WiFi 6 is the latest generation standard in WiFi technology – you may know it as “AX WiFi” or “802.11ax WiFi”. It is said to be 4X faster than current wireless AC standard.

In this article, we will be explaining what exactly is WiFi 6 and what benefits you can expect from this.

Here’s a quick summary for those who prefer highlights:

  • WiFi 6 is purely a naming convention by WiFi Alliance for marketing purpose.
  • With the rise of smart devices, WiFi 6 aims to have better device and bandwidth management.
  • You can expect 4X faster performance not in forms of top speed, but rather maintaining top speed even with heavy bandwidth usage.

We’ve prepared a table below that shows differences in wireless standard, as well as the improvements that you can expect in WiFi 6.

Wireless Standard Specifications

FeatureWiFi 4WiFi 5WiFi 6
Wireless Standard802.11n802.11ac802.11ax
Channel Bandwidth20, 4020, 40, 8020, 40, 80, 80 + 80, 160
Frequency Bands2.4Ghz2.4 and 5 GHz2.4 and 5 GHz
Maximum Data Rate150Mbps6.9 Gbps*9.6Gbps*
Highest Subcarrier Modulation64-QAM256-QAM1024-QAM
Streams148

Source: GearBest,TP-LINK

For the sake of simplicity, we will be using car as an analogy throughout the whole article to illustrate the purpose of each increase.

 

The Increase of Channel Bandwidth

WiFi 6 expands the channel bandwidth from 80Mhz to 160MHz, think of it like driving on a single lane highway versus double-lane highway.

Not only you can get more cars through, but also lesser congested (unlike our CNY traffic, ugh).

WiFi 6 - Increase in Channel Bandwidth to 160Mhz
WiFi 6 – Increase in Channel Bandwidth to 160Mhz (Source – TP-Link)

Increase in Data Signal

WiFi 6 (802.11ax – 1024-QAM) has 25% more data capacity than WiFi 5 (802.11ac – 256-QAM), which also comes at a higher data transfer speed.

Think of it like your car has an upgraded boot space, now you can carry more stuff when you balik kampung.

But having more capacity isn’t enough, you need to know how to maximize it too.

Reduce Latency & Better Efficiency with OFDMA

OFDMA is known as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access, which is an advancement of OFDM, the main concept here is to understand “payload efficiency“.

OFDM works based on a fixed overhead, meaning if you have 3 requests, it needs to be sent out based on 3 channels to the device.

Think of it like you and your friends staying together and wanting to go Sunway Pyramid together, it’s not efficient to drive 3 cars out to the destination right?

Instead of doing that, OFDMA allows you to “carpool” and send everything within 1 channel.

Increased Efficiency with OFDMA (Source: TP-Link)

Meaning to say, instead of the 3 of you driving separate cars, you can actually carpool to Sunway Pyramid which makes the bandwidth management easier.

This is the biggest reason why WiFi 6 can better manage more devices and bandwidth even during peak hours with congested bandwidth.

9.6Gbps in WiFi Speed

Before you go around throwing parties – please read this.

The average download speed in Malaysia is only 11.5Mbps according to Open Signal.

Like we mentioned before, WiFi 6 is mainly built around better WiFi optimization for growing devices and bandwidth management.

WiFi 6 is about improving the network when a bunch of devices is connected.

Think about how many devices each of us own compared to say – 10 years ago.

The number of devices will take a toll on your network (which is why we specifically added it in our router tool), generally, the more gadgets demanding Wi-Fi, the more overall network is going to slow down.

Because of the increase in both data signals, bandwidth management, WiFi 6 is 3.5Gbps faster than WiFi 5 (802.11ac).

What you can understand from this increase is that you are more likely to maintain your top speed for respective devices, even when you have multiple devices streaming, live chatting, gaming, etc.

Which brings us to the next point.

Doesn’t WiFi 5 come with MU-MIMO?

WiFi 5 (specifically wave 2 networking gears) is only capable of supporting up to 4 devices on download only.

WiFi 6 instead supports up to 8 devices for both upload and download – which is a significant boost in wireless bandwidth.

Other Features

There are also other features like better battery life based on target wake-up time, this is for smart devices such as switches, light bulbs, etc. WiFi 6 also introduces better security with WPA3.

Is WiFi 6 Worth It?

To conclude, you can expect a better Internet speed even during peak hours or congested traffic as WiFi 6 comes with better device and bandwidth management.

It is worth noting that WiFi 6 is built on new hardware specifications, so we can expect WiFi 5 to be phased out pretty soon.

Value buy or not is still subjected to your devices at home and budget, but with that being said, we are seeing that entry-level WiFi 6 routers are priced around RM300, which is pretty affordable, considering it’s a 4X increase over WiFi 5.

We will be reviewing new TP-LINK WiFi 6 models soon, so stay tuned for more! Make sure to check out our brand new UNIFI router tool if you’d need

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