Wi-Fi 4/5/6/6E (802.11 n/ac/ax)|
(make educated wireless router/AP upgrade decisions)
(cut through all the marketing hype)
duckware.com/wifi -- January 15, 2018
Version 6.2c (updated September 28, 2020)
Wifi speeds vs. broadband speeds:
Wifi speeds have not kept up with increasing Internet speeds. As a result, there has
been a very rapid switch in wifi from
Wi-Fi 4 (2.4 GHz 802.11n) to
Wi-Fi 5 (5 GHz 802.11ac), and now to
Wi-Fi 6 (6 GHz 802.11ax), in an attempt to keep up.
So what new router/AP should you consider buying today?
Router Manufacturers' Marketing Hype:
Don't be fooled by the marketing hype of router manufacturers' advertising
outrageously high aggregate (all bands added together) Gbps wireless speeds (like 7.2 Gbps).
What really matters is realistic speeds achieved by your wifi client devices,
that actually exist today.
The weakest link:
Wifi throughput to a 802.11ac wireless device will likely max out at around 600 Mbps (±60 Mbps)
for 2x2 MIMO, to 1000 Mbps (±200 Mbps) for 4x4 MIMO no matter what 4×4 router is used (when right next to the router).
And the far majority of ALL wireless devices today (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc)
are still only 2x2 MIMO. So your client device is almost certainly
causing slow wifi speeds (and maybe not your existing AP/router).
The best router/AP VALUE today:
A high quality 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 "Wave 2" (2nd gen chipset)
4x4 router/AP supporting
beamforming and ALL DFS channels is the way to go right now
(as of July 2020), due to the incredible VALUE. One such 'Access Point' is upper right (wired/Ethernet
to your existing main router), and one such router (to replace your main router) is in the next section below.
Also, see the Recommendation and Router Appendix far below.
But what about 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6? If you can find a "Wi-Fi 6 Certified" router that
meets your needs, go for it. But, the 802.11ax specification is still not an official
IEEE standard yet (expected Sep 2020).
It will be years before there is a sufficient number of Wi-Fi 6 client devices to make a
Wi-Fi 6 router really worth it (benefits are only for Wi-Fi 6 clients now, of which there
are few), and by then, the next generation of "Wi-Fi 6E certified" routers will
be out -- so just be patient.
So, upgrade, or not?: The only question that really matters is:
What are client PHY speeds now and what will
client PHY speeds be after an AP/router update? Because, if
(the majority of) client PHY speeds will not increase after a router update, what is the
point in spending money on a new router that won't improve PHY speeds?
Wi-Fi 6E is just around the corner: Greatly complicating a decision is that
Wi-Fi 6E is just around the corner (early devices expected late 2020)
that will require (yet again!) new hardware -- existing Wi-Fi 6 devices will not support Wi-Fi 6E.