Wi-Fi 5 vs Wi-Fi 6: What’s the difference?

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is the latest wireless protocol standard from the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Major Differences

Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
5 GHz2.4 / 5 / 6 GHz
MU-MIMO (down only)MU-MIMO (up & down)
Trigger-based Random Access
Spatial frequency reuse
Single NAVDual NAV
Target Wake Time
Static fragmentationDynamic fragmentation
Guard interval 0.4 µs or 0.8 µsGuard interval 0.8 µs, 1.6 µs, 3.2 µs
Symbol duration 3.2 µsSymbol duration 12.8 µs

Why is Wi-F 6 Better?

There are several technical improvements over Wi-Fi 5.

Most notable is the bump up in data transfer speeds, especially when you have multiple devices on your Wi-Fi network.

Total throughput speeds are 4 x that what you’d get on Wi-Fi 5 when you have lots of devices accessing your network.

The nominal data rate, per device, is at most 37% faster. Latency is also down 75%.

The second is its ability to deal with other neighboring networks. Expect to have fewer issues in network congested places.

Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E

Wi-Fi 6E is not a new version, it’s the name given to devices that uses the 6 GHz band.

The higher the frequency band (2.4, 5, 6 GHz) the larger the data size can be transferred.

The downside to using a higher frequency is that the range is reduced.

So the 6 GHz band is best suited for close-range connections. The best results will be with devices in the same room as the Wi-Fi router.

Is it worth it?

Maybe. If your router is several years old, then yes.

Even if don’t have devices that are Wi-Fi 6 compatible, you may still benefit from the better capabilities.

Also, new devices (laptops, tablets, phones) that support Wi-Fi 6 are becoming more common.

Prices are coming down on Wi-Fi 6 routers and access points.

Summary of Wi-Fi Specifications

Wi-Fi AllianceIEEE 802 familyRelease dateFrequency (GHz)Max MIMO StreamsStream data rates (Mbit/s)Indoor Range
Wi-Fi 1802.11bSep 19992.4N/A1, 235 m (115 ft)
Wi-Fi 2802.11aSep 19995N/A1, 2, 5.5, 1135 m (115 ft)
Wi-Fi 3802.11gJun 20032.4N/A6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 5438 m (125 ft)
Wi-Fi 4802.11nOct 20092.4/54288.8, 60070 m (230 ft)
Wi-Fi 5802.11acDec 201358346.8, 800, 1733.2, 3466.835 m (115 ft)
Wi-Fi 6802.11axFeb 20212.4/5/681147, 2294, 4804, 960830 m (98 ft)


If you’ve been having Wi-Fi performance issues and/or your router is a few years old, it’s probably time for you to upgrade.

Wi-Fi has come a long way and has become the standard in network connectivity.

It’s never going to be as fast as wired Ethernet but is now more stable than ever.

Share your love