Saturday, December 4, 2021

What Do Those ‘AC’ and ‘AX’ Numbers on Your Wi-Fi Router Mean?

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With regards to product specs and mannequin numbers, increased numbers are often higher. So is an AC2000 wireless router value selected over an AC1900 one? AX6600 has to be extra successful than AX6000, proper?

For those who’re undecided, we get it. Router makers have adopted an advanced, complicated naming scheme that always differs amongst producers and generally leaves you, the consumer, at nighttime. Sure, these numbers are about velocity; however, they replicate speeds that you just will not be seeing in your telephone or PC; as a result, they’re the sum whole of all possible rates on all channels and all frequency bands that the router helps.

Twin-Band vs. Tri-Band

Wi-Fi 5 (AC) and Wi-Fi 6 (AX) routers are usually both dual-band or tri-band. Twin-band means they work on the two.4GHz and 5GHz bands; tri-band means they’ve 2.4GHz and may concurrently do channels within the decrease, and higher a part of the 5GHz vary.

With a tri-band router, you might be able to use the quicker upper-range channel, or that channel could also be devoted to backhaul between models of a mesh system. (That relies on the router.)

In any case, that quantity on the router is the sum of all the doable bands the router can use, not the velocity of any particular person, bar, or machine. So if the mixed speed of all of a given Wi-Fi 5 router’s bands is 1,900Mbps, you would possibly see it marketed as AC1900.

Wi-Fi 5: Decide a Band, Not Each Band

A crucial factor to find out about Wi-Fi 5 router speeds is that they seem to be a mixture of the two.4GHz and 5GHz speeds that the router helps, and a Wi-Fi 5 machine connecting to it will probably choose just one. More than likely, you will be on 5GHz. So your laptop computer maxes out at 1,300Mbps on an AC1750 router. (See our chart under.)

802.11ac Modes

Mode Identify2.4GHz Mbps2.4GHz Streams5GHz Mbps5GHz Streams
AC300045031,300 (x2)3×2
AC500060042,167 (x2)4×2
AC53001,00042,167 (x2)4×2

Telephones and smaller units usually deal with just one or two spatial streams. The Samsung Galaxy S21 and the Apple iPhone 13 each have 2×2 MIMO of their Wi-Fi. Meaning speeds no higher than 867Mbps to every machine when utilizing an AC1750 router. (In my real-world expertise, that is often actually around 650Mbps.) A router supporting extra streams will probably deal with extra units without delay, which might be operating at the very best speeds.

The above chart is generally a chart of dual-band 802.11ac modes. The three on the backside are tri-band modes, with two 5GHz channels operating without delay.

Wi-Fi 6: Larger Channels, Increased Speeds

Wi-Fi 6 permits quicker speed primarily based on several new applied sciences. Higher encoding and wider channels enable extra knowledge to be carried on a single stream.

In any other case, the identical guidelines apply as with Wi-Fi 5. Your machine has to choose 2.4GHz or 5GHz, and it cannot deal with as many spatial streams as your router. Netgear gave us an inventory of their Wi-Fi 6 modes, and we added knowledge from Asus and different router makers.

Twin-Band 802.11ax Modes

Mode Identify2.4GHz Mbps2.4GHz Streams5GHz Mbps5GHz StreamsMax. Channel Width
AX60001,14744,804Eight or 4160MHz or 80MHz

Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6: Sooner Speeds (within the Background?)

Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 techniques help each high and low 5GHz channel concurrently. They might use the excessive 5GHz channels as devoted backhaul for a mesh system, utilizing them completely to go knowledge between the router models, so customers might not be capable of entering that channel for their units.

As you possibly can see on this chart (primarily offered by Netgear and enhanced by PCMag), tri-band mesh techniques may have increased AX numbers even when the velocity is delivered to any particular person machine (on 2.4GHz or 5GHz) is identified as a standalone dual-band router with a decrease quantity.

Tri-Band 802.11ax Modes

Mode Identify2.4GHz Mbps2.4GHz Streams5GHz Mbps5GHz StreamsMax. Channel Width5GHz-2 Mbps5GHz-2 Streams5GHz-2 Channel Width
AX6000574 or 1,1472 or 41802 or 2,402Three or 480MHz3,603 or 4,804Three or 4160MHz or 80MHz
AX108001,14744,804Eight or 480MHz or 160MHz4,804Eight or 480MHz or 160MHz

The “5GHz” columns within the chart consult with the decreased 5GHz channel utilized by the router, and the “5GHz-2” columns consult with the upper 5GHz channel.

What About Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6E makes use of a brand new 6GHz channel to ship even quicker speeds to units. However, there are only a few Wi-Fi 6E routers out but, and so they’re very costly. (See, for instance, our assessment of this Netgear Nighthawk Tri-Band 6E model.) Meanwhile, although they appear to be following the identical naming conference as different Wi-Fi units, the quantity is the sum whole of all speeds.

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 router with lots of antennas
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 router

You are utilizing a real Wi-Fi 6E consumer machine, although you are prone to get increased speeds than on Wi-Fi 6 if, so your supply connection is quick enough to deal with it.

Router Numbers Versus the Actual World

The crucial takeaway right here is that no single consumer machine can ever get the utmost velocity proven on a router field. These speeds are theoretical maximums, not real-world measurements. Listed below are a number of the elements that conspire to restrict rates:

  • Your machine can be selected amongst 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies, not combining each.
  • The marketed speeds assume sturdy indicators! Rates decline additional with decreased sign energy.
  • Interference. There are solely a restricted variety of Wi-Fi channels, and your community could also be combating different close-by networks over them.
  • Handheld units like telephones can use just one or two knowledge streams. Laptops and desktop PCs deal with one to a few.
  • Most laptops, tablets, and telephones do not help the most comprehensive channels that routers do, 160MHz.

And at last…

  • You may get a quicker velocity than your supply connection can ship. For those who’re attempting to obtain one thing over a 100Mbps Ethernet cable connection, you are by no means going to get greater than 100Mbps, irrespective of how good your router is. The pipe is the pipe.

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