Wireless Devices have Generations too!
Little does one ever know about the crucial generations gap within the various Wi-Fi Technology available to all of us. While we wonder why a decade old Wi-Fi Router does not service the entire area with proper speed, barely have we dived deep into this reason. So, Let’s compare Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) based on various aspects:
- Speed and Throughput:
- Wi-Fi 5: Offers theoretical maximum speeds of up to 1.3 Gbps using the 5 GHz band and the 2.4 GHz band.
- Wi-Fi 6: Provides theoretical maximum speeds of up to 9.6 Gbps, significantly increasing both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz band speeds.
- Efficiency and Capacity:
- Wi-Fi 5: Operates on a single-user (SU) MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) technology, which means it serves one device at a time.
- Wi-Fi 6: Implements both SU-MIMO and MU-MIMO (Multi-User MIMO), enabling simultaneous communication with multiple devices. It also introduces OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access), improving efficiency in handling multiple client devices.
- Wi-Fi 5: Provides good coverage but can be affected by interference in dense environments.
- Wi-Fi 6: Has better range and performance in crowded areas due to improved technologies and better handling of device connections.
- Wi-Fi 5: Offers lower latency compared to previous Wi-Fi standards but still has room for improvement in latency-sensitive applications.
- Wi-Fi 6: Reduces latency even further, making it ideal for real-time applications, online gaming, and video conferencing.
- Device Compatibility:
- Wi-Fi 5: Most devices released around or after 2014 are Wi-Fi 5 compatible.
- Wi-Fi 6: As of now (2021), it is becoming more prevalent, and newer devices are likely to be Wi-Fi 6 compatible. However, Wi-Fi 6 routers are backward compatible, meaning they can work with Wi-Fi 5 and older devices.
- Power Efficiency:
- Wi-Fi 5: Has decent power efficiency but lacks some of the features present in Wi-Fi 6 to optimize power consumption.
- Wi-Fi 6: Introduces Target Wake Time (TWT) and other power-saving technologies, making it more efficient for battery-powered devices like smartphones and IoT devices.
- Overall Performance:
- Wi-Fi 5: Offers excellent performance for most typical use cases, including streaming, browsing, and light gaming.
- Wi-Fi 6: Delivers improved performance, especially in crowded environments with multiple devices connected, demanding higher data rates and lower latency.
In summary, Wi-Fi 6 brings significant improvements in speed, capacity, range, and latency compared to Wi-Fi 5. While Wi-Fi 6 is the latest standard, Wi-Fi 5 is still widely used and provides reliable performance for most everyday needs. As Wi-Fi 6 becomes more prevalent, upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 router and devices will offer the best experience, particularly in homes or offices with multiple connected devices.