allows you to overcome some of the limitations in terms of range by carefully placing the nodes around your home or office (although this could be an expensive endeavor).

What devices are compatible with Wi-Fi 6E?

Like any new technology, manufacturers need time to get on board. Adoption tends to lag by several years in terms of networks, but the benefit is that devices using the newer standards (like Wi-Fi 6E) retain compatibility with the older standards. This allows you to invest in new devices with better capabilities without feeling compelled to upgrade your network equipment until the time is right.

Apple is a company that has been slow to adopt Wi-Fi 6E. Its latest flagship devices, including the iPhone 14 (and 14 Pro), MacBook Pro (2021), and MacBook Air (2022), can only use Wi-Fi 6 networks. Only the fourth-generation 11-inch iPad Pro and iPad Pro The sixth-generation 12.9-inch smartphones support Wi-Fi 6E at this stage.

Wi-Fi-enabled iPad 6E

iPad Pro 11-inch (4th generation, 2022)

Featuring the same M2 chip found in the latest MacBook Air, a 120Hz Liquid Retina XDR display, and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil, the fourth-generation iPad Pro is one of the first Apple devices to support Wi-Fi. 6E.

At the same time, neither Sony PlayStation 5 nor Xbox Series X (and Series S) support Wi-Fi 6E. The PS5 has Wi-Fi 6 support, while Microsoft consoles are still limited to “Wi-Fi 5” (802.11ac).

So far, only a limited number of devices support the standard. This includes the Google Pixel 6 (plus the Pixel 6 Pro and 6a) and its Pixel 7 successor, Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or Plus (and last year’s S21 Ultra), ASUS ROG Phone 5 and ZenFone 8, and Xiaomi Mi 11 (and Ultra). ).

Wi-Fi 6E enabled Android smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

One of the best Android smartphones on the market, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S22 Ultra can record 8K videos and up to 108-megapixel still photos, boasts a beautiful adaptive contrast display, built-in S Pen stylus, and Wi-Fi 6E support.

Wi-Fi 6E laptops are mostly limited to high-end, gaming-focused machines like the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE (and Helios 300), HP Specter x360, and Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme. If you have a desktop PC, you can invest in something like the GIGABYTE GC-WBAX210 to add Wi-Fi 6E capability using a free PCIe slot.

Wi-Fi 6E enabled laptop

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE

A high-end machine focused on gamers and creators with a 12th Gen Intel Core i9 CPU, mobile GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, and 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM, plus support for the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard.

The bottom line is that many of the latest devices are still limited to Wi-Fi 6, and only a few currently support the latest standard. To find out if your current device is compatible, take a look at the manufacturer’s spec sheet. If you see 802.11ax along with support for the 6GHz band (not just 2.4GHz and 5GHz), you can take advantage of Wi-Fi 6E.

Is it worth upgrading to Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6E is off to a slow start, and at the time of writing, there’s a good chance you don’t have any devices that support the standard. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get any benefit (remember that Wi-Fi 6E routers are backward compatible with older devices). Investing now means you’ll reap the benefit of faster speeds and lower latency as you invest in more compatible devices over time.

But investing in Wi-Fi 6E is still an expensive endeavor. As more products hit the market, it will become cheaper to invest, just like Wi-Fi 6 is cheaper than when the first products launched in 2019. You may want to wait until this happens before launching. A standard Wi-Fi 6 mesh router system may be a better use of funds until prices start to drop.

Still, depending on your situation, you may see a benefit at this time. If you’re having trouble with network congestion in a dense urban environment, a Wi-Fi 6E router could be a good investment. If you can add Wi-Fi 6E to your desktop with a relatively inexpensive network card, the upgrade might be worth it. If you’re an early adopter and have a few devices that already support the standard, a router upgrade may make sense for you.

Wi-Fi 6E routers are now available

One argument for investing in a Wi-Fi 6E router right now is that you’re behind on upgrading the router. Maybe your old router isn’t working like it used to and you’re seeing frequent crashes, or you’re tired of slow speeds and an unstable connection. You could get ahead of the Wi-Fi 6 standard and invest in the future 6E right now.

Check out our best Wi-Fi 6E router roundup for our top recommendations. A mesh router system will provide the best coverage, but you’ll need to invest over $1000 (at the time of writing) if you want both speeds Y full coverage. Alternatively, consider whether your money would be better spent investing in a wired Ethernet setup.

What about Wi-Fi 7?

Wi-Fi 6E is barely out of the gate, but Wi-Fi 7 is scratching at the gate. The future of wireless networks promises speeds up to three times faster than Wi-Fi 6E (just under 30 Gbps). Routers won’t be available until mid-2023 at the earliest, and connecting devices will likely lag a few years after that.

RELATED: Wi-Fi 7: What is it and how fast will it be?

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