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 as well as an updated list of WiFi 6 routers (as of 24th of Sep 2020) .
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.
WiFi Wireless Standard Specifications
|Feature||WiFi 4||WiFi 5||WiFi 6|
|Channel Bandwidth||20, 40||20, 40, 80||20, 40, 80, 80 + 80, 160|
|Frequency Bands||2.4Ghz||2.4 and 5 GHz||2.4 and 5 GHz|
|Maximum Data Rate||150Mbps||6.9 Gbps*||9.6Gbps*|
|Highest Subcarrier Modulation||64-QAM||256-QAM||1024-QAM|
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 for WiFi 6
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).
Increase in Data Signal for WiFi 6
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.
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 6 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.
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.
List of WiFi 6 Routers
If you’re looking to upgrade your current router into WiFi 6 routers, then we have curated this list for your easy comparison.
|Brand & Model||Bandwidth (Mbps)||House Coverage (Sq. Ft.)||Devices At Home||Looking for Mesh?||Budget (RM)|
|ASUS GT-AX11000||1Gbps||Around 3000||Around 100||Yes||1001 to 1500|
|ASUS RT-AX56U||More than 800||Around 2000||Around 50||Yes||301 to 500|
|ASUS RT-AX3000||More than 800||Around 2500||Around 75||Yes||501 to 800|
|TP-LINK Deco X20 (AX 3pack)||More than 800||Around 4000||Around 100||Yes||1001 to 1500|
|TP-LINK Deco X60 (AX 3pack)||1Gbps||Around 4500||Around 100||Yes||More than 1500|
|TP-LINK AX10||More than 800||Around 2000||Around 50||No||301 to 500|
|TP-LINK AX50||More than 800||Around 2500||Around 75||No||501 to 800|
|TP-LINK AX20||More than 800||Around 2000||Around 50||No||101 to 300|
|D-LINK DIR-X1560 (AX)||More than 800||Around 2500||Around 50||No||101 to 300|
|Huawei AX3||More than 800||Around 2000||Around 100||Yes||101 to 300|
What if I am using older devices, is WiFi 6 backwards compatible?
We did a realistic WiFi 6 speed test and found that even with old smartphones (Wireless AC/N), you are able to experience much faster speed after swapping their old router to WiFi 6 router.
Watch how we took 2 smartphones and 1 laptop, in a house where someone is streaming game and watching video to demonstrate the difference between WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 router.
Here are some brief background that you need to know:
- Using TIME Fibre 500Mbps
- Condominium with approx 1,000 sq. ft.
- Tested with AC devices only
- Mi 8 Pro
- ROG Phone 1
- Laptop with wireless AC chipset
- Comparing against 2 router models
- TP-LINK C1200 (AC1200, WiFi 5)
- TP-LINK AX10 (AX1500, WiFi 6)
During speed tests, we had 1 person streaming netflix and the other person gaming + stream online, so this is as realistic as it could get.
No hanky panky or “optimization”, purely plug and play and tested across 3 devices.
So – will your old AC devices benefit from latest WiFi 6 technology? Let’s find out in this video!
Does Maxis, UNIFI or TIME compatible with WiFi 6?
Yes, they are able to support WiFi 6. The prerequisite though is that you’ll need a WiFi 6 enabled router and devices to fully tap onto the technology.
Is WiFi 6 Worth It?
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