Why Your Next Router Should Be Wi-Fi 6E
Andrew HeinzmanReview Geek
Even if you paid out the nose for a fancy Wi-Fi router, it probably doesn’t reach the speeds that you expected. Today’s routers just can’t deliver modern internet speeds or reliability, mainly because they use a limited radio spectrum that’s vulnerable to interference. But a new standard might change everything—here’s why you need a Wi-Fi 6E router.
Wi-Fi 6E vs. Wi-Fi 6: What’s the Difference?
Most homes use last-generation Wi-Fi 5 routers, which offer eight simultaneous “streams” for your devices to connect with the internet. Unfortunately, some of these streams are on the slower 2.4GHz channel, and the faster 5GHz streams are prone to interference from walls, home electronics, and neighbors’ routers.
Not to mention, all of your internet-connected devices (including smart home products) need to share these eight wireless streams, which only take up about 400MHz of radio spectrum. It’s not an ideal situation, and unless you live in a remote area and own just a few connected products, your Wi-Fi 5 router is dragging you down.
For most people, this is where Wi-Fi 6 comes in. The current-gen Wi-Fi 6 standard still operates on just 400MHz of spectrum and has the same theoretical speeds as Wi-Fi 5, but it offers 12 simultaneous streams for your devices. In effect, Wi-Fi 6 can reduce network congestion and may improve wireless speeds by around 30% in some homes.
But we’re looking to the future. Wi-Fi 6E is the next-gen wireless standard, offering support for the newly-opened 6GHz channel. While the technology isn’t set in stone just yet, the 6GHz channel should add about 1,200MHz of spectrum to your network. That’s an additional 7 or 8 streams, each with a much wider spectrum (about 150MHz) than what you get with Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6.
In effect, Wi-Fi 6E is much less prone to interference than last-gen or current-gen standards. The FCC predicts that this dramatic drop in interference will provide wireless speeds up to 2GBps in some homes and practically eliminate network congestion. Previously, you would need a strong mmWave 5G connection to reach these wireless internet speeds on a phone or laptop.
Should You Wait to Buy a Wi-Fi 6E Router?
Here’s the catch; Wi-Fi 6E is a next-gen wireless internet technology. Only a handful of manufacturers sell routers that support the standard, and not all phones or laptops work with the exclusive 6GHz spectrum.
Technically speaking, you can add 6GHz Wi-Fi support to a PC using a cheap PCIe card. And some products, like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the ASUS ROG STRIX Z590-I motherboard, already support 6GHz Wi-Fi.
But for the most part, you’ll have to wait about two years before 6GHz Wi-Fi support is a common feature in new products. And that can be a problem, because like any emerging technology, Wi-Fi 6E routers are expensive!
So, you need to decide which path to go down. Should you buy an expensive Wi-Fi 6E router and be the first person in your neighborhood to enjoy the tech? Or should you wait a few years, at which point 6GHz Wi-Fi support will be common and Wi-Fi 6E routers will cost less?
If you’re a tech enthusiast who likes to own all the latest and greatest stuff, the answer should be pretty clear. But for the average person, I suggest holding out a year or two before investing in Wi-Fi 6E. And if you need a new router today, a cheaper Wi-Fi 6 router is probably the best solution.
Which Wi-Fi 6E Router Should You Buy?
There aren’t a lot of Wi-Fi 6E routers to choose from, but the available options are pretty compelling. Companies like Linksys and Netgear sell mesh Wi-Fi 6E systems that provide whole-home coverage, even in very big homes. And for the gamers out there, ASUS sells a killer router that optimizes your gaming PC or console’s internet connection.
Here are some great Wi-Fi 6E routers available now:
- Netgear Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6E Router
- ASUS ZenWiFi Whole-Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System
- Linksys Atlas Wi-Fi 6E Whole-Home Mesh System
- ASUS ROG Rapture Wi-Fi 6E Gaming Router
- NETGEAR Orbi Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System
Again, these Wi-Fi 6E routers aren’t cheap. If you need a new router today but don’t want to spend hundreds on Wi-Fi 6E, I strongly suggest buying a Wi-Fi 6 router instead. And if your router is working fine, you should hold out a year or two until Wi-Fi 6E gets a bit cheaper.
ASUS ZenWiFi Whole-Home Tri-Band Mesh WiFi 6E System (ET8 2PK), Coverage up to 5,500 sq.ft & 6+Rooms, 6600Mbps, New 6GHz Band, AiMesh,Instant Guard
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ASUS ROG Rapture WiFi 6E Gaming Router (GT-AXE11000) - Tri-Band 10 Gigabit Wireless Router, World's First 6Ghz Band for Wider Channels & Higher Capacity, 1.8GHz Quad-Core CPU, 2.5G Port, AURA RGB
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The ASUS ROG Rapture gaming Wi-Fi 6E router offers speeds up to 11000 Mbps and automatically prioritizes gaming traffic, providing killer speeds and minimal latency for online gaming.